Loving By Serving

I received this Love Language Minute in my email inbox, and thought it would be a good article to share if you or your spouse have the “acts of service” love language.

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Get the Facts
Before marriage we are carried along by the emotions of the “in love” obsession. After marriage we revert to being the person we were before we “fell in love.” This reality has implications for the single who is contemplating marriage.

Before you marry, you best find out what your potential spouse was like before the two of you “fell in love.” Ask  parents, siblings,  work associates and friends, but by all means ask questions. Did they have an anger problem? Where they depressed? Were they friendly of selfish? Dependable or irresponsible? Did they have a problem with alcohol or drugs? Get the facts. Don’t let the “in love” experience blind you to the truth.

Request vs. Demand
One of the five love languages is “acts of service”. For some people, this is their primary love language. However, sometimes people make the mistake of demanding “acts of service.” “If you loved me you would help me around the house.” But, true love is a choice and cannot be coerced. Criticism and demands tend to drive wedges.

With enough criticism your spouse may do what you want, but it will not be an expression of love. You can give guidance to love by making requests: “Would you please mow the grass?” But you cannot create the ‘will’ to love. Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love. If ‘acts of service’ is the primary love language of your spouse then ‘mowing the grass’ will be loves loudest voice.

Listen Closely
If your spouse often criticizes you for not “helping them”, they are telling you that ‘acts of service’ is their love language. People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If you understand this, you might respond more positively to their criticism.

You might say, “It sounds like that is really important to you. Could you explain why it is so crucial?” Initiating such a conversation may eventually turn the criticism into a request rather than a demand. When you hear a criticism, it’s time to listen. Your spouse is giving you valuable information about what would make them feel loved.

Servant or Slave?
Are you a doormat or a lover? A doormat is an inanimate object. You can wipe your feet on it, step on it, kick it around, or whatever you like. It has no will of its own. It can be your slave, but not your lover. When we treat our spouses as objects, we preclude the possibility of love. No person should ever be a doormat. We are called to be servants.

Jesus said about himself, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” That should be our attitude. “What can I do to help you?” reveals a loving attitude. “You do this or you will regret it.” Is the language of slavery. There is a vast difference between being a servant and being a slave. The servant acts out of love. The slave lives in response to fear.

Learn to Speak Your Spouse’s Love Language
Recently a wife said to me, “I’m sending all of my friends to your marriage seminar.” “Really, why?” I asked. “Before the seminar, Bob never helped me with anything. We both had our careers, but it was always my job to do all the house work. After the seminar he started asking me, “What can I do to help you this evening?”

“I’ll have to admit that at first there were trying and humorous times. The first time he did the laundry he used bleach instead of detergent. Our blue towels came out with white polka dots. But eventually he learned. It’s wonderful. And, it’s been going on for three years now.” Why was this wife so happy? Because her husband learned to speak her love language.

Adapted from The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman.

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