A lot of my friends admit to categorizing Valentine’s Day as one of those “Hallmark Holidays” hyped to get people to spend money on cards and trinkets. They also admit to being the first in line at the Hallmark store. The expectation to participate in this holiday seems to become greater every year…and it used to drive me crazy. I’d always been far more comfortable giving gifts than receiving them.
A few years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) asked me to take the 5 Love Languages quiz. We had been going through a rough patch in our relationship and someone suggested to him that he might find the key to why his constant attempts to “demonstrate his love to me” might be falling shy of the mark. Interestingly enough, we both ended up learning quite a lot about each other.
Of the 5 Love Languages (Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch), Receiving Gifts had landed at the very bottom of my list. My husband had given me gifts nearly every week since we’d met, and in our rough patch, had doubled the quantity and tripled the quality. What he learned was that a more infrequent (for him) and deeply meaningful gift spoke much more clearly to me than a constant barrage. I learned to accept gifts much more gracefully as I finally understood that gift giving is a love language – a way to demonstrate love, not a way to buy love.
In large part due to an over-indulgent Christmas, my husband and I agreed last Valentine’s Day to not exchange gifts. It was, after all, just a Hallmark Holiday, and we made some significant home purchases right after Christmas. My husband’s interpretation of “not exchanging gifts” meant he didn’t want to receive anything and I absolutely had to have new earrings and an adorable hand-made card. Knowing now what I do about the languages of love, I couldn’t be even a little irritated. As his top language is Acts of Service, I knew he’d enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal and a nice massage. I guess Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad, after all.