The 5 Languages of Meh, by Guest Blogger Amanda from Family Nature

When my friend, Carol, first talked to me about guest posting on 4 Mothers, I jumped at the chance. What an honour!

I read the first topic and thought, great! Then I read the second topic, The 5 Love Languages … hmm, sounds interesting. I’d never heard of it and I was intrigued.

Can I tell you a secret? I read the article which summarized the 5 Love Languages and I’ve been agonizing over what to write ever since.  I hate to be a Debbie Downer but it just didn’t resonate with me. At. All. In fact, I thought some of the ideas were totally bogus. Eek! Does this make me a guest-blogger-failure? I hope not!

I’ll just say right off the bat that “Receiving Gifts” was a weird one. Giving or receiving gifts is a language of love? I thought that it either (a) assumed people had the money to spend on such gifts or (b) if you go with the it-doesn’t-have-to-cost-a-lot-of-money-idea just made me think of dollar store junk, or things that are cheap, or things that are meaningless – because you’re only buying/making/finding things because you think it will show someone that you love them. I don’t know. The idea that material things are an expression of love doesn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to receive gifts, but I thought this was really a reflection of the world in which we live – one of over-consumption and obsessed with the collection of material things.

“Acts of Service” was another one that irked me. As soon as I saw the title it immediately made me think of gender binarism. Maybe it’s the term “service” that rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed to me a throwback to the bad ol’ days where a woman was expected to serve her husband. I know, I know, the summary article actually says to be mindful of the stereotypes. But still, I can’t help but detect a whiff of the patriarchy here.

The others: “Words of Affirmation”, “Quality Time”, and “Physical Touch”. Okay, sure. I guess. We all like some of these things more than others. I’ll give the authors that.

The author, Dr. Gary Chapman says, “love is a decision, not a feeling”. How utterly unromantic. Sorry, Doc, no. No way. Not for me.

Finally, the fact that his website directly targets churches, and that the author has written religious books makes me want to run away.

So, I kind of hated The 5 Languages of Love. Umm, ya … awkward.

*crickets chirping*

So anyways, how ‘bout them Maple Leafs?


Amanda is a Toronto mum of four kids; three boys and a girl; ages 6 to 12. She writes about life as a busy mum, touching on food allergies, feminism, ADD, stuttering, gardening and a million other things.  Amanda blogs at Family Nature.

Photo by schizofom via Flickr

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.

The Pitfalls of Living With a Love Polyglot

heart-700141_640Despite winning the French fluency award in the eighth grade, growing up with a bilingual father and being married to someone who speaks three languages, I am what one would call a monolinguist.

I am no fun at parties. I raise my glass with a meek “Cheers!”

I don’t even know the dirty words, the cuss words, in any other language.

Nope.  I am decidedly a unilinguist.  And even that’s questionable considering the number of times in a day when I find myself at a loss for words, desperately searching for the perfect adjective and settling for a sub-par alternative.

However it seems when it comes to love and speaking the 5 Love Languages, I am a regular polyglot (I had to look that up)!

Either that or I am painfully insecure.

Words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of services and physical touch: I speak these eloquently, without accent or hesitation, no stumbling or incorrect conjugations.

I have friends that can start a sentence in Italian and complete it in a flourish of French.  While I don’t know le from les, I know that my three boys and husband each have their own love language that is as different from each other as their thumbprints.

I transition from one love language to another with the ease and fluency of a professional translator.  This innate ability is not startling to me; it’s matter-of-fact.  It’s as natural as speaking Russian – if I were in fact, Russian.

My kids and husband benefit from my understanding the 5 Love Languages.  But there is a challenge in living with a love polyglot like myself: knowing on any given day what is being spoken when you walk through the front door.

“I was thinking of you today when I walked by the patisserie.” He says handing me my favourite, a bag of still warm pain au chocolate.

“It’s Thursday!  Thursday’s garbage day!  Do I have to do everything around here!?”

Poor guy.

The artwork is available at YourOwnWords on etsy.

At Issue: The 5 Love Languages

imgres-2Have you heard of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, PhD?  It’s not a new release, but I only just stumbled over the concepts of this book in this recent article.

According to therapist Chapman, people speak different “love languages” through which we express love and receive love in different ways.  Even if we appreciate gestures from all the languages, most of us have one chief language, and perhaps a strong runner-up.  And if these are different than the dominant language(s) of our family and friends, our gestures of affection may not be well received or even recognized, resulting in relationship strain.  The cure for such love ills is to gain fluency in all five languages, so you can properly interpret the actions of the people around you.

So what exactly are these 5 love languages?

1. Words of Affirmation, or to be verbally acknowledged

2.  Quality Time, or to enjoy companionship

3. Receiving Gifts, or to be given tokens of love

4. Acts of Service, or to have their partners do tasks for them

5. Physical Touch, to be in contact via the body (to be clear, this isn’t your love language just because you like sex, unless you also like holding hands, massages, and hugs).

To identify your own love language and that of others, Chapman suggests 3 basic questions:

1.  How does the person express love most often?

2.  What does the person complain about most often?

3.  What does the person request most often?

From there, you can start to hone in on a dominant love language (or two), now armed with critical insight into how to improve your relationships.

This week, 4Mothers writes about the concept of 5 love languages:  whether they exist, what they are, what they help us learn, what they can’t help with.  Do the 5 love languages resonate with you?  Join us this week while we talk about it.