A couple years back, I read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. My beloved and I have grappled with certain differences of opinions for decades and, having heard about Chapman's theory, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Chapman proposes five different ways people show - and wish to be shown - love. I must say it was eye-opening and, I think, helpful to me in understanding how my spouse is different than am I, and how I might better speak his language in showing him he is loved rather than trying to show it in the language I best respond to.
Recently, I traveled to Dallas to be with my parents and siblings in celebrating my dad's 90th birthday. Leading up to the trip, people asked me if I was excited about it; if I were honest, I would have said "somewhat" because my family, like many, seem to have a penchant for drama. And it crossed my mind it could be we all speak different love languages with each other. I'm not sure this is how it works, having only taken the love language test with regard to my marital relationship, but in applying Chapman's theory to my family's inter-relationships, I can see we might need to do some group love-language therapy.
Before I arrived, I told my mom I'd help with her computer - an "Act of Service" in Chapman's parlance. I usually hear about some issue or another during our weekly phone visits that is difficult for me to solve over the line. Once I got there, however, mom brushed it off, not wanting to waste precious time fixing something, but rather talking about other things. I guess mom is more of a "Quality Time" woman when it comes to me. My sister, on the other hand, is definitely an Acts of Service person where mom is concerned. When I talked to her by phone upon arriving, she was quick to request I clean bathrooms, as she and her daughter tend to do when they visit from Houston. Meanwhile, my mom would love some "Words of Affirmation" from my brother, who is much more a "Receiving Gifts" kind of guy (he on the giving end). On the other hand, the last thing dad wants from anyone is Words of Affirmation which just make him cringe; I'd say he's definitely more an Acts of Service or Quality Time man. It seems none of us are really "Physical Touch" people, so I guess we have that going for us.
Somehow we managed to survive this trip relatively unscathed even without understanding each other's love languages. Still, I'm glad I read the book and think it would be a terrific idea for Chapman to issue a family version to add to his editions focusing on children, singles and the workplace. You can only count on the benefits of "mellowing with age" for so long.