Love Them in the Ways that They Get it
Love is powerful. Being loved and cared for are basic human needs. Holding premature babies in your arms, talking with them, and singing to them can make up for their congenital shortcomings.
One couple was in distress over their teenager. The mom lamented, "I do this and that for him all day, but he doesn't appreciate me one bit." The dad added, "He always asks for homework help at the last minute. Instead of giving thanks, he questions my logic and gets mad at me!" When love and dedication are taken for granted, parents will inevitably feel hurt and depressed.
Are today's young people just selfish, inconsiderate, and ungrateful? Is it possible that they don't feel loved deep down in their hearts?
Author Gary Chapman described "The Five Languages of Love" in a series of books. Depending on experience and needs, everyone has his or her dominant language of love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Gifts. A loving relationship can only be established after the most heartwarming expression of love is received.
For example, a daughter yelling "You don't care!" may wish to spend quality time with her parents listening to her fear, anxiety and dreams instead of advising, nagging and lecturing. Therefore, don't get upset at "You don't love me!" but try listening to their feelings with empathy. There is a Chinese saying, "You will only understand the love of your parents when you raise your own child." Maybe someday our children will really understand our love and sacrifice. But why not try to love them now with the love they desire so that they can truly feel your love?
Depositing Love into Your Marriage
Another author Gary Thomas once said to a young friend, "If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there's no question--stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can't imagine any better thing to do than to get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you'd never have to face otherwise."
Some couples do not feel loved in their marriage even though their spouse keeps saying: "Am I not cooking, cleaning, and driving around all day for you and our children?" or "I work so hard to make money to support our family, and you still say I don't love you?" The truth of the matter is that people wants their needs to be understood, and they want to receive the kind of love they desire. Therefore, please pay special attention to complaints in the home. Does a exhausted mother need acts of service from her family? Does a problem solving father wish to be respected and affirmed?
Regular deposits are required for the "Love Bank" between two people because every negative interaction may cancel out 5-7 positive interactions. Do more positive, effective, and constructive things. Pay particular attention to your words and body language such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures and movements. Couples need to date regularly in order to cultivate their marital relationship.
On this coming Valentine's Day, would you like to stop destructive interactions and negative thoughts, and start making a list of positive things you like about each other? Try to express your love by encouraging and affirming their efforts, listening to their feelings, hugging and kissing, saying, "I love you!" and buying (or making) a heart-to-heart gift.
Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Please visit ParentingABCtoday.com for additional resources.
Winnis Chiang, LMFT and founder of ParentingABC.com, is passionate about helping Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and positively influence their American born children.