Today is Valentine’s Day, the day set apart to shower the special people in your life with all the love they deserve. If you’re scrambling to find that perfect way to demonstrate your affection beyond the usual heart-shaped cards or box of chocolates, I understand.
Wanting others to know what they mean to you is great, but expressing it can be a challenge.
A few years ago, my wife wrote a lesson in which she detailed the importance of loving people according to what Dr. Gary Chapman referred to as their “primary love language.” In summary, we all give and receive love differently; to one person, a hug is enough to brighten a morning; to another, a surprise home-cooked meal is more meaningful than the shiniest jewelry.
I decided to add to her wisdom by providing a list of 15 simple and effective ways to love people according to the five love languages. If you are unsure how to identify someone’s primary love language, I encourage you to read Joy’s post—or have your friends and family take the online quiz.
Words of Affirmation
A well-timed compliment often has the power to make a words-of-affirmation person’s day. For them, the more specific, the better. They don’t merely need to know that they are amazing—they need to know why.
1. Scatter loving and encouraging notes across the house, in their car, or in their packed lunch.
2. Compile a list of 15-20 of your favorite things about them, and read it aloud.
3. Observe what they seem insecure about and point your affirmation in that direction.
Acts of Service
Nothing says “I love you” to people who value service like going out of your way to do something you don’t enjoy just because you care about them. Loving these people will vary depending on their circumstances, but here are some timeless ideas:
1. Wash their car. If possible, do so while they’re sleeping or otherwise preoccupied so their clean car will be a surprise.
2. Make their favorite meal when they least expect it.
3. Offer to run an errand for a busy or overwhelmed friend.
For these people, a dozen red roses will certainly not suffice. They need to know that you put thought into a gift and that you were willing to go through the extra effort to pick something out just for them.
1. For a spouse or an old friend, find a gift that is reminiscent of a particularly joyful time in your relationship (i.e., an old record that you listened to as teenagers, a piece of jewelry from where you went on a vacation or honeymoon, etc.).
2. Give little things throughout the day or week and at unexpected times. Many gifts, regardless of cost, are usually more meaningful for gift-oriented people than one large, expensive present.
3. For those who never stop talking about a certain band or TV show, consider buying them fan merchandise (t-shirt, mug, etc.). It will likely result in a good laugh and show that you listen and care about their interests.
This is the love language that can be easily whisked aside when life gets busy. It’s important to recognize that even if you only have 20 minutes to spend with someone, you can make it count.
1. Make a lunch or breakfast “date” with your child or grandparent, and let them choose the place, even if it’s a place you don’t like.
2. Make spending time together a habit. Whether it means having a short coffee break with your husband every afternoon or lunch with your daughter every Thursday, regularly blocking out time is a great way to ensure these people feel loved and appreciated.
3. Give them your full attention when you’re together: ask pointed questions, put your phone down, and listen well.
Loving these people often requires making simple and conscious choices throughout the day to ensure that they feel connected, even when it doesn’t come naturally to you.
1. Sit close to them when you’re watching a movie or TV show.
2. Give a foot or back massage (when appropriate, of course).
3. Hug them. This may seem simple, but even if you’re not a hugger, make a point to properly embrace those in your life who are.
Healthy relationships are essential to a meaningful life. Don’t let loving others take the back seat to your career and ambitions. Find a balance and a way to not just love, but to love well. I encourage you to discover the love language of those closest to you and start applying these tips.
Do you have any additional ideas or experiences on loving people according to their love language? Please share in the comments below.
The most important relationships in your life are with your family members and close friends. Love these people the way they need to feel your love.