Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Speaking The Five Languages of Love

A radio talk show host told this story: "One day while I was out, my wife called to tell me we needed milk. Stopping by the store, I thought of the many other items we out of, and bought them. Surprisingly, my wife was ecstatic when I returned home with the groceries. She was so complimentary, that I felt like a superhero. In view of that experience, I thought of other things that I could do to receive a similar response from her. After thinking a long time, a bright idea came to mind. I thought hey, I'll buy her a stereo -- she's always wanted one, so she'll be happy; I'll install it myself, so it won't cost us anything, and attach it to the wall shelf so it won't be in the way; she'll like that. Since it was Christmas, I decided to make this gift her Christmas present. I was really excited as I imagined how happy and loving she would be that I did this for her. With that picture in mind, I could hardly wait to surprise her. When Christmas Day finally arrived, I awoke early, and silently snuck downstairs to quickly install the system. It took me some time, but my wife likes to sleep in on Christmas morning. At last I was done! Calling my wife downstairs, I asked her to close her eyes, and come with me to the family room where her gift was waiting. I was excited as I anticipated her reaction. Opening her eyes at my request, she glanced at the stereo, looked at me and said, "What is this?" I was a little surprised at her question, and I replied that it was her Christmas gift. I told her that I had bought the shelf for her a while ago, along with the stereo, and had installed it myself. I asked her what she thought, and with a forced smile, she looked at me, and appropriately replied, 'Oh honey, that was so nice of you.' She kissed me on the cheek, walked into the kitchen and began to prepare breakfast. And there I stood, in the middle of the family room where she had left me, wondering where I had gone wrong. I'm not sure I ever found out, but I've never bought her anything like that since."

This poor radio host could have taken some lessons from Gary Chapman. Over the years, Dr. Chapman has counseled thousands of married couples who were seeking to restore the mutual and affirming love they once knew. From counseling these couples, Dr. Chapman states that truly connecting with a loved one comes down to one simple fact: you need to know and speak their love language. Love languages are the primary ways in which we experience being loved, and express that loving devotion and commitment in return. Although our primary and secondary Love Languages are acquired in early childhood, we can learn how to reach the heart of our partner (or others) by choice. It doesn't matter if you’re a spouse, a parent, a friend, coworker, or a church member; the five love languages are the same. Each one of us has both a primary and a secondary language, which we speak. If someone speaks to us in a language not natively ours, we may understand, but not experience his or her intent (e.g. feel loved). Following is a non-ordinal list of the five languages complete with a simple explanation.

1. Words of Affirmation – Receiving sincere compliments, endearments or thoughtful comments.
2. Gifts – Receiving presents, whether made, purchased or picked (e.g. flowers)
3. Quality Time – Spending time face to face; Spending time in a mutual activity where you focus on each other (a dialect).
4. Acts of Service – Receiving help with chores without being asked.
5. Physical Touch – Receiving Caresses, hugs or being touched on the hands, back or head (Which does not necessarily involve sexual intimacy.)

Have you ever spoken one or more of the above languages to a loved one, and not gotten the response you'd hoped for? Perplexed, puzzled, and hurt, you've wondered why that person didn't respond? Indeed some of you may have angrily thought that he or she was so ungrateful. Well, one possible explanation to your situation could be that you did not speak that person's love language. Perhaps if you express love in his or her own love language, you'll receive a loving and appreciative response. But, if you ask, "what's your love language?" you might not get the response you're looking for either. Most people don't know their love language. But here's a quick way to determine yours, it's the thing that angers you when you don't receive it from someone you love, who claims to love you.

Wednesday's Sabbath School lesson emphasizes the love between husband and wife as demonstrated by Solomon and Shulamite. While not initially apparent in the text itself, the author's charting of chapters 1 and 2, along with their respective verses, allows the reader to see the five languages of love present in the story. Furthermore, references to these five languages are not only evident, but also commonplace. Lest we forget, The Song of Solomon is not only a love story featuring Solomon and Shulamite, but is in fact an allegory of the love of Christ for us -- His beloved bride. So although God sees us collectively, as a whole, a corporate unit, He also sees us individually, and loves each of us in the primary language in which we feel loved. Folks, God speaks all Five-Love Languages - fluently.

The scripture says, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: That we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). This same message is repeated a total of 15 times in the New Testament. Jesus Himself has said, "By this all men would know you are My disciples, if you have Agape, one to another” (John 13:35). In and of ourselves, we tend to love others like we want to be loved. If you experience love through acts of service, you will tend to do acts of service for others as an expression of your love. In other words, whatever our primary love language is, we tend to love others out of it. Yet, Christ has called us to love Him supremely, and to love one another as He has loved us.

So, how do we go about loving one another? Perhaps one way is to find out the love language of the person you hope to reach, and then choose to love him or her in his or her own language. If the Holy Spirit leads you to do this, and you are willing, you will have His power to help you. And you'll need it too, for speaking (or expressing) love in a language that is not your primary or secondary language is not easy. It is simple, but not easily accomplished. For by nature, we are selfish and self-centered, yet with Christ indwelling us, we are enabled. Perhaps choosing to love in this way may shed new light on the scripture, "unconditionally love one another as I have unconditionally loved you" (John 13:34). I'm betting on it, how about you?

The Special Insights web page resides at: