Since Gary Chapman’s ‘The Five Languages of Love’ was first published over 25 years ago, it has helped to improve millions of relationships across the globe. Its simple premise is this:
Different people with different personalities, express love in different ways.
And Chapman categorises these as:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
We all have at least one language that we prefer over another and we tend to express love in the way we wish to receive it. If that is aligned with our partners, the relationship moves forward happily and we interact and connect with each other better.
Whilst Chapman, who was a marriage counsellor, originally used this awareness for those in romantic relationships, he has subsequently expanded the reach to singles, children, teens, families and even the workplace.
Given my work, I thought it might be interesting to apply the five languages to our homes.
1. Words of affirmation
We can look at this in two ways. Firstly, our own language; the way we talk about our homes can create a connection or a barrier to how we enjoy our time in it. If we use words such as ‘pokey and awkwardly-shaped’, we will immediately start to feel hemmed in, compared to ‘cosy and characterful’, which starts to feel more optimistic and appealing. This isn’t about tricking ourselves with creative ‘estate agent speak’ but it is a re-framing of the space you’re in so that you start to see possibilities rather than obstacles.
Secondly, over the last couple of years, the trend for typography as wall art has risen greatly. Whether it is neon lettering or favourite quotes, this design feature brings fun and personality into a space. It is also a way to keep affirming messages to the forefront.
2. Acts of service
This is very much about maintenance and keeping your property running smoothly. Whether you are a handy ‘Do It Yourself’er or the idea of wielding a spanner makes you break out in a sweat, remember that if your house functions practically, it is much easier for you to live the life you want in it.
3. Receiving gifts
Gifts for us are treats; special items that make us smile or give us a boost. They are not essential, but add to our overall appearance or enjoyment of life. For a house, these are the special items that have pride of place. They may be part of a collection or a stand-alone piece. Depending on your budget it may be a large piece of art or a smaller, beautifully crafted treasure to be displayed. Growing up, my mother expounded, forcibly, that domestic appliances were not presents! However, there are certain appliances, such as a posh coffee maker or hi-tech sound system, that could definitely fall in to the gift category!
4. Quality time
Which spaces in your home do you spend your time in? Are they the spaces that you wish to be in, or simply the ones you end up in because the other areas don’t work or welcome you in? We often associate ‘quality time’ with relaxation or focussed time with loved ones; however, it can actually mean anything you wish to do (exercise, crafting, playing music), so the house needs to facilitate you doing that to the standard you wish.
5. Physical touch
Tactile materials encourage us to engage with our physical sense of touch and this can help us to focus on the present moment, which is shown to be beneficial to our mental well-being, as well as being a key principle of mindfulness.
Where do you find different textures in your home? For example, what is under your feet? Do you enjoy soft carpet or do you find that a wooden floor grounds you best? Or maybe it is the joy of underfloor heating on a cold day? And even if you are one those people with a pathological aversion to cushions, choosing just one or two of different materials brings layering and texture to your space.
As mentioned earlier, we all have at least one preferred love language. Can you see where your preferences lie when it comes to your home? And what about those you live with?
Using this awareness will ensure that you all stay, or fall (back), in love with your home.