May 15, 2022 | Doug Sauder
Watch our most recent mid-week message here.
Perhaps you’ve heard of “love languages.” There’s been much conversation revolving around this concept over the past few years. It has taken center stage alongside personality tests like Enneagram and Myers Briggs.
As the month of February brings the concept of “love” to center stage, we see floods of pink and red, hearts and flowers, chocolates and candies, as we walk down the aisles at Target or even as we scroll on social media. However, this concept of love being emphasized is more of a romantic love.
In the midst of this season where romantic love is so celebrated, it’s important to also recognize how one can love others well in every relational context. Therefore, instead of solely looking at love languages through a romantic lens, we’re going to look at how using love languages in every kind of relationship can be just as beneficial and helpful for loving others intentionally.
The concept of love languages was first developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, a counselor and pastor who realized after working for years in marriage counseling that there is a trend in how different people feel loved. After much observation and research through his own experience, he realized that “different people with different personalities give and receive love in different ways” leading him to realize that those ways could be summarized in five categories. Consequently, he wrote a book called The Five Love Languages that details the five languages which we’ll take a look at today. On Dr. Chapman’s website, you can find videos, resources, and a quiz that can help you begin to understand love languages and identify which ones rank highest for you.
This love language can frequently be misunderstood. The person whose primary love language is physical touch appreciates meaningful and timely touch from people they love. Whether it be to express concern, joy, interest, or appreciation, receiving hugs, pats on the back, high fives, or other appropriate touches makes these people feel most valued and warms their hearts.
For the person who has a higher score on words of affirmation, they do not usually abide by the maxim “actions speak louder than words.” Words easily mean the world to these people. They feel loved when receiving genuine compliments or encouragement. They appreciate sweet notes and text messages alongside verbal praise or the actual words “I love you.”
To the person whose primary love language is quality time, they value someone’s undivided attention and sharing intentional time together. This could mean doing a fun activity together, going on a walk, or just hanging out with no agenda. Whatever you may be doing doesn’t matter as much as the heart behind how and why you’re spending time with them.
Unlike those who value words of affirmation the most, those who value acts of service feel most loved when others take specific action to help them. Relieving their stress or burdens through lending a helping hand and serving them makes their hearts beam. They especially feel loved when these acts are also done without being asked and without a negative attitude, but rather with love and willingness.
Last but not least, people who rank high in receiving gifts align with the idea that actions speak louder than words. They aren’t materialistic; rather, they appreciate receiving gifts that convey thoughtfulness, sacrifice, and effort. Whether it be for a certain celebration or just a small everyday gesture, these people feel most loved upon receiving meaningful and tangible gifts from those they love.
Having summarized what each love language is, let’s think about how they can apply to our lives. Knowing them is not only important to knowing ourselves better, but it’s also important because then we can analyze our relationships to see what our loved ones’ primary languages may be. When it comes to loving those who you live with or interact with more closely, it can sometimes be hard to love them because of your access to their faults and knowledge of their fears. Knowing their love languages will help you better understand the way their minds works. Using that knowledge, you can make them feel seen and valued in a way they perhaps have not experienced before which can break down barriers, deepen trust, grow intimacy, and bring life!
Physical touch can look like holding your husband’s hand in public, patting your children on the back or giving them high fives, hugging your siblings, or kissing your grandparents on the cheek. Words of affirmation can look like saying “I love you” when you talk to anybody in your family, leaving encouraging notes in your kids’ lunch boxes, writing messages to your spouse on your bathroom mirror, or sending sweet letters or text messages to family that live far away. Quality time can look like sacrificing your time to play games with your children, taking a walk with your spouse, or visiting and catching up with other relatives. Acts of service may look like doing the dishes and cleaning for your spouse or helping your child with their homework. Receiving gifts can look like spontaneously getting your family their favorite snack or candy or making something yourself to give to them.
The same goes for loving your friends or co-workers as well! Physical touch could look like giving your friends a hug when seeing them, placing your hands on their shoulders to share in celebration or excitement, or touching their arm to share concern. Words of affirmation can look like saying “I love you” verbally and frequently encouraging people both when they’re excelling or struggling. Quality time can look like going out with your co-worker to a favorite coffee shop or going on a drive to talk and listen to music with friends. Acts of service can look like doing homework with friends, helping a co-worker brainstorm and talk through a work project, or helping out with errands and home tasks when they’re really busy. Receiving gifts can look like getting people one of their favorite food items or buying something you know they’ve been wanting or needing.
Another important aspect of daily relationship behavior that frequently goes forgotten is how we interact with and love strangers! Although you will not know someone’s love language who you do not have an actual relationship with, you can implement general knowledge of love languages to intentionally share God’s love with and serve your unknown neighbors. For example, offering a hug to someone who may seem to be struggling or sacrificing your time to actually ask and listen to how someone is doing in public can easily make their day 10x better. Paying attention to what someone is looking for in the grocery store and helping them find it, verbally encouraging someone after having a short conversation with them, or randomly paying for someone’s food in a drive-thru can also convey love and instill joy in a person’s heart.
Ultimately, the reason we should pay attention to love languages and think about loving others intentionally is because of what John reminds us of in his letter. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). Jesus loved us with an imperishable and unparalleled gift, with His sacrificial time on earth and pursuit of us every day, with His words of truth to and for us kept forever in the Word, with the atonement of His physical body, and with the most extravagant act of service to pay the price of sin on our behalf. May we live every day with this in our minds and hearts as a motivation to love others in the same way as well.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.