Love, if I’m going to start talking about love, I can only do so from my point of view… But if i talk about love from my point of view, you might say ‘but that isn’t love… THIS is what love is’ and the next person might say ‘No THIS is what love is…’. Its the same boundless warm hearted feeling and yet each and every persons perception of what love it, how it should feel and what it should look like differs.
Have you ever been in a relationship with a person who says they love you, but it doesn’t look or feel the way you thought it would? Like that birthday present you once dropped hints for, that when you finally unwrapped it, wasn’t quite right, wrong colour, wrong brand, wrong present altogether? Love can be like this, and if we limit our perception of it, so that only something that fits our ideal and our perceptions, then we may in fact miss out on the gift of love altogether.
Author Gary Chapman highlighted that people express love through five different languages;
• Words of Affirmation – spoken praise & appreciation
• Acts of Service – helping a loved one
• Gift Giving – showing love through giving gifts small and large
• Quality time – giving undivided attention
• Physical Touch – from a small touch here and there, to holding hands, kissing and of course sexual intimacy
Perhaps already you can recognise which of these love languages you choose to communicate or receive. Or perhaps even you are unsure of how you enjoy giving and receiving love. If you yourself are unsure then how can your loved ones know how you need to be treated in order to feel love?
These days there are online tests you can take to find out what your love languages are. Normally we are predominant in one or two, and perhaps even hold no value in others. Finding out your love language and that of those of the people that you share love with, can greatly change both how you express love with others and how you start to recognise when loved is being shared with you.
A good friend of mine used the love languages some years ago to smooth out some creases in her relationship. She and her partner just didn’t seem to be on the same page when it came to love, and they weren’t! While he worked hard to provide for her and bought expensive gifts as an expression of his love, all she really wanted him to do was commit to spending a few hours on the weekends to be fully present in her company without the distraction of work. He was showing her he loved her through gifts, but she couldn’t feel his love because it wasn’t coming to her in a way that she could recognise.
In the end they realised that yes, they did love each other deeply, but needed to compromise in the way they shared loved. He committed to spending quality time with her, and she recognised that when he gave her gifts that was his way of saying ‘I love you’. She even learnt to give gifts in return so that he would recognise that she loved him too.
Often love is compromise. Often love is broadening your perspective of what love can/should be. Often love takes work, and that work is often on ourselves. And often just the act of loving, in whatever shape or form you can is all thats needed to have a life filled with love.