Love languages enhance understanding of self and others

by Haley Williamson

Years ago on a humid day, I was walking with my youth pastor at the time on a dirt road right outside of Beauchamp, Haiti. We began to talk about the importance of love languages.  There are five love languages: quality time, physical touch, gifts, acts of service and words of affirmation.  We concluded that out of the five, mine was definitely quality time.  The next thing he said completely altered the way I give and receive love.  He told me quality time wasn’t my only love language, but I also give and received words of affirmation as a sign of love, which completely took me by surprise.

Every individual has different ways of showing others how much they love, care and appreciate them, as well as the way that they need to be loved.  Knowing how to love someone, and how they can show love to you, is key for a healthy and rich relationship with anyone.  However, how someone may receive love may be the opposite of how they give love and some people also have multiple languages as well.

I think there are three primary reasons why knowing our love languages, and others’, is important.

If you understand your own love language, you will have a better understanding of why you do what you do.  You will have meaning behind why you love to give people your time, how a hug can turn any day around or even why you give so much importance and value to serving people and having others serve you in return.

When I had this conversation with my mentor, it was the first time I was able to see the effect of words in my life; he understood it, but I was blind to it.  He knew when days were rough he could speak affirming words to me, or give me a hand written letter and immediately my attitudes and thought processes would change.

Understanding not only how you give love, but also how you receive, is healthy in understanding who you are as an individual.

Then, knowing the language that someone receives love with will allow you to love them better.

Taking the time to understand how someone wants to be loved shows how much they mean to you and how much you want to invest in them.  If someone has a bad day, you notice they have the blues or you haven’t seen them in weeks, you will know how to show them you are thinking of them and that they are an significant part of your life.

Learning someone’s love language reflects your view of the value of the relationship.

Finally, it is important to understand how others show love in order to understand the weight and meaning behind their particular actions.

Just like how knowing your love language helps you understand yourself, it allows you to understand how someone else functions and what their actions mean.  You will be able to recognize patterns in their behavior and instead of treating it as a normal occurrence, become aware of the significance.  Someone wanting to spend time with you or constantly leaving you letters of encouragement in your room may mean more than just the surface level act.  Knowing someone’s love language makes you more aware of how to love them, but then it allows you to appreciate the love they are giving you much more when you are able to distinguish it.

Since that day my youth pastor told me quality time and words of affirmation were my love language, I have begun to understand myself more and recognize why I function in the ways I do.  With that, I have begun to realize that I need to figure out how to best love those around me as well.

With those reason, I challenge you to ask those you are closest with about their love languages, as well as learn about your own.

Contact Haley Williamson at hwilliamson15@my.whitworth.edu

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