For all those who, like me are not all that romantic, I have to remind you that it is nearly Valentine’s Day! Time is running out, but before you just believe the media hype that tells you it will cost a packet, I have a word of warning, it is not what you give but how it is interpreted that counts! Just because the local florist wants you to send flowers, or the jewelery store encourages you to buy a ring doesn’t mean that is the best way to express your love for that special person in your life.
One of the helpful books on my bookshelf is called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. His basic thesis is that we all need to feel loved, and we often try to express that love to our partners but we are speaking a different language, and the message they receive is opposite to what was intended. Chapman recognises that early in a relationship we have the ability to be multi-lingual, and anything that our partner says or does proves their love, but the longer you stay in that relationship the more you revert to your primary love language. He lists five love languages:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch.
Note that only one of these is linked to gifts which is the usual focus on Valentine’s Day! Your partner might prefer to just get a hand written letter which tells them how much you appreciate them. There are many spouses who would rather have you home and more involved in family life than to get a bunch of roses. Others would measure your love and commitment in terms of how prepared you are to help with the dishes or do the laundry as much more meaningful than the words of a mass produced card. Maybe all that your significant other wants is an unhurried kiss and cuddle which would be much better for them than a box of chocolates.
This Valentine’s Day don’t just do what somebody else tells you is the right thing to do, think about it, look back on your past history as a couple and make a decision on the basis of fact. If you don’t know what your partner’s primary love language is, find out, because it will make a big difference to your love life!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley