Friday, September 4, 2009

The Language of Giving

In Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages”, he outlines the way that people whether friends, spouses or children express love and appreciate love. It outlines that like when people speak different languages such as Afrikaans, English, French, German, Zulu etc, we could all be saying the same thing, but no one would be able to understand us because we speak a different language.

In love there are five major love languages;
1. Words of affirmation
2. Quality time
3. Receiving
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch

Gift giving is a fundamental expression of love and appreciation that transcends cultural barriers. A
gift is something that you can hold in your hand and say “the person that gave me this was thinking of me”. This is where the concept of the “It’s the thought that counts” comes from. There was an underlying emotion or thought that prompted the person to give you this gift. Sometimes my daughter will pick a flower from the garden and bring it to me. I am always thrilled because I know that at the time she saw the flower her heart sang out “mommy”.

Gifts are visual symbols of love. Corporate gifts and year end gifts are a symbol of appreciation. Sometimes visual symbols of love are more important to some than to others. For example when I have met quote a few men whom although were married did not wear a wedding ring. This greatly saddens me. Usually they say it is because they do not like to wear jewelry. Yet a wedding ring is not just a piece of jewelry it is a symbol of commitment and by choosing not to wear it, they are choosing not to openly display their commitment to their spouse.

If your friend or spouse or child has gifts as their primary language and it is not yours, then you can bet that they will be feeling a void in their view of how much you love them.
Gifts do not have to be expensive, but do require that you may have to change your attitude towards money. Some of us feel good about spending money. Others prefer to save and invest. If you are a spender then spending money of a beautiful gift will not affect you much. But if you are a saver you will experience some emotional resistance to the idea of spending money as an expression of love. If you do not purchase things for yourself, then why should you spend on others? But that attitude fails to recognize that you are purchasing things for yourself. By saving and investing money you are purchasing self worth and emotional security. You are caring for your own emotional needs in the way that you handle money. What you are not doing is meeting the emotional needs of your friend or spouse or child. This is not to say that you must not save. Keep saving, but know that buying a gift every now and then for someone that you care about is the best investment that you can make in the relationship.

Start by making a list of all the things that your friend, spouse or child has expressed excitement about receiving through the years. They may be
gifts that you have given or gifts given by another family member. This list will give you an idea of what would enjoy receiving.

If you have difficulty about selecting the gifts, then get a family member, friend or colleague who knows them well to assist in compiling a list.

Don’t wait for a special occasion, if receiving gifts is that person’s primary love language, almost anything will be seen as an expression of love. If that person has been critical in the past about
gifts that they have received in the past then it is almost certainly not their primary love language.

To find out more about the concept of love language, read any one of the Five Love Languages books by Gary Chapman.

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