Saturday, July 30, 2016

Love Languages

Gary Chapman has developed a group of categories called "The Five Love Languages". They are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. You can take a test online at 5lovelanguages.com to discover which love language or languages you prefer.

One of the nice things about tests of these sort is that they give us an understanding of where our preferences lie in the moment.  The strong point in Chapman's test for the Five Love Languages is that we are able to recognize that doing good to our spouse might not actually be what we think they want at all. The test helps us to see that maybe our spouse wants more physical touch instead of gifts, or that he or she wants acts over service over quality time. I speculate that many spouses actually do loving actions towards each other, not knowing that it isn't hitting their partner's love languages.

One thing worth mentioning; however, is that preferences can change over time and can even be influenced by the way we engage with one another.  For example, quality time and physical touch might be love languages at one point, but acts of service and gifts might become more desirable once the kids come onto the scene (Tinard).

Tests of these sorts also don't take into account that we often don't fully know our preferences and that it often takes loving and being loved in order to understand what our preferences are in the first place.  We can "think" our preferences lie in one area, but maybe we haven't experienced love languages of another sort.

Thus, try talking to each other about trying out a variety or mix of love languages with each other.  We can't force the issue, but where we and our spouses are open to trying new things, it is worth trying such a mix because it might open us up to new ways to loving and being loved.

One caution - don't force the issue.  If the other partner says "no", we simply have to let their "no" stand.  There will be grief in such circumstances, but if we try to force the issue or manipulate our spouse into doing what we want, then these sorts of love languages won't work in the first place.