For three months of Cheeky, Jr in my belly, Papa Cheeks and I lived a whopping hour from work. This lead to a LOT of podcasts, NPR radio, and audiobooks (free with a Tulsa library card, FYI).
Papa Cheeks and I were in a weird place (physically – we hated where we lived), and emotionally (baggage that comes with a “surprise” baby just 6 months into a relationship). In an effort to figure us out, I spent my free time:
- Trying to learn German (it’s not random if you know he’s from Germany).
- Trying to learn soccer (he is the soccer aficionado)
- Trying to learn love (is that possible? Who knows, one can try…)
- Accepting the nugget inside of me (yes, this was a process… I’d be lying if I pretended it wasn’t).
The Five Love Languages
As I explored #3 and #4, I stumbled upon the book, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman.
With the amount of time I was spending in the car, I finished the audiobook in two days (it was intriguing enough not to switch to something else in the middle of the book).
A description of the five love languages, stolen from Gary Chapman’s website (verbatim), Focus on the Family:
#1 Words of Affirmation: One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up. Solomon, author of ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21, NIV). Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as:
- “You look sharp in that suit.”
- “Do you ever look incredible in that dress! Wow!”
- “I really like how you’re always on time to pick me up at work.”
- “You can always make me laugh.”
#2 Quality Time: By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. When you spend time that way, Netflix or HBO has your attention — not your spouse. What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, devices put away, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.
#3 Receiving Gifts: Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest.
A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him or her a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him or her. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.
#4 Acts of Service: By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her. Consider actions such as cooking a meal, setting a table, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, changing the baby’s diaper, picking up a prescription, keeping the car in operating condition — they are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.
#5 Physical Touch: We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Numerous research projects in the area of child development have made that conclusion: Babies who are held, stroked and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their spouse.
And Back to Me…
As I listened to the audiobook, I tried to clump myself into a category or two. Then, I tried to clunk Papa Cheeks into a category or two. Turns out, you realize how much you know someone (or don’t) when you try to categorize a person based on the love language they speak.
I didn’t know Papa Cheeks as well as I thought I did (shocker – 6 months, people). Hell, I had a hard enough time figuring out my own love language. And so, I continued to explore us – both separately and together.
What’s the point of knowing these love languages?
Well, if you know the ‘love language’ people around you speak – whether it’s someone you’re intimate with, or someone you’re just trying to become closer to (professionally, even) – you’ll know how to communicate with them on a level that matters to them.
On a personal level? Relationships start to take effort after the honey moon phase ends, and if we don’t know how to speak our partner’s language, or our child’s language, or our best friend’s language, then the relationship is going to dwindle, and that person is going to start thinking you don’t care about him/her, regardless of how you really do feel.
Fast forward two-ish years.
Last night, I brought up a few areas of concern, and my solution to work on these areas (we’ve been super busy, and our schedules are completely opposite, so it’s been difficult trying to fit each other in to our lives – never mind nurture our relationship). Here are two main ideas I focused on in said-conversation:
- I requested we end each night with a conversation, TV off, either recapping on our (very separate) days, or reviewing our upcoming ones. I figure, in the midst of these conversations, there’s a good chance we’ll end up talking about other things, but if we end the day with recaps, we’ll still feel like we’re a part of each other’s lives – one way or another.
- I mentioned our lack of compliments to each other. More specifically, our appreciation of what the other does, whether it’s for the family, individually, or anything else. I suggested we try a little harder to compliment each other on a regular basis, so we know we’re appreciated for all our hard work and effort to keep the ship afloat, if you will.
Can you tell, from these two areas of concern, which love language(s) I speak?
- Act of service
- Receiving gifts
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Both c and d
If you guessed e., you right, girl!
(or boy, whatever)
Well, after I brought up the whole “more compliments” deal, Papa Cheeks declared he doesn’t care about compliments. “They’re nice to hear, but if I don’t get them, I’m not going to feel any different – positively or negatively.”
So I guess that’s not one of his love languages (or so he says) (I don’t buy it).
What I was really getting at, is I need those words of affirmation – tell me you actually see the hard work I’m putting in with a job, my own business, and taking a good amount of the responsibility for our kid. (Anyone taste some salt?) (What? Where?)
I don’t mind doing any of these things, by the way. I genuinely enjoy everything on my plate. But…
Make. Me. Feel. Noticed (Gosh Darn-it).
