Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Considering Acts of Service

The words an Acts of Service person wants to hear most are these: “Let me do that for you” (“The 5 Love Languages”). Making more work or promising to help and then not can bring hurt feelings (“The 5 Love Languages”).

I decided to start with this language because it is my lowest. I thought for a long time it was tied with the rest, but I decided to take the “For Singles” quiz on the 5 Love Languages website and got a zero.

I think women can falsely believe this is our love language because we feel pleased when our husbands pitch in around the house. As progressive as we are, women, in general, are still often expected to take care of the majority of that work. I don’t say it to be controversial—I say it because I see it over and over and over again: in my generation, in ones before me, and in younger generations as well. “We’ve come a long way baby…” but some mindsets are still lingering. I also don’t say it to make some sweeping statement about who should be doing what in a home, but I do think a conversation on roles and responsibilities would be valuable.

If you aren’t married yet, you can watch how your possible in-laws handle things, or ask your fiancé how things were handled in his or her house. Often we mimic the setting we grew up in.

One difference in the traditional mindset may arise when love languages are considered. Whether or not your father-in-law helped around the household chores, if your husband’s love language is Acts of Service, he might be more obliging to do these tasks because he is saying “I love you” with every sweep of the broom, every folding of the socks. In turn, your mopping, vacuuming, wiping, and cleansing will mean a lot more to him than you simply doing what needs to be done.

Men, if your wife’s love language is Acts of Service, then your helping around the house is far more than a comment on your stance on feminism. It actually has nothing to do with that at all, but everything to do with learning to show your affection for her in one of the ways she needs it most.

Just because I scored low on Acts of Service doesn’t mean I don’t need help. In fact, I find myself getting incredibly frustrated when this language is left unspoken. Why? Because, as I wrote before in this post, marriage is a partnership, and with us both working outside the home, I need us both to be working equally inside the home as well.

Besides taking the quiz on the book’s website, you can consider this question: do you feel loved, appreciated, and cared for when someone helps you with chores, lawn work, cooking, or cleaning? Do you feel neglected and extraordinarily frustrated when these things are ignored, or when it feels that each of these areas of work is left up to you?

Here is a question to discuss with your spouse: what are three things you’d love to have done around the house without having to mention it? Make sure you are careful with your wording. “You are such a mess; please just pick up your socks for once in your life,” isn’t the best way to say it. “I love it when you pick up your socks,” is much more positive. Once you’ve come up with some answers, it will be time to put intention into action.

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.

“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012.

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