Some friends of mine attended a workshop a couple of weeks ago on "love languages", based on a book by author Gary Chapman. He contends that there are five major methods of love-giving ("love languages"), and each person responds differently to each type. Each person also "speaks" a primary love language, and responds strongly to one of the types of love-giving. Chapman identifies these love languages as: physical touch, gifts, quality time, acts of service, and words of affirmation. In order to best make someone feel loved, you must "speak" their primary love language to them.
I didn't get to attend with my friends, but hearing them converse about the evening, I was immediately drawn to these ideas. Colin most definitely needs quality time. He loves to be with people of any age. I never need to take a bag of toys when we visit other people - he's most content just to hang out with us. He has always been drawn to people, and has never suffered from shyness or separation anxiety.
Caleb, on the other hand, is completely different. Right from birth he has needed touch. He needs to be held. When he wakes, he cries with terror in his cry, that I am not near. He does not like to be put down. Someone might perceive that I cater to him; that I am fostering a bad habit in him; that I am spoiling him. But I have noticed there is a marked difference in Caleb. He truly needs the touch, instead of simply wanting it. I am not fostering neediness, I am nurturing love.
I am interested in reading this book now, to learn more in depth about each of these love languages. My friends were commenting on how they understand better the people in their lives - family, children, spouse, in-laws (notably!) - and how they have been able to reconcile differences that seemed oceans apart. We easily understand the obvious difference between spoken languages; I hope that I may apply that same knowledge to the variety in expressions of love to deepen my own relationships.