Hearts with ways to say I love you

Ways to say I love you this February!

What's a Love Language?

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman was recommended to me while I was in college and engaged to be married. My husband and I read it and 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. 

Kids Have Love Languages Too

I find it fascinating how each of us are wired in unique ways and how you can see attributes of an individuals personality even at a really young age. I could see early on that one of my kids loved to snuggle and be touching when we sat on the couch and when sick, just wanted to be near others. My other child lit up with a huge smile anytime a compliment or encouragement was given. A harsh word would stick around all day long. But as one child wanted to be touched, the other can just tolerate hugs and as the other felt the sting of harsh words for a long time, the other let it roll off. Each of them needs something different.

Love Languages Have Changed our Family

My kids have figured out that I love to spend time with them - I’ll even settle for doing work in the same room together, just as long as we are together. They give me little gifts of love every so often. My daughter is very comfortable spending time by herself and as an introvert needs that time to recharge. But she knows I crave time together, so she will ask me to go for coffee and shopping or do dinner and movie. My son has asked me to go for hikes or to go for coffee or a drive. (Coffee is a theme with my kids). They are little gifts of love they offer to me.

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. 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!

Jennifer Smelker

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