Developed by Gary Chapman, the Five Love Languages, is a simple framework that can teach us how to love more effectively. The theory is simple and powerful. Love is like a language. People ‘speak’ love in different ways, some through words of affirmation, others through thoughtful gifts, acts of service, quality time or touch.

Each person has a preferred Love Language; a style of loving that is particularly powerful in helping them to feel loved. Like a spoken language, this is also the language to which they instinctively turn when expressing their love.

And here’s the problem. The way a person expresses their love may not be the best way for the other person to receive love. By being aware of how your family members best experience love, you can tailor your expressions to match their needs. After all, genuine love is always other-centred. It’s about loving the person the way they like to be loved, not the way we like it!

With Christmas approaching our thoughts automatically turn towards gifts. The material values of our culture tell us that bigger and more expensive gifts are evidence of greater love… but are they really? When we understand that love is experienced differently by others, we can start to think differently about the way we can love and honour them through our gifts. Here are some counter-cultural ideas to help you plan a Christmas gift exchange that will speak ‘LOVE!’ loud and clear!

Words of Affirmation

These people are naturally full of praise for other people. They love to be admired and praised for their beauty, kindness, generosity, intelligence and talents. They come alive when you give them a compliment.
Gift Idea: Decorate a scroll or card and write a praise letter on it listing all the things about that person that you admire and appreciate.

Thoughtful Gifts

These people appreciate concrete, thoughtful gestures that say, ‘I’ve been thinking about you, and I know that you’ll really enjoy this’. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, in fact, less expense is better – the key factor is the thoughtfulness.
Gift idea: Buy or make something to nourish the soul; a copy of The Five Love Languages, a spiritual classic, a CD of sacred music in their preferred style.

Acts of Service

People with this Love Language thrive on gestures of service. They deeply appreciate simple acts of kindness and generosity.
Gift Idea: Make gift voucher which can be redeemed at a later time for a service they will value, eg babysitting for a night out, a chore they hate doing like mowing the lawns or doing the dishes.

Quality Time

In this Love Language, people feel deeply loved when someone gives them their undivided attention. They love long conversations, family gatherings and just about any activity that can be shared with another.
Gift Idea: Make a voucher to spend time together such as going out for a coffee, playing ball with your little brother, reading a story to your elderly grandmother.

Touch

For some people, affectionate touch like warm hugs, kisses and holding hands communicates love and trust. They thrive on affection!
Gift Idea: Make a ‘frequent hug’ card; when they get to 10 hugs, they get an extra-long hug for free!

 

This Article was featured in the December 2011 Edition of the CathFamily e-Magazine.

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