Perhaps, like me, you have received some extra-special Christmas gifts: A favorite doll, the perfect bike, or the fashionable jeans you wore until they were ragged. When I was 9 and everything I held dear was about army and battle Mom and Dad gave me a toy machine gun mounted on a tripod that I still remember in every detail. It had a red plastic “flame” cylinder that popped in and out of the muzzle when I pulled the trigger, and made a machine gun sound that was music to my ears, but apparently was not as pleasing to my mom as she insisted that I play with it outside.
While it is customary at Christmas to give gifts wrapped in shiny paper and exotic bows, and while all of us appreciate tangible gifts, remember that your loved ones have a variety of so-called “love languages,” or favorite ways to be shown love and appreciation. Dr. Gary Chapman has defined what he refers to as the Five Love Languages:
1. Expressing gratitude for others and acknowledging the simple as well as important things they do.
2. Offering your undivided attention to a person and spending meaningful time with them.
3. Giving gifts and other tangible expressions of love.
4. Helping someone through service, such as assisting them with errands or household chores.
5. Expressing love through physical contact such as a hug or holding hands.
While we enjoy and appreciate all of these expressions of love and caring, we also tend to have a particular favorite. For me it is feeling acknowledged and appreciated. For Margo it is receiving the gift of meaningful time from others.
Take a moment and rank the love languages in the order of importance to you. You might ask your partner to do the same. It is a fun exercise and you might learn some things about one another. There is nothing wrong with giving your loved one the perfect gift with ribbons and bows, but also remember other offerings of time, attention, service, acknowledgment, and touch that will help make this Christmas Season especially merry and bright for you and your relationship.
Merry Christmas from LIFE Marriage Retreats!