Today is Valentine’s Day,  A day to express our affection for the ones we love.   A day of romance, roses, and passion.

Romance doesn’t have to be expensive.  It’s not necessary to spend copious amounts of money to express your heartfelt affection for someone.  I don’t know any girl who would turn away diamonds, but after a few years of marriage it’s really not necessary.  I’m not saying the spark is gone or the desire has waned, not at all.  It’s a matter of knowing your partner, or getting to know them.  It’s a matter of the “heartfelt” part.

Cards are great, roses are lovely,  but true affection means more to me than diamonds or pearls.  Anyone ever heard of the book ‘The Five Love Languages’?  In this book the author, Gary Chapman outlines your love style.

The five styles are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Here’s an easy way to determine your own love language, whatever your first response to show affection is, that’s typically how you would perceive the affection.  If your significant other loves receiving gifts, then you’d best get to the store STAT!  Start paying attention to these things, listening, observing their actions as well as your own.

My love language is Physical Touch.  This is more than just in the bedroom.  This can be as simple as a squeeze of his hand,  a hand laid on my arm as he walks up behind me while I’m washing dishes,  holding hands while we walk, sitting close while watching a movie, things like that.  You can imagine then that gifts don’t mean as much to me as touch.  Anyone can buy a card, or pick up flowers but not everyone will hold my hand during a movie, or during a hike through the woods.  If the cards are played right it can certainly lead to some serious touching in a more intimate manner.

My husband’s love language is acts of service.  Ugh!  He perceives love in the daily housework, the meal preparations, and those little things that if they are not done, suddenly become an issue.  By doing stuff, he’s saying he loves me, but I’d rather have a hug.  When I don’t run the vacuum, It’s because I don’t feel like it, it’s not an expression or lack of love.  However, I will say that I’ve been guilty of using this against him when I’ve been angry.  It always backfires though because I end up having to do it anyway.

How do we find a happy balance?   I don’t know, when we figure it all out I’ll let you know.  In the mean time this becoming one thing is difficult at times.  We’re working on it. We’ve managed 26 years so far, I think we have a good chance of figuring things out.

If words of affirmation are your primary love langugage, it’s not a matter of constantly stroking their ego.  An expression of appreciation goes a long way to  opening up their heart.  Whereas a critical remark to this person has devastating consequences when it was just meant as constructive criticism.  It’s perceived as criticism!

Quality time spent with a person can be the best time investment you could ever make if your partner has this as their primary love language.  Lunch together, a walk through the park, time spent shopping, whatever it is that you do together – DO IT!  I shouldn’t need to explain this, but it’s a matter of focused time, not just being in the same room.  My husband and I can be in the same room, in different worlds.  When I”m writing, I’ve been told that I check out and I’m unavailable.  Apparently it’s an issue, so his secondary language is quality time.

For those whose language is receiving  gifts, they are usually gift givers themselves.  They tend to keep every memento from every little thing you ever gave them.  That Tootsie pop wrapper from the day in the park when you hiked to the falls?  Yeah, they keep it smoothed out in a little “treasure box”.  They can tell you every detail of the day, and why it is significant to them.

As acts of service is my husbands primary love language, I will spend a couple of hours today cleaning, vacuuming, and tidying up the place.  Fresh linens, new tablecloth, and the good china will be out and ready for his arrival.  A fabulous steak dinner is on the menu for the evening, at home.  Valentine’s Day is a busy day at restaurants and he’d rather stay at home.  He can take me out a different day when it isn’t as crowded.  I’m ok with that.  That’s also one of the benefits of having been married a few years, you learn to have some grace and patience with each other.

At the same time, I’m doing a project from a counseling session.  If you can’t take your own advice then don’t give it, right?  I’m making a treasure box.  In it is 100 paper hearts of varying colors.  On each heart I write something I love about him, or a special memory that we’ve shared.  If you love the person this should be easy right?  I thought it would be.  It’s not.  In fact it’s really forcing me to examine our lives together.  The first 30 or so were easy, but the next 30 were a little more challenging.  I’m at 74 and I have a couple more hours to come up with the rest.  I won’t be so quick to question the next couple when they say how difficult this exercise was.

A card, the treasure box and a small gift will be waiting for him tonight.   I have no idea what he has planned.  I’ll just wait and see.  If it’s just a card, ok.  If it’s more great.  The point is, I”m expressing my affection and I’m making this day about giving to the ones I love, not about what they can or will do for me.  My children were greeted with their Valentine’s gifts this morning.  They were happy, which makes me happy.

It is far better to give than to receive.  In this case, yes it is.  I’m doing the part I have control over.  I’m giving out of my heart, expressing my love to family and friends.  It makes me feel great that I can bring a smile to someone else.  It makes me feel productive to know that with just a little effort, I can bless someone else.

It’s about others, and about me.  I have to start with me, learning to love myself before I can truly love anyone else.  It’s a risk, opening up your heart to someone else.  By giving out of myself, not expecting back I’m learning to value myself.   When you give, it’s often given back in greater measure than you gave.

Give some love today!!

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