Giving Good Gifts

Posted: July 5, 2011 in Love and Marriage
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Years ago, before our marriage problems, my wife and I read a book called The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.  While we liked the ideas, I’m afraid we failed to apply them to our relationship.  We weren’t having problems with our love at the time, and it seemed like good information to know, but we didn’t really get anything out of it because we didn’t act on what we read.  Currently, we are reading the book again, and this time, we are working on making sure that we don’t just skim over it and fail to take the actions that will help strengthen our bond.

The author identifies five major ways that people give and receive love.  He believes that people have a primary “language” by which they communicate love to their spouses and want to receive love in return.  If the two people speak different love languages, their needs will go unmet to the degree that they don’t understand what the other person is trying to express.

When we read the book so many years ago, my wife’s primary love language was gifts.  Mine was words of affirmation.  That was something of a problem in that we spoke different languages, so we either didn’t recognize actions that were meant to express love, or we wanted to be shown love in a way that we weren’t getting.  For example, I would say loving things to my wife, but those words didn’t mean a lot to her.  I wanted her to use those kinds of words with me, but she didn’t speak that language.

For a period of time, fairly early in our marriage, I had to go to meetings every Monday night in another town for church, and she always wanted me to bring her something back.  I thought it was fairly pointless, as I was only gone for a few hours, but for her, it communicated love.  She didn’t want anything expensive or fancy – in truth, she didn’t care what the gift was – she just wanted me to be thinking of her, and bringing something back showed that I was.

One time, shortly before Christmas, instead of going to my church meeting, I actually drove to a different town where we had seen something that she really wanted, but thought she would never get. I made it there in time to buy it and get back home in the same amount of time that I would usually have been gone.  I even brought a little gift and had a bogus “what we talked about” answer for her, so she wouldn’t suspect anything.  I’ll never forget the shock on her face when she opened it on Christmas morning, and she still says it’s the best gift I ever gave her.

As I began to go down the road that led to our separation, my gift giving all but stopped.  Once we got to where I wanted to save the marriage, I began giving again.  Whereas before, I had given gifts just because I knew that my wife wanted them, I began learning to give more thoughtful, meaningful gifts.  I wasn’t only using her love language, I was really learning to speak it.

The gifts don’t have to be big.  While we were separated, I showed up one day at her apartment with a care package that contained a first aid kit, vitamins, and other health items that I knew she didn’t have since she’d moved out.  One day, after we were back together, she had an especially bad day at work, so I bought her some bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and a coloring book and we went to the park and played.

When she took the love language test again after we got back together, gifts showed up as her secondary love language.  Her new primary language was physical touch.  For Valentine’s Day, I bought an ebook that teaches how to give a one hour relaxation massage.  That combines giving of myself, physical touch, and quality time, my secondary love language.  She has also chosen to learn my love language, and now she gives me the gift of hearing the words I need to hear from her to feel loved and appreciated.

  1. debbie915631 says:

    Amen!! I’m not married, but I LOVE hearing of healthy marriages. Thank you!

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