Whether you love or hate Valentine’s Day, it is a great excuse to stop and say “I love you.” Now, some people would say: Shouldn’t you say “I love you” every day? Absolutely! But how often do we take the time to do it properly? That means saying it in the way your loved one will hear (and feel) it best
If you’re feeling a little jaded about the whole experience, I encourage you to think broader than the confines of a partnered relationship. Who in your life needs to know you love and appreciate them today? Is it your parent who you often lean on for support, your best friend who lives across the country, an elderly relative in assisted living, your colleague who is experiencing a tough season of their life? Absolutely include your partner on the list (if you have one), but be sure to widen your circle as well.
Before you begin perusing the card aisle or comparing prices at your local florist, take a step back and consider: What would this person appreciate most? Here are a few creative – and inexpensive – ways to say “I love you” in each of the 5 Love Languages:
1. Words of Affirmation: This love language is all about using words to build up the other person. People with this love language don’t just want to hear that you love them; they want to know why. Since this is my primary love language, my husband —who’s not naturally a words person — has found many clever ways to express his love in ways that fill my heart to overflowing. One year he filled each page of a small journal with something he loved about me. Another year — when he knew I was looking to try new things and be brave — he wrote words of encouragement and quotes by famous people in a notebook. I still carry the first book with me in my backpack every day, and I reread the second book every time I travel to a new destination to speak.
Tip: Channel the power of your own words: Take the time to sit down and write a note to this person outlining some of the specific things you appreciate about them. Stray away from commercial greeting cards. One specific word of appreciation from you is better than the most perfect message from a greeting card.
2. Receiving Gifts: Despite the name, people who have this love language are not generally materialistic. They simply appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort that you put into showing that they are cared for, loved, and valued. This P.S. I Love You article does a great job capturing this love language.
Tip: Remember, it’s more about the intention behind the gift than the value of the gift itself. The right gift doesn’t have to be expensive, or even tangible, to be meaningful. Create a playlist of his/her favorite music, assemble a book of your favorite photos together, or give them tickets to an upcoming sporting event. Find something that evokes a happy memory you’ve made with this person or shows you pay attention to their favorite things.
3. Acts of Service: For this group, actions speak louder than words. Find ways to serve this person by making their life easier. In a marriage, you might do the dishes, reorganize that messy hall closet, or take the kids for the afternoon. A service-oriented friend might appreciate you running an errand for them, coming over to help them clean their house, or looking over their resume.
Tip: It’s often the little things that make someone’s life easier. Could you brew their coffee in the morning? Do a household chore without being asked? Remember, there are some things that people actually enjoy doing, so be sure to take something off their plate that is actually a burden or nuisance to this person.
4. Quality Time: This love language is all about giving someone your undivided attention — slowing down and really listening to them. Especially when life gets busy, carving out time to spend together is the best way to show how much they matter to you. This is one of my husband’s love languages, but being an introvert, he can only talk for so long, so often our quality time is spent with activities like playing basketball at the gym, putting together a puzzle, or quizzing each other on trivia.
Tip: It’s vital that you give this person your focused attention. Put away your phone and shut off distractions so you can really tune in to what they are saying and feeling. Go on a walk, linger at the dinner table, or have a spa night – make the focus the person, not the activity.
5. Physical Touch: I know what you’re thinking — but physical touch is about a whole lot more than sexual intimacy. It’s about making a tactile connection. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen some examples of how this love language can be expressed appropriately in the workplace. In one instance, after an intense conversation about some changes in our organization, one of the directors in my department came over to me to offer me a hug. A few days later, as I spoke to a colleague who lost her job, I watched her reach out a hand for support and I grabbed it and held it for the rest of the conversation.
Tip: Physical touch can be a tricky love language — it’s only helpful and meaningful if it’s consensual. Unless you know it will be well-received and appreciated, I’d invite you to lean in to another love language. We all have more than one love language, so choose one of the other ones that fits this person.
Which love language does your Valentine have? What gifts have they appreciated most? Tell us below – you may give someone else a helpful idea.
P.S. - This week I’ve got two special Valentine’s Day treats for you. First off, my husband will be joining me on this week’s FB Live at 8pm Central on 2/14. Yay! We’ll actually be premiering the video on my Facebook page at my normal time. It won’t be live since we’ll be spending the evening together. We’ll be asking each other questions about money - you won’t want to miss it. Second, for this week only I’m offering a discount on my Date Night Club. You can get the first month half-price - that’s just $7.50! If you’ve been looking for a creative and meaningful gift for your spouse this is a good one! And believe me, it will give much more long-lasting meaning, value, and joy to your relationship than any other Valentine’s Day trinkets. If you’ve been waiting to join the club this is a great time to get in.