Love Languages (Chickens speak to Ducks) – HKEJ 15th Jun 2013

HK Economic Journal June 15, 2013 Posted in JEMS Founder's Columns

“My husband lavishes me with gifts but doesn’t spend any time with me. I just wish he’d take the time to spend with me.”

“My wife doesn’t appreciate the things I buy her and I’m working so hard to provide for her!”

“I’ve never once heard my dad tell me he’s proud of me”

“My son is so ungrateful. I do so much for him but he doesn’t appreciate it”

If you’ve said, heard or witnessed any of these things phrases, you need to hear about Love Languages.  A couple years back, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book titled the 5 Love Languages that was later adapted for couples and another for parents. The theory is this: that everyone expresses and receives love in different ways. So essentially, different people ‘speak’ different love languages and if two people in relationship are ‘speaking’ different languages, they don’t understand each other.

Take the examples above as illustrations. The wife just wants to spend time with the husband but the husband is busy working to provide for his wife. Both think they are loving the other without realizing the other person doesn’t feel it. Without understanding, both will probably feel unloved.

Dr. Chapman proposes the concept that there are 5 main love languages and people have one of them as their primary language. The five are: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts and Quality Time.

People whose love language is Physical Touch show affection by using touch to express themselves. Whether it’s a congratulatory high five, a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, or a loving embracive hug, it’s their way of showing affection. For these people, they also usually feel most loved when given physical touch. Some children naturally speak this language. When they see you, they will run to give you a hug or want to sit on your lap.

People whose love language is Words of Affirmation give love by using encouraging words that uplift. They will tell you how you did something well or how much they appreciate you. These people need affirmation too and will need to hear how they are appreciated.

People whose love language is Acts of Service show love by helping others. It might be making sure the house it tidy before other members come home or helping book plane tickets for a trip. For children, it could be that they offer to help set the table or get slippers for parents.

Many people think their love language is gifts (most people like receiving gifts!) but people with Giving Gifts as their love language use thoughtful gifts as a way of telling the other person they love them. It’s not about how much the gift costs but the thought put into to let the other person know ‘I was thinking of you’.

And the last language is Quality Time. Everyone loves spending time with his or her loved ones but quality time is not just about physically spending time together but time to connect emotionally.

So you can imagine the misunderstanding that could take place if one person shows love by giving gifts but the other wants encouraging words more than anything else. Or if one person works so hard to show love through act of service but the other just wants to spend quality time together.

My sister and I are very close but we’ve come to understand that we speak different love languages. I love hugging my sister and showing my affection to her that way. My sister loves showering everyone around her with gifts especially by buying them souvenirs from her trips to let them know that she was thinking of them even when she was on holiday. Over the years, my sister has learnt to hug me back and I’ve learnt to reciprocate some gifts myself but that took a little time to figure out.

Take the time to observe and discover what love language your loved ones ‘speak’. Then learn to ‘speak’ theirs. Of course, we all can speak all 5 languages but if we discover people’s primary language, we can speak to them so much more effectively. Otherwise it’ll be chickens speaking to ducks!

Christine Ma-Lau
Founder and Principal
JEMS Learning House

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