5 Love Languages: Insight on How to Live Life

2011_09-10 - various 143Sometimes, even though I feel like I’m going about the business of my life in a reasonable way, I seem to stumble into invisible walls or get jostled by unseen hands.  Sometimes these forces feel mean-spirited, other times just indifferent – always, they’re mysterious.  My troubles navigating through makes me feel that there must be some resource out there, maybe a book called How to Live Life, that everyone else has read but that my mother forgot to give me, and I’m forever compromised as a result.

That’s kind of a dramatic beginning to a blog post, and maybe I should delete it, but the basic point is that personally I find life confusing.  So when I come across an idea or a resource that helps to sort it out, I tend to get excited.  Thus my suggestion that 4Mothers talk about The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman even though I’ve never read the book because even this article‘s synopsis felt like a mini-revelation (and yes, I know the expression that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing but am ignoring it).

Sure, we all like to be affirmed verbally, get presents, share a good hug, have someone lend a helping hand, and spend time together.  But the thought that some of these lovely things might carry different weight depending on the person resonated with me right away.  I immediately identified the two most important to me and to my husband (four different languages, no less).  And when I told my husband about the article, he identified the same preferences in both of us.

It helped to know this.  Not in some our-lives-are-unrecognizably-changed way, but in layering a fresh sheet of understanding over our everyday affairs.  It connects the requests and workings of our lives into a larger context.  He’s not just bohemian by wanting to go out more than I do; he values quality time.  I’m not just a pro nag; acts of service are important to me.  The concept of the 5 love languages provides a lens through which to see the higher virtue behind what might otherwise remain mundane and middling.

These ideas quickly made their way beyond my immediate family, and I found myself with new thoughts around how various people in my life might differently express and receive affection.  And if I dare move into the realm of broad generalization, I even saw relevance in a broader cultural context, discovering insights between the different ways my husband’s family (from the southern U.S.) and my family (from Malaysia) view things.  So that’s why we had those differences of opinion about the wedding! and that sort of thing.

Some people are probably too evolved and in tune with love and life to have this kind of response to a magazine article of any kind.  Not me.  Me, I’m still on the lookout for that missing life manual I mentioned up in paragraph one and if I find a stray few paragraphs on topic here and there, I’m grateful.  There’s a lot of love in my life, thank the good universe, and I meet with open arms anything that adds a layer of compassion or understanding to help me more fully appreciate it.

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8 thoughts on “5 Love Languages: Insight on How to Live Life

  1. I thought it was interesting how you mentioned that looking at the Five Love Languages helped you to look beyond your family and beyond your culture. My husband and I have observed that in Singapore and Malaysia (where we are working at the moment) the Love Languages are primarily gift giving/acts of service. The realisation was crucial to our happiness, as we fought with adjusting culturally and feeling unloved for lack of words of praise/touch/quality time.

    I agree, it certainly helps you to live life more effectively and happily when you know the way people tick and how to communicate your needs! 🙂

    • I envy you because in Singapore and Malaysia – wish I were there as there are so many people I’d love to see. I think the cultural observations can have a huge impact, and I’m glad you were savvy to it and it helped you enjoy your stay.

      Have you read Quiet by Susan Cain – she talks about introversion and extends it to cultural applications (ie. Asia is largely/traditionally introverted) – it was fascinating. I wrote a brief review here if you’re interested: http://4mothers1blog.com/2013/11/15/what-were-reading-november-2013/

  2. Carol, I’m not surprised that acts of service are important to you. The post in which you said that you looked forward to being able to look after your mother in her old age really caught my attention, and has lingered in my memory–to my shame, perhaps, it hadn’t occurred to me that this might be something to relish, and so it struck me as remarkably beautiful and poignant.

    • Kelly, I wish you could meet my friend, who in law school went home everyday to cook for her older parents while everyone else went to parties. Both have required significant and increasing care since. At her wedding 15 years later, she told the guests that she waited her whole life to be able to return the unconditional love her parents gave her. Watching my friend and her husband dance that first dance with her father, who was able to get out of his wheelchair with their help and stand with a walker, is branded onto my heart forever.

  3. I really enjoyed reading the 5 Love Languages. At the time, I was going out with someone who was a really stickler for punctuality. In fact, anything less than 10 minutes early was late as far as he was concerned. If I was running late, I would often stop at a bakery and buy him one of his favourite pastries as a way of saying sorry. When I finally arrived, instead of graciously accepting my peace offering, he would be furious that I had made myself even later. The book helped me to see that gifts are clearly not as important to him as they are to me! (Hint for my friends – if you are running late to meet up with me, feel free to stop and buy me chocolate on the way!)

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