The Five Love Languages: (Part 2) Acts of Service: Now This One I Know!

Now THIS is a language I know something about!

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1992 book by China Grove, N.C. native, Dr. Gary Chapman.  The book outlines five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which Chapman calls “love languages.” According to Wikipedia, the book sold 8,500 copies in its first year, four times what the publisher expected! The following year it sold 17,000, and two years later, 137,000. It has been on the New York Times Best Seller list since August 2009. A new, revised edition of The Five Love Languages was released on January 1, 2015.

The five “languages” are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Gift Giving
  • Quality Time

Last month, I wrote about Words of Affirmation – a language that I could relate to because it’s the one I seem to be doling out and listening for the most.  On to the next: Acts of Service which may have been invented by my husband!  This is so up his alley, HE should be writing this article!  But I digress…

For folks whose primary love language is Acts of Service, they feel your love and adoration by the things that you do. It may be tasks like mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, or taking the 2am shift to feed your newborn while you sleep. Anything that can make one partner feel appreciated or that can help make their life easier.

So, at first glance, this language might seem like a “no brainer” for most people.  “OK” you might think, “I can start being more on top of some household chores so that my partner feels loved.”  Easy right? Well, mostly.

However, there is an interesting caveat to the Acts of Service love language, and one that may not seem fair, but it’s something that you need to understand if you are the giver or receiver of this language! The most powerful acts are those that are done spontaneously or without asking. Acts that supersede expectations.  You know – like that sudden pile of folded laundry that appears on the bed or when your spouse borrows your car to run an errand and then brings it back with a full tank AND washed?

Sometimes these acts can be taken for granted and on that subject, I am an expert.  I’m not saying I am proud of my acumen in this area but after 50ish years on this earth, I am certainly well aware of it!  I blame the first 16 years when I was an only child or perhaps the cosmic happenstance of being a Scorpio and well, that’s a whole other article! However, as someone whose language is Words of Affirmation, it has taken years and practice to recognize and appreciate that my husband’s constant – and I do mean CONSTANT – tidying up, leaf-blowing, exterior trim painting, toilet scrubbing, are truly not just nervous energy or his way of filling the day. As old fashioned as it may sound, he is taking care of me.  In the way that he feels most confident and most comfortable. The words “You are amazing, babe” may not roll off his tongue effortlessly and that’s ok! As his spouse, I just have to learn to “listen” to the sound of the leaf blower differently…  I have learned to recognize that these actions come from his heart and that he may be using four letter words under his breath as he struggles to get the leaf blower to start but what he’s really saying is “I love you.”

And those words in ANY language are always appreciated.

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