A Dialect of Quality Time: Quality Activities

The basic love language of quality time has many dialects including: quality activities. At a recent singles event I asked those present to complete the following sentence: “I feel most loved and appreciated by _________ when __________.” They could insert the name of anyone: parent, roommate, coworker, or friend.

One twenty-seven-year-old male inserted the name of his girlfriend and completed the sentence as follows: “I feel most loved by Megan when she and I do things together—things I like to do and things she likes to do. We talk more when we’re doing things. I had never ridden a horse until I met her, and she had never been sailing. I’ve always enjoyed doing things with other people. It’s so neat to be dating someone who is open to trying new things together.”

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Good Gifts are Different for Everyone

At age fifty-six, Helen unexpectedly became a single adult again. Only nine months earlier her husband had been killed in a car accident. In an attempt to get her out of the house, a friend invited her to an adult singles meeting where I was speaking.

“I didn’t really want to come to this meeting,” she later told me. “I don’t feel like a single adult. I feel like I’m still married. It’s just that my husband is no longer here. But, I’m glad I came,” she said. “I’ve never heard about love languages. I think I need to apply this in my relationship with my son.”

Helen had one son, Brett, who was now thirty-two. He had married right out of college and divorced two years later. Since then, he lived alone and only sporadically made contact with his parents. However, since the death of his dad, he came around more often, and Helen was hoping they could have a closer relationship. “I think I need to discover his love language,” Helen said. I suggested she give Brett a chance to show his love language by responding to the following statement: “Since your dad has died, we’re the only two left. You have been so helpful to me these last few months, I’d like to do something to show you how much I appreciate what you have done. What can I do?”
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Success: Love is the Key

Have you ever met a single adult who aspired to become a failure? No, everyone wants to succeed. But what is success? Ask a dozen people and you may get a dozen answers.

I once heard that when the late billionaire J. Paul Getty was asked that question, he responded, “Rise early, work late, and strike oil!” Perhaps that formula worked for Getty, but it is not likely to work for you. A friend of mine shared this definition: “Success is making the most of who you are with what you’ve got.” I like that.

Every person has the potential to make a positive impact on the world. Success is not measured by the amount of money you possess or the position you attain but rather in what you do with what you’ve got. Position and money can be squandered or abused, but they can also be used to help others.

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A Really Big Umbrella

Leah was one of several single adults who attended my marriage seminar in Cleveland. She explained, “I just want to learn more about marriage so that if I ever get married I’ll know what I’m supposed to do.” I wish more singles had that attitude before they got married. After lunch she asked if she could speak with me.

“I don’t want to take too much time,” she said, “but I have a problem.” I nodded and she continued.

“I’ve been dating a man for about six months who is the most wonderful man in the world, but I don’t have romantic feelings for him. I wish I did because he’s so wonderful.”

“So what makes you think he is so wonderful?” I asked.

“He is the nicest man I have ever met. I’ve never had a man do so much for me.”

“What does he do for you?” I asked.

“Well, it all started one night at church,” she said. “I had been to a singles meeting, and when I got ready to leave the church it was raining really hard. He stepped up with this huge umbrella and asked if he could take me to the car. I never remember having seen him before, but he said he had been attending about three weeks. Well, of course I accepted his offer. He got me to my car and told me to have a good evening. I thanked him; he closed the door and then walked to his car. I was appreciative, but it wasn’t a big deal.

“I didn’t think of him again until I noticed him in the singles meeting two weeks later. Afterward he asked me if I would like to get a milkshake. A milkshake sounded great to me, so I accepted. We walked across the street to the ice cream shop. I found out that he had never been married, was an electrical engineer who worked for a local company, and had lived in Cleveland about two years, having been transferred from back East. I enjoyed talking with him. However, when we got ready to leave it was raining again. He told me to wait while he got his car, then he would give me a ride to my car. Not wanting to get my hair wet, I agreed.

“He ran across the street and returned shortly with his car, met me at the door with the umbrella, then drove me to my car. He was soaking wet. As I drove home I had the thought that he’s a really nice guy, but I certainly didn’t think about dating him.

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Quality Time?

Two people sitting in the same room are certainly in close proximity, but they are not necessarily together. Togetherness has to do with focused attention. It is giving someone your undivided attention. As humans, we have a fundamental desire to connect with others. We may be in the presence of people all day long, but we do not always feel connected.

Physician Albert Schweitzer said, “We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” Professor Leo Buscaglia notes, “There seems to be accumulating evidence that there is actually an inborn need for this togetherness, this human interaction, this love. It seems that without these close ties with other human beings, a newborn infant, for example, can regress developmentally, lose consciousness, fall into idiocy and die.”

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Is It Hypocritical to Love?

Some may question the concept of loving someone you resent. Isn’t that being hypocritical? You have negative feelings, but you are doing or saying something positive. When I hear that question, I am reminded of what the British scholar C. S. Lewis said:

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.

Your Feelings Aren’t Always Right

Love is sometimes the choice to go against your feelings. It’s similar to what I do every morning when I get up. I don’t know about you, but if I only got out of bed on the mornings I felt like getting out of bed, I’d pretty much never get up. Almost every morning, including this morning, I go against my feelings, get up, do something I think to be good, and before the day is over, I feel good about having done it. Love is not a feeling; it is a way of behaving. Feelings follow behavior; therefore, loving feelings follow loving behavior. Loving actions on my part not only bring me positive feelings about myself, but, if spoken in the love language of the other person, they will stimulate positive feelings inside them.

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Tell Me Something Good: The Benefits of Affirming Others

As I write this blog on a quiet Sunday afternoon in New York City, people seem to be taking a short rest from the stress and trauma of recent economic events.   We are also enjoying a welcome break from winter weather.   We can all start thinking about the stresses of the real world tomorrow, but for now people have a few hours to watch some sports, hug a loved one, get some exercise, or take a nap.    Tomorrow, when all of the stress comes back, one way to help oneself and others to get through the stress and emerge stronger is to develop a lifestyle of affirming others.   

Dr. Gary Chapman’s book,, The Five Love Languages, is a helpful resource for learning some new strategies for affirming others.   He outlines physical touch, time and attention, gifts, words of affirmation, and acts of service as prime ways to affirm others.   With careful observation and a little creativity, one can learn the favorite love languages of the special people in one’s life, and make a point to include loving acts and words in   daily interactions with them.   It’s an easy concept, and so easy to implement that a five-year-old could do it.   In fact, five-year-olds and children even younger do affirm those they love.   Parents and caregivers are amazed every day by the kindness of children.   So if humans have such an apparent capacity to develop a lifestyle of affirmation, why do so few people feel that they are doing a good job of affirming those they love, and why do so few people feel affirmed?
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Gifts Don't Grow on Trees?

We all have specific friends who love receiving gifts-it's their primary love language. It is what makes them feel loved most deeply.

Gifts need not be expensive; after all, "it's the thought that counts." But I remind you, it is not the thought left in your head that counts; it is the gift that came out of the thought that communicates emotional love.

The gift can be any size, shape, color, or price. It may be purchased, found, or made. To the individual whose primary love language is receiving gifts, the cost of the gift won't really matter. If you can afford it, you can purchase a beautiful card for less than five dollars. If you cannot, you can make one for free. Just go get the paper out of the trash can where you work, fold it in the middle, take scissors and cut out a heart, write "I love you," and sign your name. Gifts don't need to be expensive to have meaning.

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