In the 5 love languages, you’ll find “words of affirmation.” Within words of affirmation, there are many dialects. Here are 4 dialects Chapman explores:
- Verbal compliments
- Encouraging words
- Kind words
- Humble words
4 Words of Affirmation
Words of appreciation, or verbal compliments, are powerful communicators of love. Words of affirmation are just that, a way to let your partner know you appreciate them for what they do for you. Period. Chapman is not suggesting verbal flattery in order to get your spouse to do something you want. The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires. Remember though, as humans, we have a built-in “bull shit detector”. We know when someone does something for us with the motive of getting something in return.
Encouraging words also count. We all have areas where we feel insecure. The word encourage means “to inspire courage.” Our lack of courage often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things that we would like to do. Your partner may have areas of insecurity that are simply waiting for your encouraging words to make them flower. Encouragement doesn’t mean pressuring your spouse to do something that you want. Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse “With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, ‘I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?’ We are trying to show that we believe in him/her and in his/her abilities. We are giving credit and praise.”(p.45)
Another key to communicating love verbally is the way we speak. Often how we say something is more important than what we say. It needs to be said in a kind way. Love doesn’t keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up past failures. None of us is perfect. Forgiveness is the way of love. “Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love: ‘I love you. I care about you, and I choose to forgive you’.” Those are the words of affirmation expressed in the dialect of kind words.
Love makes requests, not demands. “When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities. … When, however, you make demands, you have become not a lover but a tyrant. Your spouse will feel not affirmed but belittled. .. A request creates the possibility for an expression of love, whereas a demand suffocates that possibility.” (pp. 48-49)
There are other dialects of course but all have in common the use of words to affirm one’s spouse. But, and it is a big but, the love language of one person is not necessarily the love language of another. This brings us to love language number two: Quality time. We will explore that next week.