Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Love languages

One of the books that has most affected my way of thinking over the past few years (other than scripture, of course) is The Five Love Languages by Chapman.  I recommend the book to anyone who would like a practical way to improve their relationships.

The basic thesis of the book is that different people have certain "love languages" that are more meaningful to them.  These languages are ways of expressing and receiving love.  The five love languages are:
Physical Touch (e.g. hugs and kisses, caresses)
Words of Affirmation (e.g. terms of endearment)
Quality Time (i.e. time spent in quality conversation with an intimate)
Acts of Service (e.g. doing chores and errands for the person)

According to Chapman, each person has a primary love language, meaning that each person prefers one of these ways for giving and receiving love.  He has many examples of relationships in trouble where the people involved simply expected and gave love through different modalities, and when they were taught to be aware of and sensitive to their relationship partner's primary love language they were able to express and receive love in ways that they mutually understood.

This book has enhanced my way of understanding that people have different needs and expectations in relationships.  As I recall there is a workbook at the back that can help you to identify your primary love language and answer questions that will help you in your relationships.

I appreciate Chapman for giving us all an easily manageable system for understanding how to give love to and receive love from others.  I feel that reality is somewhat more complex than the five categories he gave, but this is a good place to start.

It's no surprise to people who know me well that my primary love language is physical touch.  In any relationship I feel that the relationship is held back somewhat unless the physical element is there.  I absolutely crave to be touched, held, and kissed.  I find it rather unusual that this is such an important modality for me, since I grew up in a culture and in a family that isn't particularly physically intimate.  But nonetheless, I feel that a relationship is somewhat held back unless the physical element is there.  However, I also value quality time spent in conversation with my intimates very much, and I find that words of affirmation are also important to me.  My ideal loving relationship would have lots of all three.  Nevertheless I identify physical touch as my primary love language because that is the one that always seems to need to be present.

This is an example of one of the ways in which my thinking on the subject goes beyond what Chapman has written.  Chapman has the idea that people can be "bilingual", meaning that they are equally happy to give and receive love through two of the above-mentioned languages.  But the way I have described myself is somewhat different from this idea of bilingualism as I understand it.  Rather than being satisfied with one or the other love language, I find that a combination of three is what I most desire.  This is not "bilingualism" but more like a "simultaneous multilingual" experience that I want.

Another way in which my experiences go beyond the initial system outlined by Chapman is that I have found that people can have different primary love languages for giving and receiving love.  I have one friend, for example, who is incredibly physically affectionate with people she cares for.  However, when people show love for her, she most prefers gifts.  So this is another extension of the idea of having a primary love language: people do not necessarily prefer to give and receive through the same modality, so apparently it's possible to have different primary love languages of reception and expression.

In addition I can also argue that the love languages overlap to some degree.  For example, when you give someone a gift, do they most appreciate the gift itself, or the fact that you did an act of service while choosing the gift?  And sharing words of affirmation with someone presupposes that you are spending some time talking to each other, which creates an overlap between words of affirmation and quality time.  But this is a minimal argument.  After all Chapman is not trying to create a scientific theory of relationships but rather trying to help everyday people improve the giving and receiving of love in their lives.  And I have certainly benefited in this way from reading the book.

I would be interested to hear others' experiences with the ideas in this book.  What do you think?  How have the ideas helped your relationships and your life?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My thoughts of late

Last night as I returned from my trip to Southern Utah I had some time to think to myself, since I had nothing to do but drive at night, listening to United States Parts 1-4 by Laurie Anderson and reflect on my life and what I had learned.  Here are some comments I would like to make about the experience.

1. It is totally worth it to go to Ivins, just to see the red hills next to the town.  Notice that I said Ivins, not St. George.  St. George's landscape is nice, but Ivins takes the cake.

2. The stars are better at night in Southern Utah too.  I easily saw Orion and realized that it had been a while.  There were many more visible stars.  It's kind of a shame that I didn't spend much time outside at night.

3. Laurie Anderson's United States Parts 1-4 is sufficiently long and engaging to listen to on a road trip, but some of the individual tracks get samey in a hurry.  I'm sure it would be much more compelling to have seen the performance in all its glory rather than listen to a recording.  Yes, I know that I am a weirdo for even having this recording on my iPod.  I promise I won't make you listen to it if you don't want to.

