Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Love Is a Skill: Learn to Speak the Five Languages of Love

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Love Is a Skill: Learn to Speak the Five Languages of Love

Article excerpt

One year, in a brilliant blending of Valentine's Day and Lent, Amy, mother of three, decided to intentionally focus on the primary love languages of each of her family members and close friends for the 40 days. She had read Gary Chapman's bestseller, The Five Love Languages, and the book resonated. In the book she recognized both her own love languages (acts of service and words of affirmation) as well as the love languages of her husband and teen children. "By the time Easter came, I was exhausted, but I also felt incredibly loved by my family and friends, because they responded to the love I had shown them," she says. "It was an act of service on my part, and it completely proved to me the wisdom I found in that book."

Learning another person's love languages is like unlocking a way to deepen a relationship. Chapman says there are five love languages, and we need all of them in healthy, loving relationships. Each of us, however, has a primary and secondary language that is our preferred way to both express our love for others and feel the love others express

toward us. The five love languages, according to Chapman, are:

Words of affirmation. This person is quick with compliments and affirmations. For those with a words of affirmation primary language, hearing "I love you" and compliments are most important. Words hold real value for people with this language. Negative or insulting comments cut deep.

Quality time. This language is all about giving the other person undivided attention. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful to these individuals.

Gift-giving. Chapman says what makes some people feel most loved is to receive a tangible gift. When this person goes away, they often find something that reminds them of a person at home to bring back. This doesn't mean the person is materialistic, but a meaningful or thoughtful present makes them feel appreciated.

Acts Of service. For these people, actions speak louder than words. People who speak the language of service are often doing things for others and feel loved when others help them. People who thrive on this language find it especially difficult if someone says they will help and then doesn't follow through.

Physical touch. To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Everyday physical connections like handholding, kissing, or any type of reaffirming physical contact is greatly appreciated.

Amy says that it was easiest for her to speak the love languages of her two children who share her languages (acts of service and words of affirmation) but more difficult to speak the languages of her oldest son and her husband, who prefer physical touch. Now, several years later, Amy lives the lessons of that Lent in how she relates to her children. "I've learned that when my family members are under stress, if I do something for them in their love language, it will help them manage," she says. "For my oldest son, who is touch and time together, I am just with him; for my second son, who is acts of service, I find something to do for him. When my daughter starts to doubt herself, I affirm her and buy her a little gift."

Tawnya, mother of four, read Chapman's book when it first came out in 1995 when she was dating her now-husband Nate, who was in law school at the time. "We only saw each other on weekends, and we were struggling with the transition whenever we'd get together again," she says. After reading the book Tawnya realized that the two needed to adapt to the other's primary language. …

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