154 million shoppers hit the streets on Black Friday–why?
Most were searching for the perfect gift for everyone on their list–the gift that would make the person say, “Wow!” What if they got not only a “Wow!”- but a better relationship, especially with their spouse?
Gifts can pave the way toward deeper intimacy when givers tend to the receiver’s love language.
Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages offers insights on intentionally expressing love in the language most meaningful to the receiver. Chapman notes that love is expressed in 5 different ways: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, time, and gifts. While people generally like all 5–they tend to truly feel loved by only 1 or 2 of these. When love is not expressed in their “language,” it’s much like shouting “Te amo!” If the listener doesn’t speak Spanish, they don’t hear the message–“I love you!”
Given how important this can be–what can we do to make sure all that shopping hits the mark?
We choose gifts that speak our spouse’s love language. But beware! When love languages are missed–or worse, manipulated–gifts can backfire. And, the sparks can wreck the relationship. To work, the giver must choose gifts to minister to the deepest part of the person they love.
When your spouse’s love language is:
This person craves physical closeness–not just sex, but touch. Gift ideas include:
- A coupon for a massage–especially by you
- A night a Sybaris
- The Discovery Game for Married Couples
The rest of the year remember to routinely hug (studies say we need at least 12 a day for nurture–likely physical touch people need more), back scratches, sit close on the couch for movies or hold hands when walking.
Dont’s–don’t stiffen or pull away when tired–instead, gently communicate this reality to avoid the person feeling rejected. Don’t use physical touch as a reward or use withdrawal as a punishment.
Words of Affirmation–
This person responds to praise and verbal recognition of their efforts and identity. They feel loved as others affirm them directly or in comments to others. Gift ideas include:
- A letter detailing what they do well and what they mean to you
- Jewelry with special words inscribed
- A personalized calendar with affirmations for each month or important dates highlighted
The rest of the year, write notes or cards noting how they are special, comment to others on their strengths, and frame both agreements and disagreements respectfully.
Dont’s–don’t disparage their opinions or criticize casually. Don’t make them the butt of a joke. Don’t use praise to flatter and gain a personal advantage. Because words mean so much more to this person, they can easily wound.
Acts of Service–
This person feels loved when others actively help them by joining in tasks and easing loads. Gift ideas include:
- Coupons for chores you will do
- A day of maid service or outdoor work
- A gift certificate for someone else doing a job they despise
The rest of the year, seek opportunities to tangibly help with their tasks (i.e. fill their gas tank, pick up the dry cleaning, or review their speeches), make their lunch, or become their assistant.
Dont’s–don’t forget to follow through on a commitment. Don’t frequently pile jobs on the other. Don’t use your help as a platform to make them feel inferior. Again, because this is their love language, any manipulation or failure to follow through doesn’t just frustrate–it communicates, “I don’t love you.”
This person craves one-on-one time together. They feel loved as others share moments with them. Gift ideas include:
- A coupon book of date nights–complete with calendar setting aside the time
- A weekend getaway to a favorite spot
- A prepaid babysitter so the person can have time with friends
The rest of the year, focus on setting specific times to be together to catch up. Whether over morning coffee, evening wine, or a walk after work–this person wants to connect.
Dont’s–don’t skip dates. Don’t give in to distractions (i.e. answer cell phone during a conversation). Don’t offer tepid responses to their sharing. These all signal rejection.
The easiest person for Christmas–this person craves tangible tokens of love. Objects that demonstrate the giver knows them intimately and chooses objects that match. For this person, it’s not about the amount spent but about how the physical object represents a connection to the giver. Gifts ideas include:
- An object that reflects their identity–i.e. a charm representing a key event
- A picture of the two of you
- Their favorite tea, book, or an addition to their collection (and they do collect!)
The rest of the year, focus on choosing objects that connect to their identity–it doesn’t have to be expensive. They will keep greeting cards, notes, or plastic rings just because they connect to a person.
Dont’s–don’t reject their gifts–this is a rejection of them. Don’t grab something random or carelessly wrap–this is worse than nothing at all.
This season of giving offers the chance to tell others how much we love them. Choosing gifts that speak their love language will communicate our love in a way they can hear. At The Resolution Center, we hope your family draws closer throughout this season. For other tools for building your marriage, please email at info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com or call 317-344-9740 to get information about Marital Mediation. We look forward to talking with you.