Let’s think about a different kind of gift. It’s not costly. In fact, it will hardly affect our wallets, but it may greatly affect our hearts.
Here’s the challenge: Identify your loved ones’ (spouse, child, parent, friend) Love Language, and give them the unique gift of love.
Recently at Christmas, I opened a gift box, expecting the usual, but what I found moved me to tears. The box contained a creatively written card which indicated the gift was for “A Night Off.” It included a book I wanted, my favourite chocolate, and a coupon for dinner prepared.
Why the tears? Because the gift made me feel loved. It was so specifically for me, from the one who loves and knows me best — my husband. This gift had low dollar value but very high emotional value and impact. You see, my love language is “gifts.” I love receiving them — but not just any gift will do. It must reflect that the giver really knows me, the way my husband knows that an evening to myself, reading, not cooking, eating my favourite chocolate (guilt-free), is the perfect gift. This feels like love.
What is a love language?
The Love Language concept — based on Gary Chapman’s bestselling book, The Five Love Languages — is that everyone has a love language, or a way we best receive love at an emotional level. Many times we miscommunicate. We think we are expressing love, but the other doesn’t feel loved. It’s the emotional equivalent of one person speaking Chinese and the other Spanish — we aren’t communicating, no matter the effort or volume.
How do I learn my loved ones’ language?
With a little attentiveness, we may already know. What makes their face light up? Remember, this is the way they best receive deep emotional love, not necessarily the way they show their love. Read the following list, taken from Gary Chapman’s book, and you’ll probably identify which of the five love languages fits best.
- Words of Affirmation: “If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you,’ are important — hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.”
- Quality Time: “Undivided attention is critical for this type of person; really being there — with the TV off, cell phone away, and all chores and tasks on standby — makes your significant other feel truly special and loved.”
- Receiving Gifts: “Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized.”
- Acts of Service: “Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? The words he or she most wants to hear: ‘Let me do that for you.’ Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tells speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.”
- Physical Touch: “Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face — they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial.”
Once we’ve identified our loved ones’ language, do something special. Be creative. Write a card using “words of affirmation,” give a coupon for a “physical touch” back rub, or for some “quality time” offer a coupon for an outing your loved one enjoys (include a promise to leave the cell phone in your pocket and the kids at home). “Acts of service” might be a coupon for dinner prepared or a day off from house work. Coupons work well because they are tangible and can be wrapped. If your loved one has the language of “gifts,” choose something that reflects how well you know them. It doesn’t have to be costly, just personal.
There are more ideas in Chapman’s book, and you’ll come up with even more creative ones on your own. You know your loved ones better than anyone.
So on this occasion, let’s communicate our love by giving a gift that speaks their language. And be prepared for joyful tears….