Creating a culture of love

Apr 29, 2021

Have you ever gone out of your way to do something nice for your spouse, friend or colleague and been left totally underwhelmed by their response?

I learned this the hard way (and I’m still learning!). When my wife and I were dating I was under the impression that to show her how much I loved her and cared about her, I needed to buy her expensive gifts. Being the bachelor I was I consulted the wisest person I knew, my best friend, and asked him what I should buy.

We had a short discussion, as guys do and soon we were off to Chadstone Shopping Centre and walking around a well-known jewellery store. A few minutes later I had bought some expensive earrings, feeling pretty happy with myself, anticipating the glowing response I would receive from my girlfriend.

I will never forget the look on her face when she opened my generous, kind hearted, well-meaning expression of love. A look of disgust was followed by “Why did you go to that jewellery store, it’s so old-fashioned. Do you have the receipt?”

“Yes” I replied in shock.

And that was that. This story though heart-wrenching started me on a learning journey. I realised that certain expressions of love toward my wife would produce negative outcomes, while others (hopefully!) would end in a positive outcome. The key was to understand and know her well, and in that knowing, provide opportunities for her to feel loved according to how she receives love.

Have you ever experienced that hollow feeling of rejection when you have had the best of intentions?

Nothing beats learning through relationship. The more we know someone, the better we can attend to their needs and wants. And if you, like me have been married for a number of years, you have probably learned that lesson too.

But what about our kids? Does the same principle apply to our children?

Of course! The more we spend time with our kids, take interest in them as little people, and take interest in their likes and dislikes, their temperaments and personalities, the more we can be intentional to make them feel loved and valued.

One tool I have found helpful both as a spouse and a parent is the concept of the five love languages created by psychologist and Christian Gary Chapman. Gary has written a book about the five love languages for spouses and for parents, and I highly recommend both these resources.

The five love languages Gary Chapman mentions for children are:

1. Affirming Words

  • Our words can affect the way our children see themselves for the rest of their lives

  • Look for attributes and actions to commend children for

  • Words of affirmation build children up and will affect their behaviour and achievement

  • Commend success more than criticising behaviour

  • Correct mistakes without condemnation

2. Affectionate Touch

  • Physical contact is vital for both boys and girls

  • It’s a primary way of conveying love for your child

  • It doesn’t come naturally to all parents

  • All parents can learn

3. One on One Time

  • Our Children crave to be noticed by us

  • Special time with children builds their self-esteem

  • It can be difficult for parents to recognise and fulfil this need

  • The more children we have the more planning is required

  • Can transform a child’s behaviour

4. Thoughtful Presents

  • Presents don’t need to be expensive

  • Shouldn’t replace words, time or touch

  • Can have a high emotional value

  • Teach the value of waiting for something

5. Kind Actions

  • Plenty of opportunities!

  • Often taken for granted by children

  • Teach our children to show gratitude

  • Good to allow children to express love through attempting kind, helpful actions

These five love languages also apply to our spouses and are actually universal love languages. Gary says that there are usually two love languages that are predominant for each individual. For example, my primary love language is ‘Affirming Words’ and my second love language is ‘One on One Time’. We tend to try and love other people by using our primary love languages, however the key is to identify an individual’s top two love languages and then serve them in those areas.

This is a learning process for all of us. My wife’s love top love languages are ‘Acts of kindness’ and ‘affectionate touch’, but I still continually find myself trying to express love for her through ‘affirming words’ and ‘one on one time’. Like-wise her natural way of expressing love for me comes from her two primary love languages. It’s a continual life journey!

I wonder if as you have been reading this blog you have identified your primary love languages and your children’s primary love languages? Maybe the light switch has been turned on in your heart, and you are feeling empowered to put these love languages into practice in your home?

Can I suggest a few practical applications to the 5 love languages?

  1. Write down your top two and bottom two love languages

  2. Write down your child/children’s top two and bottom two love languages

  3. Consider, ponder, meditate on, and write down what makes you feel special, valued and loved by others

  4. Consider, ponder, meditate on, how you can intentionally love your child/children in accordance with how they best receive love

  5. Plan to intentionally love your children for the next two weeks.

  6. Make your goals manageable and do it!

Let’s pray:

Father thank you for designing each one of us in alignment with your perfect will. Thank you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for giving us the personalities, temperaments and sensitivities that make us uniquely who we are. And Father we pray that you would establish the knowledge and wisdom of the Five Love languages into the culture of our families. Thank you for helping us serve and love our spouses, and our children in a way that they feel loved, valued and accepted. In Jesus name. Amen.

Childrens' Pastor

Being His Presence In Every Place