Sometimes we don’t know how to communicate our love towards others. One night, a man decided to show his wife how much he loved her. After dinner he began to recite romantic poetry, telling her he would climb high mountains to be near her, swim wide oceans, cross deserts in the burning heat of the day, and even sit at her window and sing love songs to her in the moonlight.
After listening to him go on for some time about this immense love he had, she ended the conversation when she asked, “But will you wash the dishes for me?”
If you have ever heard of the five love languages you will understand that story. Gary Chapman wrote the book, The Five Love Languages, explaining that all of us have different love languages. He says that we need to learn to express our love towards others in a way that they will understand. Here’s a quick overview of those languages.
1. Words of Affirmation. Some people need to hear a verbal expression of love and appreciation. They like to be complimented on their appearance and achievements. If they never hear words of affirmation they feel uncertain about the status of the relationship.
2. Acts of Service. The woman in the story above wasn’t interested in words, she wanted the dishes done. Her love language was likely acts of service. When someone does a caring and thoughtful act to help her she feels love and support.
3. Receiving Gifts. Who doesn’t like to get a gift? We all enjoy receiving a gift but it speaks louder to those who enjoy getting something tangible as an expression of one’s feelings. Remembering a gift on a special occasion is particularly important.
4. Quality Time. Giving someone your undivided attention can be a powerful sign of commitment and love. We’d all like to multitask but sometimes we just need to put everything else down and be present for the person we care about.
5. Physical Touch. There is emotional power in physical touch. When we carefully pick up a baby and gently hold him in our arms we are communicating love and care in an unspoken way. Touch continues to be a primary way of expressing ourselves and showing love for others.
Paul reminds us that God took the initiative to love us first. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8) God didn’t wait for us to love him but reached out to love us. That’s the pattern we need to follow.
So what’s your love language? How do you like people to show love to you? Are you able to show love to others in a way that is meaningful to them? The thing we have to watch out for is always expressing our love in the same way that we like to receive it. We need to reach out to others first. If we truly want to communicate with those closest in our life then we need to understand what is meaningful to them. The best way to find out is to ask them.