4. On Friday morning, I get to interview for the job that I really really want -- a position at a Danish university.  I am excited that I will have the opportunity to interview and that there is a possibility of getting the job, and I am simultaneously scared that I might not get the job.  My heart has turned so much to this job and the life it would bring me in the past couple of months, and it's hard for me to envision myself doing anything else right now.  If I didn't get the job, it would take some major adjustment (not to mention more hard work to find another job).  In the meantime I have plenty of work to do to study up for the interview so I know what I'm talking about.  I also realize that getting the job would mean moving away from family and friends, becoming an ex-pat, living in a new culture, having an experience I never thought I would have, and generally introducing some big, big changes into my life.  But at the same time, I feel I have changed a lot over the past couple of years, and those changes have made me happier.  If whatever changes are coming will continue that trend, I welcome them.  Do I dare to hope that this is the way some major blessings will come into my life?  And in the meantime I realize that time is passing quickly and my dissertation is progressing, but not as fast as I would hope.

5. It's a relief just to have gotten word about the job.  Coming home and checking my e-mail and mailbox every day with no information was killing me.

6. There's not much to see in Central Utah, but when you get to Southern Utah it's worth it.

7. Scipio is still really, really cool.  Just because it is.  The last time I can even remember being in Scipio was the time my friends and I took a trip to Cedar City for the Shakespearean Festival, which was surely something like 10 or more years ago.  Scipio is just awesome; that's all there is to it.

8. There's something about a long stretch of driving that seems to reset or retune your perception after a while.  When I make short freeway trips in the city, 65 mph seems sufficiently fast.  But after driving at 75 or 80 for a while, 65 seems like a slow cruise, and 40 seems like a bore.  Apparently my brain is kicking into "faster driving" mode and it takes a while to move in and out of it.  I wonder how that works.

9. Speaking of long road trips, before I lived in Canada I'm not sure I could have handled driving for more than an hour or two at a time.  But making the trip between Winnipeg and Fort Frances about a dozen times with me as the only driver became more comfortable after a while.  I started to understand why people in Fort Frances will go to Winnipeg just for the day to see a hockey game or shop at Wal-Mart -- it's just not that big of a deal.  And this allows me to be very independent, since I can take trips of reasonable length by myself.

10. North America is a big, big continent.  And if I end up living in Europe I hope I don't forget that.

Well, those are the kinds of things that I was thinking about on my drive.  Thanks to my friends that I visited when I was down South.  The weather was beautiful and I had a great time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Today I had the opportunity to attend a session of General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As usual, there were protesters outside the Conference Center preaching about how latter-day saints are deceived and need to repent, etc. The picture is a photo that I took today of one of the street preachers. I apologize for the quality; my camera phone was the only camera I had with me and the sun made it difficult to see what I was shooting. In this picture you'll see that the preacher is holding a sign that spells out the acronym "LDS" using the words "Liars Deceivers Seducers".

I am not aware of any major religious conference of any other faith that is regularly protested in this way. It is understandable why people of my faith sometimes feel offended when such preachers cry that we are going to hell or that we are not Christian. Indeed, we worship the Lord Jesus Christ and sometimes find it difficult to understand why others would think we are not Christian. A sentence I have heard referring to this kind of situation is, "I don't know why they have to push their religion on others."

In this blog post I would like to defend the right of these street preachers to preach as they do, and explain why I feel that way.

I would first of all like to clarify that I think that shouting that people are going to hell, etc. as they walk by on the street is probably not a very effective way to proselyte. However, freedom of speech and freedom of religions are some of the most fundamental and revered rights upon which the United States of America is founded. While I don't agree with these protesters' opinions, they have the right to share them. As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I volunteered full-time for a year and a half to share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ with whomever would listen. Sometimes people would say that we were trying to push our religion on them, but we didn't see it that way. We were trying to give people the opportunity to learn about it if they wished. It seems to me that it's not really possible to force someone to believe in a religion, is it? At any rate, if I wasn't pushing my religion as a missionary, I don't believe that General Conference protesters are pushing their religion either. As long as their methods of preaching and protest are legal, I think they have the right to speak their minds. Latter-day saints generally treasure freedom of religion wherever it is available around the world.

While I disagree with their doctrines and methods, it seems that the efforts of these street preachers is based in a desire to help people to be saved. They apparently think that we are deceived, misguided people who are on the wrong path. While I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and correct, I appreciate that these people are apparently concerned for the welfare of my soul. After all, we have many beliefs in common, such as believing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and believing that the Bible is the word of God.

I think that acceptance of the fact that other people can have beliefs and opinions different from mine is a characteristic of being a mature adult. While these street messages are sometimes delivered in an ascerbic manner, and while the doctrine they contain does not accord with what I believe, as far as I have observed I have seen nothing that would overstep the rights that these preachers have to exercise their freedom of speech. I hope that I will always be found reacting to this anti-Mormon preaching in a Christlike way.