As a wife to a quiet fireman, a teenage daughter, and a “literal” son, I feel like I always need to speak a different language. I have been reading 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resources/books), which I heard about for years but never bought them. Well, as a mom to a teenager.. I really needed to speak a different language. For awhile, it seemed arguments was the only language spoken (refer to blog about an Avalanche). It was the day I knew something had to change – I didn’t “understand” her and she “misinterpreted” me. That is exactly what happens when people speak different languages.
The premise of the 5 Love Languages (he has versions for children, teens and spouses – see the end for links) is that there are 5 Languages that are “spoken” to show love. Languages include * Physical Touch * Words of Affirmation * Quality Time * Acts of Service * Gifts. In the book there is a little quiz of 30 questions that you answer (choose between 2 choices) to determine the “language” you need to know you are loved. Also, by doing this exercise, I learned MY “language” as well. What generally happens is I use what my language is on other people thinking it is there language as well.
Now that is clear as MUD, let me give you some examples. After almost 20 years of marriage, Jim still humored me by taking the quiz. I was not surprised to learn his Primary Language is Physical Touch, but was by the second which is Quality Time – which means that by doing either/both of these I SHOW him love in the way he understands/prefers the best. However, my primary language is Acts of Service – so if you do an act for me (i.e. empty the garbage, feed the dog, get the mail, watch the kids, etc…) I feel loved!. So if I practiced my language for him (Acts of Service i.e. washed his truck, did his laundry, fixed supper) it would not show him I loved him as much as if I held his hand, gave him a massage, spent time on a date with him, etc… So, if I want to best communicate with Jim, I have to learn to speak “his language”.
Mary on the other hand is a Words of Affirmation and Quality Time language. I would have assumed Gifts and Acts of Service would have been the toppers – until the “Avalanche”, because some of the words exchanged definitely demonstrated these. I told her I was reading the Languages for Teens version because I wanted to have a better relationship and she willingly took the test. All this time, I would buy her little gifts at the store (lip gloss, shirts, etc…) because I thought that was how to show her love. She is a straight A student and I assumed she knew we were proud, BUT she needed to hear that. I don’t understand the need for “that language”, but when you discover that is the one your daughter understands – YOU BETTER LEARN to SPEAK IT!!! If I don’t learn it, someone else will and she will be more drawn to them. Guess what – Saturday night she cleaned the bathroom (scrubbed the floor on her knees), laundry, dishes – I PRAISE HER BIG (praise spoke her language and her ACTS of Service spoke my language). Definitely a different place than we were just months ago (= About the QUALITY TIME – the table is still clean for family suppers at the table almost every night, adventures after church, family supporting her party, etc…
About Sam… although I haven’t read the Languages for Children or had him take the test (Sam doesn’t like tests – lol). I can tell you without a doubt his love language at this point in his life is GIFTS. Even if it is small like a Happy Meal Toy or medium toy like a Lego Hero or train… it is definitely the language he speaks. To him even having the food he loves (and actually eats) is a gift – for instance, big shells to stuff (he likes them cooked a soft crunchy), extra crunchy Jif Peanut Butter, a new box of cereal, Pistachios or Macadamia Nuts, etc… I would say his others would be Physical Touch as he loves to snuggle (which is odd for many autistic/asperger kids). His language is still pretty simple.
It is interesting that we all speak different languages… and it isn’t always easy learning a new language. For instance
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION – really hard for me! To me, when you do chores around the house, I should not have to praise you for doing your job. In fact, at work they did a survey and I wrote why do we have to “praise” someone for doing “their job”? But it is Mary’s language – so I am learning to offer “words” as often as possible.
PHYSICAL TOUCH – really awkward for me! Jim’s family is a much “touchier” family than mine. I remember the quick peck on the cheek or lips before leaving, but no big embraces, etc… I now make note and sit closer to Jim than I usually do, hold his hand in the car, give a little longer kiss in the morning (versus not even getting up before). Is it always natural – NO – but if I don’t speak it, I am sure another woman out there would be more than willing.
GIFTS – not really into gifts. Jim and I do not exchange them. However, I love when I find that special little thing for someone – and sometimes it’s a friend – and can get it for them. I love the expression of happiness on their faces.
QUALITY TIME – another hard one for me! I am a multi-tasker (whole blog by itself) and so to just sit and not check the phone, or read a piece of mail, etc… was a big adjustment. But knowing that it is important to Mary and Jim it is so worth it – it says to them you are more important than my to do list. I am thinking some date nights with Jim and alone shopping with Mary may need to become a routine!
ACTS of SERVICE – Isn’t it ironic that I am the only one in the house that this is their language. Before I would have thought everyone responded to this and this is the language I spoke.
SO, now I speak multiple-languages – not always fluently – but with an A for effort. I am not exaggerating it has made a HUGE difference in the communication in the house – especially with Mary and I.
“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people. “ – William Butler Yeats