One of the greatest challenges in life and for B4Ters is marriage. The following is contributed by my mentor, Jerry Daley, as a good reminder how to keep our marriages strong.
The Sixth Love Language
Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages was so revolutionary and so practical that these five categories are today in the working vocabulary of most Christians. This is an amazing accomplishment on his part. Chapman identifies five main “languages” that express love from one person to another, particularly from spouse to spouse:
1) words of affirmation
2) physical touch,
3) quality time,
4) acts of service
His emphasis, however, is slightly different from mine. He wants everyone to find the one or two love languages that you can’t live without—your “mother tongue,” so to speak. While I think this is a good place to start, I argue for all of us to become experts in speaking all five love languages fluently to our mates. Why? Because God speaks all five love languages.
Okay, you may point out that God doesn’t physically touch us, which is true, but we gladly sing songs like “He touched me” because we experience His presence in such powerful ways at times that we feel touched. So, allow me to make this application.
My wife has spoken all five languages to me through our many years together, yet I found that I had to diligently cultivate the language of service: this did not come naturally to me. Today, by the grace of God, I can truthfully say that I thoroughly enjoy expressing my love for her through acts of service.
On prayer walks I sometimes review the five expressions to see if I am neglecting any one way of conveying love to my wife. After all, it isn’t knowing about these love languages that changes our lives; it’s the lifestyle of activating love in all five channels that makes our marriages richer and richer year by year.
A Prime Example
Here’s an illustration. My mother died at age 73, and my Dad remarried a few years later. There came a time when things were not going well between them, and he wanted to separate. I taught him the five love languages and made him a chart for implementing them.
Every day he set an intention to spend thirty minutes to an hour looking into her eyes, talking and listening to her. Every day he planned to speak words of encouragement and appreciation. Every day he geared up to do something practical for her in the way of unexpected service. Every day he looked for an opportunity to physically touch her as an expression of affection. Finally, every week he brought her a gift such as flowers or something romantic as opposed to something for the kitchen.
After two months I asked my Dad, “How are things going?” His answer was hilarious. “Oh, she is doing much better.” Indeed.
The Power of Delight
Now picture something with me in your mind. Picture a new mother holding her infant child just inches from her face, cooing, beaming, imparting love and enjoyment into this little one. You are watching the power of delight. She is actively feeding her child’s soul, and at the same time she is receiving the power of delight into her own heart. Picture a couple falling in love with one another. They gaze endlessly into each other’s eyes. They can’t get enough. Pure delight.
Delight is what feeds relationships. You see a friend in the crowd and wave. Her face lights up. It’s no wonder God says, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). It’s what we’re made for.
I like Ephesians 5:28 where Paul exhorts us husbands to love our wives with a well-kept secret, “He who loves his own wife loves himself.” Here’s my take on it: When I continually express love to my wife in these six ways, I end up receiving her love and her delight in return…and that is a powerful joy.
What are your natural love languages?
Which love languages do you need to learn to speak more fluently?
How well would you say you are doing in learning these less-natural ways of expressing love to your spouse?
How might you experiment with learning the language of delight with your spouse, your children, and others?