Squeeze me like a key lime

Artist Unknown

For me, if you want me to know you love me, you can’t tell me. You have to show me. Or else, it doesn’t register.

Have you ever heard of a book called, The Five Love Languages? Basically the thinking is that there are 5 ways of communicating and receiving love.

Here are the 5. Which is yours?

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Skip the book, and just read the break down far below. 

It’s actually quite interesting I think. We all learned how to love from entirely different people and experiences we were exposed to. So it should come as no surprise that you could have a polar opposite love language than the person you most want to show love to or receive love from. I do!

I was born into a large family that was very much already grown up when I arrived. My dad was 44 and my oldest sister was 20 years older than me. I didn’t have a single cousin my age, in fact my nephews are closer to my age. So, I was the baby. My overall experience in being the baby was pretty great. My siblings were old enough that they were actually excited for me to be born. They were always nice to me, never jealous, never petty. I was constantly picked up and passed around. My mother, an 80’s hair stylist would sponge roll my hair, braid it, tease it. My brother used to pick me up, throw me in the air and tickle me on the floor. Then there’s my dad who somehow got into a habit of rubbing my tiny kid back when I was about to fall asleep and eventually I started just bringing him a bottle of Lubriderm and handing it to him without saying anything. I would then lay down next to him on the sofa while he watched golf and get my back rubbed. It always worked! Come to think of it, I might just start doing this with my husband, no words, just a lotion hand off.  Anyway, I was completely spoiled in the affection department, no doubt and no complaints.

My mother’s love language is words of Affirmation and Gifts. I think my dad’s might actually be Physical Touch or Quality Time. My mother would write me long beautiful letters and I’m pretty sure, I skimmed through them. But, I also knew to write her long notes for her birthday and Christmas and I knew to pick out thoughtful gifts that were very her, in fact I helped my dad with this, and still do.

I was built up a lot as a kid with words but to be honest, I didn’t really need to be. I don’t really care if anyone is proud of me or gives me a thumbs up. However, I care deeply if I am proud of me. I care about being understood and to me that’s a more physical, emotional thing. It’s how you look at me in the eyes when I’m talking and it’s how you reach for me and pull me close. I knew I was loved when my mom would take time out of her day to play with my hair or my dad would rub my back while he watched hours of golf.

You can rate the love languages 1-5, 1 being your primary love language and 5 being your least likely way to give or receive love.

Mine goes like this.

  1. Physical Touch
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Words of Affirmation.

What is love language I’m the worst at?

Words of Affirmation

It also happens to be my husband’s primary love language. He’s the sweetest. He says I love you every time he sees me and tells me he’s proud of me whenever he thinks I might be sad. He writes cute things about me on facebook and sometimes leaves me love letters when he goes away. His vows also made everyone cry at our wedding. He’s a good one and I’m lucky. Here’s the thing, if I’m not pulled close, squeezed, inhaled, mauled or physically smothered, none of the above soaks in. In the words of Grace Potter, Squeeze Me Like A Key Lime.  I could fall asleep with our foreheads touching. His exhale would be the thing that puts me to sleep, my exhale would be the thing that keeps him awake. Ha. All true.

My honey likes his space. He doesn’t necessarily need me to smother him. 🙂 I run around thinking, “he’s so great”, he’s so intelligent, hard working, creative, adventurous, thoughtful and kind and he carries everything on his shoulders. So, because I think and feel all these things, I tidy up the house, buy organic coldcuts (so he doesn’t die), make sure he is never low on clean undies and that his socks don’t have holes. I give him big hugs when he gets home, I make food for him and I kiss his face while he watches MSNBC or REDZONE. Yeah, I know about redzone.  I could go on like this without words but it won’t soak in. He needs me to understand the law memo he wrote about and because I’m a visual learner, he generally uses salt and pepper shakers to explain things to me. He likes hearing that I love him in the morning and at night. He cares to know how proud I really am of him. He wants to know that I understand why he’s so tired.

