One of the biggest “little things” we can do to make a difference in every relationship in our lives is to identify the way the people around us need to be loved. When we love people the way they need to be loved, it draws them closer to us and us to them.
The premise of Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages is that we all have a “love tank” that needs to be filled every day. We all have primary love languages, ways in which we prefer to be loved, or ways that communicate love and affection most effectively.
Five Basic Ways to Communicate Love
Dr. Chapman gives us five basic ways to communicate love. I am sure there are more but let’s stick with the five, and here they are:
1. Words of Affirmation
If this is your primary love language, the way you receive love that speaks the loudest (no pun intended), then the sincere words “I love you” mean a lot. If you receive a note from someone—a thank-you or words of encouragement, praise or appreciation—this will have a bigger impact on you than if someone tried to express love in one of the other ways.
2. Quality Time
Nothing speaks love to you more than one-on-one, undivided attention. Just being together says that you are loved and appreciated by this person more than any other action ever could.
Ah-h-h! I love this one. Yes, this is one of my primary ways to receive love. I don’t expect you to spend a lot of money; it really is the thought that counts here. Knowing that someone went out of his or her way to pick something up for me, speaks louder than any of the other basic ways to communicate love.
4. Acts of Service
This is one of my primary ways of expressing love. This can be big or small acts of service—washing someone’s car, preparing a meal when a friend is sick, painting a room together, or helping someone with the moving process. Whether big or small, you can show people you love them by serving them.
5. Physical Touch
This could be a pat on the back or a hug. This is an effective way to communicate that you really care for people of every age: especially babies, children, and the elderly who seem to crave this closeness. Even in the work place an appropriate touch for the person whose primary love language is touch will go a long way.
Identifying My Husband’s Language
Early on in my marriage, I would show my husband I loved him by serving him, doing his laundry, cooking and cleaning. We both worked at outside jobs and I believed that one way I could show him how much I loved him was by serving him.
Now, that was great and all those things needed to be done, but that was not his primary love language. Therefore, that did not show him I loved him in the ways he needed to be loved. My husband’s love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation.
Generally speaking you tend to love others in the way you want to be loved, in YOUR primary love language. It can be a challenge to love others the way they need to be loved and not by what comes natural to you.
Identifying Needs of Others
If you have a co-worker, boss, or employee whose primary love language you have identified as words of affirmation, be intentional about telling them what a good job they are doing, or how nice they look, or how they have improved in their position. I guarantee that this will improve your working relationships.
If they prefer quality time, why not ask them out for lunch or coffee and give them your undivided attention.
Identifying Family Needs
If you take the love languages into your home and love your spouse, children and grandchildren the way they prefer to be loved, you will surely improve each of these relationships. Home will become a desired haven, a place of security and peace. If you are unsure as to the love languages of those around, review this list with them and ask which ways are the most meaningful to them.
By identifying the primary love languages in our relationships, both personally and professionally, we can do the “little things” to make a difference.
About the Author: Joy Smith is the wife of Todd Smith the founder of Little Things Matter. She is the mother of four and the grand mommy of Titus. Joy has a heart to take the love of God to the Nations.