As I type this, it’s Valentine’s Day night. My husband gave me a box of Godiva chocolate, and I gave him a card with foxes on the cover (his favorite). My family went to church this morning and sang songs about God’s love, heard a sermon about perfect love, and the kids came out of Sunday School with boxes of conversation hearts that had a sticker on it with verses about God is Love. Now we’re getting snowed in and school has already been canceled for tomorrow. All in all, it’s been a good day.
But, not everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. And, I’m not talking about the single friends out there who don’t have a Valentine. I’m talking about the scores of wives who feel unloved this day. While the Bible commands wives to respect their husbands, it commands husbands to LOVE their wives. On this day of love, a wife shouldn’t be left in tears, feeling unloved.
Social media seems to be filled with bitterness, hurt, anger. Long ago, I used to roll my eyes at women who cried over the fact that their husbands didn’t get them some gift on Valentine’s Day, or their husbands didn’t take them somewhere special, or their husbands didn’t shower them with praise and affection. I didn’t understand how the lack of a gift on a fun silly day filled with doily hearts and chocolate frosting could possibly matter.
Then, I read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. One thing I took away from that book was absolutely how to love my husband in the way that HE understands love. I learned how to love my children in the way that they feel love. And, the next time a holiday like this one rolled around, I had an “AHA!” moment.
It isn’t a matter for eye rolling – it’s very serious. Clearly, those women whose expectations were crushed had husbands who didn’t speak their love language. Here’s a quick breakdown:
According to Gary Chapman, we each speak some dialect of five basic love languages. They are:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
So, for instance, if your husband’s love language is physical touch, and you cook and clean and iron his clothes with loving attention, plan fun dates, tell him how much you respect him, and pick up little things that make you think of him — and yet don’t reach out and hold his hand or stop him for a hug, he is actually going to feel unloved — even though you’re showering him with love.
If your love language is receiving gifts and your husband rubs your feet, helps you with household chores, takes you to an amazing dinner date, and writes you love notes but doesn’t give you a gift, you’re actually going to feel unloved, even though your friends might be envying the love showered on you by your husband.
Years ago, my husband and I read The Five Love Languages out loud, together. He immediately knew his love language – physical touch. I’m not a natural toucher. In fact, at the time we read it, I had had been a nursing mother for over three years (As my 2-year-old weened, I gave birth to his brother). There were days when being touched any more by another person was the last thing I wanted. I learned to realize that I needed to touch his hand or scoot closer to him on the couch so that he would feel my love.
That book had such a profound affect on our marriage and the way we “speak” to each other that we now give it as a gift to every couple we know who are getting married. It’s that profound.
I also use it as a way to get to know my characters. I don’t want all of my heroes to speak “Physical Touch” and all of my heroines to speak “Quality Time” as a mirror to my husband and I — I want them to be who they are, so I pay attention to love languages as I’m writing and make sure that actions and reactions fit each character’s individual personalities.
Here is how they’re broken down:
Words of Affirmation:
Communicate by encouraging, affirming, appreciating, listening.
How to do it: Send a note, or a text, or a card. Encourage with your words as often as you can.
What to avoid: Non-constructive criticism, not recognizing/appreciating an effort made.
Acts of Service:
Communicate by helping. “I’ll help with…” Let them know you’re there partnering with them.
How to do it: Do chores together, make breakfast in bed, go out of your way to help alleviate a workload.
Things to avoid: Making the requests of others a higher priority, lack of follow through on tasks.
Communicate by: Thoughtfulness
How to do it: Give gifts whether it’s a special occasion or not. If something reminds you of them, pick it up, even if it’s something small.
Things to avoid: Forgetting or ignoring special occasions, unenthusiastic gift receiving
Communicate by: Uninterrupted conversations, on-on-one time
How to do it: Create special moments together, take walks together, weekend getaways, date nights
What to avoid: Distractions when spending time together, long stints without one-on-one time together.
Communicate by: Body language, touching to emphasize love
How to do it: Hugging, kissing, holding hands, physical affection, making intimacy a priority
What to avoid: Physical neglect, receiving affection coldly
Do you know what your love language is? Do you know your spouse’s love language? If you don’t, I highly recommend reading the book together and discovering just how you can thoroughly show your spouse your love!
I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and felt very loved and respected.