It’s all kind of funny to me because in my head, that understanding, that pride, that love, could never be fully expressed or even contained with words. In my head, the only way to show him that I know how much of his energy, his thoughts and time are going into taking care of everything and everyone in his life is to take care of him, his holey socks, his nutritional health, his stress etc.

This love language thing can be pretty useful in those moments because I learn to “use my words” and tell him all the things I’m running around thinking and well… he learns that when he lays on me, my heartbeat slows and I like that. Fact.

Below is a more thorough explanation of the 5 Love Languages. I’d love to hear what your love language is and if it matches your partner. Write me a note! It could get interesting if everyone weighs in.

Love to you,

A

The Five Love Languages

Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.*

Verbal compliments or words of appreciation are powerful communicators of love.
Encouraging words: “Encourage” means “to inspire courage”. All of us have areas in which we feel insecure. We lack courage, which often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things that we would like to do. Perhaps you or your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting encouraging words from you or from him.

Kind words: If we’re to communicate love verbally, we must use kind words. That has to do with the way we speak. The statement “I love you”, when said with kindness and tenderness, can be a genuine expression of love.

Humble words: Love makes requests, not demands. In marriage we’re equal partners. If we’re to develop an intimate relationship, we need to know each other’s desires. If we make our needs known in the form of a request, we’re giving guidance, not ultimatums.

Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.*

This means giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. What I mean is taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other while talking. Time is a strong communicator of love. The love language of quality time has many dialects. One of the most common is that of quality conversation – two individuals sharing their thoughts and feelings. A relationship calls for sympathetic listening with a view to understanding the other person’s desires. We must be willing to give advice, but only when it’s requested and never in a condescending manner.

Here are some practical listening tips:

  • Maintain eye contact when your spouse is talking.
  • Don’t do something else at the same time.
  • Listen for feelings and confirm them. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?”
  • Observe body language.
  • Refuse to interrupt. Such interruptions indicate, “I don’t care what you are saying; listen to me.”
  • Quality conversation also calls for self-revelation. In order for your partner to feel loved, you must reveal some of yourself, too.

Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.*

Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest. A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” A gift is a symbol of that thought. Gifts come in all sizes, colours and shapes. Some are expensive and others are free. To the individual whose primary love language is receiving gifts, the cost will matter little.

There is also an intangible gift that can speak more loudly than something that can be held in one’s hand. Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give. Your body becomes the symbol of your love.

Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.*

People who speak this love language seek to please their partners by serving them; to express their love for them by doing things for them. Actions such as cooking a meal, setting a table, washing the dishes, sorting the bills, walking the dog or dealing with landlords are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love. I’m not saying become a doormat to your partner and do these things out of guilt or resentment. No person should ever be a doormat. Do these things as a lover.

Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.*

Holding hands, kissing, hugging and sex – all of these are lifelines for the person for whom physical touch is the primary love language. With it, they feel secure in their partner’s love. “Love touches” don’t take much time, but they do require a little thought, especially if this isn’t your primary love language or you didn’t grow up in a “touching” family. Sitting close to each other as you watch TV requires no additional time, but communicates your love loudly. Touching each other when you leave the house and when you return may involve only a brief kiss, but speaks volumes.

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2 comments

  1. Jennie

    So interesting. I just spent a week with some of my best girlfriends. We talked about the love languages a lot and how it affects friendships too.

    My husband and I are reversed from you guys. I’m words of affirmation and he’s physical touch but both of our seconds are quality time.

    I would tell you I’m enjoying your blog and admire your courage and openness….but I guess that wouldn’t matter much to you 😉

    • So fascinating! I think a lot of couples are these two, at least in my friend circle. Stay tuned for the enneagram blog, it’s wildly useful in friendships and in love.

      Ps. I still like blog comments! I like the dialog anf of course…being understood! 😉 So thanks! A

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