Love Languages Part 4: Receiving Gifts

Loves Languages Book CoverWhile some people are moved by a loving word, others prefer tangible tokens of love. They don’t need to be expensive or extravagant. The gift itself isn’t the love. The gift is a visual representation of the time you spent thinking about getting the gift, choosing which gift to get, and acquiring the gift. In addition, it can show that you were paying attention to them at some point in the past when they expressed a desire for that item in particular. 

Your loved one isn’t materialistic if their language is Receiving Gifts. A Gift person would love a hand made card because it is representative of your love. The giving and receiving of gifts is deeply connected to expression of love.

Could it be that gift giving is a fundamental expression of love that transcends cultural barriers? pg 81 

Different cultures may have different viewpoints on physical touch or behaviors that show love, but all cultures participate in gift giving. Chapman ends his discussion at cultural barriers, but we’ve probably all seen this behavior in animals as well. The dog that brings in a bird or cat that brings in a mouse. They are bringing you a gift. Gift giving isn’t trans-culture. It’s trans-species (perhaps intra-Phylum-ish).

There is an intangible gift that sometimes speaks more loudly than a gift that can be held in one’s hand. I call it the gift of self or the gift of presence. pg 86

At first I thought this sounded like Quality Time, but after more thought I realized the difference. In situations that call for the Gift of Self, the focus of the time is different. A Quality Time situation is about a mutual focus between partners. The Gift of Self can easily be unidirectional (I originally said “one-sided” but that sounded negative). One of the examples that Chapman gives is when a family member dies. Your loved one is going to be focused on their lost family member or on the remaining family members. They won’t be focused on you (nor should they be), but your presence can be a great gift to them. It can silently give them the strength and support they need to carry on. 

This is BY FAR my worst language. I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness and we didn’t celebrate birthdays or Christmas, so I never cultivated the skills involved in identifying gift desires of other people or even just thinking about gifts when coming up toward a gift giving event. I have spent a great deal of time in past years trying to figure out what the hell went wrong with my first marriage. We never seemed to have any huge problems, it seemed like a ton of little things all added up. After reading this Chapter, it finally clicked with me. She was a Gift person and I was terrible at giving gifts (and likewise, she was terrible at speaking my languages). I would only give gifts during birthdays and Christmas and I even screwed up a Birthday once. She didn’t view my problems with gift giving as a product of my upbringing, she viewed it as a clear sign that I did not love her. 

Chances are that even if your loved one isn’t a Gift person that they will still appreciate a gift, so don’t rule it out. 

Please feel free to leave any comments at all. Disagreements, comments, insights, experiences are all welcome! This stuff benefits from discussion. For example, what was the last little token your sweetie gave you? How about the last one you gave them? If you haven’t been getting little tokens and you really miss it, maybe it’s time to let them know! It’s important to do so in a loving manner though without condemnation. 🙂