February 11, 2021
The moment I walk through the door to my house, I’m greeted by Wanji Wi (my dog and fur baby) with his tail wagging, a toy in his mouth, and ready to give kisses! Mind you, I have to meet him at his level, which is basically the floor, and this encounter happens whether or not I’ve been gone for a quick errand, a couple hour trip, or a day at work. These slobbery puppy kisses, and the fact I taught him to say, “I love you” with three short and consecutive barks, tells me that Wanji Wi loves me, too!
In order for me to show my love to him I take him on walks, give him belly rubs and puppy massages, and play with whatever toy he brings me! However, this list is not all exclusive, as love for Wanji Wi can be shown in a variety of ways!
The reason for sharing this little story is that I truly think we can learn a lot from our furry friends when it comes to the simplicity of showing love and affection. It also serves as a reminder of how important the Five Love Languages are, which can translate in almost any relationship. Dr. Gary Chapman (Author, Ph.D. and Counselor) found in his research that what makes one person feel loved doesn’t necessarily make others feel the same way, so he developed the Five Love Languages to help people communicate with one another better. People learn in different ways, so for each love language, we’ll share written, visual, and musical examples!
The beginning of most relationships start with all the “firsts” and include multiple opportunities to tell your significant other you love them. For instance, how many people can truthfully say they greet their significant other at the door when they get home and show some kind of affection, like a hug or a kiss? When the relationship was new or reached a milestone, like moving in together, getting engaged or getting married, maybe this became a habit. But when did it stop? And, more importantly, why?
If you have a pet or child, do they greet you at the door when you come home? That embrace can put somebody on cloud nine. But, why doesn’t it happen with your significant other?
Chapman says, “in a marriage, this can mean holding hands, kissing, embracing, making love, putting an arm around a shoulder, or cuddling on the couch as you watch a movie.” Or maybe you just want to hold their hand!
If you are currently in a relationship, think back to the beginning stages. Do you remember calling them at night before bed to say “good night” or “I love you”? Or, did you ever wake up in the morning with a quick text “good morning, beautiful“?
Showing affection by your words is one of the easiest ways to say you love someone, and for them to hear it. How often do you tell someone you love them, and the words are just words? What happened to the meaning behind them?
Sometimes a compliment can go a long way. “Your words may focus on how your spouse looks, a personality or character trait, or something [they have] done for you” (Chapman).
When the weekend hits, that’s usually when errands pop up. And that means leaving the house. If I ask Wanji Wi “do you want to go bye bye?” his ears perk up, he gives me a look, and runs for the door. He doesn’t care where “bye bye” takes us, just the fact that he gets to go out with me! He wants to spend quality time together even if it’s just gassing up, getting a coffee, and picking up the groceries.
With that tidbit of information, think back to your current relationship. Have you ever asked your spouse to come with you to the store? Or have they ever asked you to go with them to pick up dinner? These asks are attempts to just spend time with you, be near you, and simply put, go anywhere with you.
The main idea behind this is to have undivided attention, make conversation, or drive closeness (proximity) to each other.
A gift that speaks to Wanji Wi’s heart is simple…FOOD! He is VERY tuned into his dish. Most often the gift he gets is a Pup-a-chino from our local coffee shop (mainly just whip cream, but occasionally includes other dog treats). To him, it is a special day when he gets this, and he doesn’t even know why! And it’s not just me that gives this gift to Wanji Wi, his grandparents do, too! It’s a simple way of saying, “I woof you” in his language.
Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and other special occasions are often celebrated with giving or receiving a gift. Typically, something the person wanted, asked for, hinted at, or just screamed their name. If your love language is receiving or giving gifts, it doesn’t mean the gifts have to break the bank. It is simply showing someone that something reminded you of them, and you wanted the other person to know. It’s a gift of love.
To Wanji Wi, speaking this language means taking him on a walk or run. It doesn’t have to be long or far, sometimes he even stops after a couple of blocks. It’s simply the act of leaving the house and going for a walk. The idea behind this love language is that it is doing something you know your target audience would appreciate.
Have you ever heard the old saying “actions speak louder than words”? Well, clearly it was written from someone who speaks this love language. It includes but isn’t limited to: cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, vacuuming, or taking out the trash. You do these things because you care about your partner.
Start paying a little more attention to how your significant other shows you love and how you feel loved. Try not to think of it as a chore, rather, it’s another way of connection. If you didn’t learn their specific love language style earlier in your relationship, that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. It’s always a good time to learn something new with your partner! You both can learn to appreciate each other’s effort, and after a while, efforts will become habits based on positive responses!
– Marchelle Carl, MA