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Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day- Cupid's Second Arrow

“Love may make the world go round, but it is romantic love that makes the ride worthwhile.” – Gary Godeck

With Mr. Godeck’s encouragement, we begin. As I pointed out last week, according to Dr. Chapman, there are five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gift giving. This week I am going to provide some ideas for each gender for each of the love languages, but before we go further, it is important to figure out which love language your lover hears.

One way to figure that out would be to do the questionnaire in Dr. Chapman’s book, but if that isn’t possible on such short notice, then you can think back to the reactions you might have received in the past with other romantic gestures. In the event you have do not have experience to rely on, then use that as an excuse to try one idea from each category.

The first love language we will look at is the one most of us think of at Valentine’s Day: gift giving. You could just give flowers or candy, but let’s borrow a line from Emeril Lagasse and “Kick it up a notch”, not in terms of cost but merely in thought. So instead of just buying flowers, buy an assortment of specialty teas or coffee to warm her tummy the way she warms your heart. Buying him something for a hobby and arranging for him to have the time to use the new thing you bought is always a winner.

The next love language is words of affirmation, meaning say nice things to and about your partner. In this case, find one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and copy it in your own hand with a note at the bottom. Or write a letter patterned after the Civil War letter by Sullivan Ballou; easily one of the most romantic letters ever penned.

Physical touch is often mistakenly limited to sexual intimacy. My example here, for him or her, is to arrange an evening of soft music, low light, a platter of fruit, wine if you like (and are of legal drinking age), and a warm bottle of massage oil.

Acts of service usually are the easiest to come up with, but are sometimes the hardest to actually pull off. If you perform an act of service, it ceases to be service if you demand, or even ask for, something in return. Especially if you have children, preparing your wife a relaxing bath with scented candlelight and a favorite book or music while you take care of the evening’s chores such as post dinner kitchen cleanup is always a hit. Ancient wisdom says, “The way to a man’s heart is his stomach” (or six inches lower), so servicing either or both of those desires fits the bill. Of course, this is assuming whatever you do isn’t at the expense of your responsibilities, you do not ask for anything in return, and it is done in a loving and cheerful spirit. See, it’s harder than it seems!

Last, but certainly not least, is quality time. This is spending time with your beloved, doing something they like to do, without answering a cell phone, email or watching TV (unless your partner wishes to watch something together, such as a movie). A better Texas answer is to roam the streets of Old Town Spring or Fredericksburg, or a weekend at a bed and breakfast. There are several local places you can do this quite reasonably.

Eloquence in the love languages and being romantic, come through practice and asking for kind feedback on your efforts. You won’t hit a homerun every time, but you will get better and it will be easier to identify romantic opportunities. “There isn’t any formula or method. You learn to love by loving.”- Aldous Huxley

Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. He has graduate work in Marriage and Family Counseling and is the author of Leadership For All the Mountains You Climb. He can be reached at

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