Thursday, June 9, 2011

Love Languages

I should be packing right now. Considering I have a limited amount of time to be spent at home in the next 33 hours (working so much!! yaaaaaaah!!) to do so. At least today I planned all my outfits for the cruise, and it comes down to this: 10 shirts, 7 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts, 4 dresses, 1 sweater, 1 bathing suit, 4 pairs of flip flops, and 4 pairs of other shoes. So far. And that's pretty much for 7 days. This is where 100% of the male species scoffs at my ridiculousness, some unknown portion of my fellow females do the same or don't react, and I happily say Man, am I glad to be a girl. Just refer to my past posts about shopping if you need a better grasp on why I love clothes so much. Anyway - vacation time soon. I'm pretty excited.

But the main subject of the post: I'm almost done reading The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It's essentially a book written to help married couples be happier and avoid the common plagues of, well, unhappy marriages, all through learning how spouses communicate love differently. Sometimes we don't realize it, but people prefer certain expressions of appreciation over others, and it's critical to be aware of that in relationships if you want them to thrive. Based on the stories in the book, it's clear that most marriage problems usually boil down to one person neglecting to express love in the way the other person receives/understands it, because they are unaware that they speak different love languages. This book talks about the theory of the 5 basic love languages, devoting much attention to how you can better show love according to your spouse's preference.

For as long as I planned on reading the book, I didn't know how much it completely focused on marriages. I thought the topic would be spoken about more generally, so that I could apply the principles to all sorts of relationships. It's not that easy. There are different versions of the book (singles, teenagers, etc.), but I actually think it would be a different thing altogether to compare communicating love in a committed romantic relationship to communicating love in platonic and familial relationships. However, I've still found the book pretty interesting, and I'll be sure to keep the wisdom for when I actually do get married.

The whole time I've been reading, I've been trying to figure out what MY primary love language is, out of

Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Giving Gifts
Physical Touch, and 
Quality Time. 

There's a quiz at the end if you really can't tell after reading about each one and following the clues Chapman talks about, but I haven't gotten to it yet. For some people, what they might've suspected at the beginning is completely opposite of what they truly are. In my case, the one thing I was originally sure of ruling out was Giving Gifts, but I'm starting to think maybe that's actually one of my biggest ones. This is because a good indicator of the way you prefer to receive love may be the biggest way you GIVE it, and one of my favorite pleasures in life is giving gifts and surprising people. In every close relationship and friendship I've had, I can think of many instances I planned and planned to come up with the perfect creative gift, whether it was for a special occasion or not, and I get so excited about seeing their reaction. Another reason I say I might be a Gift person is because I have been noticing about myself how much I appreciate those small things, like flowers on the first month anniversary, or the way I was asked to senior prom with a teddy bear (even though I don't really like teddy bears), or the time my dad pulled me out of school to go have lunch just because. Sometimes the forms of expression overlap - the lunch date was a combination of gift giving and quality time - but overall the thing they have in common is that they all showed that I was thought of, and that means a lot to me.

Before I started reading this book, I talked about it with a friend who had just finished it, and my first question for her was how can you only have one love language? Her response, which I'm finding true from the book, is that you don't. Everyone operates within some degree of all 5 love languages, but there is always one or two that you strongly prefer over the others. On a ranking system, those that get higher marks, a 15/20 for example, are more important than the ones getting 6s and 4s. And today my coworker put it in a great new perspective for me: The 5 love languages are all things you need to pay attention to in your marriage to keep each other happy and feeling loved. It would be silly to zero in on the one or two chapters of the book you think apply to your relationship, because all of them include good advice.

Again, so far I've found it slightly difficult to apply to myself, simply because I'm NOT married, and I haven't been in such a serious and longlasting relationship yet. It's hard for me to even figure out what my primary love is, because it's all in romantic terms, and frankly, I'm still a youngin' when it comes to that stuff. I hope in the future I can check out the Singles version and see how it differs, and if I can gain any more insight from comparing the two. But in any case, I will now always be on the lookout to see how my closest loved ones react to different forms of love expression. All in all, whether you place a name on the theory or not, the basic idea behind this strategy and many others is you should pay attention to how people like to be loved, and strive to love them in those ways so they feel the most appreciated. Agree? Ok. Now go read the book and let's have a discussion about it.

No comments: