Expressing Love

  To properly build and maintain loving feelings between you and another person, it is important to show them that you care about them in ways that they will understand and appreciate. As described in Dr. Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, there are five categories for expressions of love, and every person is innately attuned to one type of expression above the others. Learning each mode of expressing caring feelings will help you improve the quality of your closest relationships.

1. Discover what makes the person feel most loved. 
Try different methods, and see what generates the most positive response. It may be something that you are not accustomed to doing, but if your intent is to express love to someone, you should learn to do it in ways that the person will appreciate most. Note that no single method works for everybody; some might feel loved by it, while others may not. There is no universally effective approach, even for a particular "love language"; each language has distinct "dialects" within it, so pay attention to what works best.

The five love languages are (in no particular order)

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

2. Speak words of affirmation. 
    Some people's longing for love and acceptance is best satisfied by positive verbal (and written) statements. Express gratitude and appreciation for what they do. Give them compliments and encouragement. Tell them you love them. Try to vary the words you say in expressing your caring for the person to prevent repetitive statements from becoming tiresome.
While speaking positively in all respects engenders loving feelings in those most attuned to words of affirmation, harsh or condemning words will have the opposite effect, sometimes causing deep emotional wounds that may never be fully forgotten. Because words can have such profound impact, the most important thing is to be positive instead of judgmental in what you say. Learn to praise people's admirable qualities and worthy efforts, and replace criticism with constructive advice if it's warranted.

3. Share quality time. 
      Those who prefer quality time want to do things together. Take notice of their preferred activities, and try to initiate some time together in doing those things. Engage in quality conversation. Go hiking. Play games. Plan and work together. Whatever you do, spend time with them, not just near them. Giving them your attention is what is most important.

4. Perform acts of service. 
      Parents often ask it of their children, and husbands and wives ask it of each other, but service can be a lot more meaningful to some people. Cleaning around the house, preparing meals, doing laundry, yardwork, and various other chores can be a very loving expression to someone. Look for ways to help your loved ones with tasks that will help ease their physical, mental, or emotional burdens. Your service may be especially appreciated when it's unexpected.

5. Initiate physical touch. 
          Many forms of physical contact can be a warm, loving gesture. Hold hands. Pat or rub their back or arm. Give hugs. Be receptive to appropriate gestures of physical contact, and choose suitable times to freely embrace your loved ones.

6. Give gifts. 
        Objects can be emblems of one's love, as tangible, visual reminders. They don't have to be expensive or long-lasting; home-made gifts and even temporary things like flowers and food can be very effective displays of affection. Just be sure that you don't rely too much on past gifts to convey evidence of your love for the person; give often.
To those who are more emotionally appreciative of gifts, one's physical presence can also be particularly valuable, with one's body in a sense being an emblem of devotion, and "being there" for them at stressful moments, simply staying close, is especially meaningful.

7. Expand your expressions of love into multiple approaches. 
      Incorporating other languages in addition to the person's primary love language will better demonstrate a well-rounded expression of caring about them. A person might place high value on more than one love language, so be sure to try them all. Also, don't limit yourself to just one or a few methods of expression within a language; you may later discover an even more effective demonstration of your love.

8. Express love regularly. 
       For important relationships, especially with your spouse or other family members, be sure to demonstrate your love often, continually expressing your caring for them in a myriad of ways, especially in the language that they understand best. It is widely believed that "it's the thought that counts," but the thought counts only when the gift or other expression of love is actually given. Concealed love benefits no one.





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