“What is the main problem you have with your family?
“Could you be more specific?”
“My parents, especially my mother, never listens to me, always puts me down, and is constantly nagging at me… to do the chores, to do my school work, to watch my siblings. Can you do something about it?”
“I believe we can.”
And that was how I was at the confirmation briefing for my nephew “C”, and how the confirmation briefing turned out to be a 1 hour+ “seminar” on “The Language of Love“.
(I have provided the link for ease of reference. I am neither endorsing the site, the framework, nor am I criticising it. Like any framework, there are some strengths, and like any framework, I am sure you will find outliers or people who do not conform to those 5 languages. If it works for you, great. If not, keep searching.)
I did not need to do the questionnaire to know that of the 5 language of love – Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Spending Time, and Physical Contact – the one that I most detest was gifts.
It was also no surprise to me that for me, love was spending time. “Quality” time is overused. I prefer “meaningful” time.
The priest gave the example of someone promising to be at the graduation and then not turning up as a betrayal of that language of love.
I don’t think so.
I asked my parents if they wanted to attend my convocation (this was in Vancouver, and they were in SG, and it would have cost them a bit to travel).
They said no, I said ok. I’ll just come back then. Because the convocation was not important to me. What was important would have been if my parents saw it as important, that it was a vicarious achievement for them. Then yes, if they came, I would be there but it would be for them, not for me. To quote Shakespeare (Troilus & Cressida), “Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing.”
Having graduated (“won”), I did not need the convocation. Not for myself. And since my parents were not coming, I did not feel the need to stay.
My mom likes to give me little gifts. Like putting $10 in my shirt pocket after ironing it. The first few times, I told myself, “I have to be more mindful and don’t leave money in my pocket when I put my shirt in the laundry.”
But even slow, stupid, me eventually cotton on to my mom’s deviousness.
I’m not against gifts as a show of love. I just don’t like little gifts or tokens. Really. If you want to show me you love me, how about a house? 🙂 Or a mega-yacht? Or if wanna give me something small, how about a small plane?
And Asians, have a cultural constraint against physical demonstrations of affection. Though from the PDA we have been seeing on trains… perhaps not anymore.
Words are nice, but to me words are cheap. You can say nice things while stabbing me in the back. So words are nice, but actions are truth.
Acts of Service would be appreciated, but that’s not something I offer as a language of love.
The story of Mary and Martha from the Bible is appropriate here. Jesus visited Mary and Martha (I believe they were sisters). And while Mary sat down and listened to Jesus, Martha busied herself serving food, and drinks and doing, I guess, little acts of service. Finally, Martha says to Jesus, “would you ask Mary to help me?” And Jesus said no. Cos, Mary understood that another “language of love” was giving time and attention.
And Jesus preferred that to the Acts of Service that Martha was doing.
So when my nephews were younger, I decided that I did not want to buy them toys and gifts for their birthday. I decided I would give them time and experience.
So I brought them to Sentosa for the luge (on wheels, not the Winter Olympics event).
Ok. Ok. So maybe I wanted to do it, and I was just using them as an excuse so I can enjoy it too.
Hey, nowhere does it say I have to suffer when spending time right?