What Language Do You Speak?

June 26, 2008

And now for something completely different:

A few years ago, my wife and I participated in a session, along with other couples from our church, on Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages”. The gist of the concept is that people in a relationship primarily express their love (and need love expressed to them) in one of five ways – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.* While we all need and use all five languages, one of the five is typically our primary language – we need it above all others. If your primary “love language” is quality time, all the gifts in the world aren’t going to be enough. If your primary language is physical touch, acts of service just aren’t going to cut it for you.

My primary language, far and away, is words of affirmation. Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I can’t last nearly that long. This isn’t based on a sense of insecurity; rather, I think it is grounded in an appreciation for the power of words. I have always found words, particularly sincere words of affirmation (or condemnation) to be exceedingly powerful. I’m as guilty as anyone of dashing off a flippant comment or engaging in inane small talk, but if I pay someone a compliment, it’s sincere. And, I receive compliments (and condemnation), rightly or wrongly, in the same fashion.

The challenge, of course, is in making sure that you are using the right language for the right person. For example, my wife and I speak different “languages” – she thrives on acts of service, while I need words of affirmation. The compliments that I pay her are frequent and heartfelt, but they may be received as just “words” if unaccompanied by action. Similarly, I know of no one who “does” for others like my wife – whether it be for me, our kids, friends, the PTO, or whoever else she may come in contact with – she has a well-deserved reputation for going above and beyond. If the recipients’ primary language is something other than acts of service, however, they may not recognize the meaning behind the action.

So why am I writing about this? Mainly as a reminder to myself. But, I think it’s worth sharing as well. Here’s a quiz if you want to see what makes you tick.

*With the possible exception of physical touch, I believe the “love languages” idea extends beyond “love” relationships – it’s valid for our communications with friends and co-workers as well.


6 Things

June 25, 2008

I’ve been in a blogging drought lately.  If good intentions counted for anything, I’d be on my second or third book by now.  But, they don’t, so I’m not. 

To break the dry spell, I’ll hit each of the 6 topics in the masthead – family, faith, politics, current events, career, and outdoor adventures. 

Family first.  As it should be.  On Sunday we took our 3 girls up to Pennsylvania for two weeks of summer camp.  We couldn’t be any more pleased with this camp.  The girls love it, and have a wonderful experience there every year.  That said, while they are away my thought patterns tend to run something along the lines of how-are-they-doing-what-are-they-doing-will-there-be-any-letters-in-the-mailbox-today-how-many-days-before-we-pick-them-up.  I should really be a joy to be around in 3 years, when our son is old enough to join them.

Faith.  There’s an interesting flap brewing between James Dobson and Barack Obama. It seems that Dobson has taken issue with a 2006 Obama speech in which Obama pointed out that Leviticus suggests that slavery is acceptable but eating shellfish is sinful. Obama also noted that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount isn’t exactly in line with Defense Department policy. Expect finger pointing and mischaracterizations to ensue – on both sides.

Politics. Obama has asked his contributors to help Clinton retire her campaign debt. Sorry, no can do.

Current Events. George Carlin’s passing over the weekend reminded me of going over to my neighbor’s house to listen to his new Class Clown album. As the album was released in 1972, this meant that I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 years old at the time. Suffice it to say that my friend’s parents ran a somewhat looser ship than mine did.

Career. I learned today that a former colleague has moved his family to one of the area’s most exclusive country club communities. His reputation, at least when I worked with him, was that of a mediocre performer who exceled at playing the corporate game. I’d like to be able to congratulate him on his success and move on, but this is going to take some time to digest.

Outdoor Adventures. I sent out my annual email to organize a whitewater rafting trip to the Gauley River. I have a talent for making things more complicated than necessary, and I did a bang-up job this time by inviting input on changing some of the aspects of the trip. I wish I hadn’t opened that Pandora’s box because predictably, responses are all over the map. It’s hard enough to find a weekend that suits everyone; I can’t imagine what possessed me to add additional variables to the mix.

Well, that’s it. All 6 topics covered. I’ll try for a less disjointed post next time.

Back to Reality

June 6, 2008

With gas prices the way they are, I’ve given more than a passing thought to finding something that gets better gas mileage than my Jeep.

Like a motorcycle.

Today, I saw an ad in Craigslist for a motorcycle from my youth – a Yamaha Enduro – and my heart skipped a beat.  Not that I actually had an Enduro as a teenager – (or any motorcycle, for that matter – I had no better luck convincing my parents than I’ve had with my wife) but many of my friends (and my younger brother – sorry, Mom) were active riders on the motocross track near our neighborhood.  (P.S. – that’s where his broken collarbone came from).  Anyway, I didn’t have an Enduro but I remembered it as a very cool bike.

Then I read on and was reminded that I’m not a teenager any more.  “This 38 year old motorcycle is in excellent condition. It is all original down to the tires.  It is a great candidate for a collector to restore.” 

The cool bike of my youth is now an antique.  Sigh.  Does the AARP magazine have a classified ad section?  Maybe I’ll find something more age-appropriate there….