Thanks to Gary Chapman's bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, lots of us are much more aware of our own. Mine is definitely gifts.
But lately, I've been thinking about gifts. I am married to someone who doesn't "get" gifts. Giving them feels like a test to him and receiving them often requires lying to someone he loves about the pleasure he's not feeling. Yet some days, I tell myself I would feel more loved if only he would surprise me with a gift, a beautiful handmade or hand selected gift just for me, wrapped creatively and beautifully.
However, I suspect my Love Language is actually a Lack Language most of the time. When I feel loved, I don't crave gifts.
And not all gifts make me feel loved. (Just as not all shoulder massages or held hands feel like love to someone whose language is physical touch and not all greeting cards or kudos move a person whose language is words of affirmation, I'm sure.)
And when I feel unusually broke or rushed for time or sick or unsure of myself, even I don't enjoy making or searching for gifts to show my love. I enjoy those things when I feel loved, which makes me more sure of myself and more hopeful and more generous.
So perhaps we might want to think only of our loved ones' Love Languages. Speaking theirs when we feel loving increases the probability that what we do to show our love will be well-received. And when we're feeling unloved, seeking more of our mate's Love Language increases the likelihood of seeing evidence of how much we really are loved.
Lack is just one step shy of resentment, that awful emotion that corrodes relationships as surely as salted roads corrode pickup trucks. If we let it live in our hearts, we silently convey to our loved ones that they are not good enough and we are falling out of love. Seeking out things to be grateful for might be a much easier route to feeling more loved.
And if you're being stalked by Lack, try getting more of what's missing elsewhere. Find a concierge to ship you a surprise gift. Get a good massage (or a dog). Spend an hour engrossed in conversation or tennis with a friend. Announce your successes on Facebook. Call a handyman or go out to eat at a place with great customer service. No, it won't replace being shown love by your husband or wife, but it may chase away your Lack Language long enough to feel grateful for each other and start falling back into love.