In today's social media crazed society, we are seeing more and more of an actual real social disconnect. We have hundreds of "friends", but almost all at a superficial level. From what I have observed, this is affecting relationships at all levels, and I believe that's it's a result of a lack of understanding of love.
My wife and I have been discussing a lot lately about love languages and how we each feel loved by the other. We're improving in this area and can say with much certainty that we have a much stronger marriage after 19 years than we ever have
The last couple of weeks we've been talking about what our children's love languages are, and I'm sure if you have more than one child you've come to the same conclusion THEY'RE ALL DIFFERENT!!! Not only do they feel loved differently from one another, but they feel loved differently than we do.
This week our youngest child(12) wanted to spend time with his oldest sister(18), while she watched TV. Grey's Anatomy of all shows. I know it's not his preferred show, but his primary love language is Quality Time. After a heated argument he left the room upset.
Now my love language is not quality time, so it can be difficult for me to understand, but I recognized what was happening(by divine intervention I'm sure). My boy was feeling unloved in that moment, so I needed to act.
When he went to the trampoline to wallow in his sorrow, I followed. Now trampolines can be hard on a 40 year old body, but I persisted. He talked, and talked and talked. I'm convinced, that just that 20 minute time on the trampoline filled up his love bank.
When he realized I was tired out we came inside. Then I started talking to him in my love language 'Acts of Service'. I made him a snack. I didn't receive much of a thanks for it, but it was a pure expression of love to my child.
It helps put into perspective for the times when I want to be left alone, but he is hanging by my side, or non stop chattering. He is expressing his love to me. He's not trying to annoy me. So when I don't receive thanks for the endless service to my children, it's not because they don't love me, it's simply cause they don't recognize it as an expression of my love.
The five love languages by Gary Chapman are:
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- Words of affirmation
- Receiving Gifts
He's authored several books on the matter
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
- 5 Love Languages of Children, The: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively
- The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People
When we recognize something as powerful as this it doesn't just help the other, it helps you! You begin to realize that this world's definition of love is skewed. It is not an emotional response, but rather a continual decision to act.
Here are 4 ways that I've found help develop more love in relationships. It's working for me.!
- Identify what your love language is
How well do you really know yourself? Our natural inclination is to always point out external reasons why we experience hurt. Often we've experienced hurt from others not because of them, but sometimes because of what love language we're filtering it through.
- Identify your spouse, children, friends love languages
This forces us to take our eyes of ourselves. Despite what love language you want to speak, you will find so much reward in connecting with someone on their level.Selflessness is a hard discipline to practice especially in our 'Me First' society, but it is actually fun.
- Recognize when the other is loving on you
It's so important that when you recognize what's happening that you acknowledge it. If you're a man, this is hard. I get it. We're pretty dumb at times, but there will be times you clue in. Don't let the opportunities slip by.It's such a reward when you're aware of what's going on, and you'll come to realize that you're loved more than you think.
- Respond with love not only in your own language, but in the others.
The easy thing to do when loving on someone is to resort to your own preferred language, but don't be lazy! Put in the work to find ways that will make a difference to the one you love.With three kids this can present a challenge. Today we try to fit everyone into the same box. Look at our education system. We feel like we can't give one child a gift without giving all them an equal gift, but if your child would feel more love by going on a date with their dad than by getting a new shirt, why do we doubt ourselves?
Yes, often we feel love as an emotional response, but is that really all that love is? I'm convinced that it's more than that! Love is demonstrated through action. Daily!
I won't pretend to be an expert on relationships, but this is what's working for me.
How about you? In what ways do you love others? In what ways have you seen love from others?