Friday, July 17, 2009

Making sense of love languages

I wrote a post about love languages once, and then at a conference recently I had to practice-teach a lesson on the topic, using Gary Chapman's book as a basis.

I have been wondering whether or not the "language" analogy works. For one thing, I don't think it's true that we naturally give love in the same way that we would like to receive it. I mean, I may need words of encouragement, but what if I am not very eloquent myself? I might even avoid that particular form of communication, although wishing to receive it from others. I also wonder how we can be expected to give in a different language if it's not a strong area of ours. What if I know that a person whom I love likes to receive gifts, but I'm not good at picking them out?

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Is it better to excel at using your own language, or to struggle along trying to speaking another person's "language" in order to put him first? I am really not sure about this.

Is using "foreign" love languages a skill that can be learned, the same as learning Spanish or French? If so, once you learn one of them, does it work on all the people that have that language?

I am probably being my usual nit-picky self and ruining a concept that works for other people. If so, I apologize. I suppose my tendency is to rebel against formulas.

2 comments:

  1. No.... Since I haven't read the book, I can't say too much, but some of my children clearly have love languages that are unfamiliar to me. For example, Maxim's is clearly "Gifts" (I hope that is one of the "official" ones. He clearly responds and appreciates being given things - from new clothes and shoes to a bit of something nice I am eating. Ilya is physical. He really responds to physical touch even when he is otherwise unresponsive....that took some getting used to and I'm glad the Holy Spirit prompted me to leap through that boundary to reach him. HE is physical with me, too - making me realize that physical touch is NOT a love-language of mine. Yet, I love giving it, to show my love for him. And almost think I do a better job BECAUSE it doesn't come naturally to me. For one thing, I have to "try harder" and be more observant. On the other hand, it FEELS more like love and not just my own natural response. Hope that makes sense.

    Receiving love from someone in a language not your own....now that's trickier! And maybe that is love in and of itself. Ilya wants to show his love in a physical way, but being a 14 year old boy, there are a lot of social constrictions. So, he has to mask it in rough play. And he has rough play down to fine art! He'll put me in a head lock - only then hug me, for example. He actually let me get in a few kisses on his head last night as I gave him a back rub. He was really sweet and relaxed, and there hadn't been any boyishness first....so I was waiting..... And sure enough. When he got up, he just HAD to point out that he'd been so relaxed he slobbered on my bed. Boys!

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  2. I like your observations. I know what you mean about "receiving." I certainly don't mind other people's displays of love, but I don't always know how to respond appropriately, and fear that I haven't adequately expressed appreciation. I suppose what would be worse is not noticing at all.

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