Almost 5 years ago I discovered the power of love languages. Back then, it was with my husband and it was one of those moments of clarity that helped us understand each other on a deeper level.
Last night I was reminded of love languages again, this time with my little guy when I was preparing him for his bedtime. I was wrapping him in his sleep swaddle when he turned and looked at me and said ‘mummy kiss’.
It made me smile, and I happily obliged.
In that simple request I understood another part of him. His love language.
What are love languages?
It is said that there are 5 ways of expressing love emotionally, which are summarized as
- words of affirmation: it’s the verbal praise and recognition
- acts of service: it’s offering to do something for them and making actions speak louder than words
- receiving gifts: it’s the thought behind the gift, a home-made card is as special as a store-bought gift
- quality time: it’s the undivided attention, removing all background noise and distractions to genuinely listen and pay attention
- physical touch: and long before an infant understands the meaning of the word love, they feel loved by physical touch*.
According to Gary Chapman at Focus on the Family, ‘each person has a primary love language that we must learn to speak if we want that person to feel loved.’
I’m thankful to have learnt my little guy’s love language, so that we can refine and focus specifically on actions that we do or say to him that allow him to understand he is loved. Particularly when decisions or things may not go his way.
At this stage, it’s between words of affirmation or physical touch, which coincidentally are my own love languages. I also recognise that it may possibly change as he grows older and appreciates the other love languages.
For now though, it’s working.
Being aware of his preference for ‘words of affirmation’ means that we voice our interactions with him and recognise him with encouragement and praise for behaviour ‘thank you for helping mummy’ and creativity ‘that looks amazing and you put a lot of effort into it’.
Being aware of his preference for ‘physical touch’ means that I hold his hand while we go for a walk, even when he is in the stroller. Yes it makes walking a bit awkward but it connects us beyond the simple gesture.
He also loves all types of physical play; he wrestles with his father while I prefer the gentler cousin, tickling. My little guy loves a good tickle and laughs the only way young innocents can. Tickling leaves us both flushed with happiness.
Being aware of our child’s love language will mean we will be more capable of connecting on a deeper level with them, rather than haphazardly covering all our bases and trying to do and be everything to them.
Being aware of it will mean we can connect in ways they like and respond to best. We can filter out actions that do not build or nurture this, and in our case, this means buying gifts as they often sit ignored in favour of the box.
For our little family, it is our intent to be more mindful and thoughtful about our interactions and this in turn, allows us the space, time and energy to be more intentional for ourselves and each other. To love ourselves and each other.
Love. It’s tough to describe but you know it the moment you feel it. I felt it when my son turned towards me and uttered the words ‘mummy kiss’.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu