The Five Love Languages

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Have you ever read any of the Five Love Languages books by Gary Chapman? If not, I highly recommend them. The first one I read was The Five Love Languages. I wound up giving that as a wedding gift a few times.

Then, I read The Five Love Languages of Children. At the time the I originally read it, Brianna was the only one who was old enough to really determine her love language (around 5 years old). I’ve recently been thinking about the love languages with regards to my children, now that they are each old enough to have really noticeable ways of expressing and receiving love.

the five love languages

If you’ve never read the book, essentially, according to Dr. Chapman, each of us has a primary and secondary method of showing love to others. The five love languages are:

  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation

Because this “language” is the way we express love to others, it’s also the way we perceive love. So, if we show love in one way, but our spouse or child perceives it in another, we may be allowing his or her “love tank,” as Dr. Chapman calls it, to become empty. For example, my love languages are gifts and acts of service; Brian’s are physical touch (surprise, surprise for a man, right?) and words of affirmation.

When we were dating, I used to send him little cards all the time. While he thought they were sweet, they really did nothing towards making him feel loved. Holding his hand, giving him a back rub, or telling him, specifically, how awesome I thought he was (and still do!) would have meant a lot more to him.

So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about my kids’ love languages lately. Josh’s are easy: physical touch and quality time. I’ve mentioned before that I can tell when I haven’t been spending enough time with him. I’ve also been experimenting with the idea that he may need me to hug him longer, as suggested in Jennifer Fink’s post, Hug Your Boys. My personal research has been almost comical. At first, Josh won’t react much. Then, after a minute, he’ll hug me back and say, “I love you, Mom.” I’m speaking his language.

Megan’s love languages were a little more difficult to figure out. I knew it wasn’t quality time, because she’s perfectly content to spend lots of time off on her own. I thought it might be gifts, because she’s always making us little pictures and things. I think that is her secondary language, but I finally realized what her primary language is: words of affirmation. Those little paper things she’s always making for us? Nine times out of ten, she’s written something on them and it’s usually something along the lines of, “I love everything you do for me. You are the best mom ever.”

I guess her secondary language could be acts of service, because of the “everything you do for me” remarks, but I know her primary language is words of affirmation because she lights up like a candle when you give her praise. Conversely, if I praise someone else, I’m very likely to get some version of, “What about me?” from her.

Brianna’s is a little harder to figure out and I’d love to read one of the love language books that I haven’t yet read: The Five Love Languages of Teenagers. She has always been my quality time girl, but I’m not seeing that as much these days She does still regularly ask to watch a movie with Dad, so I know it’s still there. That’s their “together time.”

I definitely think acts of service is in there somewhere. If the kids go away for the weekend and I do that deep “mom-cleaning” on their rooms — you know, the kind of cleaning that involves garbage bags and trips to Goodwill — rather than come home upset that some of her stuff might be missing, she always thanks me for making their room look nice. The other day, she offered to vacuum the entire house, out of the blue, and asked for nothing in return.

I love the insight that the Love Language books give me into my kids’ behaviors and needs. It’s nice, when I can tell that they need to have their “love tanks” filled up, to have some concrete ideas on how to best express my love for them in a way that they will easily receive it.

Have you read any of the books in the series? What are your love languages? What about your kids?

 image credit photoxpress
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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. We read the original Love Languages book in a Sunday School class way back when we first got married and then again a couple years ago. I'm still mad my language is not gifts! I really like gifts! 😉 My husband and I are both words of affirmation people. I have also read the love language book for kids. My daughter is definitely a words of affirmation girl too. Not so sure about my son. He's 4 and he loves to cuddle still so he might be physical touch, but he is very affected by words too.

  2. I have the original and LOVE it. It helped so much for me to realize that even while my husband might not always "speak" my love language that he expresses love in his own way. Recognizing his love language(s) was so helpful and important too! (Even though he's heard the, "Will you just hold me for a minute?!" thing more than once! lol!)

    I haven't read the one about kids, but realized after reading the first that Daniel's love language is quality time. This was a light-bulb moment for me, but SO great. We were still learning about his Autism then and I didn't know if he would ever know how much we love him, etc. It was comforting to know that even if he didn't understand (or respond) to language, gifts, acts of service, etc that he would still know that we love him. We've come a long way since then and while quality time his still his primary, I think words of affirmation are #2. He loves to be praised for his drawings and art!! =)

  3. Yep, love those books. I've read the one about couples, and the one about kids. I need to re-read that one since we've added Lindsey to the family.

  4. I just recently mentioned this on my blog, too.

    I'm a big fan of those love languages. ;0) Mine happens to be Quality Time, closely followed by Physical Touch. DH is an Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation guy. We definitely speak different languages! Putting it all together has helped us realize that and has improved our communication. DD (age 7) is Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. DD (age 2) is too young to tell.

    Very interesting stuff! Should be required reading for all newlyweds. LOL

  5. I love those books. Just got his newest one, Love is a Verb. Haven't cracked the cover yet though, but heard about it on the radio and can't wait to get into it. My husband is definitely physical touch. Me? I've had a hard time nailing it down. I'm definitely not physical touch or gifts, but I take pretty heavily to words of affirmation and quality time. Sometimes I'll take a dash of acts of service, but it doesn't seem to satisfy for long.

    My kids . . . Blake – physical touch (If I skip saying good night, we're in trouble); Paige – quality time; Faith – not sure, but I'm leaning toward words of affirmation, maybe gifts though.

    I don't think this topic can be understood too deeply as parents and spouses. Thanks for the reminder and wonderful post!

  6. WOW! I've not yet thought of love languages in regards to my children. This is powerful. And I'm sitting here thinking about the things that matter most to my children. Thanks for this.

    Enjoyed what I've read and will be back for more. By the way, I'm thinking surely I get some special prize for being follower number 200, right? 😉


  7. I just finished reading "God Speaks Your Love Language" and am about to start "Love Language of Children" again. I read it when my kids were very small and want to touch base with it again.

    I tend to be – words of affirmation.

    Hubby is very much – acts of service.. he is always doing something for someone.

    Oldest daughter is gifts.

    Oldest son is combo of words of affirmation and acts of service.

    Middle son is physical touch.

    Youngest son is too young to tell!

    If you enjoyed these other books, I highly recommend you also read "God Speaks Your Love Language". It is wonderful!

  8. @ Samantha – I actually have the "God Speaks Your Love Language" book, too. I've started it a time or two, but never finished it. Not that there's anything wrong with the book, I just have this weird quirk about not being able to finish non-fiction books. I need to go try again.

  9. I love the Five Love languages.. I have the one for spouses but not children. I should look into that one. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I've read the original and the children one. My husband is definitely a physical touch and words of affirmation. I am a gift and quality time girl. (Although I'm not much of a gift giver, just a receiver. I guess I'm greedy!) My oldest son is a quality time and younger is big on physical touch. Oldest daughter is words of affirmation I think. Youngest is too hard to tell yet.

    I also wanted to mention that we used to go to Gary Chapman's church. He is an excellent speaker and a very down to earth and genuine person.

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