Hey guys: have you ever wondered why some women radiate with joy when you give them flowers while others gush over you taking the trash out without being asked? Ladies: have you ever wondered why some men light up over an endearing compliment while others get downright sentimental when you make their favourite meal and bring them a cold beer? Parents: have you ever wondered why some children squeal with delight and treasure every gift they’ve ever received, while other children demonstrate the same elation being invited to the grocery store with you?

I have often wondered.

More than that, I was curious and frustrated at why certain things seemed to (irrationally?) bother me more than they bothered others and why they would make me feel bad about myself, dismissed…even unloved. Why was it that when after 5 reminders and a task still wasn’t complete or a request still unfulfilled did I start to feel sad and alone—misunderstood?

Self-exploration and discovery is part of my individual journey—the pursuit of personal improvement is very important to me. When a friend suggested Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, I jumped at the opportunity to explore a new aspect of growth and communications. Click on the link to take the quiz and learn about the love languages—it may change your life!

serviceI discovered that my primary emotional love language is Acts of Service. Taking out the trash unprompted, making the bed when you’re the last one up, cooking my favourite meal when I’ve had a rough day, or fulfilling a request—this is what makes me feel loved. Nagging creates anxiety and panic for me. When I start to nag, it’s actually a cry for love. When my “love tank” is running on empty and I’m in crisis (SDI) I tend to bring up every act of disservice and disregard of my requests or preferences. Being seen—really seen—and cared for based on my needs and requests looks like love to me. Doing something for me that you know means something to me equals love. For example, not long ago going through the drive-thru to get coffee, the cashier handed us MeebsDad’s large double/double, and my medium regular…great! except I asked for decaf. I asked MeebsDad to confirm that it was decaf; instead he drove away and said it was fine, we ordered decaf so it was decaf. Hmm. Like a drive-thru order has never been screwed up! The very act of MeebsDad NOT confirming that the coffee was in fact decaf made me fly into a rage (a pregnancy, hormone-induced, disproportionate to the situation rage mind you), but I actually felt unloved and uncared for—my needs and requests were not met, and blatantly disregarded. Of course, I opened the door to the moving car and dumped it out. So…that would be what I call a simple act of disservice. On the reverse, when I first had Meebs, during a visit from my MIL/FIL, she insisted on helping around the house so I could relax and enjoy Meebs. Rather than just do laundry, she asked me how I liked the clothes, towels and sheets folded; recognizing a suitable fold allows the item to follow a pattern of organization and fit in our drawers or cupboards more easily (preventing me from having to redo the task). She took a simple act and made it into a true act of service—she considered my preferences. LOVE! Again, recently upon hearing about my discomfort due to tired, swollen pregnant feet, a co-worker brought me a box and a pillow to create a makeshift ottoman to elevate my feet under my desk. I felt special and cared for. A simple act of kindness meant more to me than anything else that happened that day. Consider the power a simple act of service has on someone who speaks this love language. Image how learning to speak that language to that person could transform your relationship!

wordsMy secondary language is Words of Affirmation—a thank you or unsolicited (genuine) compliment goes a long way with me and hearing the reasons behind that love sends my spirits skyward. On the flip side, insults and cruel words often leave me shattered and are not easily forgotten. Next is Quality Time, then Receiving Gifts—which for me, gifts that demonstrate listening and understanding of my preferences are also Acts of Service. For instance, I appreciate a random act of flowers as much as the next woman (Receiving Gifts), but to receive a bouquet of daisies really feels like love to me (Acts of Service).

So, now that I understood my own languages and motivations, it was time to look at the loved ones in my life. Was I speaking their language? Do MeebsDad and Meebs feel loved? Well, I’m still working on it.

Important to note: children under the age of 5 speak all five languages and don’t gravitate to a specific language until they further develop, so it’s important that parents and caregivers speak all five languages (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch) to ensure love is truly felt by the child. As your awareness grows for the languages, over time your child will give clues as to which language is taking dominance. For example, Meebs (age 3) now constantly thanks me for washing her favourite clothes and getting stains out—this shows me she values Acts of Service, and she shows this with Words of Affirmation. She could just as easily hug me (Physical Touch), but she uses her words to express gratitude. As well, spending time together (Quality Time) makes Meebs relaxed, giggly, and visibly happy—just including her in a trip to the grocery store makes her cheerful and dispels anxiety. It’s hard to be sure, though, and I’m careful not to rule out the other languages, as she is very affectionate, and what litle kid doesn’t love to receive gifts and hear I love you! 

When you learn to speak another’s love language, even if it’s not your native tongue, you begin to communicate and love on a new plane. Understanding what love “looks like” to your mate, children and friends is the key to creating fulfilling relationships…not that I’ve exactly mastered this one just yet. I’m still learning what love looks like for others. It is truly a labour of love. But worth it, because when no one in your life speaks your love language, it is a very empty and lonely journey, leaving you love language speechless.