Tuesday Feb. 16th, 2010

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Rebecca Musy

February is a month when many of us have love on our minds (and I’m not talking about what happens after your date on Valentine’s night!) As we think about whether we’re going to go on a date or not, what might make it special if we are, and what kinds of gifts we might buy or receive, many of us start to wonder about whether or not the significant people in our lives really love us. Have you ever heard yourself thinking, “If s/he really loved me s/he’d…”? Sometimes it’s the opposite and we don’t know what we really want or need.  Sometimes the only thing we’re sure of is that we have no idea what they want. Lucky for you, just in time for Valentine’s Day, you are reading the perfect article to answer all of your questions about love.
But this article is not just intended for those of you out there with a “significant other,” because it is not only about loving your special someone, it’s about how to recognize love from and show love to anyone. That includes parents, siblings, kids, friends, and even people we barely know or have never met. My intention is to raise consciousness about the different expressions of love, and create an ongoing conversation about love that will transform the future of the human race.
If that sounds overly idealistic, I invite you to consider all of the problems that could be linked to feeling unloved or unaccepted: divorce, depression, anxiety, drug abuse, suicide, gangs, physical and emotional abuse, the list could go on and on. Love is absent or deficient in the lives of many, and it is because most of us don’t have the resources to get what we need or share what we have. It is not idealistic to think that the world would be a better place if love were more present in our everyday lives.
So how do we express love, and why is it so hard to meet each other’s needs sometimes? Dr. Gary Chapman figured this out through years of couples counseling and he wrote a book called The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The main idea of the book is that people express love in five different ways: Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch and Giving Gifts. As with spoken languages, if our expressions differ, communication breaks down. A person may truly love someone, but if the way they express their love is not understood, the other person will not feel loved. The reason it seems difficult to get what we need and fill the hearts of others is that we’ve never before had such a clear explanation of how love works in relationships.
Naming the five love languages is the first step towards love fluency. The next part is figuring out your primary love language and that of others. For some, just knowing the list of five love languages will increase understanding of themselves and others. When I read this book, I knew immediately that my mother preferred Giving (and Receiving) Gifts and my husband was more interested in Quality Time. Even if you don’t immediately know, your new awareness of ways to love will make it easy to figure some people out just by watching them and listening to them. For those who are not as easy, I invite you to talk with them about the idea of the five love languages and let them know that you want them to feel loved.
After you learn how to recognize the five love languages, you have to learn how to “interpret” the love languages being spoken by others, and “translate” your love into other languages. Interpretation of a foreign love language just means noticing what others do or say and recognizing that they are showing you love. Translation is knowing your primary love language and using that idea to help you feel more inspired to express love in a way that is foreign to you. For example, I am not a gift person, and many of us have great difficulty with buying gifts for the people in our lives who really appreciate them. When I think about buying a gift as an act of service, it is easier for me to go out and shop. Someone who prefers Quality Time may look at being with the person enough to learn what they might want and taking the time to search for a gift as quality time.
The final key to unlocking our full potential for love is conversation. Dr. Chapman’s book is already a best seller and is, or has been, translated into about forty languages, but not everyone has read the book, and not everyone who has read it is talking about it. I see open discussion of the five love languages as a clear way to a future with more love in it.  Think about it. How many conversations about how you express love and how you like to be loved have you had in your life? With the mutual goal of both people feeling loved and accepted as they are, doesn’t it seem like it could be a really intimate, juicy conversation to have? I know from experience that conversations about this idea can be extremely fulfilling and they inspire me to talk about it even more. I invite you to have conversations about this idea and encourage the people you talk with to do the same. We can create a love revolution that rocks the world! When you do, let me know you shared on my website www.talkaboutlove.net and take this opportunity to create for yourselves and others a whole new level of intimacy and palpable love in your lives unlike you’ve ever felt before.

Rebecca Musy is a wife and mother of two committed to a brighter future for our world. The article you just read is part of a project called “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” which she created as part of her coursework for the Self-Expression and Leadership Program, a course offered through Landmark Education (www.landmarkeducation.com).