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What’s Your Love Language?

Stacey and RandyThat’s a pic of me enjoying some quality time with my brother a few days ago.

I went up to Cincinnati last week to help take care of him after his heart surgery.

(In my ezine last week, I talked about how Randy, my older brother – who is a 48 year-old super fit, vegan Buddhist physician – who never smoked a cigarette in his whole life! – went to the hospital with severe shortness of breath on Monday and ended up having triple bypass surgery on Tuesday!)

My mom worried that the 6+ hour drive there and back, taking time off from work, being away from my family and taking care of him would be too hard, but I told her it would be harder not to.

You see, I’m an “Acts of Service” girl, and when it comes to expressing love and caring, I feel compelled to take action.

Surely one of the reasons we’re on this planet is to feel loved and give love that others can receive in return – and I’ve found that The Five Love Languages is an awesome tool for doing just that.

I’ll never forget hearing about Love Languages for the first time. My best friend Anna told me about them, saying that knowing her daughter’s Love Language was a revelation.

You see, my friend’s Love Language is Acts of Service (just like mine!), but her daughter’s is Words of Affirmation. So basically, my friend was speaking French to her daughter, but her daughter was speaking German, and they were wondering why each was struggling to feel heard and understood (or rather, loved and valued).

Okay, let me back up: The Five Languages is a concept developed by couples’ therapist Gary Chapman. He’s written a book by the same name, but I think you can get what you need to know simply by taking a simple online quiz – and asking that everyone you care about to take it too. You can find the quiz here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

Here’s a brief description of each of the 5 languages:

  • Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through affectionate language, or by offering praise or appreciation.
  • Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
  • Receiving Gifts: Giving and receiving objects as tokens of love and affection.
  • Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
  • Physical Touch: With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical contact.

When you know the Love Language of the people you care about, it’s a real game changer. For example, my husband’s Love Language is Physical Touch, but mine is Acts of Service.

It’s a pretty classic pairing – and before we knew our languages, it led to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I felt most interested in being intimate after Doug did something thoughtful for me. Of course, he was more interested in doing things for me after we had been intimate.

Love LanguageWhen I realized that “Acts of Service” wasn’t his Love Language, I suddenly understood why I sometimes didn’t feel loved and appreciated. I also realized that I could learn to receive his physical touch overtures as his way of expressing love for me.

Knowing that he would feel more loved and appreciated, I focused more on giving him physical affection than acts of service. And, of course, Doug has done the same with me and upped his game when it comes to acts of service.

The thing to remember is that it’s the little things that count. When I say I want Doug to perform “acts of service,” I don’t mean that I only feel loved if he brings me breakfast in bed. I mean that I feel loved and appreciated if he’ll do small, even routine things, like fold the laundry, or bring me tea when I’m on the phone with a client, or pick up the dry cleaning.

By the same token, it’s not like Doug needs for us to hop into bed on a moment’s notice. Hugs make him feel loved. A quick kiss as he or I are leaving the house will also work. As with all communication within a relationship, it’s better not to save everything up for one intense confession. Rather, it’s something to work on in small ways on a daily basis.

My son’s Love Language is Quality Time, and he’s learned to ask for it to good effect. Recently I was working at my computer and Griffin asked me to do something with him. I rather distractedly said, “Just a minute…” to which he replied, “Mommy, you know Quality Time is one of my top Love Languages and it would really help me feel loved if you would spend time with me now.” I don’t think I’ve ever closed my computer as quickly as I did in that moment! And there’s no need to guess what your child’s love language is – there’s a special online quiz just for kids too (just follow the same link above).

There a bonus here, too: as good as it is for you as a parent to know how your kids are best able to receive your love for them, it’s good for the kids to know that they have a preference. Even if that preference changes, the knowledge will stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

So learn your Love Language and the Love Languages of the people you care about and use them as a tool for creating more understanding and appreciation and love in your lives.

stress freeI consider my body my most-trusted advisor. I think it assimilates information from the Universe that I can’t understand fully at first. You see, I know the Universe wants me to live my best life, but sometimes I don’t heed its advice – I’m convinced that sometimes I don’t even hear it.

It’s like Oprah says: “Life sends you messages – first it will put a pebble in your path, then a rock, and then a brick wall.” If I don’t hear the plink of the pebble, the rock shows up – usually as a bodily symptom. I pay attention because I really want to avoid hitting that brick wall.

If I ignore my body’s messages, it’s capable of great drama. In fact, I’ve seen my body produce some Oscar-worthy performances.

