Welcome to part four in the Love Language article series. I hope that you have enjoyed learning more about words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. As a refresher, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1992 book by N.C. native, Dr. Gary Chapman. The book outlines five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which Chapman calls “love languages.” According to Wikipedia, the book sold 8,500 copies in its first year, four times what the publisher expected! The following year it sold 17,000, and two years later, 137,000. It has been on the New York Times Best Seller list since August 2009. A new, revised edition of The Five Love Languages was released on January 1, 2015.
The five “languages” are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Gift Giving
- Quality Time
I would like to begin talking about language #4, gift giving, with two of the sexiest words in the English language: flannel sheets.
That’s right, flannel sheets. That is not a typo! For over 24 years now, Spouse and I have been managing our way around a common relationship hurdle that will be familiar to just about everyone reading this in one way or another: bed temperature. I’m the burrowing type; the more sheets and blankets on me the better! (My current life stage has upended this somewhat but that presents its own challenges and will be saved for another article!) Spouse comes to bed scantily clad and, at the very most, wants only a top sheet over himself. No down comforter or electric blanket for that guy! I am alone in my desire for my slumber to feel like a wool cocoon.
So imagine my surprise when I pulled back the comforter recently to discover the softest, coziest, toastiest flannel sheets on our bed! Something he has openly displayed hatred for when encountered in guest rooms in the past!
“Moving out?” say I. Totally joking, of course! He then proceeds to tell me that he saw them on sale and thought of me. He hoped that perhaps they would help me fight my bouts of insomnia and especially the leg and foot cramping that frequently sends me to the tub at 3 am to soak my extremities in hot water.
“But you hate flannel sheets!” I say.
“Yes, but I love you” he says.
For the person with gift giving as one of their love languages, it’s important to understand that it’s less about the gift and more about the thought that comes from the gift, which communicates emotional love. The intention behind the gift is what matters most. People speaking this “language” tend to be quite sentimental and you’ll notice that they themselves will cherish items, not for the monetary value of the item but for the memories it evokes. While some may have a hard time understanding why anyone would keep decades old birthday cards or silly souvenirs received from a partner years ago, for our gift giving loved-ones, it’s a visual reminder of being loved and appreciated.
So how best to be a grateful partner of a gift-giver?
There’s no denying birthdays and special holidays are a very big deal for gift givers but not for the reasons you think. Of course they like getting spoiled equally (if not more) than spoiling others. But more importantly, holidays are a time when they can express love and show you how attentive they are in a way that comes most naturally to them. So if you want to make an impression on a gift giver, you have to put yourself in their shoes. If attentiveness is what they appreciate, surprises are one effective way of getting the message across. Unlike a Christmas or birthday gift, there’s no obligatory act tied to surprise treats, which to a lover of gifts speaks volumes. Give when nothing is expected in return and be sure your gift is truly delivered without ulterior motive, only to delight the recipient!
By tuning in to what your partner values, taking notice of what makes their face light up with joy, and listening to their needs, you’ll find out what they like. It might be as obvious as a favorite dessert or bottle of wine! Or you might have to work just a little bit harder…. Like trying to find a pair of boxers made from wicking material to help a hot-natured person sleep in the softest, coziest, toastiest flannel sheets around!