***This is the fourth post in a series of 6 about the Five Love Languages in marriage. I suggest reading them in order. Part 1, 2, 3
Gift-giving is apparent in almost all civilizations throughout time and history, especially between couples bound together by love. We even make excuses, like special holidays, to give gifts. However, if your spouse’s love language is Receiving Gifts, it would not be wise to wait until a holiday to get him one.
It is a common misconception that people who enjoy receiving gifts are materialistic. In fact of all the love languages, I think this one is the least likely to be admitted to. However, there is absolutely no shame in admitting you feel loved when your partner gives you a gift. In most instances the size or cost of the gift are insignificant. The amount of thought and planning that go into the gift are much more important.
Don’t you treasure those little dandelions your kids bring you from the yard? A meaningful gift is something your spouse can hold and say, “She was thinking of me when she picked this up and wanted me to feel her love.”
Although a gift needn’t be expensive, if you’re a true miser when it comes to money and think gifts are a waste, you will need to revise your beliefs. Some gifts do cost money. Remember this is an investment in your marriage and if it costs a little money, so be it. You must make it a priority if you want to fill your husband’s love tank.
What are the different dialects?
There are two primary dialects for the love language Receiving Gifts.
1. Physical Gifts
Whether it be store bought, homemade, found in nature, or otherwise obtained, these are physical gifts your spouse can hold in his hand and know you were thinking of him. It is easier to give these kinds of gifts when there is a special occasion such as Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day, or an anniversary. However, sometimes the most meaningful gifts come when there is no excuse to give it other than to show you love him.
Besides holidays, other opportune times for gift giving could be:
• When either of you return after being apart.
• After an argument or fight.
• After a rough day.
• Before a special day or event, to wish him luck.
• When he’s not feeling well.
There is always the “Just Because” gift too. Anytime you see something that he might like or that might have special meaning, consider picking it up. Of course, different budgets call for different strategies but a smaller budget does not have to mean less gifts. Try your hand at any number of Pinterest DIY gifts to help fill your spouse’s love tank if money is an issue.
2. Gift of Self
Another dialect in the love language of Receiving Gifts is the gift of self. This is your physical presence. This is different than quality time in that it is usually most appreciated during a specific time or event. For example, it may mean the world to you that your husband never leaves your side while you’re giving birth. His presence helps you to know he loves you. Or maybe when he loses a loved one, you make sure to take the entire day off just to be with him to help comfort him. Sometimes we can be inconsiderate in not realizing that our spouse just needs us to be there, even when there isn’t much we can do to help.
How can I know if this is my or my spouse’s love language?
Dr. Chapman offers a few different ways to check if this is either your or your spouse’s love language.
1. Do either of you express love in this love language? Does your spouse bring you little gifts often? Do you always remember special dates and spend lots of time thinking of and coming up with the perfect gift for him? Did he seem super appreciative when you brought him that little souvenir from your last trip without him?
2. What are your complaints like? Does he ever mention that you never think of him when you’re apart? Or did he act a little disappointed when your last gift was rather thoughtless? Do you ever say to your spouse that you feel like your anniversary doesn’t matter to him, thinking in the back of your mind that he never gives you an anniversary gift? It may be hard for us to admit that we don’t feel loved because our spouse doesn’t give us gifts, it seems materialistic and selfish to say that. It may be a little trickier to figure this one out based on complaints. Just keep your eyes and ears open to how your spouse responds to gifts and the lack thereof.
3. What kinds of requests do you make? Does he mention, often, what kinds of gifts he appreciates or looks forward to? Does he remind you of special gifts from the past? Do you hint to your husband what you would like him to get you for Christmas? Again, based on requests it might be more difficult to figure out if this is your spouse’s love language. We don’t like to ask for gifts. It might be more effective to think back to his reaction to gifts in the past.
How can I express it?
So let’s say you have discovered that your spouse’s love language might be Receiving Gifts. How do you speak it then?
Here are a few ideas:
• For starters, make sure you never miss a gift-giving opportunity when it comes to major holidays. It would be extra disappointing and probably hurtful for your gift-receiving spouse to not receive a gift on Valentine’s Day.
• Keep a list on your phone of gift ideas for your husband. If he mentions something he would like, put it on your list. If you notice that he needs something that he won’t buy for himself, put it on your list. That way, you’re never at a loss for what to get him.
• Try getting or finding him a small gift “Just Because.” He will be floored with the thoughtfulness of it!
• Make it a goal to set aside some money on a regular basis to pull from for gifts for your spouse. This will help eliminate the excuse that you don’t have the money to express your love.
• If money is a serious issue, look up ideas for DIY gifts that are either super inexpensive or free. You would be amazed at the stuff people come up with!
• Make sure that the next time your spouse really needs you for something, that you’re there. Move heaven and earth to assure you are there for him.
So what if you feel like your spouse isn’t really responding to your thoughtful gifts? The most likely answer is that it isn’t his primary love language. If this is the case, check out the last posts on Words of Affirmation and Quality Time and stay tuned to the following weeks as we study the other love languages.
If you’re sure it is his primary love language but he still isn’t responding, there may be more going on. If you have struggled in your marriage for a while, it is possible he is interpreting your gifts as manipulation. He may believe the marriage is over and it’s too late. Either of these options doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. Stay consistent in expressing love in the language that means the most to him, without expectation of receiving anything in return. Do this for an extended period of time, Dr. Chapman suggests at least six months. It is hard to maintain a cold heart when a person is loving you, in the way you understand and appreciate, without conditions.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Receiving Gifts is your husband’s primary love language, try an experiment. For an entire week (or more if needed), try some of the above mentioned ideas for ways to express love to your spouse through gifts. Do at least one every single day. Do it with the desire to make him feel your love, without expecting anything in return. Remember, these don’t have to be extravagant gifts, something very small will be just as effective. Make a note on your phone to write down your observations. If there is a drastic shift in his attitude, you’ve probably found a winner. If not, stay tuned and learn about the other love languages to see if there is one better fitted to your spouse.
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Is Receiving Gifts your love language? Or your spouse’s? I want to hear about it! How do you feel loved? How do you express love with gifts?