Yesterday we celebrated what advertisers tout as the most romantic of all days, St. Valentine's Day. In fact as soon as the Christmas inventory is removed from store shelves, Cupid lands with his hearts and flowers. A month or more of commercials defining love by expressions of material goods can easily set the unsuspecting up for disappointment. To one lady the receipt of a dozen red blooms might be a delight. To another this might be the source of much sneezing and discomfort. To another partner chocolates may delight, but to the dieter this may be seen as an act of sabotage instead of love. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but another may prefer her partner not to financially tax their tight budget with such frivolity. Although February 14th is behind us, there are still 364 days to celebrate your love, if you are fluent in the languages of love.
Relationship expert, Gary Chapman, theorizes that there are 5 universal languages of love (1995). We tend to express affection in the manner in which we wish to receive it. Unfortunately our partners may speak another dialect. This leads to frustration on the part of the giver and disappointment on the part of the receiver, who often does not recognize of the efforts put forth. Just as a match with one partner speaking solely Japanese and the other speaking solely Spanish would fail to fully flourish, relationships involving partners who speak different love languages are limited. Fortunately it is easier to learn your partner's love language than mastering Mandarin.
Business owners delight in Chapman's first identified language of affection, gift giving. In today's society material expressions of emotions are extended to us even before we take our first breath. The baby shower offers a chance for friends and family to celebrate the pending new addition. Flowers send messages of congratulations, condolences, gratitude, and yes...love. Jewelry may be bestowed to mark significant events in life, including engagements, graduations, and even retirements. It may be hard to believe, but some see gift giving as an attempt to purchase affections rather than as a genuine expression of devotion.
Many do not wish to receive material tokens, but prefer to enjoy quality time with their beloveds. Chapman explains that the giving of time, one of the most precious commodities we have, may be appreciated by some as greater than any material gift one could be bestowed. Spending an evening snuggled together watching a favorite movie or sneaking off for an impromptu weekend alone speaks to the soul of those who view the giving of time as the most romantic gesture of all.
As children we are taught that kind words garner greater promise than hurtful comments. Chapman contends many see the giving and receiving of words of affirmation as effective tools to enhance fondness for between partners. A simple "Good morning Beautiful" can put a smile on a lady's face and carry her through the entire day. Leaving notes with sayings such as "I love you," "Your smile brightens my world," or "Last night was amazing" in places your guy is sure to find them will keep the romance alive if words of affirmation are his preferred love language.
Acts of service may warm our loved ones' hearts, according to Chapman's work. A husband making sure his wife has a full tank of gas in her car or bringing her breakfast in bed may find himself rewarded by her recording his favorite television show or making his favorite dish for dinner. A mother may find it heart warming to come home to her son tidying the house or helping a sibling with homework. Doing something kind for the object of your affections rarely goes unnoticed or unappreciated.
Physical touch expresses attraction and affection and cements the bonds between partners. Be it holding your loved one's hand while driving or consistently greeting him with a kiss at the end of the day the extent of this love language is limited only by your imagination. Couples write their ownscripts for physical touch. It may be as innocent as placing a hand on her shoulder while you sleep or rubbing his neck when he has a headache to joining one another in the shower. This love language not only strengthens bonds, but has been shown to promote health and well being.
As relationships mature, couples' love languages evolve as the individuals learn more about one another and what makes the other feel appreciated. As individuals age and face new experiences their own love languages may shift. We may come to hold dear expressions of affection extended by our mates, even if they are not in our preferred love language. The simple act of making the effort to learn the other's love language is a demonstration of devotion in itself.
For more information on this topic check out The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. To determine your own love language take the quiz at http://www.beliefnet.com/love-family/relationships/quiz/the-5-love-languages-quiz.aspx