I love the concept of love languages, and immensely enjoyed Dr. Gary Chapman’s book on the matter: The Five Love Languages. Ever since I first read this book, I’ve tried to consider which language someone is speaking when dealing with them – especially in my closest relationships.
The truth is, though, that love languages can be messy. Take this recent interaction, for example. I stayed out late one night, drinking tea and catching up with a precious friend of mine. It was literally the middle of the night when I got home.
My husband started with, “You were out too late.” I tried to not respond too harshly to that statement – he’s not the controlling type, so I didn’t think he was trying to come off like I had done something wrong, but I waited for more info. “You will be too tired tomorrow,” this statement was my first clue that there was definitely a deeper message than just what time it was. He knows I get very little sleep between the two babies and work, and he tries very hard to protect my rest. “I can’t sleep without you here at home with me,” was the statement that sunk in deep.
I waited for a moment, before quietly saying, “That’s the closest you’ve ever come to saying you missed me.” He hugged me close – one of those sweet hugs that I can never get enough of. No more words were even necessary, I got the message right, he missed me and worried about me.
This interaction could have gone so much differently – if I had reacted to the first statement like he was trying to restrict my freedom, control my actions, or boss me around, we would most likely have had an argument. It’s easy to react to the first words out of someone’s mouth, but if we are slow to speak, slow to anger, we can often get to the bottom of an “issue” before it is truly an issue.
Honestly, I don’t know which love language my husband speaks for sure. But I try to filter his words and actions with the knowledge that he does love me, and looks out for me, which in turn makes me feel less defensive when we do have a big issue to face. Things don’t always go right, and it’s not something I’ve mastered, that’s for sure, but it is something I work on daily.
This last week I learned that if food is a love language, that’s the one my dad speaks. He loves to feed people, and when it’s an occasion that he’s deemed special, he likes to make sure that it’s the best meal it can be, for what it is. He reminded me to cook corned beef for longer than I did while visiting, so that it’s not tough. He made sure I started the 16 hour trek home with a warm breakfast. As I shared that breakfast with him, I thought back over my life, and specifically that last ten years or so, and all of the visits back and forth. Food is by far how my dad communicates that he cares.
I am adding to my prayers that God would help me accurately identify the love languages of my kids, and my closest family members and friends, so that I can love them in a way they understand, and receive their love fully.