Monday, March 15, 2010

Question of the Week - Languages of Love

Recently, Londo was telling me about the the Five Languages of Love, which comes from a book a marriage counselor wrote. It's pretty fascinating, and I think it explains so much about people and how they connect and disconnect. After all, I doubt every person speaks the exact same language(s) as their partner or even their children!

It boils down to this: what you do to express your love might not be "heard" by the person to whom you are expressing it because they speak a different language of love than you do.

It reminds me of when Londo and I first moved in together. Though we had very little money, we both wanted to express our love for each other and excitement about cohabitating. I distinctly remember coming home one time, and Londo showing me how he cleaned up the living room as a surpise for me! I was happy about that and praised the effort, but I did feel disappointed when I walked in the kitchen and realized it was still a mess. Then a few weeks later, I cleaned the entire kitchen from top to bottom in an effort to be thoughtful to Londo. He was happy and praised my effort, but I soon realized that he wished the living room had been cleaned.

And so we discovered each others "hot spots." It drives me crazy when the kitchen is messy, and if Londo wants to do something for me, he should clean the kitchen. Londo can't stand it when the living room is a mess, and if I want to do something for him, I should clean the living room. If I clean the kitchen, I'm really doing it for me. If he cleans the living room, he is really doing it for him. It's fine for either of us to clean up the room we need cleaned, we just don't act like we are doing it for the other person.

That's what the language of love is like. We all have our primary languages, as well as secondary ones. It's fine to show our love in the ways that are primary and/or more important to us. But if we really want to show another person how much we love them, value them and care about them, we should use their primary (or other high up on the list) language. All the languages are important, and knowing about the other languages can help us all identify and realize when others are showing their love for us.

The five languages are:
-Words of Affirmation
-Quality Time
-Receiving Gifts
-Acts of Service
-Physical Touch

I was pretty sure I knew my primary language and the general break down of the other languages for me, and the assessment quiz pretty much confirmed what I thought.

This week's question of the week is:

What is your primary language of love?

My primary language is Words of Affirmation, followed extremely closely by Quality Time (in fact, they ranked the same on the assessment, but I know that the Words of Affirmation is a bit more important to me). Next on my list was Physical Touch, followed by Acts of Service, with Receiving Gifts coming in last.

I know for a fact that Londo's languages are NOT the same as mine. But I think we've recognized each other's successes and even attempts over the years in all five languages. And now we are on the lookout for what language of love our children speak.

How about you? What language do you prefer? How would you rate the languages for you? Did you take the assessment, and if so, what did you get? Is your partner's language the same as yours? How about your kids? Do tell, so that we can all try to speak each other's languages!


Anonymous said...

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Katie said...

Somewhat unsurprisingly, mine were (in order): Touch, Words, Service/Time (equal, but I know I prefer service), and Gifts.

I found the quiz difficult, because I found several of the pairs to be of near-equal worth.

paola said...

Really interesting!! I will have to do the quiz. I hate to admit I think what rates highest for me is receiving gifts followed closely by words of affirmation. Physical touch probably comes last( I guess I'm all touched out by the end of the day that's the last thing I want). Sounds awful doesn't it but I know I am so thrilled when hubby gives me something (I am not talking a Louis Vuitton hand bag or anything). Something like a flower picked from a field or a photocopied article from a newspaper.

I know he puts physical contact first or at least close to the top. And words of affirmation, which I do regularly supply.

Looks like we don't always speak the same language of love.

caramama said...

Anonymous - Happy to help... I think?

@Katie - I agree that some of them were very hard to choose from, since they ranked so closely.

@paola - Receiving gifts is a perfectly great way to speak/hear love! It's not about materialism. Giving gifts is about thoughtfulness and showing someone how much you mean to them. I really wish I was better at it, because my husband is fluent in that language!

Anonymous said...

the quiz is incompletable, as several pairs are both equally not-true. eg:

i love when he cleans the house.
i love when he gives me his undivided attention.

am i supposed to pretend that i could pick one of those 2 things in an alternate reality?

: /

caramama said...

@Anonymous 7:24 - It's not a perfect quiz, that's for sure. Maybe instead of taking the quiz, you could think about what means the most to you overall in how someone expresses their love to you? After Londo and I talked about these languages of love, I was able to pretty much figure out mine way before I knew about the quiz.

Jac said...

