If you’ve ever read Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” (and you should) then you know that God created humans, in his image, to be responsive to and to express love in five different languages. Those languages are acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch and receiving gifts. If God has a primary love language, it must be acts of service. God asks us to demonstrate our love for Him by serving Him thereby bringing glory to His Kingdom. As Christians, our hearts and minds should be set on living a life that aims to hear those words of affirmation, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” God desires a personal relationship with each of us where we spend quality time in prayer and the study of His word. We continually receive His gifts, often underserved, in the form of blessings, grace and mercy. We too are expected to offer the gift of the first 10% of our income back to the Lord as a show of faith, obedience and sewing into the Kingdom. And lastly, when God sent His son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, to Earth there were those who believed so strongly in His power to lay hands on the sick and perform other miracles that one woman found it well enough to simply touch the hem of his garment to be made whole. Although we don’t physically touch God today, He has given some the power of healing touch through His anointing. God also gave people a way to demonstrate love for one another through physical touch. Married couples got especially lucky because God not only desired a show of love through physical touch, but He created the sacred act of sexual intercourse as a means of expression of physical intimacy within the covenant of marriage.
Now that we recognize that even God perceives and expresses love within these languages, we need to ask ourselves some questions about how we express and perceive love within our marriages. Do you hear the words “I love you” from your spouse, but not really “feel” loved? Do you know what your spouse’s love language is? Do you know what your own love language is? If you were to find that your love language is different from that of your spouse, how hard would you willing to work to make sure that you are exhibiting love in the way your spouse perceives it?
Let’s look at a real case study. The names of the participants have been changed to protect the guilty. Julia and her husband Jeffrey have two different primary love languages. Julia’s primary love language is acts of service. This means that Julia feels loved when her husband does things that are thoughtful such as starting dinner if he gets home first, taking her car in for service and picking up after himself. She feels loved because her husband is creating a sense of security for her that says, I care for you and I want to make your day easier. Jeffrey’s primary love language is physical touch. He feels loved when his wife reaches out to hold his hand, kisses him when he arrives home from work or initiates sexual intercourse. He feels loved because these actions tell him his wife is attracted to him and he can count on her to be the one person with whom he can be vulnerable. Interestingly, the couple has a common secondary love language, quality time. This couple enjoy spending time together doing things like taking walks, trying new restaurants and watching their favorite television shows. They both feel loved because they enjoy the time they spend together in each other’s company. For them, spending quality time together it is a bonding experience.
Still, this couple have miscommunications in love language Rosetta Stone. Although the couple is aware of the one other’s primary love language, they learned something very important about themselves. The way Julia perceives love is very different from the way in which she displays love and the way Jeffrey perceives love is the same way he displays love. There in lies the problem. Although Julia perceives love in the form of acts of service, she only exhibited love for Jeffrey giving him gifts. She would always take time to pick up something special for Jeffrey at the grocery store or buy him a nice card just because and her actions seemed to be unappreciated. Why? Because Julia wasn’t communicating in a love language her husband could easily understand. Jeffrey perceives love primarily through physical touch and it is second nature for him to exhibit love in the form of physical touch. Jeffrey is often disappointed and frustrated that Julia is not as affectionate as he, especially during times when she is particularly stressed. Whenever Jeffrey is stressed, physical touch always makes him feel better, so he could not understand why his attempts to communicate love in this manner were unrequited. Jeffrey isn’t speaking a language Julia can easily understand.
While the one love language that the couple do share make it easy for them to express and receive love in this area, this couple has to be intentional about demonstrating love in the other’s primary love language. Julia and Jeffrey had to learn that loving someone requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. They have learned that loving someone means you have to be willing to place your needs aside for the benefit of the other person. While it may come naturally for Julia and Jeffrey to demonstrate love in a particular language, truly loving someone requires you to begin to speak their language. While this couple does believe that love consists of a feeling, they believe much more that love is primarily an action. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us every thing that love is, and everything that love is not. What we find, if we evaluate the text, is that love, is a verb (a class of words in a language that serve to indicate the occurrence or performance of an action). Even Christ tells us that in order to demonstrate our love for Him we must obey -a verb- his teachings (John 14:23). This means what we can’t simply walk around saying we love Christ and not demonstrate love in the way He perceives it; through the act of obedience.
While Julia and Jeffrey have to be intentional about the way in which they go about demonstrating love to one another, the act of being intentional teaches them how to be obedient to God’s plan for marriage. The word of God says that a married couple is to submit themselves to one another out of reverence to God (Ephesians 5:21). What this means is that they should consider the feelings and love needs of one another just important as they’ve consider their own. This is what is required for the development of a couple into a state of oneness or one flesh. Because the couple in our case study love God, they do their best to be intentional about loving one another in a way that allow them to submit to each other in love. They do this by making an effort to speak the other’s love language.
Now that they’ve adjusted their view of what it means to love, Julia understands that if she wishes to display love in a language her husband can understand, she should come home and greet him with a big hug and kiss, not a Hallmark greeting card. Jeffrey now understands that if he wishes to display love in a language his wife can understand, especially when she is particularly stressed, he should volunteer to stop by the store on his way home from work or do some other thoughtful action for his wife. Julia and Jeffrey have found that when they can see the other putting forth the effort to make the other feel loved in their primary language, they develop an increased desire make their partner feel loved in their love language. The understanding of and effort to love their partner within their partner’s love language has caused Juila and Jeffrey to feel that their love for one another is reciprocated. They have become intentional about making the effort to exhibit love in the other’s language. Julia and Jeffrey don’t always get it right every time and it’s still a ton of effort on both of their parts, but they try to remember that even when they aren’t communicating properly they are still responsible for putting forth their best effort to submit to one another in love, out of reverence to God.
If you are interested in assessing your own love language I strongly suggest you head on over to Gary Chapman’s website and take a love language assessment test. It only takes a few minutes. You can do it alone or with your spouse. I guarantee the more you understand about how you and your spouse communicate love, the sooner you can begin to start speaking a common language.
What is your primary love language? Is it different from that of your spouse? What can a couple do to make an effort to love each other in the other’s love language? Do you perceive love in one language, but find yourself displaying love in another? Why do you think you do that?