What’s the best gift for my girlfriend? How can I make my husband feel special? What’s the best way to make my friend’s birthday memorable? These are the most common questions I’m asked on Quora. If the asker doesn’t provide any additional information to lead me to a specific gift, I usually answer: there are 5 ways to express love and kind feelings.
I learned about the different ways to express love from Gary Chapman’s ‘The 5 Love Languages‘. This book cleared up some misunderstandings me and my husband had and taught us how to express our feelings in a way that is meaningful to the other person. The author writes about 5 ways to express love:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Once you know which language other people speak, you can choose the perfect gift for them! I encourage you to read the whole book, but before you do, let’s have a closer look at each of the ways to express love.
1st Way to Express Love: Words of Affirmation
These include all kinds of compliments, words of praise, encouragement and acceptance. One idea of a creative present that will give most pleasure to people speaking this language is a long list of reasons for which we like them, love them or appreciate them. We may also express our feelings in a poem. Nothing is as meaningful to the people who enjoy words of affirmation as kind words. Therefore, it is a good idea to always supplement your presents for them with a greeting card.
2nd Way to Express Love: Quality Time
Quality time means spending time together in a creative way and not in front of a TV set (unless the two of you comment what you see and are excited about it). You may play board games, talk, prepare something together or even not do anything special, but just BE together. The best gifts for such people include an evening out, a walk in a park or learning a new skill together.
3rd Way to Express Love: Gifts
How can you tell that receiving gifts is what makes a person most happy? Such people just can’t wait to lay their hands on them and will never put one aside before it is unwrapped and its content revealed. Moreover, such people usually remember who gave them what and look after all of their gifts as if they were their most valuable possessions. Needless to say, they also love giving presents to others. You simply can’t go wrong with a gift for such people. If you want them to be even more overjoyed, put some effort into a beautiful wrapping of your present.
4th Way to Express Love: Acts of Service
Some people claim that they don’t want any presents; they don’t like wasting time and don’t enjoy compliments. It is really difficult to make them happy until you learn that what they appreciate most are acts of service. Once you know it, possibilities are endless. Instead of buying them another fountain pen, which will lie forgotten in a drawer, ask them what they need help with, or help them without asking. A repaired tap, a painted fence or a mown lawn will definitely be long remembered!
5th Way to Express Love: Physical Touch
The last category comprises people who enjoy being hugged, stroked, and never miss a chance to pat somebody on the back. It may seem difficult to make such a person a present, but in spite of appearances it’s not that hard. Adults may be given coupons for a massage (including a massage performed by the giver), and children may be offered a game consisting in drawing on their backs.
How to discover your primary love language among the 5 ways to express love?
When I pondered upon my own love language, initially I couldn’t decide between two. Contrary to what you might expect, none of them was receiving gifts. My level of excitement at ‘ordinary’ gifts that you may buy isn’t above average. Naturally, I am curious what surprise I will get for my birthday, name day or Christmas, but I quickly forget about flowers, fancy cosmetics or other presents I didn’t ask for. Creative gifts, in turn, which require involvement on the part of the giver, mean a lot to me. Why? Because my primary love language is quality time! When I know that someone devoted their time to me, I have no doubts about their warm feelings.
At first, I also wondered whether acts of service could be my love language. A simple process of elimination helped me decide on that. If I had someone’s attention (quality time), but didn’t have their help (acts of service), and I would have to clean the whole house on my own with the other person just sitting around and keeping me company, I would be happier than if someone took over all of my chores, but didn’t have any time left for me.
Ways to express love on the example of greeting cards
Let’s test what you have learned in practice.
Question: Which of those greeting cards for my daughter’s first birthday was my favourite?
Answer: The one with the ladybird because it was handcrafted by the giver. It also had rhymed greetings composed by the same person! Its creation must have taken the author a lot of time, which is something I will always appreciate.
How can you choose a perfect card for people speaking other love languages?
- People who value kind words will first look at the text inside. Write it yourself or choose the best one, treating the design as a side issue.
- For people who love gifts attach something small to the card – even a wild flower picked on your way will make them happy.
- When you give your card to the ‘touchers’, (depending on their age) hug them tightly, pat them on the back, stroke their face or ruffle their hair.
- When it comes to the last group, you may skip the card altogether or buy the cheapest one and not waste time on choosing it. Instead, you should offer your services during party planning or help cleaning when the guests are gone. I guarantee you that your kindness will be long remembered.
Have you already decided which way to express love is your love language? What is most important to you? Which kind of presents or greeting cards makes you most happy? Now, think about the love language of your nearest and dearest, and start giving them the presents they will enjoy most!
‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman
The book is a really worthwhile read at a very reasonable price. Me and my husband have once bought 10 copies and given one to each couple that invited us to their wedding. It encompasses not only the description of the 5 ways to express love, which I tried to present here briefly, but also the theory of ‘love tanks’ and information on how to prevent them from drying. Below, I paste the so-called affiliate link to Amazon. If you purchase the book after clicking on the link, we will receive a commission for recommending it to you. Your price will stay the same, but we will be very pleased to know that you were interested in what we wanted to share with you.
– The book’s official website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ includes a test that should help you decide on your love language. In my opinion, however, it is much better to read the FAQ section and consider on your own what brings you most pleasure or what would be the hardest to live without.