Let me start by saying that I’m no more or less qualified than any other parent to be giving out advice. So I’m not going to. Instead, pretend I’m a friend telling you something I heard from my Mom and then take it or leave it, whichever you prefer. Everyone knows that our Moms love to give out unsolicited parenting advice (I see the irony in what I am doing right now). My Mom is no exception. The only problem is that my mom is a Marriage and Family therapist and an expert in her field. So I get stuck because often times I want to tune her out because she’s my mom but this is advice that people pay her large sums of money for. So I just nod and agree telling myself I’m not really listening, but then slowly I find myself coming back to what she said until eventually I’m thinking “Oh God, she’s right. I’ll never admit it to her.”
So let’s save everyone a couple hundred dollars in family therapy and I’ll pass annoying accurate advice on to you, in my secondhand interpretation of my involuntary child psychology seminars:
What’s a Love Language
Apparently everyone has a different love language. Kids, spouses, friends, family. This advice will work for pretty much any human being regardless of your relationship status. Everyone has a primary way that they feel loved and a primary way they show love. These love languages fit nicely into 5 categories:
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
Examples of Love Languages:
- Gifts – You feel the most loved when someone gives you a gift or something tangible such as a token of their love.
- Quality time – You feel the most loved when someone spends quality time with you. This would be like a spouse taking you on a date, or a parent playing in the child’s room with them for an hour.
- Words of affirmation – You feel the most loved when someone gives you words of affirmation from as simple as “good job” to “I am so proud of the person that you have become.”
- Acts of service – You fee the most loved when someone does an act of service for you like helps you with a project, fixes something of your that broke, takes the carpool for you.
- Physical touch – You fee the most love when someone shows you physical affection like a pat on the back, hug or kiss.
Quickly Identify Which You Are:
Image the following scenarios and see which one makes you the happiest.
1. Your partner comes home from work with roses for no reason other than to show he loves you.
2. Your partner says, “Why don’t you call the babysitter and see if she is free on Friday. I think we should do date night.”
3. Your partner says, “Honey, I don’t say this enough but you are a great Mom and the kids and I are lucky to have you.”
4. Your partner texts you and says “I’m going to leave work early and run those errands so you don’t have to.”
5. Your partner walks in the door after work and immediately comes up to kiss you hello before doing anything else.
Ok, which of those scenarios sounds the best to you. Basically, that is your love language.
Why Do Love Languages Matter?
Here’s the thing. Whatever your love language is, that’s generally how you show love too. If your a person that feels the most loved from words of affirmation, that’s generally how you will show your love too. But what if you are in a relationship with someone who has a different love language? Friction! I think without realizing it, this can be a big communication breakdown for relationships. Imagine a wife whose love language is words of affirmation and a husband whose love language is acts of service. He is constantly doing nice things for her as a way to show his love when all she really wants is him to say it. Without realizing it they might fall victim to discourse because neither are really seeing the other spouses love because they are both looking in the wrong places.
Love Languages and Children
When I learned this and applied this to my two year old, it was earth shattering. All this time I was showing her love through words of affirmation and physical affection, but her love language is quality time. As a mom with a laundry list of reasons why I’m busy, I had no idea the impact that this was actually having on Summer. When I would literally say “Sorry Summer, I can’t play, I’m busy.” It disappointed her more than I ever realized. Hugs and kisses every night from Mommy aren’t an equal substitute for the days I wouldn’t stop what I was doing and give her 15 minutes of undevoted attention.
I’ll be the first to admit that cell phones are a huge distraction for my husband and I. At any given moment we are carrying on text conversations with several people, checking emails, working on our phones, or just wasting time. Knowing that my daughters primary love language has opened my eyes and might do the same for you too.
How To Use Love Languages to Your Advantage
Figure out what your partners love language is and try to add in those signals to ensure they get the message. Or clue your partner in on your love language so they aren’t burying their hear in the sand out of frustration because they aren’t getting the feedback they want when they show you love.
My mom told me to get the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, she might have even sent it. But since it’s the digital age and only myself and the AARP read paperbacks, here are the digital resources so you can get started right away: 5 Love Languages: FREE STUDY GUIDES