This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for her neshama.
It is a universally recognized truth that people give others what they themselves want, often forgetting that the receiver(s) are not extensions of themselves; rather, they are separate beings with their own bundles of issues and needs. According to Judaism, love is all about giving. The root term of the word אהבה, love, is הב, give. In his ten commandments on making a marriage work, Rav Avigdor Miller advocates taking on not just fifty percent but fifty-one. Always expect that you will shoulder the larger end of the burden. In that way, you will ensure greater success in spreading the love. The only question is, "How?"
I hardly need to mention that thanks to the culture of instant gratification humanity has degenerated in its ability to communicate individual wants and needs. I'd dare say this is responsible in part for the boom in the psychology industry and the explosion of self help books in every book and grocery store; both have become an authority on the people. Specifically, in 1995, a book called The Five Languages of Love was published and has remained on the New York best sellers list since 2009. My sisters-in-law (and probably all their friends) have been raving about this book for years so I'm certain it will offer others guidance in how to strengthen the communication and love in their marriages as well.
Giving and receiving love can be summed up in five different ways. As an aside, there are the five languages of love from 1995 and there are the five languages of love from 2015. Why? Because, the last twenty years has ushered in more complicated relationships, not to mention louder women, bigger buildings and lots more pollution. Unfortunately, although emotional intelligence is gaining momentum so is the repugnance of the media. As a result, illicit relationships, violence and the use of illegal substances has become more the norm than ever and humanity's moral status is looking bleak. Nevertheless, we love, we hope and yes, we continue to lead functioning lives, or at the very least, we try.
Gary Chapman, the book's author, describes peoples' desires for love as a love tank, which their family and friends need to fill from time to time, much like getting a filler up at the gas station. There are (1) Words of affirmation (2) Quality time (3) Receiving gifts (4) Acts of service and (5) The physical touch. If you'd like to find out what your primary and secondary love languages are, take the following test. While this isn't the formula for solving marital and relationship issues, it is a stepping stone toward quality communication. Don't be the Homer Simpson who buys his Marge a custom made bowling ball with his finger size and name engraved on it.