1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
It’s an age-old fight. A husband or wife’s “love tank” runs dry over the stress and busyness of life, and they begin to sense an ache of wanting to feel loved. They hope their spouse will do a particular thing or make a certain gesture to show that love, but as the days and weeks pass, it doesn’t happen. So bitterness starts to sprout, watered by a bit of resentment and passive-aggressive tactics, until a full-blown fight has blossomed.
“I just need you to show me you love me!”
“But you never do XYZ.”
“But I did ABC, and you didn’t even notice!”
You know. You’ve been there. It’s ultimately not a case of one spouse ignoring the other or refusing to meet their needs—it’s most typically an issue of one spouse not realizing what those needs are.
Enter the love languages! What I like the most about the love language system, created by Gary Smalley, is that it teaches us to give love in a way that is truly received by our loved one. Nothing is wasted! No more miscommunication, assumptions, or accusations. When each spouse recognizes how the other one best receives love, it becomes simple to shower them with that method of love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV) “Let all that you do be done in love.”
While nothing is ever a perfect formula, the five love languages provide a great map for expressing our affection. And with Valentine’s Day coming up, gift-giving can be tricky in this same sense. What does your spouse really want?
For example, I love getting trinkets, so I am naturally inclined to give them! For Christmas, nothing makes me happier than receiving a gift that is custom-tailored to my unique preferences and interests. This might mean book earrings, Gilmore Girls merch, coffee mugs with a gift card to Starbucks tucked inside, or figurines from my favorite movies or novels (like Alice in Wonderland, The Office, etc.). I love lining those cute little Funko Pop figures on my office bookshelves or workstation.
My husband’s worst nightmare, however, is having a bunch of knickknacks crowding his desk! So while I love picking out something fun from his favorite TV shows for him to display, it misses the mark with him. The gift I’m excited about becomes a burden because gifts are not his love language. However, he is happy when I hold the flashlight for him while he repairs the dishwasher or I accompany him on errands. That’s because he receives love better as acts of service and quality time.
See how easy it is to get confused? I could have my feelings hurt because he didn’t respond as I’d hoped to the gift I’d picked out for him—or I could understand that he’s wired differently. Just like I could care less if he did the dishes or washed my car for me, I would be ecstatic over a Lorelai Gilmore Funko. (That he would just assume set on fire.) Ha!
When we understand each other, we can show love in ways that are deeply received and help keep each other’s “love tanks” filled—all year round, not just at Valentine’s.
Proverbs 3:27 (ESV) “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
If we really love our spouse, we’ll desire to show them love in ways they naturally receive. When we know it doesn’t work for them, insisting on doing things our own way is not very loving.
If you’re not certain of your spouse’s love language (or your own!) here’s a link to the free online test: https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language.
And here are multiple gift ideas for each of the five love languages—just in time for the ideal demonstration of love this Valentine’s Day:
Words of Affirmation
1. Gratitude Journal
Write out several things you love about your spouse, what you think they’re good at, etc., in a journal and give them the book as their gift. You can take it a step further and commit to writing in it all year long. They’ll always have a place to come back to after a hard day for positive affirmation!
2. Handwritten Letter
Love letters were popular in times past for a reason! Pour out your heart into a handwritten love note for your spouse and wrap it up like a present. They’ll be touched.
3. Compliment Box
Decorate a shoebox, cut an opening in the top like a homemade mailbox, and write thirty things you love about your spouse on thirty slips of paper. Then every day for a month, your spouse can pull out a new slip of paper and be encouraged and affirmed.
Acts of Service
1. Do That Chore
You know the one—the one he’s been avoiding because it makes him tired to even think about starting it! Maybe it’s cleaning out the spare closet, organizing the garage, or painting the laundry room. Whatever it is, surprise him for Valentine’s Day by getting it done for him!
2. Wash His Car
Surprise him by handwashing and detailing his vehicle—inside and out. He’ll love it!
3. Arrange for Something He Hates Doing to Be Handled for Him
If you can afford it, surprise the Hubs this V-Day by arranging for something he hates to do regularly to be handled for him, such as three months’ worth of lawn care, a subscription to the local car wash, or even something as simple as committing to take over trash duty for a month.
If your spouse loves receiving gifts, nothing beats the gift of chocolates, beef jerky, or several bags of his favorite snacks. You can get fancy with gourmet popcorn and treats or simply stock up at the local gas station on your favorite candy.
2. Custom Stuff
Like I mentioned earlier, Funko Pops, merch from his favorite TV show or movie, the latest novel in the series he loves, etc. The sky is the limit here, really! Not only will he enjoy the gift, but he’ll also feel special because you chose something specific to his tastes to surprise him with. Disclaimer—remember, it’s important to make the gifts intentional when giving to someone whose love language is receiving gifts. Any ol’ last-minute purchased present won’t do. (Neither will something expensive but random!) It must be tailored to their individual taste and preferences, or the target will be missed.
1. Coupon Book
Create a booklet with coupons for quality time together running errands, walking the dog, visiting a park or museum, etc.
2. Plan a Day-date
Gift him with a detailed list of a day-date you will treat him to! Or have him block out his calendar and surprise him throughout the day with each new outing you’ve planned. FYI—Progressive dinners (where you go to one location for appetizers, another location for dinner, and yet a third for dessert) are a fun way to make a date last longer.
3. Gift Cards
Gift him money to his favorite places, but bonus—you come included! Does he love Starbucks? Give him a gift card with the promise of your company as a package deal. Whether it’s visiting a gun range, his favorite comic book store, or a restaurant, this gift will show him you’re eager to spend time with him.
1. New Lingerie
There really doesn’t need to be else said here! ::wink::
2. 30 Days of 30-Second Hugs
Men like hugs, too. If your spouse is blessed by physical touch, then touch him! A coupon book for thirty days of thirty-second hugs is a sweet—and affordable—gesture for acknowledging his need. A half-minute hug can refuel and reconnect you as a couple, as well as fill his personal love language tank.
3. Gift Card for a Massage
Not all touch has to be sexual or even affectionate. A gift card for a professional massage could really ease your spouse’s tension and be a deeply appreciated gift. Or, to make it more personal and/or spice it up, gift him a coupon book for multiple massages—from you!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Rawpixel
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.