"And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV).
Perhaps the most used (and misused) word in the English language--maybe even any language--is the word Love. It's frequently used euphemistically for romance, erotica, and sex, but it's much more than either of those. It is probably the single greatest emotional need we humans have. A man once said that he wanted what any man wants: "to be loved and to be famous." Personally, I'll settle for just being loved. Of course, being loved must translate into feeling loved, or else the sentiment is lost. So, how do we prove our love?
There are a myriad of ways to show love, but each way can be categorized into one of five basic actions, which Dr. Gary Chapman calls "love languages" in his book, The Five Love Languages. You can read more about it at http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/
Dr. Chapman identifies five basic love languages in which we all show love at any given time, but he explains that we will always favor one as our primary love language and often a second as our secondary love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
Here's a brief summation of each. Words of affirmation are words of genuine appreciation for someone, such as, "You are so intelligent!" Quality time is setting aside time for undivided attention for the one you love. Gifts refers to the practice of giving gifts, whether purchased or personally crafted. Acts of service means performing tasks for the one you love, whether household chores and maintenance or work or whatever. Finally, physical touch means giving hugs, kisses, caresses, massages, etc. to the one you love each time you see him/her.
Naturally, these love languages apply to everyone, not just spouses or lovers. In fact, Dr. Chapman has expanded on his original work to include a separate book on love languages as they apply to children and another as they apply to teenagers. Each book contains detailed descriptions of each love language and how to identify not only your own but others' love language so you can show love in ways that are much more meaningful to those you love. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes in your most important relationships once you begin showing love in the way that is particularly special to the ones you love. So, what are you waiting for? Start speaking the five languages of love today!