Let me tell you something I’ve learned.
He may buy you really great presents but is he giving you the gift of speaking your language? Yeah folks. I am talking about the ol’ love languages. This is not specifically about the book or the concept but it did just occur to me that what I want to share sounds eerily like a chapter from the Five Love Languages.
Why do we give gifts? Simply put, most of the time, it’s because we feel obligated. Because we’re supposed to. On various occasions – birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day (see my feels on V-day here) – we are compelled to express our love via something that is adorned with paper and a bow.
Disguised behind obligation is appreciation. We give gifts to show our appreciation. But does that mean I appreciate someone less because I gave them something less expensive or notable than the year prior? No – it could just mean that I have a different budget or that I am crazed and without the extra time to put a lot of thought into something..thoughtful.
Here’s the thing. Or, at least, here’s my thing.
For years, there was someone in my life who gave amazing gifts. Thoughtful, expensive, and occasionally even random. I was grateful and I bragged about my new “stuff” to my girlfriends and family but I’ll be honest, that joy of opening something truly fantastic fades. And I learned it doesn’t fade because I like it less – it fades because it wasn’t the thing I wanted. Now, before you think I am a selfish Sally, let me assure you – I feel entitled to nothing and appreciate everything.
But the problem was, the gifts spoke to my sense of style (shoes) or my need for adventure (a vacation) but they didn’t speak to my heart. They … and the person giving them … were not speaking my language. What I wanted was to be seen…and heard.
I would have traded all that in for just one moment where I was asked, “Are you okay?” or “Are you happy?”. Just one heartfelt and meaningful conversation would have been the best gift I could have ever received. And I think, over the years, I stopped asking for that because it was never coming and…I was getting weary with fighting for it. I have to give myself credit for asking in the first place because at least I can look back and say I tried.
That’s not to say I was adept at speaking their language either. I’m sure I wasn’t. Or maybe I was. Ask them. I really don’t know.
With age comes wisdom and this is where I do get to feel entitled. I am entitled to ask for and receive what I want from my relationships. It’s ok if we don’t agree but that doesn’t mean I have to choose the person that doesn’t speak my language simply because they chose me. Differences are ok too but communication is absolutely necessary. You have to put on your detective hat and find out what the people you love need. And then follow through.
What I’ve learned is that I’m an “acts of service” gal and I have a need to be validated as a special part of someone’s life. I think that’s only fair…since they’re a special part of mine. I’ve gotten lucky in this regard in my life – particularly with my main and only squeeze. This man will run out to get me champagne for mimosas at 9 am on a Sunday though I know he’d rather have waffles and coffee and sit on the couch. He’ll wash my car and sit and listen to me vent and I never feel like it’s an obligation. I honestly feel like it makes him happy to do these things.
And that’s what we want in life. Not to be an irritation but a blessing in someone’s world. Something worthy of going the extra mile…and giving the gift of speaking their language.
When you find those people, hold on to them tight my friends. You’ve just been given the very best gift you could ever hope for!