The 5 Love Languages

I had a blinding revelation the other day.

The 5 love languages are something I first came across while teaching, because in spite of the trendy name they are not only about love.  They are the ways we prefer to give and receive praise and include touch, time, gifts, acts of service and words of affirmation.  I’ve actually got the book floating around here somewhere, but I don’t think I’ve read it because for myself and my husband it’s extremely obvious – he’s gifts and I’m touch, with a bit of words of affirmation thrown in.

When you and your partner don’t match it can cause problems, because you may be repeatedly saying how much you love them and they aren’t hearing it.  Many of our depressed times boil down to “I don’t want you to buy me chocolate, I want a hug!”  So this is something I’m quite aware of and have been working on and allowing for for years.

But then the someone made a comment about their child being a gift giver and I had an epiphany.  My eldest wraps up several things a day and presents them to people, real or imaginary, with “Happy Birthday!”  When her little sister was extremely sick she drew her a butterfly (I know it was, she told me so 🙂 ) and stuck it up over her bed so she could see it.  I’ve been presented with a million flowers and leaves, and whenever she is drawing I’m constantly being asked what I want on my picture.  And here’s the really embarrassing bit – she’s been doing this practically since she could walk.  The flowers especially are a long term thing, the presents came into focus at her 3rd birthday.  I’ve been puzzled by her strange disinclination to hug and kiss a million times a day (which is what I would like to do), although reassured that she does like snuggling – at her times, on her terms.  And her father and grandmother are gift givers extraordinaire, but it still took me two years and someone else’s remark to work it out.

It brings into focus her constant ‘Can I have?’  Of course some, probably most, of  this is typical toddler acquisitiveness, but some of it may also be reassurance – ‘you love me if you give me things.’  I don’t mean that in a bad way, because it’s not ‘you love me if you buy me things.’  We (I?) have an automatic rejection of giving children too many things, thinking it will make them spoilt.  But we wouldn’t think that if they needed hugs or words or time.  And all those kisses I give her, all those hugs as she walks past, she may not be connecting to.  I find it extremely sad that my little girl may not be hearing the hundred times a day I tell her I love her, because I’m speaking my language not hers.  It makes sense of her (frustrating) habit of getting a million books out of the library but not reading them, or asking for some of my yoghurt that I know she doesn’t like.  And rather than regarding yet another flower to put behind my ear with amused tolerance and then forgetting it, I need to listen to her telling me how much she loves me.  I need to stop telling her to draw a picture for herself and accept her offering to me.

And I need to start offering her gifts as well.  I need to be picking flowers for her, and she’s definitely going to be a notes in the lunchbox type of gal.  Now that I know to look for them, I know there are lots of opportunities to give ‘gifts’ that don’t need to be expensive or wasteful.  Of course she needs the other things too, but I know she’s going to see gifts the best.  And knowing how much I sometimes long for a hug, I know this is something my little girl needs me to do.



*If you like books, there is a book about children’s love languages at the link above.


3 responses to this post.

  1. What a breakthrough! I’m lucky in that my daughter and I both respond well to touch, so I didn’t have to think about it much. But I will definitely keep this in mind in my relations with all the other children in my life. I now realise why my SIL’s daughter feels the need to bring me a present every time she comes to visit, which is almost every day!


  2. Posted by MummyTiff on August 24, 2009 at 3:26 am

    This book had a very profound effect on my life and the way I think about mine and DP’s relationship Deb…..I read it quite some years ago now and instantly recognised myself responding to words of affirmation and DP to physical touch. I have a little boy who constantly throws himself at me for “cuggles” and a little girl who is always asking “do you like my picture Mummy” or “I love you to the stars and moon and back Mummy” or even the other day “Wow, those are lovely green shoes Mummy”. So in our house it’s like father like son and like mother like daughter.

    That said, I can’t get enough hugs and cuddles and kisses from my kids. I find it interesting how DP can come up for a hug and I reject it because I’m not in the mood for it to go further but I never reject my children’s hugs and kisses because there really is no “going further” with them. The implications of our adult expectations on our Love Languages can I think change the way we respond as adults but if we’re recognising our children’s Love Language then we can respond to it with fewer consequences if it is different to our own than if our partners is different to our own. Does that make any sense?


  3. […] think. Woolies?).  We pick stickers up all the time at $2 shops and the like, they make an ideal little present and it’s better than buying junk food as a treat!  Stickers are another way that they can […]


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