Picture someone you love (real or ideal). Imagine that person gazing at you lovingly, thinking loving thoughts, and doing… what? How does that lovely person you’re picturing show you love?
According to Gary Chapman, acts of love fall into five categories that he calls love languages:
1. Words (“I think you’re wonderful.”)
2. Quality time (“Let’s have a conversation.”)
3. Acts of service (“Let me do the dishes.”)
4. Gifts (“I got you that thing you like.”)
5. Touch (“I want to hold your hand.”)
Chapman’s theory is that each of us has a primary love language – the acts that tell us loud and clear: I love you.
When you’re plotting a surprise to show your love (whether it’s for your boyfriend of one month or your mother of 38 years), remember that not all surprises will have the same effect on everyone. We haven’t all evolved to be delighted by flowers, chocolates, and Hallmark cards. Well, okay, maybe chocolates.
Before you go shopping for surprise supplies, take another look at the love category list and figure out the ideal surprise language to use. Here are a few ideas for people from each category:
1. Words of affirmation: mail a love letter; scribble a compliment on a post-it note and stick it to the mirror; send a love haiku in a text message
2. Quality time: sign up for a class together (or even a Surprise); build a blanket fort; dust off your board games
3. Acts of service: come home early and make dinner; scrub the tub and prepare a bath; print out a Get Out of Chores Free certificate that the recipient can “cash in” for a day of any household chores performed by you
4. Gifts: keep a list of items your loved one wants; make a collage using colorful leaves; bake cookies or pie (mmm pie)
5. Touch: light some candles and give the best massage of your life; announce a thumb war; rent a hotel room
How do you know which surprise language will work best? Pay attention to your loved one’s requests, complaints, and acts of love. Still not sure where to start? Collect them all!