Friday, March 12, 2010

Love Languages

A very long time ago, I read a book about "love languages". It think it was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The focus was on learning how your spouse expects love to be shown to them and then applying the insight to improve your marriage.

The five ways discussed are 1) praise, 2) quality time (paying attention to a spouse...novel concept!), 3) gifts, 4) service, and 5) physical touch. If there is a mismatch between how one person expects to be loved and how the person trying to show love does so, then hurt feelings will likely result. In my opinion, this principle is applicable in all relationships, not just in marriages.

I saw long ago how one sibling's failure to understand this contributed to worsen her relationship with our mother. This sibling tried to make amends for the lacks she perceived in my mother's life, first with a diamond ring (my father had never bought my mother one), and then with a huge gift basket full of color-themed toiletries (I doubt my mother has had a bubble bath in over 30 years). My mother likes gifts, but not expensive, relatively useless ones, so she didn't appreciate the gifts the way my sibling thought she should. My sibling was very hurt and thought my mother horribly unappreciative. What was intended to create happiness backfired because the giver didn't know or just didn't pay attention to how the actual recipient would feel about the items.

As Easter approaches, I've been thinking that I need to find an Easter card to send to dh's mother. After a few years of marriage, I realized she was sending us cards at Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter, as well as a few other random occasions. Since I don't care that much for cards (but my daughters like them, especially if they come with stickers attached), I didn't understand why she sent us so many of them. But on consideration, I believe that cards are something she considers a true expression of love and would therefore like to receive more of herself. Thus, even though I'm not "into" holiday greetings, I make the effort to send them to her because I genuinely do love her and want her to feel loved in a way she appreciates.

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