Word of the Week: Building strong marriages and relationships
Loving God, loving one another- The 5 Love Languages
Jeff Needleman, New Beginnings Church
We read in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that He allowed His only son to be sacrificed that we might have the gift of eternal life. God so loved the world that He came to Earth to spend time with us! He came not to be served, but to be in service to us. He changed our lives with His words and healed our wounds with His touch!
Now it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing and keep first things first! The main thing is loving God and loving others. After all, when it right comes down to it, relationships our truly the greatest treasures that God has given to us. But to our great loss sometimes we bury our treasures instead of treasuring them!
Now there’s a plethora of what some call humorous jokes about the relationships between a husband and wife! If a woman speaks and a man is actually listening, will he still get it wrong? Why didn’t the man report his stolen credit card? The thief was spending less than his wife.
The closing Men’s Prayer from PBS’s Red Green Show is: “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess”. Here’s Red Green explaining relationships: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxnui77xQOQ
Now, we may laugh at this type of humor, but actually it’s not funny! It invalidates and undermines the value of our most important earthly relationship. It’s a sad testimony to our lack of appreciation for what we have. Especially when trading up is just stupid because it won’t bring long lasting joy or fulfillment.
The point is that relationships are tough and require a lot of effort! The answer to a solid, fulfilling, lasting and happy relationship is prioritizing each other’s needs. In the book of Matthew 6:21, Jesus tells us that where our treasures are is where our Hearts will be. In other words, if we treasure a relationship it becomes a priority and we’re willing to give above and beyond! Jesus was all about relationships… and you can’t argue that they’re so vital that the entire Bible is all about relationships!
We read in: Matthew 22:37-40 TLB: Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.
These commandments are about relationship… your relationship with God and your relationship with each other! But, relationships are complicated, hard to understand and we easily misunderstood each other. We can love each other deeply and sincerely, but the big question is; how do we put our love in action? Without action, love is only a vague and often meaningless word.
Fortunately, there are tools that we can add to our toolbox and learn to use in order to love better. These tools improve our relationship with our spouses and with God! And since tools aren’t limited to just one project, they’re use transfers to all relationships; our children, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and relatives!
Let’s look at the 5 Love Languages as explained by Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian Counselor, Pastor and author. Chapman identifies five ways that he believes love is shown.
The 5 Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation or Praise, Quality Time or undivided attention, giving tangible gifts that say I love you, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. By understanding and acting on the Love Languages, we’ll do a better job of actually loving others, and in return we’ll know what we need in a relationship!
Acting on the Five Love Languages can’t help but naturally improve all our relationships. So let me start by using my own marriage as an example. When my wife Alice takes my hand or rubs my back, I’m ecstatic; purring like a cat or shivering like a dog.
If she gives me an atta boy, or tells me I’m wonderful, and I’m her man… life couldn’t be better. So, can you guess what my primary and secondary Love Languages are?
Now, how do I express love to Alice? I touch and compliment her and brag on her all the time! That’s how I feel loved, so it only makes sense that’s what works for her! But when I do those things does she feel loved? NO! Stroking her cheek and telling her how wonderful she is falls flat. It means nothing to her.
Actually, she finds it annoying and irritating. Physical Touch and WoA are not her Love Languages. Bummer, huh?
Now Alice is elated when we go on long walks or out to breakfast together. She loves to play scrabble and cribbage with me. If we wash the car together she is happy and content, whereas washing the car irritates and annoys me. Alice’s Love Languages are different than mine. What are they? Acts of Service and Quality Time. So, how does Alice express her love to me?
She makes the bed, cooks great meals, keeps the laundry done, cleans the house, does lots of stuff for me. She offers me her undivided attention! But, I don’t feel the love… it’s not my Love Languages! So, when we’re playing scrabble, playing footsies on her turn is a no-no, and she gets indignant when I multi-task on my I-phone. But, on the other-hand, she’ll play footsies with me so I get distracted and she wins!
We all feel loved in different ways. The trick to is to understand each other’s Love Languages and apply them to our relationships. Jesus was an expert in applying all 5 Love Languages! After all, He created each of us to experience love a little bit differently so of course He was a specialist in loving others. Now, as we look into each of the “languages”, consider how they translate into expressing our love for God and our love for others!
Let’ start with “Words of Affirmation”! Mark Twain said I can live for 2 months on a good compliment. Words of Affirmation can make your marriage heaven on earth, push your kids to their fullest potential, develop better friendships and get you better service at McD’s! But words can also kill marriages, damage kids, get you fired- and worse.
Here’s an example; while driving home from Silver Springs, a couple from our church had a rather terse argument and neither were saying a word to each other! The husband finally opened a dialogue as they drove passed a field with a pig and a mule. “Relatives of yours?” he asked-pointing to the field. “Yep,” the wife replied, “they’re my in-laws.”
This isn’t an example of an Affirmation. Affirmations are positive statements and/or praise. Many of us have a tendency to fixate on the negative, so turning negative words into positive affirmations may take some effort and practice! Here’s a hint to help… verbalize your normally unspoken compliments.
For those whose Love Language is Words of Affirmation, statements such as I love you; you have a great smile, you look fabulous today; nice job; and you’re the best are great encouragements and speak volumes.
Here’s an example: Mr. Words of Affirmation’s wife wants him to wash the car, but he just never gets around to it. Instead of berating, nagging and pushing him, she tells him how much she appreciates his hard work and compliments his positives qualities.
Watch how fast the car gets washed once he “feels the love” in his own Love Languages. Affirming words energizes those of us whose Love Languages is Words of Affirmation. As one pastor put it, “it may sound crazy, but love is crazy! Prove me wrong!” For those with who thrive on Words of Affirmation, actions don’t always speak louder than words.
Likewise the opposite is true, as I can confirm from years of personal experience as a pastor! If Words of Affirmation is your primary Love Language, demanding words, harsh comments and negative criticism really hurt and tear us apart. If Words of Affirmation are not your loved one’s Love Language, compliments and bragging, especially if done in public, only embarrass and irritate them. You actually lose points as I can also testify to!
As we go through the Love Languages, we’ll find that Scripture backs up and affirms each one There’s an absolute plethora so we’ll need to limit them to just a few! Here are some for Words of Affirmation!
Ephesians 4:29 NLT 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. The NIV renders it a little different: NIV Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
2Thessolonians 2:16-17 NIV May our Lord JC himself and God our Father, who loved us, and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Proverbs 16:24 NIV Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 18:21 MSG Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit — you choose.
Again Jesus is our ex. In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus tells the churches what He holds against them, but also consistently tells them the good things they’ve done as well! For example, in:
Revelation 2:2-3 NLT “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
Words of Affirmation are always available! Some examples are great dinner, nice job, & you look marvelous! Now how would this translate in our relationship with God? How do we offer our love back to the sovereign God of the universe? Words of Affirmation translates into our Praise and Worship and Bible Study conversations that actually draw us closer to God!
Next on our list of Love Languages is Quality Time… which we will look at next time!