We are all quite unique. This is not to say that there are not similarities that many of us share. The study of temperaments, personalities, and the sort is not intended to stuff people into the proverbial box but a way to understand ourselves and others by recognizing our similarities and differences as well as our strengths and improvement areas. One such area popularized by author Gary Chapman is the five love languages. Our “love language” describes how we receive or prefer to receive love from others.
The five love languages include words of affirmation that are saying supportive things to others. Then, there are acts of service, where you do helpful things for another. Thirdly, there is receiving gifts. Just as the name implies, this love language entails giving someone gifts to tell them you were thinking about them. There is spending meaningful time with someone. We call this quality time. Lastly, we have physical touch. This one is a little touchy (pun intended) and can be freely expressed in a marriage relationship but obviously has a parameter of appropriateness in other relationships.
Each of us prefers to receive love differently, even among the five love languages. We also more naturally express love in the way we want to receive love. This works well when the person we are demonstrating an act of love to shares our preference. This, however, is not usually the case. Therefore, it is helpful to know how a spouse, child, or friend is wired to receive love. It is essential to learn to give love in ways that they are uniquely wired to receive it. The fruit of this caring endeavor is stronger relationships.
It’s important to note that most of us would appreciate being the recipient of all five of the love languages in the right situation. Although this is true, equally valid is that most, if not all of us, have one or maybe two that impact us more. I, for instance, really appreciate quality time. I can be working on a project, and just having someone keep me company feeds me. I appreciate it on a genuinely deep level. The challenge for me is to recognize the fact that not everyone is wired like me. I need to love enough, to care enough, to discover the love language of my wife, family, friend group, and colleagues so that I can express love in alignment with their love language.
I know this all might seem like a lot of work. Honestly, it is not as much work as it might seem. To start, it will take a bit of learning to discern your love language and that of those closest to you. The good news is that over time it becomes more intuitive. Like most things, as you see the rewards of knowing and embracing the five love languages, you will choose it as part of your lifestyle. Two books I would suggest for anyone willing to journey down the five love language’s road are, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts and The Five Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively, both are by Gary Chapman. You will not regret investing the time reading either or both of these books.
Jesus had this to say about love, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). Love is a distinguishing mark of His disciples. The newness of this command is found in loving one another as Jesus has loved us. Jesus didn’t just say He loved us, but came, moved into our neighborhood, and gave His life. Now that’s love and quite an example. The good news is that Christ-followers have His Spirit to lead us and guide us in our journey to love others well with sacrificial Christlike love. As we embrace Christ’s love for us, we are better equipped to express His love to others. The five love languages are a tool many have found very beneficial in fulfilling this command of Christ. It’s worth a try. After all, expressing love to others by utilizing the five love languages has been seen repeatedly to strengthen relationships. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!