By Kerrie Subritzky
I quite like Mother’s Day. It’s grown on me.
But for many years I dreaded celebrations like Christmas, birthdays, and Mother’s Day, which are traditionally celebrated by the giving of gifts. But I suck at finding gifts for people and I feel anxious about receiving gifts and trying to pretend that I like them. Over the years I have downplayed and avoided celebrations, often being “away” on my birthday, and our family Christmas tradition no longer involves shopping and swapping gifts.
But that was before I understood what my Love Languages are. If you have never heard of this concept, check out our Mother’s Day feature where I explain the 5 Love Languages and how they can transform relationships. Not just couples, but parents, siblings, and children as well.
“Receiving Gifts” is one of the Love Languages and it’s #5 on my list of 5. No surprises there. What really floats my boat is “Acts of Service” (40%) and “Quality Time” (30%). “Words of Affirmation” (20%) is also up there. This means that I feel loved when someone does something for me, like when John installed a new set of shelves in my office, and when my son Zane called me on my birthday and told me how much he appreciated me and why. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
So, Mother’s Day in our house is usually celebrated by a lovely combo of togetherness with my mum Raewyn and my daughters Betsy and Ruby. And sometimes my sister Sharyn as well. This all-female outing ticks the my Acts of Service box (someone else has prepared the food) and the Quality Time box where we are all enjoying each other’s company, and laughing at shared memories.
Understanding loved-ones’ Love Languages also helps us to be mindful of how to express love to them. For instance, I need to be especially mindful of Betsy’s primary Love Languages - “Physical Touch” and “Gift Giving” – which are my bottom two. This girl loves hugs and cuddles. One Christmas her gift to me was a stack of vouchers labelled: “Free Hug From Betsy”. The clever girl had managed to use her incredible gift-giving skills to figure out how to get more of what she really needed – hugs. It’s not that I don’t want to show affection in this way, it’s just that it’s not what I need, so I forget.
How many of us have empty love tanks because they don’t understand the delivery? An Acts of Service person loving their partner by doing things for them can miss the mark if what the partner really want is lots of affectionate touching. Likewise, that partner might miss the love cues that are being sent in the little acts of service being done for them. How sad. Two people love each other dearly, but are blind to each other’s cues.
We need to learn to express our love in ways that reach the one we love in the way they receive it, instead of our own. It’s incredibly transformative. Imagine how relationships might change if our loved ones really felt our love because we learned how to express it in their language!
While researching for the Mother’s Day article I found a really useful resource: a quiz section on the 5lovelanguages.com website. So, my next project is getting my family to do the quiz and have the results emailed back to me. I will then compile them and share with the family so we can all understand one another’s Love Languages.
Let’s learn to fill each other’s love tanks! It’s a win-win all round.