If you've ever read the book The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, you probably know that the theory holds that all people speak a primary "language" through which they give and understand love.
And you probably further know that those five languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Giving/Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch. When I first read the book, ten years ago, I realized that I am a Giving/Receiving Gifts person. But that's been somewhat squelched these nine years of marriage primarily because of conversations like the following (this really happened shortly after we were married):
ME: Oh wow! Tomorrow is the 8 year anniversary of when we first started dating!
AARON: Oh. We're not going to celebrate that. Are we?
ME: (sadly) Well...I guess not.
AARON: Good. Cuz I didn't get you anything.
Don't feel sorry for me. I'm kind of used to it.
And I am married to the world's best speaker of Words of Affirmation. I've been thanked doing our daughters' hair and sifting the cat's litter box. I've been told over and over and over that I make the best meatloaf ever. Plus I do a great job cleaning bath tubs. And the list goes on.
And while I do appreciate his sincerity, I'm not one for needing much encouragement. I just do what I do and I know if I messed it up or if it was good. That's all.
Anyway, I'm totally digressing.
Our Wednesday night Christian Education class just wrapped up a series on The Five Love Languages. To me, the most interesting class was the one that focused on learning to speak the languages of our children.
I learned that Kayla is a HUGE Quality Time kid. And that I'm not so good at "filling that tank"-- to use some Dr. Gary Chapman-speak.
Last week, however, I used my newfound discovery to speak her language AND was able to speak mine at the same time.
Kayla and I had a very special day planned so that we could make the next day (her dad's birthday) an even "specialer" day. We woke up Thursday morning and made a list of what we needed to do that day. And then we made a card for Dad.
So, of course, we went shopping at Target for his gifts (gotta take advantage of all Targetting opportunities). After that, we went to a party supply store and bought balloons--she got to pick them out. Finally, we went to Meijer to buy supplies for his cake (confession: In the nine years we've been married, last week was the first time I've ever made him a birthday cake).
When we got home, we hid the balloons and gift in the basement and then baked the cake. The child was so excited that she could barely contain herself and almost spilled the beans several times when her Dad got home from the office that evening.
The next day was his birthday and after she tiptoed into our room to sneakily wake me up so we could begin the day by making him a surprise breakfast (as if he didn't hear her "whispering" to wake me), Kayla and I methodically performed and checked off the items on the Birthday List we'd made the day before. She was so happy and adorable.
All day long she hugged and kissed us. And I don't know how many spontaneous "I love you's" were tossed around. Her "tank" was definitely full.
And while I can't feasibly love her like that all the time, I'm learning to find ways to give her the quality time she needs. For example, instead of shushing her incessant chatter the entire time we're in the grocery store, I let her pretend she's the salesperson as she explains every item on the shelf and marks it off her imaginary list. She gets a big kick out of that and somehow thinks we had a grand old time doing so.
And I'm learning the language of Quality Time is often exhausting.
Maybe Karis will be a Words of Affirmation girl. That way I'll just have to compliment her on how substantial she is and be done with it.