Week 27: The Love Language of Quality Time [Score +3]
Do you know your “love language?”
When I was in middle school, my mom got a copy of the book The 5 Love Languages, and each of us in our family of four took the included quiz to figure out which was our primary “love language.” (You can take the quiz on the site and learn your own.)
The premise is simple: each person expresses love (in both caring for friends and family and romantic love) and feels most loved in one of five dominant ways. Learning your love language and that of your partner, friends, and family can help to improve your relationships because you learn what you most need and you learn what they need, as well.
The five love languages are (and my personal definitions):
Words of affirmation: You affirm your love and appreciation for others through words and want this in return.
Acts of service: You express yourself through doing acts of service for others, big or small. You may be someone who feels loved when your partner makes coffee for you in the morning.
Receiving gifts: This doesn’t mean you’re materialistic. It means that gifts are demonstrations that a person is thinking about you when you’re not together. You may realize that you frequently buy little items for friends and family as a gesture of affection.
Quality time: It doesn’t matter what you’re doing; it doesn’t have to be fancy. You just feel most loved when you get to spend time with the people you care about.
Physical touch: Hugs, a pat on the back, or holding hands with your partner make you feel most connected to your loved ones.
Interestingly, each of us in my family has a different primary love language, and it really did help us understand each other better. For example, knowing that my brother’s is “receiving gifts,” I make an effort to ship him boxes of random goodies every once in a while. When he was a kid, he used to love it if Mom bought him a 25-cent gumball while she was running errands.
My own love language is Quality Time. We could be on a thrilling vacation or just enjoying a PB&J lunch in a park; it’s the act of spending time together, getting to have a good conversation, with the people I love that makes me happiest.
Conversely, if I feel that someone isn’t making time for me, that feeling of neglect is the beginning of the relationship or friendship being demoted a notch or three as I shift to focus my time with those who similarly want to be with me.
After psychoanalyzing each person in our family, my mom really took the insights to heart. She gets that I feel closest with her when we just spend time together. Running errands, watching episodes of Jane the Virgin at home, or taking a summer road trip, those are my happiest memories with her.
Over the last 18 months, she’s been working a job with set hours—including most Saturdays—so our quality time together has been limited. But she’s going back to working for herself, and we’ve embraced that schedule flexibility with enthusiasm.
A Gift of Time Together
When her birthday or Mother’s Day approaches, I often choose to give Mom gifts of experience and time together. (Writing this through the lens of the 5 Love Languages feels a little selfish, but I assure you, she enjoys the Quality Time, too, even if it isn’t her primary language.) For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to take her to a local ceramic-painting studio where we could paint together.
Four months later, we finally cashed in that gift. We arrived at the studio, faced the wall of blank ceramic canvases in all shapes, sizes, and purposes, and began the difficult process of choosing our project of the day.
With projects, colors, and design plan in mind, I find it easy to settle calmly into the painting process. I enjoy both the repetitive brush strokes of building a base color and the focus required to decorate on top of it. We were able to chat amiably and also sit in contented silence together.
Swimming in Creative Inspiration at Penrod Arts Fair
Penrod Arts Fair is one of Indianapolis’ most popular art festivals. The high-quality craftsmanship and unique offerings draw people from hours away who love wandering through the booths of more than 300 artists and 75 arts-related nonprofit organizations on the campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
For the partners-in-tow less interested in the art, six stages feature live entertainment throughout the day, and a local craft-beer garden lures those more interested in art of the potable variety.
I volunteered at Penrod when I was in college, but though we’ve frequently talked about going together, Mom had never been to the Fair. We both set aside our Saturday to-do lists for a few hours to go this year, be inspired, and perhaps bring home a new item or three.
After parking a mile away (literally) on an idyllic Saturday and shuttling to the Fair (a well-organized system of school buses), we dove into the sea of artists and fellow shoppers. Row after row of beautifully crafted paintings, photographs, leather goods, ceramics, pottery, jewelry, metal sculptures, and quirky decor filled our brains with possibility.
Sadly, after the first major section of artists’ booths, it all started to run together in our minds. Unique pottery at one stall looked no different than that which we’d seen five minutes and two rows earlier. The same was true for the beautifully crafted paintings, photographs, leather goods, ceramics, and jewelry. Even the metal sculptures and quirky decor, which had a better chance of standing out, stopped catching our interest.
We may have had a better chance of separating the work in our minds if we’d planned for a brain-and-body break in the midst of our wandering on a longer day. We’ll know better next time, but for this year, we considered about 100 booths to be our limit.
I’m loving the fact that Mom isn’t working every Saturday now, so I’ll get to drag her along to more intrepid outings with me yet this year. Best of all, I get a dose of Quality Time with one of my favorite people in the world.
Where should we go next?
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1