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Monday, December 1, 2008

The Gift of Love

Yeah, yeah, I know. But this is not going to be a bunch of claptrap about peace, goodwill, and group hugs. Last Thursday I was sitting around trying to digest the huge lump in my gut from the turkey and dressing, the pies and everything else you can imagine, and the subject of love came up. As a romance writer, my ears instantly perked up.

Seems years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a book called the Languages of Love. (Full disclosure: Dr. Chapman is a Baptist minister, but this theory is not theological and cuts across religious lines, though you can find more God-related branches of the idea on several web sites.) The idea is that there are different ways to express love--what he calls "languages." He divided these "languages" into five categories: Words of Praise/Affirmation; Acts of Service; Quality Time; Gifts; and Touch. The theory is that each of us "understands" some of these languages better than others. Trouble happens in a relationship when partners speak different languages.

So what language do you speak? Do you feel loved when your partner tells you how great you look? Or do you feel more loved when s/he buys you a great-looking diamond? Or maybe you feel loved when your shopping-hating partner goes shopping with you? Or when h/she cleans the house so you can go shopping (or to the football game...). Or maybe all you need to feel loved is a hug.

One of the times I felt most loved was the year my husband and my (at the time) eighth-grade daughter made dinner for me on my birthday. Neither of them cooked, so they went to a favorite restaurant and brought home a three-course meal. They sat me down, didn't tell me what was going on, and then served me dinner. I loved that they didn't take me out, that they tried to reproduce a home-cooked meal--what I did for them every night. We had ice cream cake with candles, and if they bought me gifts, I don't remaember. But I'll never forget that dinner.

As a writer, I find it interesting to think about what language of love my characters "speak." Angelina, in DEAD RINGER, appreciates gifts. Rachel, in LIKE A KNIFE, loves acts of service. In fact, the whole motivation of the love story in that book is an act of service. Especially on the part of the hero, Nick. In DEAD SHOT, my heroine, Gillian, needs words of affirmation, while Ray, I think, is looking for quality time. In my upcoming book, ONE DEADLY SIN, the heroine, Edie, is big on the comfort and safety of touch.
You can find out what languages of love you respond to best by taking the quiz. Even better, get your partner to take it. That way you can find out not only what makes you feel loved but what you can do to make him/her feel the same.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Rae Ann Parker said...

There is also a parenting version called The Five Love Languages for Parenting. I taught this class before and really enjoyed it. I have also seen the original used in an RWA workshop so it's great to think about characters this way.

My primary love language is words of affirmation, not so good for an unpublished writer who keeps getting rejected, but I persevere. :)

December 1, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

Well just remember, Rae Ann--when it comes to publishing, it's not about the love, so don't go looking for it there! And you'll make it. Like you said, perserverance...

December 1, 2008 at 10:18 PM  

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