024 Express Love And Feel Loved

  • What To Give Our Loved Ones?

It’s time for Christmas. Everyone says Christmas is all about giving. What are we giving? Mostly gifts, I think. I’ve received more gifts this year alone than all the previous years summed up.

I am thankful, of course. But as the number of gifts grew, I started asking myself a bigger question, “What is the most valuable gift to give our loved ones?”

The answer is obvious — love. The less obvious part is how do we give love?

  • Five Ways To Express Love And Feel Loved

Some people love to receive gifts from you, while others love to be in your company more than anything. A mismatch in the expression and experience of love can become a constant source of conflict in any relationship.

I didn’t realise how inept I was in expressing love, until I started learning from my past mistakes.

For a long time, I was exasperated by repeated failures to buy the right gift for my wife in spite of my best efforts and intentions. It was only after I read Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” that I realise where went wrong.

My wife and I were interpreting love in different ways. While I saw giving gifts as an act of affection, she deemed it merely as making a choice of purchase. What mattered more to her at that time was the quality of time we had. Clearly, there is more than one way to express and experience love.

Chapman suggests that there are five ways, which he calls “the five love languages”, namely gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.

1. Gift Giving

Do not take gift giving lightly. In this week that preludes Christmas, there were a lot of gift giving going on at the workplace. C remarked,

“Everyone knows that I don’t take coffee. So guess how I felt when I unwrapped the gift from this other colleague and found coffee.”

Gifts are symbols of thoughtfulness to people who appreciate gifts. A thoughtless or hastily-bought gift may be disastrous, especially if it is for your significant other.

2. Quality Time

Quality time means spending time together on an activity that both parties find mutually enjoyable. Do you have like-minded friends who enjoy an outing or a conversation with you?

If you have, make time for them. Nowadays, everyone seems time-scrapped. But surely you will make time for the person who truly matters in your life.

Giving your undivided attention is all you have to do. People who cherish quality time have little tolerance for distractions, postponed dates and poor listeners.

3. Words of Affirmation

People thrive on the encouragement and heartwarming words from their loved ones. Unfortunately, it seems that the closer people become, words of affirmation turn scarce.

I remember having a nice dinner with a friend. Our nice conversation was dampened by her abrupt switch to annoyance towards her mother who called her over the phone. She said, “That’s how we speak to each other at home.”

Words are powerful. Hearing your affection in words is powerful enough to skyrocket a person’s spirits. Conversely, curt remarks from loved ones can shatter confidence in a relationship.

4. Acts of Service

Can washing toilets really be an expression of love? Absolutely! A friend told me that she is always the one washing the toilets at home because her husband’s back hurts. I bet her knees hurt too, but she does it willingly. To be a supportive spouse is her language of love.

Anything you do to ease the burden weighing on your loved ones is an act of service. After years of trials and errors, I’ve become convinced that any act of service speaks more volumes than compliments or gifts for my wife. The words she most love to hear: “Let me do that.”

On the other hand, forgotten promises and making more work for people who speak this language of love is a sure way to damage the relationship.

5. Physical Touch

Physical touch is not all about bedroom intimacy. Hugs, pats, holding hands, and light touches on the arms– they are ways to show excitement, concern and love.

Many years ago, I used to feel uneasy when friends from overseas welcome me with their big, warm hugs. But over time, I’ve grown to appreciate the sense of closeness physical touch fosters.

I experimented doing the same with my parents. Probably because I am already a grown-up man in my forties, I felt embarrassed at first. But the embarrassment was quickly dispelled by the smiles of my parents. Physical touch provides security, while neglect can be destructive.

I hope you find my sharing useful and apt for this joyful occasion of Christmas. Now you know that there is more than one way to give love, rethink how others experience love and not what you think is the best way to love.

Merry Christmas! Make This An Occasion Of Giving Love!

William W K Tan

24 December 2017, Sunday

Written between 3-6 am.

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