Each year, my family and I come together in December and have, what we term, a “cottage day” (minus the cottage). This is when we take the full day, lose our laptops and phones, get into colorful pyjamas, cook together, eat, talk, listen to Christmas music and, just hang out. We talk about the year – our favourite movies, podcasts, books, memories, quotes, food, restaurants, best amazon purchases and what we are grateful for. We talk about our one word for the next year; the word that will define how we want to live in the new year. Last year my word was energy, this year I am leaning toward fun. We also share our goals for the new year.
And each year, I introduce a new activity that we do as a family. Alas, this year, we will not be together in the same place due to COVID. The family will be limited to our immediate family. The day will be much shorter. There may be fewer laughs and conversations. We may just order pizza. But we will continue to honour the tradition of “cottage day” – pyjamas and all.
The 5 Love Languages
The activity I have picked for this year is based on the work done by Dr. Gary Chapman, in his book, The 5 Love Languages. The 5 love languages are five different ways we can give and receive love:
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Acts of service, and
- Receiving gifts
The idea behind this is that we all have specific ways we like to give and receive love.
People with words of affirmation as a love language value words of affection, including “I love you,” compliments, validation and appreciation for effort or a job well done.
People with physical touch value the warmth and comfort of physical signs of affection, including holding hands and cuddling.
People who favour quality time feel most loved when they can spend time with their significant other, having meaningful conversations and sharing activities together.
If you resonate with acts of service, you value moments when you feel cared for. Like when your loved one makes you coffee or takes your car in for servicing to make your life easier.
If receiving gifts are your thing, you feel loved when you are given a gift, particularly if it is thoughtful and unexpected and something you love.
Knowing our love language and communicating that with our loved one is one part of the equation. But that’s not enough. Just as important is understanding your loved one’s language so that you can approach them in a way that makes them feel loved. That takes a little more effort because we tend to express our love through our own love language. So, for instance, if my first love language is words of affirmation, and my husband’s primary language is quality time, he may express his love by looking for ways for us to spent time together, while I am yearning for words of affirmation. Likewise, he is more likely to respond if I initiate activities that favour quality time and doing things together. Chapman stresses that, when giving love, we need to adapt ourselves to our partner’s love language, and vice-versa.
To give you a head start, here are some examples of what you might want to do for each of the love languages.
Words of affirmation:
- When you notice the good things, say it and say it often.
- Handwritten notes where they will find them.
- Be the first to say, “I love you most” in the morning.
- Carve out intentional space in your schedule for time together.
- Go for a walk together outside and turn off your phones.
- Weekly breakfast dates.
Acts of service:
- Remove the snow from your partner’s car.
- Order take-out to give your loved one a break from cooking.
- Fill up the car with gas when the gauge shows the Low Fuel sign.
- Give your loved one a “just because” gift. It could be as simple as a picture frame with a special picture.
- Create a playlist of special songs that have meaning for them.
- Turn cute or funny things your loved ones say into a custom T-shirt.
You can also delight in the love languages if you live alone.
- For words of affirmation, surround yourself with positive and encouraging phrases like: “I am strong”. “I am complete”. “I am doing the best I can”.
- For acts of service, think about how you treat yourself today. Have someone clean your home for you or ask for help in tackling a project.
- For quality time, take time with yourself and be mindful of your thoughts and emotions.
- For gifts, buy yourself something you want. Eat out at the restaurant of your choosing (keeping COVID guidelines in mind, of course).
- For physical touch, pay attention to your body and think of ways you can pamper yourself.
Here is wishing you and your family Happy Holidays filled with your love language!