We biked 110 rainy miles today from Raleigh, NC to Roanoke Rapids, and the highlight of the day was seeing my cousin Charles for the first time in many years. Seeing him brought back so many childhood memories and led me to reflect on my family growing up and the family David and I have created. Family can be a tremendous source of love and support one minute and generate painful conflict the next. It’s complicated.
Due to the coronavirus, families are spending more time together than ever before, and while that can bring tremendous joy and opportunities to get to know each other better and create beautiful memories, it can also bring stress, conflict and even sadness. In my own family, my intention is always to try to make my children and husband feel loved and appreciated yet my words and actions are often interpreted differently. I think this is a common situation in family relationships and stems from what Gary Chapman refers to as people speaking different “love languages”. He posits that people express and receive love in 5 different ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch, and that everyone has a primary love language. If your love language is not the same as that of your spouse or child, that can create misunderstandings and leave people feeling unloved. Being aware of your own love language and learning to understand the different love languages of the people around you can help to minimize conflict and increase mutual feelings of love, respect and appreciation. I can attest that Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages for Couples” is a must-read for anyone in a relationship and I have just started reading “The Five Love Languages of Children” and “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers” with the intention of trying to learn to speak more fluently the love language of each member of my family. Life is too short to waste even a second in conflict.
Yet another member of my lung cancer community died yesterday. That makes 7 since my ride began. We dedicated today’s ride to her.
May we all learn to love in ways that are universally understood.