By Lisa Shrewsberry
Just what are those arrows in your Cupid’s quiver made of? Recreational foam or carbon composite? According to Families and Health Program Agent Terrill Peck, it depends on the target’s interpretation.
Peck has a warning for those who take her Love Languages classes: you’ll not only be smarter about love, but smart like a fox if you’re so inclined. Knowledge is power to be used for good or evil, the enthusiastic instructor reminds, influencing her students to avoid using facts about their partner’s inner-workings against them.
“Some people think knowing their significant other’s love language, how he or she both gives and receives love, is manipulative. It can be — it’s a very manipulative system if you use it as a weapon.”
Peck is referring to is the book that acts as the basis for her free WVU Extension Service classes to couples, “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, the New York Times bestseller that has become a self-help and relationships genre standard.
The book and Peck’s class teach couples how to correctly identify one another’s love language, assuming most fall into five different categories, named according to the unique currency each gives and wishes to receive in relationships: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time and Gifts.
Peck contends that it isn’t enough to simply speak the love languages, but to abstain from abusing the language when emotions run high.
In disagreements, couples may not realize when they are pushing the equivalent of their S/O’s nuclear detonator. Awareness of unfair fighting can allow room for anger without going for the throat.
“It isn’t that you can’t get mad when something happens. You don’t have to be all lovey-dovey and kissy-faced, but put down your weapons. If you use something sacred against another person, that becomes a trust issue.”
Potential love bombs
WORD WAR III: If your partner shows and receives love mainly through positive words (Words of Affirmation), the worst thing you could do is be critical, condescending or use your words to inflict hurt, says Peck.
“Because words are so important to some individuals, words of negativity hit them more than any other type. Words can be used to help and build up or to destroy a relationship.”
If your partner fans like a frilled lizard when you say the least critical thing, avoid getting into a war of words altogether. Excuse yourself from the situation until tempers tame. It’s likely the opposite — positive words — will calm the savage situation when you come back to it.
INACTIVE SERVICE: If washing your spouse’s car and taking care of the trash gets him or her all moony-eyed (Acts of Service types), then going out of your way to do nothing for your spouse will hurt worse and cut deeper than it might someone else.
“If this is your language and your partner doesn’t do anything to help you out around the house, you believe the person doesn’t love you.”
Take out the trash and avoid trash-talking until the storm calms.
TOUCH ME NOTS: “For Physical Touch types, people who respond mainly to touch, don’t withhold touch from them just because you are angry,” warns Peck. “It can have lasting repercussions on your relationship. When you are not mad anymore and over it, they may still remember when you refused to touch them.”
Although it may not be your style, be respectful of your partner’s love language. A reassuring squeeze will let your partner know you may not be in the immediate mood to cuddle, but you still believe you can both work through the situation together.
GIVERS AND TAKERS: Gift-motivated lovers aren’t necessarily greedy gold-diggers, relates Peck, whose own daughter prefers gifts as her mode of both giving and receiving love.
“It could be something out of a Cracker Jack box. It’s not about the gift, it’s that you took the time to think about the person.”
The weapon of mass destruction to a gifter? Being an otherwise lavish partner who gives little reminders of love one minute, then withholding gifts out of anger the next. To avoid a standoff where neither party benefits, talk through the situation and be thinking about that make-up gift.
TIME OUTS: Peck’s own language (Quality Time) allows her to interpret love mostly through the time someone chooses to spend with her.
“When my husband is not spending time with me, whether out of anger or oversight, he has to know that hurts me more than it would somebody else.”
Be angry when occasion calls, but avoid isolating a partner whose main conveyance of love is time spent together. It may encourage the person to hold a grudge from the unfair tactic.
Having the Rosetta Stone to your partner’s language can be both a blessing and a curse. Use your powers for good and not evil in all your relationships.
“The grass is always greener on the side you water the most. Whatever you give your time and attention to, that’s what’s going to flourish,” explains Peck. “Love is an action word.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Talk the talk
To learn more about the 5 Love Languages visit www.5lovelanguages.com, or sign up for the free
WVU Extension Service class for couples:
WHEN: Feb. 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Country Inns and Suites in Beckley.
INFO: Dessert buffet included.
Pre-register by calling 304-255-9321.
Space is limited.
Valentine’s for one
Divorced individuals facing Valentine’s Day may feel like they already know how the holiday will play out for them, and the ending is seldom foreseen as a happy one.
Linda Spooner, who organizes DivorceCare in Beckley along with husband Craig, both of whom have survived difficult divorces, has a few V-Day survival suggestions:
“We tell people to think about what is good in their lives, to focus on the things that make them happy.”
Spooner suggests organizing a lunch date with a friend or a group movie for the evening.
“Do something you wouldn’t do on just an ordinary day.”
Bummed out about not getting a Valentine? Spooner suggests reading The Father’s Love Letter (www.fathersloveletter.com), something she uses in her classes to illustrate that people are unique and separate and whole within themselves, without dependency on relationships.
“You don’t need anyone else’s love as long as you have God’s love and realize He created you to be a whole person,” says Spooner.
The newest DivorceCare class begins strategically close to Valentine’s Day to support the recently divorced, those going through divorce and those who have yet to heal from their divorce, on Feb. 18 at the Christian Resource Center, 300 N. Kanawha St., Beckley at 7 p.m. Cost to participants for the full 13-week program is $17. Call 304-763-3424 for more information.