I spent around 5 years working in helps ministry. A more common than you'd expect occurrence there was to receive a client who was in need of help but spoke no English. These women would be in need of safety, food, shelter, clothing and sometimes even protecting but figuring out any of their needs was a huge task that required quite a bit of google translate and maybe even an amateur translator.
It was such a challenge because we really wanted to help this person but we do not speak their language and they did not speak ours. It is very difficult to serve and love a person if you have no idea what they are saying and they have no clue what you are saying.
I found the same to be true in my marriage and other relationships. The ways I gave and received love didn't seem to be what the people around me were needing. Then I found the love languages and everything changed.
The Five Love Languages
The Five Love Languages is a book written by Gary Chapman about the five ways people give and receive love. Mike and I LOVE this book and Gary Chapman. I put off reading it for years, assuming that it was simply the next great Christian gimmick. Man, was I wrong! The Five Love Languages changed our marriage before it even started. We discovered it during the later portion of our dating life and engagement. When I learned that my primary love language was Quality Time, I was able to put so much of my life in perspective—I still find it overwhelming. Mike and I reread the book every few months and I get emotional every single time I read that section of the book.
The love languages are Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, and Gifts.
Learning how the people around us and especially our spouses give and receive love is a big deal. Mike's languages are so different from my natural tendencies that it literally can feel like I am trying to speak Latin. He would probably say the same thing about me. We want to share some information and tips we have learned to help out some of you.
Acts of Service
Because my husband speaks the Acts of Service love language, he gives and receives love primarily by doing things and having things done for him. The AoS person has a constant running to-do list of tasks in their mind. They relax when the list is done. Things that may be on the list could be: change the oil int he car, get the laundry folded and put away, mop the floors and change the litter box.
For an AoS person, you communicate that you love them and they communicate that they love you by helping to remove things from that list of tasks. When you knock something off the list it tells them, this matters to me because it matters to you and in response, they feel loved and valued.
You may have an Acts of Service spouse if they are constantly doing the things above that I mentioned or similar things.
Guys, I am not a native Acts of Service speaker. I am a Slob. That's right, capital S. Now, I am not gross. In my book, there is a difference between “slob” and “gross.” I don't have insects or vermin and I haven't lost any pets under my newspaper-and-fast-food-wrapper collection or anything like that.
What I mean is that I’m not bothered when the dog's toys are all over the floor. I could pick them up, but she'll just drag them back out. It doesn't bother me that the bed is unmade. We're just going to mess it up again. I'll leave dishes in the drainer until they're needed again...they're clean. What's the problem?! You get the point. My husband is the opposite.
How He Loves
It has taken me quite a bit of time to learn to recognize how my husband goes about showing his love for me. I don't fluently speak Acts of Service, therefore, to receive his expressions of love, I have to identify them. For example, he'll go out and start my car so that it is warm when I leave. (I hate being cold.) Usually, he doesn't even mention he has done it, so it's a surprise to me when I leave. Sometimes it's an "I decided to leave an hour later than planned and didn't know the car had been running the whole time" surprise, but even that makes me smile.
He comes home the day before Valentine's Day with a bag of screw hooks from the hardware store to install in my desk so that I can hang my rags and things. A lot of women would be like, "That's what you got me for Valentine's Day?!" (He got me other wonderful things too, by the way.) I, however, know that he wants to show me he loves me by making my life just that much easier.
He shows love in ways like that. He takes the role of a servant. It reminds me of Jesus washing the feet of those He loved, and I love that.
I tell you this to help you recognize what your spouse is doing for you. That is my first tip. Learn to see the love they are trying to show you and make sure that they know that they are appreciated. Even if this is not your primary language and even if it doesn't overflow your love tank like Quality Time or Gifts would acknowledge that they are trying.
How to Love Him
Knockout his to-do list.
So, my husband can get kind of high-strung at times. A list of undone tasks makes him very anxious. If he comes home and dishes aren't put away, the bed isn't made, the laundry is piled up, and the dog’s toys are everywhere, he can't seem to focus on much except the things that need to be done. The first thing he'll do when he gets home is take care of each of those things. He'll get so lost in his to-do list that he will do all of those things, plus clean the floors and bathe the dog while he's at it.
I think he would be fine doing that. He doesn't seem to mind taking care of those things. However, it doesn't really jive with my quality time/physical touch language. After not seeing him all day, I feel neglected if he spends the entire evening being a tornado of cleanliness.
He feels love, however, when he comes home and I have done all...or let’s just say most…of those things. It eases his anxiety. It enables him to relax. It communicates, “I love you so much that I don't want you to come into an environment that makes you anxious.” It says, “What matters to you matters to me.” Plus, it gives him room to focus on me. I get the quality time and closeness I need. Win win!
Take the role of a servant.
My husband serves me all the time in many different ways. I’m left wanting to find ways to return the favor. It can be little things like doing his laundry or making dinner. He loves when I make a new dinner. I leave the porch light on for him and I try not to leave my things all over the house. I make a big batch of eggs and veggies and freeze them so he has breakfasts for the week. These are all my attempts at communicating that I love him
Now you don't have to do the things I mentioned but watch your spouse. What are the things that they come in and do all the time? What are the things that seem to cause them stress? Get creative. What are some ways that you can serve your spouse and communicate to their AoS heart that they are very loved?
Tell him about it!
Tell him all the things you did for him that day. Just in case he misses them. Nothing is worse than when I spend the day doing tasks for him and he misses them. Don't get bitter! Don't turn off love! Just tell him. When he asks about your day, include the things you did for him. He won’t think you’re bragging. He’ll feel loved.
Now we are not pro's at this yet. Keep in mind that we've been working at it for around seven months. There is always room to grow. Learning a new language takes time and good for you for even being willing to step out there and learn to speak a new love language. I hope my tips inspire and challenge you because people are just so worth it. If you would lie to read more about love languages you can check out The Five Love Languages: Why They Matter or Tips For Loving Your Physical Touch Spouse.
Mike and I LOVE this book. We recommend it to all our friends and strangers on a regular basis. We also love to guess our family member's love language. I totally suggest you pick a copy for your family. They also have versions for kids, one that focuses on apologies and another that is aimed towards men (which I actually prefer for myself.)
If you found this at all helpful, would you take a moment to share it out with your friends and followers? It helps us spread our message of hope and love with even more people. There is a small share icon below the post to make it super quick and easy for you!
Lastly, are you in the Living For Love VIP Club? It is the best way for us to stay connected with you so we can keep you encouraged plus you gain instant access to our library of free resources which include our Ebook - Overcome as well as prayer cards and other goodies. The library is constantly growing.
So let’s hear from you! What do you think is your love language? If yours is Acts of Service, what are some ways you really feel loved? If your spouse's love language is Acts of Service, what are some ways you show love to him or her? Let's discuss in the comments below!
Thanks so much for coming by!