For Mother’s Day 2015, my boys collaborated on a load of bark mulch for my flower gardens — and then faithfully spread every last particle. What a gift! They were certainly speaking my love language!
Gary Chapman’s five love languages have become woven into the fabric of our culture. Any conversation centered around interpersonal dynamics and relationship building is going to, eventually, come around to a discussion of understanding the other person’s love language. But what if the conversation started during the teen years when relational habits are still being formed — before life partners are chosen and language barriers are already in place? Although Rosetta Stone hasn’t come up with a series on love languages, Paige Hayley Drygas has lent her voice to Gary’s classic material and the result is A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages.
Since there are only five fundamental love languages, all humans express love emotionally in five distinct ways. Each of us has a primary love language, which means that one of the five speaks more deeply to us than the other four. This is crucial to understand in a relationship because no matter how much I love my husband and sons, if I am not communicating that love to them in a way that is meaningful to them, they will not feel loved. We have a tendency to speak the language that fills our own love tank, when that may not be the most effective means of communication to our loved ones. Too, we should not speak only the primary love language of the people we care for. Love can be expressed and received in all five languages. However, keep in mind that “if you don’t speak a person’s primary love language, then that person will not feel loved, even though you may be fluently speaking the other four.”
Through the use of engaging illustrations and personal examples, Gary and Paige present all five love languages with related tips on enriching teens’ relationships and very practical examples of what each love language would look like in real life. The goal is to identify ones own love language and then to key into the preferences of family and friends:
- Words of affirmation — Truthful words spoken or written from one person to another to uplift, to encourage, and to make the recipient feel loved. Specific and intentional words can communicate how much we value those we love by expressing appreciation, encouragement, praise, and kindness. Warnings against flattery are wise.
- Quality time — Intentional, deliberate time spent with a person to make the individual feel loved. With each of the five languages, there are dialects that guide exactly how the love is received. For instance, quality conversation may fill the love tank of one person while shared activities may be the preference of another.
- Gifts — More than a material item, a gift is a visual symbol of love representing the giver. A gift is a tangible object that says, “I was thinking about you, and I wanted you to have this.” The value of the item does not correspond to its price tag but to its meaning to the person.
- Acts of service — Doing something kind, intentional, and unexpected that helps someone else. Once again, we’re looking for impact: what will mean the most to the recipient? This may not necessarily be judged in the amount of time spent, or even by how hard you work. Attitude and eagerness are important, and service does not imply becoming someone’s doormat.
- Physical touch — If someone’s primary love language is touch, then your touches will speak more loudly than your words. Boys and girls will express affection differently — and individual personalities, the parameters of the relationship, and timing all play a huge role in communicating love through touch. Obviously this is a tricky one for teens, for, sadly, no other love language has been more distorted than touch.
Some important considerations:
- It is critical to learn to both receive and give love in all five languages.
- All the love languages can be learned. Some may feel more awkward than others, but all of us need to be able to speak love in a variety of ways.
- Every love language has an opposite. Quality time’s evil twin is deliberately leaving someone out; the twisted version of gifts would be bribery and manipulation.
The Five Love Languages Profile is a diagnostic test to help readers evaluate their own love language, and a helpful chart is provided for analyzing the go-to language of loved ones.
Just as missionaries labor to communicate in the “heart language” of the people group they serve — the language of their thoughts, feelings, and dreams — we communicate love and respect, value and appreciation for others by learning their love language and using it to speak deeply to them.
“All of us want to be known and loved. That’s universal. However, how we want to be loved is unique to each of us.”
A terrific study for a youth or college-aged group, A Teen’s Guide to the Five Love Languages is a helpful tool for better communication and the laying of a good foundation for healthy relationships.
This book was provided by Northfield Publishing in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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