In February the calendar naturally turns our attention towards love and in particular to the person we love. Valentines Day has become big business in the retail world which I find so hard. I sometimes feel that the message is lost amongst the pink heart shaped chocolates and the giant teddy bears (seriously, who buys those things?!?!). Andy and I have chosen to celebrate Valentines Day in different ways over the years we have been together. One year we didn't mark the occasion at all in protest at the capitalisation of the day but that didn't really work for us. We love each other and it is always lovely to have a good excuse to treat the person you love, to give them a card filled with your feelings for them. Mostly we celebrate with handmade cards and food and I think that is how we will celebrate this year too.
I read a fascinating book last year about how there are different ways to express love to another person. The author, Dr Gary Chapman calls them 'love languages'.
The 5 Love Languages are:
Words of affirmation
- hearing positive, loving words about yourself
- a loving touch - a hug, a massage, holding hands
- spending time together doing something fun
- receiving even something little like a beautiful pebble or leaf works for this
Acts of service
- having someone do something for you - wash the dishes, empty the bins etc.
Dr Chapman's theory is that while everyone enjoys receiving all of these expressions of love to one degree or another to feel loved, each person also has one or two primary love languages that help them feel more loved. For example if your love language is gifts and your partner never gives you gifts you will begin to feel unloved even if your partner is using all the other love languages with you.
For me, I found this concept of love languages revolutionary. Andy and I discussed what we felt our primary love languages are and we are looking for ways to speak each others primary love language more often. As the parents to two energetic young boys knowing that if I speak words of affirmation to Andy it will boost him up and let him know that I love him feels really empowering. Knowing what my own needs are has certainly brought more love between us as I become aware of what I need to feel loved too.
What I find really interesting is that these love languages can be applied to parenting. Each child has their own love language and by using all the love languages with your child you are preparing them for their future relationships. Through us as role models demonstrating each of the love languages with our children, they learn how to show someone that they care about them. As we learn what our child's primary love language is, we can use that to boost them up particularly during stressful or difficult times and to ensure they always feel loved too.
And heaps of books on the subject too. I read 'The 5 Love Languages of Children' which Chapman wrote with Dr Ross Campbell MD lent to me by a friend. I found there was plenty enough information in that book to apply the concept to our marriage too although there are separate books for this purpose if you don't have children!
I hope you had a very happy valentines day filled with all 5 expressions of love!