A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
Everyone has their own distinct communication style. We think differently, we process through things differently. We express ourselves in unique ways. And when we don’t stop to take the time and make sure our expressions of love are being effectively communicated, we open the door for a whole host of issues based on misunderstanding and confusion.
Dr. Gary Chapman has an amazing book titled The Five Love Languages. In it, he categorizes the way people express and receive love into five main themes: Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts. He explains that we tend to show love in our primary love languages, and often miss it when others use their language to show love to us (when the two aren’t a match).
Embracing this concept has smoothed over many a tiff in my marriage over the years.
It’s important to respect the way others express and receive love. We must take note of their preferred communication styles, and care enough to connect on their level.
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
I love fresh flowers….like, really love them. If you brought me flowers every day, I would never tire of them, never decreased in my thanks or enthusiasm. Some of this may stem from all of my years as a performer, getting flowers at a show. Much of it stems from the fact that Gifts is one of my primary love languages. The result – Hi, my name is Rebecca and I am a flower junky.
My husband is most definitely not. Gifts is the lowest of his love languages. He is super practical when it comes to budgeting (fodder for many fights with his more whimsical wife, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog), and finds it silly to spend money on something that is “useless” and is going to die in a few days anyway. This has been a back and forth topic with us for 20 years.
No one said the learning curve for this stuff was quick, friends.
Last summer, we planted our first garden. It’s been such a cool experience to grow our own vegetables and to have healthy, organic food come straight from our yard to our table. In the midst of our planting frenzy, my resourceful husband had a moment of pure brilliance. He showed up one day with a gorgeous pink rosebush and planted it by the garden as a love gift surprise. German practicality meets girly whimsy. Everybody wins.
Sometimes, he is a genius.
It was brilliant, and the reaction it garnered from me was probably even beyond what he expected.
You see, the reason gifts are so important to me is based less on the actual item and more on the fact that to give someone a gift (a meaningful one, anyway), you have to pay attention. You have to know them, think about their preferences, and then take the time to find and obtain something that shows this to them.
It’s about focusing on the person, and caring about what touches their heart.
I know for a fact that people who communicate primarily in the other languages feel this way when we use their styles effectively for this same reason.
Think of the people in your life who most effectively communicate love to you. How do you know they love you? How do they make you feel loved or important?
Do you know your love language? Or the love language of those closest to you? Take some time to list examples of “love exchanges” you’ve had with others. What do they have in common? What made these interactions effective? Or ineffective?
Do you take the time to really listen to the people around you? Have you spent the energy to truly focus on what makes them tick? Are you listening when they speak (in whatever form)? Are you taking the time and figuring out how to show them love in ways they receive?
Expressing our love to others in ways they accept it is one of the biggest keys to building strong relationships.
Every time I look outside and see my beautiful pink roses, I am reminded that my husband loves me, that he knows what makes me smile and cares enough to find ways to show me. He’ll walk into the house carrying a beautiful pink rose or send one of our children in with one for me….and I melt a little every time. It never loses its charm.
Three weeks ago, he planted me a red rose bush as well.
When he gets it, he gets it…..
Solidarity, sisters. You can never learn too many languages.