I finally got around to reading Gary Chapman's “The Five Love Languages,” which of course made me think long and hard about what MY primary love language is. Before reading the book, I didn't think it was gifts. I guess I had thought that finding love in physical objects was materialistic. Steve and I don't even make a habit of exchanging gifts every anniversary, birthday, and Valentine's day. Yet I tried to think of a time that I felt especially grateful for my mate – a time when my “love tank” was filled and I felt humbled to be with him.
I thought of the time when I had been taking pictures of nature and Steve told me to go buy myself a nice macro lens. I did some research and told him I could get an 85mm that would suit my needs and was significantly less expensive than the 105mm. He said, “which one is better?” I said, “Well, the 105mm is better, but I can get the 85mm for –.” “Get the 105mm then,” he interrupted.
I really appreciated him saying that because I know how frugal he is. He makes a big deal about spending half of that on something for himself. Telling me to buy some nice camera equipment showed that he values my interests. The same goes for all the prints and scrapbooking supplies I buy. It's our money and I consider them as gifts from him.
And gifts being my primary love language, I also enjoy giving them. The ones I spend the most time on are my scrapbook albums for my family, even knowing full well that my kids' love language is probably not gifts. In fact, I sometimes brush them off as they pull at my leg while I finish a layout about all the things I do with them. I had counted scrapbooking as “me time” to avoid this apparent hypocrisy. Yet in the context of love languages, I am speaking my own as I recognize the need to speak theirs as well.
So what is my mate's love language? I'd say “words of affirmation.” Too much criticism causes arguments, but a few kind words throughout the day makes him happy. I could list all the things I do for him but it doesn't matter if he doesn't hear love in my words. The bottom line of the book seems to be that we need to learn the love language of others in order for our acts to be taken as true signs of love. That's what it means to be giving and selfless.