How to Say I Love You without Spending a Dime
Have you ever heard of the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman? This was a book that had been recommended to me while I was in college and engaged to be married. My future husband had graduated and we were 10 hours apart and wouldn’t be seeing each other for the next 2 months. Being on a college budget, we only got to talk long-distance once per week (yes these were the dark ages with no cell phones) and we wrote letters. We each have kept our bundle of letters for our kids to find one day, but that is another story.
What is a Love Language?
We both read a copy of the book while we were apart and discussed it each week. Yes, like a long distance book club. It was a great way for us to learn even more about each other and great pre-maritial prep, even though we didn’t realize it at the time. Twenty-five years later, the gems that we learned from this book still apply today and even more so in our relationships with our kids. We knew we are opposites when we met - I’m an extroverted, think out loud, quick to react and dive in kind of person and he is an introverted, need time to think and decompress from being around others, steady kind of person. But we also discovered that we not only expressed love to others differently, we felt loved in different ways too, hence our love languages were different too. My husband is a words of affirmation kind of guy - one small expression of gratitude will keep him going for days and he’ll go out of his way to serve others. That’s how he shows love, is by acts of service. That’s how I seem to show it too, but I feel most loved when I spend quality time with others. Both my kids know if they ask me to go for a walk, hang out and watch a movie, or make a meal together nothing makes me feel better!
Kids Have Love Languages, Too
Our kids have their own love languages, too. At a very young age I asked each of my kids separately how they knew I loved them. My son said I’m always hugging and kissing, snuggling and wrestling with him. My daughter said I’m always telling her how much I love her. I did all of those things with both kids, but they zeroed in on what made them feel loved and it is still true to this day. Our son feels love by physical touch - he and my husband still do their special handshake even as an adult and I am always making sure I squeeze his arm or pat his shoulder as I go by even if a hug isn’t always welcomed. Our daughter still is a words of affirmation gal - nothing deflates her quicker than one little criticism and she lights up when you tell her you love her. But don't touch her - she only tolerates snuggling.
Love Languages Have Changed Our Family
It has been so helpful to understand each other better and what makes each other feel loved. None of us seem to be the fifth love language, receiving and giving gifts, and it’s helpful to know that! Because my husband and I both “speak” acts of service and that’s how we show love, yet no one in our family feels the most loved that way, our kids could go their whole lives without truly feeling loved. Or conversely, we could feel constantly frustrated that they never appreciate our efforts at loving them. You’ve certainly seen families where this is the case - kids feeling like their parents don’t understand and really love them, frustrated parents who feel their kids don’t appreciate what they do, and families who just aren’t happy.
Knowing our family’s love languages has truly changed the dynamic in our family and will change the lives of future generations in our family, all without spending a dime. Reading The 5 Love Languages is a terrific way to learn more about those you love and say I love you in the best ways possible!