A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Dec. 24-30, 2014
HOLIDAY FORUM: WHICH LOVE LANGUAGE DO YOU SPEAK?
Whether you call this season Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Nativity, Midwinter, Noël, or Pasko in Tagalog, this is a time of rejoicing, thanksgiving, and the traditional giving and receiving of gifts. So before we go on, please allow me to greet you first: Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!
I credit my professor in our “Passion and Purpose” class at Chabot College, Prof. Cherise Martinez-McBride, with alerting me to these “Five Love Languages” by pastor and marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman. The first book in his continuing series was published way back in 1992, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” so I’m sure that some of you may already be familiar with these love languages. However, I will operate on the assumption that we all need a refresher course, especially since this season is a great time to express our love and appreciation to our nears and dears, whether family, relatives, and friends. Are we really speaking our loved one’s language when it comes to the emotional expression of love?
According to Dr. Chapman, based on his over 30 years of counseling couples, he determined that there are five distinct love languages:
1. Words of affirmation
2. Quality time
3. Receiving gifts
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch
These languages are not only “spoken” by married couples, although the original books were geared towards spouses. These languages are also applicable to singles, children, teenagers, and co-workers, to name a few other groups. Here are brief descriptions of each love language. If you want to take the interactive profile quiz so that you can be sure which language/s you speak, you can go to http://www.fivelovelanguages.com
1. Words of affirmation — According to Dr. Chapman, “One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up… Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love (Chapman, p 43).” You don’t have to exaggerate. Words of affirmation could be as simple as, “You look stylish in that dress,” or, “I really like how you fix my lunch box that I take to work with me every day.”
2. Quality time — If this is your love language, you appreciate time spent with your friend or partner doing something that both of you like to do. It also means focusing one’s attention, no fair glancing at your cell phone while your partner is talking, and maintaining eye contact to denote that you are here in the present. Quality time is about communicating, both speaking and listening.
3. Receiving gifts — If you think that this particular language is just about receiving “expensive” presents, you may be half-right. If you consider that the costly gift is an investment towards the longevity of your relationship, then money may be no object indeed and you would have made your partner happy. However, if your partner’s language is receiving gifts, then he or she may also be yearning for the gift of your presence — yes, of you just being there. Gifts could range from simple or handmade (a fresh flower plucked from the garden, an origami swan, etc.) to complex or expensive ( intricate jewelry, a dinner in a 5-star restaurant, etc.). The most important thing is that you put your partner’s needs and desires first because you genuinely want to see him/her happy.
4. Acts of service — This means doing things you know your partner would like you to do. As Dr. Chapman puts it, “Such actions as cooking a meal, setting a table, washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning a commode, changing the baby’s diaper, dusting the bookcase, keeping the car in operating condition, paying the bills, trimming the shrubs, walking the dog, changing the cat’s litter box, and dealing with landlords and insurance companies are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love (Chapman, p. 118-119).”
5. Physical touch — This language is spoken by people who feel loved and comforted when they are in close physical contact with their spouse, through holding hands, kissing, hugging, and sexual intercourse. These are all valid emotional expressions of one’s love for the partner, but most especially if it’s the language that your partner speaks.
What is the point of learning about these five different love languages? Well, first of all, we have to know ourselves. Do you know what love language you speak? You can use Goodsearch.com to look for free tests that you can take to evaluate yourself or go to http://www.fivelanguages.com. Next, ask your partner to take the test, too. Hopefully the test you both took will be the springboard to a stimulating discussion between you about your similarities and differences. You need not be discouraged if you somehow interpret the results to mean that you and your partner are “not compatible.” Really, it’s about learning to speak a second language. You won’t be adept at the new language at first, like for example, someone like me whose primary language is Tagalog trying to speak Deutsch, but with practice then I’ll get better at pleasing my partner by speaking his language.
Let me tell you a story of a couple whom we will call Julius and Carrie. Julius, a hardworking top management type, is the kind of person who gives directions by telling you the distance of their house from the nearest gas station in meters of measurement, like let’s say “200 meters north of the Shell station.” Carrie, on the other hand, would just tell you that their house is right across a sari-sari store called Aling Tinay’s as soon as you round the corner on the left. Julius’ primary love language is acts of service, and so since Carrie takes care of her housewifely duties, being a good wife to him and a great mom to their two boys, he thinks that everything’s OK. However, it turns out that Carrie has been unhappy for a long time. She says that no matter how hard she works around the house, she rarely hears anything like acknowledgment or appreciation from Julius. Now could you guess what Carrie’s primary love language is?
This wonderful season, I encourage you, my dear readers, to be agents of love by spreading the valuable lessons we’ve all learned along the way. The world we live in can be confusing and fearful, and it may be easy to give in to cynicism and doubt. Please don’t. Instead, choose to believe. Choose to hope. Choose to love. So yes, I say, Merry CHRISTmas to all of us!
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