The Language of Love


Me and Beetlejuice hugging it out.

Imogen Rose

The moon could not shed such a glow as you

nor all the constellations ‘round the stars,

nor planets orbiting the sun like Mars.

The sun can only shine as bright, when new

as you - the soft and shining morning dew,

who lends life’s lonely beauty to the hours.

Such dulcet tones - your music like guitars

whose sounds the gods could not subdue.


Though some may find a cry at night the plight

of parents who lose sleep for care, and croon

a tune of love, for love’s soft embers light.

So sweet and clear I hear your infant tune

that smites my heartstrings with such strong delight

and bids me fall into love’s tender swoon.

    By Annette Gagliardi

I know this poem is a repost but the discussion is not. Since this month marks Imogen’s first birthday and I want to write about love, I thought this was very appropriate. And you know what? You can read a poem more than one time. 😀

February is birthday month in our family. Three of my four grand daughters, my sister, two nieces, one daughter, a sister in law and a brother in law all have birthdays in February. Plus we have Valentine’s day. Whew! So that is a lot of celebrating in the shortest month of the year. And, I just love it.

“Love is the most important word in the English Language – and the most confusing.” Chapman, 1995.

How do we say ‘I love you’ to those we love? There is a book called “The Five Languages of Love” by Gary Chapman written in 1995. Mr. Chapman outlines five ways we express and experience love. He says that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. This need to feel loved is also at the heart of marital desires. We all have an ‘emotional love tank’ that needs to be filled up. I always say that we each need twelve hugs a day just to make it, for heaven’s sake. So, hug a friend today.

Chapman's book claims that the list of five love languages is exhaustive.[3][4]

According to this theory, every one has one primary and one secondary love language. Chapman suggests that to discover another person's love language, you must observe the way they express love to others. Then, you might analyze what they complain about most often and what they most often request from their significant other. His theory states that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love. Better communication between couples can be achieved when one spouse/partner demonstrates caring to the other person in the love language the receiver understands.

An example would be if a husband values acts of service and does the laundry for his wife yet she doesn't perceive that as an act of love, viewing it as simply performing household duties. This may seem confusing to the husband. Yet the love language she comprehends is words of affirmation (verbal affirmation that he loves her).

In the other vein, the wife may try to use what she values, words of affirmation, to express her love to her spouse. Yet he might not value that as much as she does. If she understands his love language and mows the lawn for him, he finds that very loving.

He sees it an act of expressing her love for him; likewise, if he tells her he loves her, she values that as an act of love.

Chapman offers these five modes or ‘languages’ of love:

1.Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation are authentic compliments, words of appreciation, saying thank you, saying ‘I love you’ and other words of support and encouragement so that the person hearing them feels lifted up. Words of encouragement require empathy, kindness and seeing the world from that person’s perspective.

Proverbs 18:21 and 12:25
  1. Quality Time

Does anyone get that these days? It means giving someone your undivided attention. It means togetherness. There’s always a digital device or other disruptions to take our attention away from our loved one. It takes planning and a concerted effort to give quality time. This might look like having a meal or taking a walk without other interruptions. Meet each other for coffee, lunch or supper without the TV, radio or your favorite music on in the background. Go camping, cross-country skiing, go to church, play a game together, go dancing, take a vacation together. Togetherness means focused attention. It might mean a jigsaw puzzle that you both work on throughout the week. It might mean a wood-working project, raking the leaves, shoveling snow then making a snowman.

And, it means participating in quality conversations. This includes making and maintaining eye contact with the person who is talking, listening without doing something else, listening for feelings, observing that person’s body language and NOT interrupting.

“One of the by-products of quality activities is that they provide a memory bank from which to draw in the years ahead.” Pg. 70 The Five Love Languages, Chapman, 1995.

3.Receiving gifts

A Gift is physical evidence that the giver was thinking of you –the visual symbol of love. The gift itself is a symbol of that thoughtfulness. The thought done in actually searching for or creating the gift and the giving is the expression of love. It can be the broken Dandelion your toddler brings in and proudly presents, or a quilt an aunt has worked on for months. These symbols have emotional meaning, which is why it is so hard to part with the gifts people have given us.

The cost of the gift may not matter as much as the thought that goes into giving someone what they truly would love.

The gift of self is the gift of ‘presence’ – being their when your loved one needs you. Attending the baseball game with your husband even though you are not that into baseball, going to your daughter’s dance recital or son’s band program even when that is not your preferred past time, speaks aloud your love of them. And physical presence in the time of crisis is one of the most powerful gifts you can give someone.

