Listen: Dr Gary Chapman, author of ‘The 5 Love Languages’, shares his Valentines Day advice.
Whether you love it, hate it or just don’t care, Valentine’s Day is approaching—and fast.
The day filled with love and affection has been celebrated in our culture since the early 14th century. So you would think with that much history, most people would be prepared, and know how to make their special someone feel loved.
However, many couples struggle with knowing how to express their appreciation in a significant way.
Dr Gary Chapman shared his insights into the celebrated day, giving some suggestions for both hopeless romantics, and for those who struggle a little.
More than Flowers and Chocolates
The author told Hope 103.2 that because of our culture’s influence, we tend to assume what gifts we need to buy: “Our culture says buy candy, or buy flowers or give them a card”.
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But there’s one question we should be asking first, says Dr Chapman: “What would they find meaningful?”
There probably isn’t anyone who would actually turn down a bag of candy or a bunch of flowers from someone they loved—unless they were allergic. Generally, any gift is a beautiful sentiment and your companion will mostly likely appreciate your efforts as an act of love.
But the struggle isn’t finding a gift; it’s finding one that’s significant for the person receiving it.
The shops are filled with cute generic cards, red roses and sweets waiting to be purchased at the last minute. But according to Dr Chapman, “what is even more meaningful is when you do something that you know the other person would really appreciate”.
Conversation is Key
So how do we know what our partner would love as an expression of adoration? Dr Chapman tells us that the key is to simply ask.
“Conversation is important,” he said. “We get so disappointed when we do one thing, we buy one gift and we get the sense that they were expecting something else, so it’s always better to ask”.
“Ask them if they like flowers, so they can answer ‘No, no… I’m allergic to flowers’. Or perhaps you could ask if they like chocolate, so they can tell you, ‘No, my stomach doesn’t go well with chocolate,’“ he joked.
Think of it as an expression of love. If you ask the question, it gives your loved one the chance to open up about what they really like.
“But They Should Know Already!”
As for the common cry of frustrated women that their man “should just know what I like”, here’s a little secret: men are not mind-readers.
It’s better to swallow your pride and tell them you would love a bunch of pink tulips or yellow gerberas, than to hope year after year that one day they’ll somehow figure it out.
And when you really think about it, giving your partner a chance to ‘get it right’ is an act of love in itself. You will receive a gift that brings you joy, and the giver will experience the joy of seeing you delighted in them. It’s win-win.
Asking the Right Questions
Dr Chapman suggests phrasing your question in this way: “If I really wanted to show you that I loved you, what would you want?”
In asking this question, you may not get the answer you want; as the Doctor says, “Some people will tell you what they want, and others will say ‘Anything you do is fine’ – but what is important is the communication process.
“As you discuss these things, you determine whether or not you’re on the same page, or how far apart you are in your ideas about certain things,” he said.
You may even discover that you both would rather ignore the festivities and simply let Valentine’s Day come and go. That’s OK too; for some, boycotting may be a genuine act of love.
So—how will you make your expression of love even more meaningful for your other half?