I received this book as a wedding present and it was really eye opening. It explains why I get upset if my husband buys a wonderfully expensive present for me, but forgets to give me a card (I am definitely Words of Affirmation, followed by Physical Touch). And why, every time I come home from a trip to the store, my husband asks me what I got him (he is definitely Receiving Gifts, followed by Acts of Service). It's unfortunate because I am really terrible about buying gifts - we're very fortunate and we have everything we need, so sometimes I feel like I am buying crap just to show him I love him. Luckily, Quality Time doesn't seem to be important to either of us, cuz that doesn't happen too often.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

Although the test doesn't work for me -- script error, probably a browser incompatibility issue -- I'm almost certain I'd rank service first, with time and gifts close after, then touch and finally words. In my relationship with my husband, words aren't as important, because I already know that he understands and values me without him saying it.

@paola, I think that it is common for mothers of small children to feel all "touched out" at the end of the day. Plus, what you really want is some sleep, right?

And there's nothing wrong with valuing a well-chosen gift. My husband has a knack for picking things out for me, and it's another sign that he knows and understands me. It isn't about the cost of the gift: it's often a book or a CD he's sure I'd enjoy, or some food I particularly like. If he got me a Vuitton handbag, it'd be a sure sign he didn't understand me. :)

mom2boy said...

Acts of service by a big margin then words of affirmation/physical touch. And I suppose if I think about how I express love that makes total sense. And I know that my ex is a receiving (and therefore giving) gifts by a big margin. Christmas was always a struggle for us. I see why now.

Jac said...

@mom2boys - Christmas has always been a big struggle for us as well, for the same reason. We finally resolved it this past year by agreeing to limit each other to five gifts (which still seems over the top to me, but marriage is nothing if not about compromise). We each agreed to give the other: one item of clothing, one book, one "experience" (like a class, or a trip to the spa), one food item (Almond Roca, yummy!), and one toy. Gosh, just writing that out makes it excessive. But much better than previous years when my husband went all out and I would be tired and bored of opening presents halfway through the pile. All I really wanted to do was cuddle on the couch and listen to carols.

Becoming Mommy said...

Acts of Service.

I'll go to the ends of the Earth and do whatever is necessary for those I love. I'm a person of deeds--not so much words or gifts and I know I can be standoffish about touch. I don't need the quiz to tell me that, I know me well enough.

Cloud said...

I have the same problem as Parisienne.. but I suspect for me it is words and "service", but since Hubby does a lot around the house, the biggie is words. He is not so good at expressing his appreciation or emotions (he's an engineer, and usually says something along the lines of "Of course I love you/appreciate you. I'll let you know if anything changes."

I'll have to talk to him and see if I can figure out what his preferences are. I suspect touch and quality time.

What a stunning mismatch! Interesting to think about....

caramama said...

@Jac - I think I'm going to have to get the book. And my husband used to do the same thing when I'd come home from shopping--and I usually didn't have anything for him. Your gift limit does seems like a lot to me, but it would probably be perfect for my husband.

@Parisienne Mais Presque - So true about feeling touched out after a day (and night) with young children.

@mom2boy - Thinking in terms of the languages of love really opened my eyes to certain struggles as well, including Christmas at our house. My husband has always been a fantastic gift giver, and I've always been a really crappy gift giver and felt bad about it. At least now I understand why.

@Becoming Mommy - I can totally appreciate that. I really respect people who do good deeds for those they love.

@Cloud - When I took the test, I wondered if Acts of Service would have ranked higher if it wasn't simply accepted (by both Londo and I) that Londo does half the household chores. Perhaps if he wasn't naturally inclined to do them, it would be more important to me that he did them.

As for the mismatch aspect, the website says that the author/marriage counselor "discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own." I wonder if it's maybe an evolutionary thing for the sake of progeny. That is people match up with/have kids with others who speak a different language and that provides the children with more languages of love as they grow up. Just a random thought I had with no basis in anything other than my imagination.

hush said...

I think the 'mismatch aspect' has more to do with the fact that we tend to choose partners who have personal qualities that allow us to re-enact childhood conflicts with our parents (often at a subconscious level). For example, DH's mom was a crazy over the top gift giver, but her seeming generosity was actually always about her. She is a compulsive spender, and a thief, who ruined the credit scores of her two sons by taking out accounts in their juvenile names so that she could give them a ton of crap they didn't even want and never played with - oh and to buy herself fur coats that she never wore. So, understandably, my DH is decidedly NOT a speaker of the Receiving Gifts language. We are pretty close to what @Paola wrote. I'm Receiving Gifts with Words of Affirmation a close 2nd. DH is Physical Touch with Quality Time a close 2nd. Hello, mismatch! But it works.

Karen said...

That is an awesome book and one that I recommend to everyone. Sam and I have the same love language, which makes for an easy marriage. The kids all differ, but we've given them the test and know where they stand as well. It's good to know that you're being "heard" when you want your kids to know that you love them.

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