Our last love language is physical touch.
Whatever there is of you resides in your body. To touch your body is to touch you.
I love that quote and description. It really puts a different perspective on touch and why its so important. To touch your body is to in essence affect who you are and make contact with your soul. We need to protect our bodies as much as we protect our minds and hearts.
In the book, Chapman identifies four different kinds of touch: appropriate and inappropriate, implicit and explicit. The first pair don’t need definiting. Implicit touches are subtle, fleeting or even accidental. It can be a quick touch to the hand or shoulder. It can imply understanding, emphasis and is okay with people we hardly know.
Explicit touch demands full attention, takes more time, and requires knowledge of and a relationship with the other person. It’s the different between a two pat hug and “leaning.” (Points to those who recognize that reference from “While You Were Sleeping.) It can be sexual, a massage, a good hug, a kiss or even the annoying pinch on the cheek from an aunt.
“Physical touch is a powerful communicator of love. In a time of crisis, more than anything we need to feel loved. We cannot always change events, but we can survive if we feel loved.”
It’s amazing how in moment of pain all we need is a hug. Just somone who is willing to reach into the emotion and let us know that we are not alone. When you think about singles and physical touch its alarming how long some go without being touched in a meaningful manner.
In my small group we always hug one another when showing up and leaving. At first it was a little awkward. I didn’t know them very well and it seemed odd. But now I look forward to it. It has become love to me over time. It is more than just custom or what we do. I like it.
This chapter can’t exclude sexual touch from the conversation. Chapman provides an overview of the sexual revolution and how it has damaged our use of sex. Sex isn’t about satisfying an animal instinct. It shouldn’t be used just to feel better because in the end it errodes our view of love and connection. Our sexuality isn’t limited to our bodies but is an expression of our wholeness through commitment to one person. When we reduce it to just a carnal act we effectively remove the divine from it.
A chapter on physical touch must also include its shadow side – abuse. Physical touch can be perverted causing physical harm to another. This inappropriate touch is destructive and debilitating. In a dating relationship this can be excused as love and ignored but it will get worse if left unchecked.
Real love doesn’t take advantage or use force. It is gentle, appropriate, and it waits for the right time and place to be expressed.
The fourth love language is quality time.
Aaah now we’re talking my language. Quality time is all about being together. It’s focused attention. No distractions. It is true connection as you engage in quality conversation or activities.
When quality time is used as a means of expressing love it is a powerful, authentic connection. It isn’t about the activity, the focus is on what is happening between the people involved. This is all about emotional availibility and connection.
God made us for community. We need each other. We were not meant to do life alone. Yet it’s amazing how fragmented our relationships are and how lonely we feel. We hunger for this expression of love. Yet our lives are too busy, we don’t have the time to invest this way very often with many people.
Chapman identifies three main expressions of quality time: quality conversation, quality listening and quality activities.
Quality conversation is about “sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.”
A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We did many activities but never got the chance to sit down and really talk. I left feeling a little sad. I didn’t feel connected to her. While we had fun it wasn’t completely satisfying for me. I wanted to hear about her life, interact with her about mine and discuss what we were thinking and feeling about those things that mattered to us. We didn’t have a chance to sit and share life.
An important part of quality conversation is hearing. In order to be a quality conversationalist “I will focus on drawing you out, listening sympatheically to what you have to say. I will ask question, not in a badgering manner but with a genuine desire to understand your thoughts, feelings and desires.”
It isn’t just hearing but listening to truly understand the situation and the person. It means listening for the emotions that underlie what they are saying, body language, giving undivided attention, not interrupting and clarifying what you are hearing from them. You aren’t thinking about what you’ll say next, but you are in the moment with them, emoting, encouraging, and paying attention.
The final quality time dialect is quality activities. It still isn’t really about the activity but the fact that you are doing it with someone you are about. The focus is on building memories, having shared experiences and giving someone else one of the most important things we have so little of, time.
This is why I love my day trips. I get quality, uninterrupted time one-on-one with people I enjoy spending time with. As we engage with our surroundings we’re also engaging with one another. It is sheer bliss for me.
