Are you speaking your own love language? You’ve probably heard of the Five Love Languages. Maybe you’ve read the book by Gary Chapman, PhD, but if not, there’s a good chance someone has explained it to you, you’ve read about it, or maybe you’ve just taken the online quiz.
The idea is that people give and receive love in different ways, (Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch). Figuring out what expressions of love mean the most to you can be helpful in your relationships. Partners can use this principle to love one another more intentionally. Parents can figure out the best way to convey their love to their kids. Even friends can use love languages to support one another.
I’m not one to jump on most of these wildly popular personality type or self-help bandwagons. Over the years I’ve determined that I’m a firstborn, Sagittarius, INFJ, Enneagram 2, and depending who you ask, every bit of that information is supposed to be vital in discovering who I am. I never really find it helpful.
But I like the five love languages concept.
It’s simple. The idea of being careful to determine how your partner prefers to show love and be loved feels right to me. It was helpful to my husband and me as newlyweds years ago. Learning each other’s love languages allowed us to establish patterns that make our life together more harmonious.
Until recently, I never really thought about using that information to shape the way I take care of myself, but now that the idea is in my head, it makes so much sense. I recently saw this post on Instagram, and it really got my gears turning. I hadn’t thought about my own love languages in years, but seeing it all laid out for me made me realize how desperate I am for a little intentional self-love.
Like a lot of other parents, pandemic life has me mentally stretched thin.
I have three kids. One is doing virtual school, one is in full-time traditional school, and the other is an infant. My husband works full-time, so he can’t help with any of the school duties. I work part-time from home, and I have to figure out time to do that between math lessons, breastfeeding, and school pickup line.
My husband and I also have to find time to make sure our house is clean enough to live in, maintain our relationship with each other, and support the individual needs of each child.
Self-love and self-care sometimes feel like one more thing to add to an overflowing plate. However, it’s not fair for me to completely neglect my own wellbeing. First of all, I am valuable, important, and deserve health and good things. That’s the most important reason to speak my love language to myself as often as I can.
My partner is working and parenting in a pandemic, too.
He feels the pressure of the upcoming election, the rampant natural disasters and the irreparable toll this year has taken on things that used to be constants in our lives. His own reserves are low. When I don’t put any effort into caring for and encouraging myself, it puts more pressure on him to make sure I feel loved and safe. He is an excellent partner, but right now, while things are so complicated, taking responsibility for my own fulfillment is not only an act of self-love; it’s an act of service to my partner.
I asked some of my friends if they consider their love language when thinking about self-care.
I was surprised how many of them said yes!
My friend Emily receives love through acts of service. She hires a cleaner to come in a couple times a month and scrub her floors, kitchen, bathrooms. Paying for that service gives her a break, lowers her stress level, and also allows her more time to do the things she loves on her own. When she has a few minutes to organize the common areas or tackle a little project she’s been missing, that feels like self-care to her.
Kamarie’s love language is words of affirmation. She’s learned that she doesn’t have to wait to hear them from someone else. Her morning routine includes telling her reflection that she is beautiful, strong and capable. “It’s been a game changer for me!” she reports.
Like a lot of moms, Gilliana struggles to spend money on herself. Since her love language is giving and receiving gifts, she has made a conscious effort to overcome that difficulty. “Being ‘impractical’ and spending a few dollars on something for me alone helps me remember that I’m worthy and deserving.”
My dad wasn’t familiar with the five love languages. I had him take a quiz I found online. He determined his love language is quality time. I didn’t need a quiz to tell me that. He shows love to other people by going out of his way to find ways to make lasting memories with us. He prioritizes his own well-being by making sure he spends an adequate amount of time alone. Doing things he loves, like painting, writing music, or just watching TV without interruption is self-care for him.
My husband’s love language is physical touch. If he has a few minutes to spend on himself, you will always find him dressed in warm, cozy clothes, sitting cross-legged on the couch, drinking coffee or tea. He loves to be cozy. The feeling of soft fabrics and a warm mug helps fulfill his need for physical touch.
Time alone is scarce for busy adults in the best of times.
This isn’t not only a pandemic problem. If we are not intentional about making time to keep ourselves healthy and feeling good, it just won’t happen at all. Considering your love language and practicing it on yourself can maximize those precious moments when you do find a few minutes to decompress and show yourself some kindness.