One of the most relevant books for the family is Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages.” Reading it helped me understand myself, my wife, children and grandchildren, my parents, and every other member of my family. The question is, if love is expressed in one of five ways, and we all speak one of these love languages, how do I express my love for someone who doesn’t speak my particular love language? Does this mean I have to go to “love language school” and study for years until I can master my wife’s or brother’s particular expression of love?
The Five Languages
There is a good chance that you already know what the five love languages are, but for the sake of our readers who haven’t read Chapman’s book, here they are:
Words of Affirmation. This language expresses itself through compliments, encouraging words, affirmation.
Acts of Service. This is easy, love expressed through service to the loved person
Gifts. Giving and receiving, not necessarily expensive or material things.
Quality Time. Spending time together, even if it’s doing a little more than looking at each other.
Physical Touch. Hugs and kisses are part of it, but it can be a simple “pat in the back” or loving handshake.
Learning a New Language
I am writing this blog in English, but Portuguese is my native tongue. It took me six long years to learn English and even longer to master it. Does this mean I have to study for years before I can express love in another language? Fortunately, neither speaking another language or loving in a way different than your natural propension needs to be a hard and long process, if you put the effort to it. Here are five simple things you can do to begin expressing love in someone else’s natural language.
Take Baby Steps. When I began learning English, we were not allowed to translate. All we did was repeat small phrases over and over until we memorized them, even if we didn’t fully understand their meaning. You and I can easily learn a few things about one or more love languages and try them out.
Learn from the Natives. I had a friend who learned a new language by memorizing short phrases and then going to the market and trying them out on natives, then asking for help. People were delighted to teach her and she quickly learned enough to communicate. What if we did the same with love languages? If your son speaks “acts of kindness,” try it on him and find out what make him feel loved.
Don’t be afraid to mess it up. Mistakes are part of learning a new language. The greatest obstacle to the process is trying to be perfect. “Childish talk” is the way to learn. The same can be said of love languages. You are going to make mistakes, so embrace them as opportunities to learn.
Be a constant learner. Even fifty years after my first English lesson, I still make mistakes and need to be corrected. Never stop learning how to express yourself in the language of your loved ones. They will appreciate you for it and help you do better.
True love is outwardly focused by nature. The greatest reward of loving someone is to know that you have served her or made his day a little better. We owe it to ourselves and to the ones we love to develop our ability to express our love in other languages than ours, becoming “love polyglots.”