My mum bought me a book as a present out of the blue once. It was called ‘The Five Love Languages’. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Languages-Secret-that-Lasts-ebook/dp/B00OICLVBI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538925638&sr=8-1&keywords=five+love+languages I cringed a bit at the title, if I’m honest, but I read it all the same.
Its premise was that there are four basic ways of communicating love but that each of us is only proficient in one or two. Problems can arise in relationships when we don’t speak the same language, so we can end up thinking we’re not loved because we don’t ‘hear’ their method of communication. Or we can feel frustrated when our expressions of affection don’t ‘translate’ for them.
My beloved and I are a classic combination of opposite ‘love languages’. Just as he had a natural flair for German at school whereas I found French came much more naturally, so his communication styles tend to be service and gifts, whereas mine are words and physical contact.
So he buys me flowers because it would have been my late dad’s birthday or just because he hasn’t bought me any for a while and wants me to know I’m appreciated. He diligently keeps our finances in order, empties the dishwasher, and is quick to offer lifts to our boys no matter how far or what changes it might mean to his own plans.
I, on the other hand, can’t let any of men leave the house without a goodbye kiss or go to bed without a goodnight hug. I make a point of frequently saying to them, out loud or via text, how much I love them and am proud of them.
What we have had to learn though is to become multilingual – to recognise each other’s prime language and remember to translate, and to learn to speak it ourselves. So he will give me a cuddle because he knows it makes me feel reassured and I will make sure all his shirts are laundered so he will start the day knowing he is cared for.
And I guess that’s the point for all of us who want to show any kind of love to others, our own or God’s: it’s no good just spouting away in our own language, repeating the same words ever more slowly and loudly like an ignorant and arrogant Englishman abroad – we simply won’t be understood. We all need to become linguists if we want others to know their true worth.
After all, wasn’t that exactly what God did when ‘the Word became flesh’?