(PS: he has definitely acknowledged my request after our conversation – he thanked me, mid-day today, about getting something taken care of. Man listens *applaud* and puts in the effort *louder applaud* even if he doesn’t totally understand the ‘language’ himself – what a man *applaud applaud applaud*)
After we were done with our first (flop) of bedtime conversation in the new house (and the new, ohsocomfy bed), Papa Cheeks went to watch some more TV, and I went to sleep with, and more specifically cuddle, Cheeky, Jr.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my last (and Cheeky, Jr.’s first) love language: physical touch.
WE SNUGGLE SO HARD: the main reason I still spend most of my nights sleeping in Cheeky Jr.’s bed, even though he’s no longer breastfeeding, no longer waking up regularly through the night, and after we just spent tons of money on a new mattress… is because he will cuddle me all night long (and mama loves some snuggles). Even when Papa Cheeks and I are doing our BEST, I still find myself crawling into bed with CJ. (what’s love got ta do with, got ta do with, a little cuddle sesssiooonnnn)
Cheeky, Jr.’s second language: quality time.
Boy, does that child get grumpy when mama and daddy aren’t paying attention to him. Sure, he’ll watch a movie (if he’s cuddling you), but you better not be on your phone, or else he’s going to act like a little monkey until your phone is down and your eyes are on him (or on the TV, talking to him about what’s going on). It’s especially apparent quality time is his language when Papa Cheeks and I are both doing too much of something else. Kid will not hang by himself – he has to have someone playing with him, watching him, dancing with him, etc., or we’re wasting our time with whatever we’re doing, as we get insanely frustrated by the mischief he undoubtedly gets himself into. (His whole attitude changes after a few hugs and kisses, though, so sometimes I can bring him back with a few obnoxious smooches… sometimes…)
Exhibit A (earlier today):
and here you see CJ the cuddle bug and me, touching… backs?… and watching some good ole Sesame Street.
And Back to the 5:
“The 5 Love Languages” is actually what allowed me to depict the main source of Cheeky, Jr. acting out (generally speaking – he also has his moments when he’s exhausted… but don’t we all).
When he doesn’t get enough quality time, he gets CRANKY. When he doesn’t get the snuggles, he gets real needy, real fast.
It was all so obvious after I just paid attention.
(Flashback to “’you don’t know what battle someone is facing..’” post: If you read my last post about CJ acting like a lunatic after spending two days away from me and Papa Cheeks, the reason behind his defiance becomes clear once you consider the love languages: he was being a butthead, because two days is forever in baby time. He hadn’t spent any quality time with his mom or his dad in two full days – I’d be grumpy, too. So, he told us how uncool that was for him, in the only way a toddler knows how: by lashing out.)
(OHMYGAHH IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE)
And, like father like son, we get to Papa Cheeks’ first language: quality time.
Papa Cheeks and I connect SO HARD when we’re out doing things together – whether it’s just the two of us, the three of us, or with a group of family/ friends. He thrives on good conversation and good company. I think he speaks this one language so well, the other four languages become irrelevant – like to the point of nonexistence – in his mind (until someone reminds him they exist, of course).
At least the three of us are familiar with quality time, right?
(and thank the gods CJ loves to cuddle as much as his mama)
(I FREAKING LOVE MY FAMILY)
Parenthood and the 5 Love Languages: The Moral
I firmly believe parents get a disconnect with their kids when they don’t understand their babe’s love language: someone who showers his kid with gifts, when all s/he wants is quality time, is going to become the source of resentment down the road; the person who forces her son to go on an hour-long walk with her, when quality time isn’t his love language, is going to end up having an absolute TERRIBLE hour-long walk; a child who is constantly given words of affirmation, when all she wants are hugs and kisses and cuddles, isn’t going to feel as loved – regardless of how much she actually is loved.
You get it – if you’re not speaking their language, there can be some issues… a perfectly loved kid can easily feel neglected without the necessary attention provided to him or her. Think about it!
Any who, if you haven’t read the book – I highly recommend. Chapman is a bit of a religious guy, but he does a really great job of keeping religion out of the book for the most part. If you’re religious, you’ll enjoy his input on the matter, but if you’re not, don’t worry – it’s not a book that relies so heavily on scripture or religious beliefs you’ll get turned off.
(Also, I’m not, like, paid to review this book or anything – I just really find this a super helpful tool to understanding different types of people)
(Oh, and if you’re wondering how to figure out someone’s language, try seeing how they act toward you or the ones they find important. If a person gives tons of compliments and words of affirmation to people around him/her, there’s a good chance s/he speaks that language.)
Until next time…