Nothing says I love you like an unloaded dishwasher. Or so goes the firmly held belief of a close friend who claims that she does not need gifts or words of admiration, but rather acts of service from her spouse to make her heart swoon.
I always found it odd when she would mention this as there is nothing about a freshly mowed lawn or vacuumed area rug that seems even remotely romantic to me. But upon further investigation and research I learned that all of us both speak and react in certain love languages.
Meaning that what speaks sweet nothings to me may not be the same for you and vice versa. Apparently there are five ways to express and receive love. Gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. Frankly all five sound wonderful to me, but we each have a primary language that makes for optimal love reception.
With the love language concept it is important to identify our own primary love language and even more beneficial to know the language of those we love. Many of us make the mistake of trying to show love in the language we respond to best rather than what would relay that affection to those closest to us.
This explains the dishwasher unloading love note that I never understood. My friend clearly sees acts of service as her primary love language while mine more closely lines up with quality time spent. I would much rather have a load of dishes sit unattended and go on a long walk with my partner (which is why we always have an overloaded dishwasher).
During this season of love I began to realize that this concept could also apply to the charitable organizations we support. So many times when we love a cause or organization we express our support through a monetary donation. We know the money is needed for the mission and we want to show our love for our community and our Southwest Florida neighbors.
Don’t misunderstand me- this is a generous, important and loving gesture but in the day to day operations of a nonprofit other love languages are needed and can be of great value.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a donor and trustee of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation filled with words of affirmation and encouragement for a particular project I was struggling to complete. I read the email several times and was ready to face the day and the challenge with new energy. That small act was priceless in the moment.
Getting that note made me wonder when the last time I had sent a note of affirmation to an executive director of an organization I contribute to along with my donation. I don’t have to limit myself to only one of the languages when expressing my support.
Depending on what is happening in an organization or where they are in a growth cycle, quality time or acts of service through volunteering, or encouraging words to a staff member or person who is struggling might be the best way to show love and impact your community. The important thing is to really listen and find out what they need.
This Valentine’s Day I am going to spend some time learning some new love languages. I want those serving our community to know how much they are loved and valued. I would enjoy hearing about how you express your love and support to the causes you care about at [email protected]