  1. Acts of Service Doing things you know your spouse (or parent or child or partner or friend) would like you to do is an expression of love. Doing the things that need to be done, but perhaps they can’t get around to doing themselves, like cooking a meal, vacuuming the rug, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry are all acts of service. Several times a year my husband washes my car – inside and out. I love that he performs this service for me. It is an act of love. It is doing things together, like making supper together or cleaning the house together, that provides indications of committed love – and perhaps ‘quality time’, as well. Although no one wants to be forced or expected to do acts of service, most people love it when these things get done by someone else. Love is always freely given.

  “Due to the sociological changes of the past thirty years, there is not longer a common stereotype of the male and female role in American society.” pg. 98. “ The Five Languages of Love, Chapman, 1995.

John 13:3-17 & Galatians 5:13

5. Physical Touch

Numerous research projects in child development have concluded that infants thrive when they are held, hugged and kissed. The body is for touching. The importance of touching is not a new idea. From Harry Harlow’s research with Rhesus monkeys, to research of orphanages in Romania in the 1980s, to recent research on the importance of skin-to-skin contact with mothers and their newborns all point to the value and importance of physical touch. The body is for touching.

Holding hands, kissing, hugging, embracing, giving massages and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating physical love to your spouse or partner. Tactile receptors are located all over our bodies, so sexual intercourse is only one way to say ‘I love you.’ Physical touch can communicate love. But it can also communicate hate. Every person has ways they prefer to be touched. If you learn how your spouse wants to be touched, and more importantly, how they DON’T want to be touched, you are doing yourself a favor and providing love messages to them. Perhaps sitting close on the couch, holding hands when you take a walk, giving each other back rubs or foot massages, exchanging a kiss when you leave the house are all ways to say ‘I Love You’. In the last few years my parents were alive they were both on oxygen and were too ill to have intercourse, but Mom said they always held hands all night long. To her, that signaled love.

Almost instinctively, when there is a crisis, we hug each other, because physical             touch is a powerful communication of love.

Mark 10:13 & Mark 10: 14-16

Learning the right love language a person needs/wants is the key to helping that person feel your love for them. This is true for children as well as adults. And, learning your own love language provides you with the ways to keep your own ‘emotional love tank’ full.

            “Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.” pg. 97, The Five Languages of Love, Chapman, 1995.

People tend to criticize their spouse about the area they have the deepest emotional need. This criticism illuminates their love language. Sometimes criticism needs clarification to help the partner understand the true nature of the emotional need.

We are creatures who make choices regularly and at times make poor choices. Yet, we have the ability to make positive choices, as well. And we can change our behavior once we notice behaviors or circumstances that are not working for us. To be an effective parent, we must learn the love languages of our children and speak all five regularly.

There has been a lack of research to test the validity of Chapman's model and whether it can be generalized. Egbert (2006) suggests that the Five Love Languages might have some degree of psychometric validity despite its abstract nature.[5]


The Nature of Affection: How Harlow's research helped change views on the importance of affection By Kendra Cherry, Updated August 15, 2017
“In a series of controversial experiments conducted during the 1960s, Harlow demonstrated the powerful effects of love and in particular, the absence of love. By showing the devastating effects of deprivation on young rhesus monkeys, Harlow revealed the importance of a caregiver's love for healthy childhood development.” The Nature of Affection: How Harlow's research helped change views on the importance of affection By Kendra Cherry
“How Important Is Physical Contact with Your Infant?” By Katherine Harmon on May 6, 2010, at:
“There is some interesting work showing that mothers who have just given birth, their skin area on their chest is a degree or two higher than the rest of their body, creating a natural warming area for the newborn. They have the ability to thermoregulate for the baby—if the baby's temperature drops, the mother's temperature rises, and if the baby's temperature rises, the mother's drops. There seems to be a connection between mother and baby from the birthing process itself.” How Important Is Physical Contact with Your Infant? By Katherine Harmon
Romanian orphans subjected to deprivation must now deal with dysfunction, By Tara Bahrampour, January 30, 2014 in The Washington Post, at:
“Cognitive ability and psychological well-being correlate directly with the amount of attention and nurturing children receive when they are young, according to recent research that includes studies of Romanian institutions.” Romanian orphans subjected to deprivation must now deal with dysfunction, By Tara Bahrampour

One thought on “The Language of Love

  1. Thank you, Annette, for a thorough and thoughtful treatise on love during this season of love (or all year!). Thanks, too, for our conversation over a cuppa at P46. A real treat!


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