Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages has been a bestseller since 1992. Chapman, a marriage counselor, believes that everyone has a preferred way to give and receive love.
Because every virtue is an aspect of love, I looked for a virtue that fits with each love language. Here’s what I found, with an example of how Jesus practiced each “virtue language.” I hope it inspires you to “speak love” in new ways.
Words of affirmation
Affirmation is the most-often-desired of the love languages. And no wonder. Our confidence can take a hit by anything from a bad hair day, to job loss, to the sudden illness of child.
That’s why sharing the virtue of Hope is so important. Hope reminds us that we are created in love and are destined to be loved forever by Love Himself. A priest said, “God loves you through and through. And you can’t change that.” That’s the eternal “word of affirmation” we can share with each other every day.
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world (John 16:33).”
If quality time is sharing of ourselves with a loved one and supporting them in their pursuit of happiness, Friendship is the virtue that speaks love language #2.
Friendship is rooted in our love and friendship with God. Because of that friendship, we can connect with each other in authentic love that strives to help the other grow in holiness.
“Early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him and he sat down and taught them (John 8:2).”
Acts of service
The third love language puts love into action. True love yearns to pour itself out in merciful acts.
The virtue of Mercy speaks the third love language. Mercy is helping someone in their spiritual or material need. Like remembering an uncle with a phone call on his birthday, or offering to babysit while parents enjoy a date night. Or inviting a friend to dinner during a rough time, just to listen.
“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted (John 6:11).”
Our body is integral to our humanity. Jesus himself took on human flesh, in part to show us how important and holy our bodies are. Bodies give and receive the gift of touch, which communicates love in a unique way.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that the virtue of Charity (love) overflows from our mind to our bodies – that our bodies share somewhat in the happiness we have in being loved by God. Through chaste touch, we communicate our solidarity with others’ struggles and our desire to stand with them through good times and bad.
“He took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise!’ The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. [At that] they were utterly astounded (Mark 5:41-42).”
The thought and effort that we put into choosing and presenting a tangible gift speaks the fifth love language.
The virtue of Beneficence (doing good) enables us to give something that is enduringly visible in the loved one’s life. A token of friendship keeps on giving as it reminds them of our love. Giving gifts is a way of prolonging the language of love in time – a reminder that we have listened to their desires and cared enough to offer our love in a concrete way.
At Bethany, Jesus was the recipient of a precious gift.
“A woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. ‘Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.’ They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her’ (Mark 14:3-6; 9).”
Our personal language of virtue
Do most of us have one of these languages that we prefer and maybe one that we aren’t much interested in? For me, affirmation and physical touch are important, while receiving gifts is less important. Some people love receiving gifts, but don’t like to be touched. I want to pay more attention to others’ preferences (which we can tell by the way they express love) and do better at sharing Jesus’ love in the way that the wonderful people in my life can best receive it.
Scroll down and share how you’ve noticed different love languages in your life.