Know your love, show your love

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Publication Date
February 1, 2016

Enjoying Valentine’s Day is not always easy because Cupid’s arrow does not always seem to find everyone! Valentine’s Day puts a lot of pressure on us to shower our partner and children with love on one specific day. The pressure on Valentine’s Day can seem like too much. Almost all of us have had the “perfect” gift go wrong. How can you get it right? How do you show love?

Researcher and therapist Gary Chapman argues that there are five main “love languages;” ways that people feel loved by others around them. Your interpretation of a loving action may not been seen as love by your girlfriend. For example, you may think taking her out to see a movie is a nice gift, but in reality, she is worried that she is now one more day behind on house cleaning and laundry. By figuring out your children and partner’s love language, you can ensure your Valentine’s Day efforts will be perfect!

You and your love can take a free quiz on Dr. Chapman’s website to learn more, but generally, the five love languages are:

Acts of Service
This person hears “I love you” when you help out and take some of life’s responsibilities off of them, uphold promises to complete tasks, and step up when you see something needs to be done. Loving a partner through acts of service could include taking out the garbage, weeding out the children’s closets to pull out too-small clothes, or running errands. For children, this means helping them learn how to tie their shoes, drive a car, or bake cookies.

Physical Touch
More than sexual intimacy, people who view love as physical touch connect with loved ones through contact. Ensuring that your family receives regular hugs, snuggles during TV or reading time, or even just hand holding while riding the bus can express your affections. For Valentine’s Day, a snuggle-fest during popcorn and an animated movie (for kids), or a bubble bath and foot massage (for partner) are sure bets.

Quality Time
In our busy, electronically connected world, sometimes not multitasking is a great way to show love. People whose love language is communicated through spending quality time, crave one-on-one experiences and time with their loved ones that is free from distraction. This quality time can take many different forms, from playing a board game, or going on a walk, to starting a conversation about future goals and dreams, or visiting a museum. The key is that it is an activity that you both will enjoy and that allows you to focus on each other, rather than something else.

Words of Affirmation
It’s easy to assume that people in your life know how much you care without having to say it out loud, but acknowledging what your kids have done, or how your wife looks, may mean the world to them. Sincere, truthful, and kind words may actually be more valuable than video games or jewelry. When was the last time you complimented your children for the effort they are putting in at school, or just told your girlfriend how much you appreciate her making dinner? For Valentine’s Day, you can step up the casual words of affirmation with a poem, story, video or song that highlights what makes them so special to you. 

Receiving Gifts
People who experience love through receiving gifts aren’t greedy; they are not necessarily expecting a car or expensive shoes. Instead, this love language means that you specifically thought of that other person and got them a gift that you know would make their day.  It could be a book about planes if your son loves seeing them in the sky, or a gift certificate to that restaurant by your wife’s job that she has mentioned wanting to try. Depending on your family, it might even be that typical box of chocolate hearts!

Personalizing your Valentine’s Day efforts to purposefully pull on the strings of your family members’ love language and make sure that they know just how much you care. Once you understand more about how those you care about feel loved you can express just how much you care every day, not just on February 14th!

National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse