February has arrived, and that means it’s time for hearts and love and spending a bunch of money on flowers and chocolate and other gifty things. I’m guilty — I don’t even have a significant other at the moment, but you better believe I’m buying candy and cards for my kids and maybe even some friends.
When I was in my 20s, my girlfriends and I spent a lot of time pondering John Gray’s book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The book really resonated with me. I think it’s because it attempts to apply logic and some sort of science to love and partnerships. Love seems haphazard and unpredictable — all about feelings and emotions — so I thought infusing logic into it might help control the chaos inherent in understanding another person.
The article in this issue about “love languages” (page 40) also resonates with me, probably for the same reasons that book did several decades ago. Love Language Theory suggests that each of us has a way that we like to receive love, and if we can figure that out, it can help build a stronger relationship.
After reading the article, I couldn’t help but wonder if there are languages that can be applied to non-romantic relationships. Is there a Family Language I can use to understand my teenage children? Is there a way that I could engage with the 18-year-olds in my home so they would not roll their eyes, call me “cuz,” pretend like they don’t hear me, or offer up deep sighs as their response to a question?
Are there languages I can use to understand my co-workers better? How do they want to be acknowledged for a job well done? Is there a particular way to offer up constructive feedback?
I like the idea of applying science — logic, research, data — to relationships, but I think the common theme with these different theories and tools is communication. At the end of the day, I think relationships that succeed are relationships in which people are willing to communicate — to ask “why” and try to understand what life experiences have helped shape a person. And I guess that’s the key to all those other kinds of relationships, too — with kids and co-workers and neighbors. A little bit of communication — asking the “why,” trying to understand — can go a long way toward building a stronger bond with just about anyone.
I’m not saying we should forego the chocolate and gifty things, but maybe this Valentine’s Day, learning a new language should be a part of the festivities. I hope everyone has a safe and healthy transition into spring. I have my fingers crossed that March brings us more lamb than lion!
Cheers to a magical holiday season and a safe and healthy New Year!