LOVE [languages]

Have you heard of the five love languages? It's a theory turned book turned phenomenon and I think it's essentially bang on. It suggests that there are five major love languages, and each person gives/shows love and receives/feels love in different ways, normally within the five.

They are:  
  1. words of affirmation ("you're amazing!")  
  2. acts of service ("oh hey, I made you dinner!)  
  3. receiving gifts ("a waffle maker, just because!") 
  4. quality time ("lets just BE together") 
  5. physical touch (back rubs, bear hugs, intimacy, etc).
If you learn enough about what the author means by each gift, I think you'll find that one or two really represents your love language. And consider, not everyone gives love in the same way they receive it! Also, love languages can change over time as we change, our environment changes, our needs change. And I think family upbringing and culture play a bit of a role here too, aside from the unique way God has wired us all.

For me, it's acts of service and especially receiving gifts. Part of that is my upbringing -  my family is big on gifts! Christmas and birthdays and just because days. From the outside you might think "oh that's just a love language for the parents who want to spoil their kids" or "that's just a love language for the wealthy" and to that I say NO WAY JOSE. Growing up, it wasn't about the expense of the gift, or the quantity, it was about giving something to show you love another. It might be a freezie on a hot summer day that dad brought home for me when he was running errands, or a new t-shirt from the clearence rack when I was having a bad day and mom wanted to show me she cared. It doesn't have to be expensive or in a spoiling manner, just a gift, to show you care.

It took Brad some getting used to when we were first married. It was hard for him to not see that as a selfish love language "GIVE ME PRESENTS BABY!", but rather a way I love and feel loved. He now knows I don't mean something expensive or a gift every day, just that it's a way I feel loved and thought of. His on the other hand is words which took ME some serious getting used to. You might be surprised to learn that I'm not into words, like, AT ALL. I'm a blogger, and use words all the time. But guess what? I TYPE THEM. I don't say them :) And my desire to communicate doesn't necessarily translate into my love language, oddly enough. So I had to learn to affirm my husband with words (and I'm still learning!) and in notes.

It made for a tricky first few years of marriage let me tell you. He'd be all "can't you see I'm loving you, look at all these compliments I'm giving you! Look at all this physical touch I'm sending your way!" and I'm like "Why don't you love me!? Why aren't you giving me gifts or serving me instead? Talk is cheap, player!". And I'd be all "I spent days searching for the perfect Christmas gift for you! Why don't you looooooove it?" and he's be all "Stop wasting money and get over here and love me!". Ah, marriage.

Now that we've basically figured each other out, we have the high calling of loving our kids the way God has designed them. It never ends, people! And it's so fun to see each of their unique personalities coming out already, and to see their love languages emerge.

Lily is hands down my quality time girl. Her favourite phrase right now is "mama, sit carpet". She doesn't really care if I play with her, and she's not necessarily asking me to read with her (though she'll happily take each). She just wants me to sit beside her, as she plays. Just to be there. A treat for her is when Brad says "Lily, want to bring a book in my office and read beside me (as he reads)?". She eats that up. She feels our love when we're there. Literally, beside her.

Olivier is my physical touch junkie, just like his dad. This kid doesn't just cuddle or kiss or hug, he does it competitively and full force. His kisses are PG-13 and he's never happier than when he's in a loved one's lap to held in their arms. He was way harder to sleep train than Lily and he's not as great at independent play either. Why? Because he loves our touch something fierce. He is so physically affectionate and we really embrace and encourage that. I love him best when I'm rubbing his back, playing with his hair, letting him sprawl on my lap, or carrying his 23 pound self around (which is getting harder as my 3rd trimester draws nearer!).

I used to think the love languages didn't emerge until much later, but after carefully observing my kids, it's clear they already have their preferences. Knowing their love languages has helped me give them grace (when I don't want to "sit carpet" for the 20th time that day, or I'm sick of rocking/carrying a teething toddler), and helped me value their God-given individuality.

Have you noticed love languages emerging in your young kids?
How has it helped you love them well as they age and grow?
What's your love language? Definitely worth figuring out!


  1. Roxana23.5.13

    Love this! We went to Gary Chapman's marriage conference just a few months ago. We already had his books, but it was great to hear it all in person (and to spend the day together). He's also very funny. I think there's so much truth to the love languages. My main languages are acts of service and gift giving. My hubby, like yours, is all about words of affirmation and physical touch. It's funny because since we've gotten married/had kids my languages have shifted, but his haven't as much. I was all about quality time and gift giving when we got married, but now that I'm a mom I think my needs have changed. That said, we're both high on QT. Like you, it's been interesting to consider how love was given and received while we grew up. My dad has always been very gift oriented and I think I got that from him (also, it was never about anything fancy, but he did own an antique store so we were spoiled in some ways :). My mom is all about acts of service (she's the person everyone calls when they need help and she loves it). We've definitely seen love languages emerging in our little guy (he's 22 months). He's all about quality time and physical touch. I'm mid-way through The Five Love Languages of Children, and I would highly recommend it. I think it's important to think about these things throughout different phases of your life; for your marriage, your children and other loved ones, and even those you serve with at church or work with.

    One quick note: for our first anniversary I went out and spent beaucoup bucks on a watch for my husband. He gave me flowers and a very nicely worded card. Of course, I had told him I didn't "need" anything. That first anniversary was a little rough :). We laugh about it now, but at the time I was so hurt because I'd thought the watch was so special and he was like "Meh. Thanks." and I was like "WHERE IS MY NICE, SENTIMENTAL PIECE OF JEWELRY?" Ha! :)

  2. Roxana23.5.13

    Whoa! Sorry for the uber-long comment! :)

  3. I love the rundown of the first few years of marriage - can I ever relate. I love the idea for keeping an eye out for love languages in youngsters. So smart.

  4. Okay, so I'm totally late the commenting game! We have been exploring our little guys' personalities and it is really fascinating. Another acquaintance actually uses the love languages as both reward and discipline -- so if the child needs to learn something, they use the absence of the love language to discipline. Such an interesting concept; I'm not sure I'd be able to see it through it day-to-day life.