My hubby gets me.
On Valentine’s Day, he surprised me with a funny greeting card and a heart-shaped box of miniature Kit Kats.
No jewelry. No shopping spree. No flowers.
And I loved him for it.
Why? Because it was the icing on the cake after countless moments he’s helped my dad up and down stairs. Covered kiddie activities all day on a Saturday so I could meet work deadlines. Washed a lot of laundry. And so much more.
He knows my primary Love Language, and he loves me by honoring it as much as he can. And I love him all the more for that.
We all know February is THE month of teddy bears and flowers. The month that hoists Love up on its shoulders and throws it a huge parade. We tend to emphasize romantic love – the kind that makes your heart swoon. And that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.
But, a confession: The older I get, the more my heart swoons when my loved ones do things like clean the kitchen and do the laundry. Not really swooning when I get bears or flowers.
It’s because of my primary Love Language. Ever heard of The 5 Love Languages? In a nutshell, we feel loved and express our love in 5 ways:
- Words of Affirmation – Using words to lift and be lifted
- Acts of Service – Expressing care by helping and being helped
- Receiving Gifts — Giving and gaining rewards
- Quality Time – Offering and receiving undivided attention
- Physical Touch – Appropriate touch means more than words
While most of us usually have several Love Languages, one typically outweighs all the others. For me, it’s Acts of Service. I love loving others by helping them, and I feel cared for most when others help me. Translation? My heart leaps for joy when a loved one does the laundry or the dishes way more than, say, gives me clothes or jewelry.
But, that’s me and my primary Love Language.
It’s so easy to have the right intentions when expressing our love for others, but still get it wrong. Example: Because I value Acts of Service most, I don’t mind organizing spaces. Clearing clutter so my family can find keys/toys/books quickly is, to me, expressing love for them. But, sometimes, the clutter returns quickly and I’m the only one in the house who seems to see it.
In those moments, I can forget that Acts of Service is my main Love Language – but not for each of my loved ones. And, if I’m not mindful, I’ll get upset. I start snatching up the clutter, wind in my jaws, sighing under my breath. Hmmmmm, I think in those moments, with a frown and completely annoyed. What’s up with that?!?
But, usually the lightbulb goes off and I’m reminded of a simple fact: The path to feeling loved – really feeling loved – can mean different things for different people. Words of Affirmation for our daughter. Quality Time for my hubby, and for our son. No preference is better or worse. Rather, it’s just another aspect of how we operate, of what my mom often called our “scripts.” And let’s be honest: Don’t we feel grateful when others seek to understand and honor who we are and how we operate? And when they do, don’t we feel loved?
So, for the new mom who’s unsure if she’s “doing everything right” with her first baby, it’s hearing her mom say, “You’re doing a fantastic job.” Words of Affirmation.
For the son who cares for his aging mom, it’s a freezer stocked with his cousin’s home-cooked meals to save him time and energy. Acts of Service.
For the guy who loves collecting vintage action figures, it’s the 1983 GI Joe Cobra Commander in the mailbox from his sister, just because. Receiving Gifts.
For the teen whose mom works long hours away from home most days, it’s an impromptu ride to the mall to try on new makeup together. Quality Time.
And, for the widow who still misses her husband of 50+ years, it’s a heartfelt bear hug from her grandson. Physical Touch.
So, instead of running ahead with scissors and assuming that those I love are Acts of Service folks like me, I’m learning to stop and pay attention to their primary Love Languages instead. Because, when I get it right, I see the joy they gain and the love they feel.
That, to me, is true love.
Your Turn: What’s your Love Language?