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Doug Johnson: Deciphering the many, varied languages of love

I’ve been preaching the Gospel for over 30 years now. (Yes, I started when I was a baby—just kidding!)

During that time, I have presided over many weddings and saw numerous couples “tie the knot.”

One thing I have always insisted on doing is having at least three premarital counseling sessions with a couple before agreeing to marry them.

The reason for that is because the divorce rate in America is too high!

I’ve noticed that most couples spend more time, money and energy planning for the wedding day than planning for their lives together after the event.

One of my favorite books for marriage counseling is Dr. Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages.”

In it, Dr. Chapman teaches that everyone has a primary love language: the one expression of love that means the most to you, without which everything else becomes meaningless. The benefit of knowing yours and your spouse’s love language is so you can communicate your love to each other in the way they will receive it. And when your “love tank” is full you have a healthy, long-lasting relationship!

Let’s go over them together and see if you can find your primary love language.

The five love languages are:

• Words of Affirmation: These are verbal compliments or words of appreciation. For example, a wife may say to her husband: “You’re so big and strong — thank you for carrying in the groceries!”

If his primary love language is words of affirmation, then this will make him feel loved and he will reciprocate love to her.

Another example would be a husband may say to his wife after she’s prepared a delicious meal, “Honey, where did you get this recipe… Heaven?!” He’s now speaking her love language and she is feeling loved.

• Quality Time: This means giving each other your undivided attention. It’s important to understand that living in close proximity to each other is NOT quality time. quality time is when you focus on each other. Some examples of this would be going out to dinner and a movie together, traveling together, or just sitting & talking to each other.

• Receiving Gifts: Only give a gift because you care — not for bribery. By giving a gift to your spouse you are actually investing in a great marriage. Gifts come in many forms and are not always something you have to spend money on.

For example, you can give the gift of your physical presence by eating lunch with your spouse, choosing to stay home one evening with your spouse instead of going out with your friends, being there for them in times of crises, making a “home-made” gift with your own hands, etc.

If their love language is receiving gifts, they’ll get the message loud and clear that you love them!

• Acts of Service: Those we love we want to serve… we should want to do things for each other. If your spouse is always busy around the house and a bit compulsive about domestic chores, he or she may be calling for you to show love to them through acts of service.

Many years ago, there was a husband who always worked around the house, fixing what was broken, etc.

But his wife complained that he never said, “I love you.”

The fact is he WAS saying it through acts of service (which was his love language) — yet her love language was words of affirmation.

See how easy it is for people who love each other not to communicate it correctly?

• Physical Touch: Physical touch is a must for humans to live healthy lives.

Someone once said “To withdraw from touching me or shaking my hand is to distance yourself from me emotionally.”

Physical touch can take many forms: back rubs, holding hands, rubbing shoulders, hugging, flirting, winking, etc.

Now take a moment and write down what your primary love language is.

Then see if you can guess what your partner’s primary love language is… and compare notes to see how well you know them.

May you live happily ever after!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.