The scary thing about quality time is opening up to another person, showing your feelings and inner most thoughts. You’re trusting them with who you are and what you like to do. Given past experiences in relationships this can be reduced to really shallow and unemotional exchanges.
I’ve been in relationships where we engage in many activities together and yet there is no connection whatsoever. I think this happens alot with co-workers. So when often when you change jobs you never talk to them again. It can also be this way with roommates. Just because you live with someone it doesn’t mean you’re spending quality time together. These relationships are frustrating.
Quality time is deliberate and intentional to build the relationship.
So for me quality time is invigorating, refreshing and life giving. I feel understood, enriched and well … loved. The people I can engage in quality time with are my soul feeders. My batteries get recharged and I leave their presence wanting more time.
The third love language we studied is acts of service.
The love language of service is one of sacrifice and help in a time of need. This is best exemplified through Jesus, and that is what we focused on in our group. Tina did a great job leading our discussion.
We listed all of the acts of service that Jesus performed and received during the three years of his ministry: healing the sick, raising the dead, washing feet, feeding five thousand, educated the masses and dying on the cross, just to name a few. He was among the least of them, the most needy and meet their basic, most pressing needs. Thinking about how Jesus received was a new tangle for me. He received water from the woman at the well. Another woman used expensive perfume to clean his feet. Martha served him when he was in her home. So this is a love language he knew well.
Acts of service is a way of expressing a sense of responsibliity for the well-being of others.
As with all of the gifts there is a shadow side, how it can be distorted to be negative and unhealthy. For acts of service its underbelly is slavery. In slavery you are not giving because you want to but because you have to. In slavery “freedom to truly serve is lost. Slavery hardens the heart. Slavery creates angelr, bitterness, and resentment.” This isn’t love.
When you treat another person as an object, you preclude the possibility of love. Manupulation by guilt (‘If you loved me, you would do this for me’) is not the language of love. Coercion by fear (‘You will do this or you will be sorry’) is alient to love. Love refuses to be manipulated.
I have to admit this love language is really hard for me, not to give but to receive. I think I’ve got too much experience with the black side of acts of service. For me it means vulnerability and weakness. I do not like to be needy. If I can’t do it myself I don’t really need it. Making a need be known is really an effort. If someone asks to help that’s one thing. But having to ask is quite another. This is definitely an area I need to work on.
It’s interesting that when God reveals a weakness he will continue to work on it for you. In another study this idea of vulnerability through acts of service came up again. This time it went futher to say that the inability to ask for help is evidence of a stubborn pride preventing us from letting go and asking God for help. So instead of growing, changing and maturing we cling to lifestyle that doesn’t work for us anymore but we’re suck because we operate in our own power never asking for help. Yikes. Definitely need to look at that some more.
Still, acts of service is definitely not my primary love language.
The second kind of love language we studied are gifts.
Chapman believes that giving gifts is one of the fundamental universal languages of love, in any culture. When done in its purest, unselfish, no strings attached way it is a “visual symbol of love.”
Now to the person whose primary love language is gifts it doesn’t matter if the gift is found, made, bought, small, big, expensive, or cheap. It is about the symbolic act of giving something to them in a loving way.
However, just like everything else it too can be perverted. The wrong kind of gift giving is when you expect something in return, are using it as leverage, it cannot be a payment for anything, or used as an apology and mean the same thing.
Chapman also says this is the easiest language to learn. If we’re paying attention we will pick up on the clues others give to us about what they like, what they need, what they’re hoping for and what their interests are. If we’re good listeners we will be able to buy, make, and recognize appropriate gifts for those that are important to us.
In our small group we all drew names and made something this week. It was great to see all of the different ideas that abounded and reflected how well we know each other. It was a fun exercise.
I think for me that the great thing about gifts is that it shows how well you know someone or how well they know you. Gifts can be a disaster if you’re not paying attention. I’ve received gifts that have nothing to do with me and is more about what the other person likes or wants, that isn’t love.
I’ve also received gifts that were the longing of my soul and many times those gifts cost little or nothing. It isn’t about how much money you spend. I don’t think many guys get that in a dating relationship. Free tip for ya – we just want to know you’re paying attention. That’s all. We really aren’t that difficult, we just require a little work.
While I appreciate gifts I know it isn’t my primary love language.