You probably know your Love Language or at least the way that you like to be loved. Here’s the list for a refresher:
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Constant compliments. Special date nights. Lots of hand holding. It’s nice to think that your Love Language will match up effortlessly with your significant other, but what if it doesn’t? That’s the case for my husband Joseph and I.
Speaking Different Love Languages
According to the 5 Love Languages quiz, my #1 Love Language is Words of Affirmation. I like to give and receive encouraging words. But they land nowhere on my husband’s natural radar. He often forgets to give me the compliments I need and is actually embarrassed (his face literally turns red) if I give him too much praise. Instead, his Love Language is Physical Touch and Acts of Service.
This might seem like a total nightmare, but before you start to feel sorry for us, let me give you some perspective. You see, when we are so focused on the Love Languages, it can become really easy to be absorbed with what we want, and we miss out on what we are already receiving.
Like I said, I look for compliments. I expect them to feel good. But you know what I don’t expect? Silence to speak one thousand words. God knows I need to slow down. I need to look around me. I need to stop and feel. And God gave me a man who hugs me a little longer than I would expect, tells me not to let go so soon, to just take a deep breath and hold each other, to stop, to kiss each other good morning, good-bye, and good night every single day. No exceptions!
Joseph’s #1 Love Language is physical touch. The cuddles. The kisses. The hand holding. The hugs… lots of hugs… mean so much more to me than I ever thought they would. Compliments? Sure. He tries hard to remember to give me those too. I like those… you could even say I LOVE those. But I love him even more. His touch. His personality. The way he was wired. I think God knew he’d be the one for me… to slow down… to grow… to become a more complete person. He is exactly what I need.
Love isn’t about what we get. It’s about what we give.
Maybe instead of focusing on our own Love Language, we need to think of ways we can show love to others.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
I know sacrifice doesn’t sound glamorous. But selfishness isn’t glamorous either.
The Wall Street Journal published an article attempting to discover why marriage rates are declining. A 24-year-old college graduate named Kevin said he wants to get married someday but not soon. He says girls are easy to manipulate and he can get whatever he wants. His goal? To have sex with a million of them.
Whether he was exaggerating or not, this guy sounds like a total pig! Not marriage material. He’s only focused on what he wants. Yet so many girls are surprised that the guys they’re having sex with aren’t ready to settle down. I have countless friends on Facebook who are shocked when the man who supposedly loved them won’t change for them. Selfish love doesn’t change people.
So what is the recipe for a committed relationship? Sacrificial love. It sees the flaws and mistakes and loves through them.
A secular psychologist from University of Denver remarked on the WSJ study, saying that the daily sacrifice and acceptance of inconveniences help men develop commitment. And I agree. Selfish love doesn’t change people. Only a love that’s like God’s love changes people.
After all Romans 5:8 says Christ died for us while we were STILL sinners. He showed sacrificial love to imperfect people.
Kinda like marriage. When we look at God’s character, we see selfless, sacrificial love. It’s the love that our Savior had for us, sacrificing His life so that we could have life. I believe that’s one of the reasons why God uses the picture of Christ and the church as the analogy for marriage. It’s that kind of sacrificial love that is required by marriage every day, a love that sees through the imperfections and accepts the inconveniences along the way.
“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, but I am speaking about Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:31-33
It’s about to get really inconvenient
My husband Joseph and I had no idea we would have to love each other in such challenging ways so early in our marriage. Last spring, he broke his femur in a traumatic work accident, falling almost thirty feet while working in construction. Typically, a fall from that height would mean paralysis, brain damage, or death. In fact, the ambulance didn’t expect him to be alive when they showed up on the site!
His broken femur led to a three-week hospital stay. I slept in a hospital cot next to his bed, lived out of a suitcase while working full-time, and had to drive him everywhere for almost three months. I fought with insurance companies for coverage. I did all the household chores. And made daily sacrifices for the man who I loved.
It was a year of medical expenses and inconveniences. To top it off, a few months ago, I had a much-needed hip surgery. The recovery was long, and Joseph took great care of me, doing one hour PT exercises with me everyday, cooking all of our meals, and carrying everything for me so I didn’t slip and fall in the snow on my crutches.
We are young. We’ve only been married a few years. And we never would have expected so many medical challenges. Hopefully there aren’t any near-death experiences or major surgeries for you, but sacrificial love is required nonetheless.
It doesn’t take a major life event to show selfless love in little ways… like lending your jacket when its cold, picking someone up that needs a ride, or sharing food because you want someone to enjoy what you’re experiencing. All those little things reveal where your heart is at. And, might I add, that sharing food was a deal breaker for me. Good thing Joseph was more than willing to give me a bite of his Alfredo on our first date!
The little things (like sharing food) might not seem like a big deal to you, but I can still remember my mom telling my sister and I not to take the biggest piece of cake for ourselves. She’d say that if you take the biggest piece then there’s something wrong in your heart. It sounds funny, but it’s true. Whenever I’d go to a birthday party, and I’d be eyeing that piece of cake that’s bigger than the rest or maybe the special corner piece with loads of frosting, I could feel that selfishness creeping in. And I’d think to myself, I don’t want a bad heart. Sure, that was my childish understanding. But selfishness and self-sacrifice really does have a lot to do with your heart. It has to do with love.
You can love someone selfishly or selflessly.
You can love someone because of what they do for YOU. Are they giving you YOUR Love Languages? Are they loving you in the way that you want to be loved?
Or you can love someone selflessly. Love them for who they are. And strive to love them in the way that they need.
Love can be selfish. Or love can be selfless. It’s easy to know my own Love Language and want my husband to give it to me. But how much time do I spend thinking about and giving him his? I know I need to do it more. Because at the end of the day, I’m just thankful that my husband is still alive to love, imperfections and all.