How do I love thee? Let me count the ways this #ValentinesDay…

Valentine's dayValentine’s Day is traditionally a time when we spend lots of money on each other. But is this the only, or even the most effective, way to show your love?

When Heston and I were preparing for our marriage we were introduced to the 5 Love Languages. Initially we were sceptical and assumed it was some tacky American theory but instead we found it fascinating, and really helpful. For example, we found that presents were the least effective love language for both of us – so we haven’t bought each other presents for over 7 years! Not because we are tight-fisted but because we found more effective ways to show our love.

The 5 love languages are:

5ll_icon-affirmationActions don’t always speak louder than words. 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.

5ll_icon-qualityIn the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

5ll_icon-giftsDon’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the 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 above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

5ll_icon-serviceCan vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of
responsibilities weighing on an Acts of Service person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear are, “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them, tell those with this language their feelings don’t matter.

5ll_icon-touchThis language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. 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, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

I feel most loved when Heston empties the bins or unloads the dishwasher (Acts of service); while for Heston it’s when I give him a big hug and a kiss (Physical touch). It can be very useful to identify the love language your other half speaks – you might always be buying them gifts or doing useful things around the house when all they really want from you is some quality time spent together, just the 2 of you.

You can discover your love languages here. Why don’t you give it a go this Valentine’s day??

And if their love language is in fact receiving gifts (!), make that gift one that keeps on giving – have a look at Gifts for some inspiration.

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