I spent nine years studying French and four years studying American Sign Language, but by far the most useful language I’ve ever learned is how to be better about loving other people.
It all started when I was watching Dr. Phil in my early 20s — don’t judge, I had lots of free time back then! He had a guest who’d written a book on the five “love languages.” According to this author, Gary Chapman, people responded to “receiving gifts,” “quality time,” “words of affirmation,” “acts of service,” or “physical touch.” He said usually someone has a primary love language, but also connects strongly to a second one.
It was years ago, but the concept really stuck with me. I knew immediately that my primary love language was “words of affirmation.” (I suppose it’s natural for a writer to respond most strongly to words, right?)
I love when my husband tells me how much he appreciates what I do, or that he sees how hard I’m working. I love how my kids thank me profusely for something sweetly simple, like making their pancakes into the shapes of Barbies and horses. I also love when my family members and friends tell me they have fun with me, or that they’re proud of me. I was also the girl who craved affirmation from teachers, if we look back further.
My runner-up love language is “acts of service,” but this really just applies to my husband. When he voluntarily cleans up the kitchen, mops the floors, or scrubs a bathroom, it’s like an instant delivery of a dozen red roses — except I’m really allergic to flowers, so manual labour is actually way better than sneezy roses …
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