I used to work as a nurse-midwife in a hospital where I sometimes had women in my care who were considered to have high-risk pregnancies. For these patients, I consulted with physicians concerning their care, and occasionally I didn’t agree with the physician’s plan for managing a particular case.

One night I told a doctor that I was disinclined to follow his plan and he responded by saying, “That’s why I’m here, to tell you what to do.” Those weren’t his exact words, but that was how it came across.

I knew the doctor’s plan was not going to cause harm, and I didn’t want further conflict, so I followed his orders. Within a few hours I lost my voice. My throat hurt and I couldn’t speak above a whisper.

As soon as I got home I looked up laryngitis in my well-worn copy of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. I believe the book provides clues to understanding the messages underlying an illness. If you decipher these messages and, more importantly, act on them by changing your thinking, you can improve your life.

For laryngitis she writes that the probable cause is “So mad you can’t speak. Fear of speaking up. Resentment of authority.” I was struck by the truth of this. I was mad. I had been afraid to speak up to the doctor. And I resented that he didn’t seem to value my expertise.

The new thought pattern she offers is “I am free to ask for what I want. It is safe to express myself. I am at peace.” I drank it up like a healing balm and got my voice back quickly after that.

The affirmation also helped me gain insight into the fact that I don’t need to compel the doctors to agree with me or even to see my side. All I can do is use my best judgment and present a plan of care. And trust that all is well.

For me, being at peace means that my worth is not predicated on others valuing me. I value me.

Since that epiphany I had other differences of opinion with my physician colleagues but I never again had that sense that my value as a practitioner was diminished. And I never lost my voice again.

You don’t need a copy of Louise Hay’s book (although I highly recommend it!) because all you really need to know is that if you ignore the wisdom available to you, then your body can create a painful drama.

On the other hand, the Universe wants you to know that you are worthy of love and respect and that you can have a life filled with health and happiness. You just have to listen.

So as you go through life, be on the lookout for “pebbles.” Note them in your journal. If the rock comes, it can be helpful to look back and see the pattern. The more skilled you become at identifying the pebbles, the easier the walking will be.

What is your body trying to tell you right now?

What’s Your Love Language?

July 12, 2016

That’s a pic of me enjoying some quality time with my brother a few days ago. I went up to Cincinnati last week to help take care of him after his heart surgery. (In my ezine last week, I talked about how Randy, my older brother – who is a 48 year-old super fit, vegan

Read the full article →

How Stress Signals That Your Life Is at Risk

July 5, 2016

I consider my body my most-trusted advisor. I think it assimilates information from the Universe that I can’t understand fully at first. You see, I know the Universe wants me to live my best life, but sometimes I don’t heed its advice – I’m convinced that sometimes I don’t even hear it. It’s like Oprah

Read the full article →

How to trust yourself to make the right decisions

June 28, 2016

The photo to the right shows me and Griffin eating some campfire guacamole and generally having a blast during our annual “off the grid” camping adventure. We were at the gorgeous Lake Santeelah. The spring-fed lake features the most beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, and the pristine water made for VERY refreshing dips, given

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It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility

June 21, 2016

The photo to the right shows Griffin working through a difficult mountain bike course in preparation for some serious mountain biking and camping over the weekend. One of the things I often tell Griffin is “We can do hard things.” And I’m so glad he’s embraced it as his own personal motto as well. What

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How to Release Negative Emotions Quickly and Easily

June 14, 2016

The photo to the right is Griffin with one of his best friends at their school’s graduation ceremony. It’s a ceremony that includes all grades – from Kindergarten through 8th grade – and allows for each child to share a reflection from their year. Griffin’s class spent a good part of the year studying literature

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How to Succeed by Failing

June 7, 2016

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! The photo to the right was taken at Griffin’s year-end student-led conference (that’s his awesome teacher, Jenny, at the end of the table). Griffin’s school truly embraces self-directed learning, which I believe is the key to growth and happiness at any age! So often people won’t try

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Are you acting in alignment?

May 31, 2016

The photo to the right is of Griffin at his spring piano recital. You’ve heard me wax enthusiastic about Griffin’s passions for many things, but I think I’m most thrilled about his love of piano. I bought a piano keyboard when I was pregnant with Griffin and I practiced every day and took weekly lessons

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Why You Need Good Boundaries

May 24, 2016

That’s a photo of Griffin with his good friend at the “Marathon Games” – a 6-hour celebration and the culmination of his year-long soccer season. It also marked the achievement of another one of the goals he had for himself – to score more goals in the spring than he did last fall. It’s so

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