One day in college during an RA staff meeting, my boss informed us that we would be discovering our “love language” together that afternoon. Doubtful and apprehensive at first, I didn’t see how this cutesy little system could help me understand myself better or even peg me accurately. Especially with the phrase “love tank” being bandied about, there was some definite eye rolling.
However, upon exposure to the descriptions of said “languages,” I was surprised at how much they made sense. I didn’t think I would fit into a love language mold, but I absolutely did (the Quality Time and Words of Affirmation molds, in fact). I later read the book for myself (and years later walked my own RA staff through the quiz), and if you allow yourself to look past the cheese, there’s a lot of wisdom to be found.
For the uninitiated, Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages explains how people tend to give and receive love in different ways and how by knowing your own love language(s) and those of others, we are in a better place both to demonstrate our love and truly feel loved. He proposes that most people fall into one of five love language camps (or at least value some camps more than others): Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. This was such a revelation to me at 19. I finally understood why unloading the dishwasher meant so much more to my mom than just “hanging out.” Or why I could remember in detail both the best and worst things people said about me.
So what does this have to do with “Our Year of Living Minimally”? Well, March is a big celebratory month for us with my birthday and our anniversary falling two days apart (Beware the Ides of March & Happy St. Paddy’s!), and special occasions like these tend to mean stuff, at least in greater consumer culture. When we put our shopping ban in place, we decided not to get each other presents for our birthdays, anniversary, or Christmas. We still very much celebrate these occasions, just without the stuff. In fact, this year David got up early to make me a delicious black bean tostada birthday breakfast and shared a list of his favorite memories of our relationship, complete with a song for each category of memories.
He also tried his hand at a chocolate cake (from SCRATCH!) and officially redeemed himself from the flour/powdered sugar confusion incident of 2011 … 😉 We celebrated our anniversary with dinner and plan to celebrate more fully this summer with a night away.
Now, in full disclosure, “Receiving Gifts” happens to be the lowest ranked love language for both of us. That’s not to say that we haven’t given and received thoughtful gifts over the course of our relationship, but certainly our most memorable gifts have been experiences together. To celebrate our first year of marriage (and our birthdays as justification for the trip), we got to go skiing. Our first year in Indonesia we celebrated our second anniversary with a hiking/beach vacation in Lombok. We took a babymoon/anniversary/birthday trip to the Philippines for year #3.
Now that Clementine’s here, our trips consist of walking 50 meters to the local Mexican food joint, but we’re still happy to be spending time together.
Perhaps pursuing minimalism is easier for us in some ways due to our love language bent, but this year has pinched at us a bit namely because of our primary love languages. While we may not be as tempted to go out and buy a lot of things, going out to eat (sometimes multiple times a week) was a significant way we spent quality time together before this year. However, in limiting those experiences, two things have happened. 1) We work together more in prepping meals to eat at home, which allows for more quality time and 2) We really cherish those rare occasions (book dates & birthdays) where we do get to spend time together over a meal we didn’t prepare.
So what about you? Do you know your love language(s)? How does it impact your experience with minimalism?