My daughter loves to give and receive gifts. When she was younger, Mr. Math Tutor and I worried that we weren't being good parents. We were afraid that her desire for gifts meant that she was becoming terribly materialistic. Then, we read The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. In this book, Dr. Chapman describes five different ways that people give and receive love. Most people have a primary and secondary "love language". If you know another person's "love language", it is easier to help them feel loved.
I started thinking about "love languages" again the week partly because of Christmas. Ga'hoole Girl's primary love language is giving and receiving gifts. We figured out that her love of gifts isn't because she just wants more stuff (although she did manage to inherit my desire for expensive things!). She is just as happy to get something handmade or inexpensive as something costly. When she gets a gift, she feels loved. And, it works the other way around. She tells the rest of us that she loves us by giving gifts. She is the child who wants to give Christmas gifts to every person she knows! Ga'hoole Girl also feels loved by words of affirmation. Being verbally uplifted makes her feel good.
Another thing that reminded me of love languages was how Wild Man was acting on Monday. He and I spent hours over the course of the day sitting on the sofa snuggled up together. For part of that time, we watched movies, and for part of the time, I was reading a book. Wild Man's love language is physical touch. He gives and receives love through hugs, cuddling, kisses, etc. In this, he is just like his dad! Mr. Math Tutor also feels loved by hugging and snuggling. I suspect that Wild Man's secondary love language is quality time since he always wants to "be" with someone. He loves for me or Mr. Math Tutor to play games with him or read to him - anything that gives him full attention.
And, me? I feel loved mostly by acts of service, although I also really like words of affirmation. Mr. Math Tutor likes to do things for me that make me feel loved. They are usually pretty simple, like running to the grocery store for something I need to cook with. Sometimes, they are more significant. For example, even when he is working, he tries to make sure to take care of the snow removal around the house. Those things make me feel very loved.
So, what about you? Do you know your love language and the love languages of your family members? Does it help you relate to them? If you haven't read The Five Love Languages, you should take the time to read it. Mr. Math Tutor and I have found that understanding how our family members want and need to be loved is quite helpful. And, it has reminded us that there is nothing wrong with giving and receiving gifts or hearing affirming words. They all have their place in a healthy family.