By Alexa Day
I know we just finished up the holiday season. I know we’re still working through our resolutions and such. But Valentine’s Day is coming. It’ll be here before you know it. Think about taking this extra time to prepare for something super hot.
In the past, I’ve suggested any number of possible gift ideas for my coupled-up friends. You could take dance lessons together. You could put on a dance performance by yourself. You could give him something by getting yourself something (I call this the Lingerie Gambit). You’ve got plenty of time to plan an evening of make-believe. And if you’re inclined to cook (and I’m not, but it’s a diverse world), you could find any number of sexy meals to prepare alone or together.
So with all those options, what should you get him?
Well, you could ask him. People do that all the time.
But do we really want to turn this into an errand? Do we want to go out and pick up whatever he says he wants, the way we would grab eggs or orange juice on the way home? Doesn’t that take some of the excitement out of this?
Consider this alternative — watch what he does over the space of the next few weeks. Inevitably, he’ll show you what he wants.
Check out the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. He says humans generally demonstrate love in five ways: giving and receiving gifts, using words of affirmation, making physical contact, performing acts of service and spending quality time together. Most of us speak a couple of these languages with more fluency, if you will, than the others, and the world really does open up if we take a second to learn to speak another person’s language.
The easiest way to do that is to watch that person speak his Love Language with those around him.
Here’s an example.
When my dad lived within easy driving distance, I’d pop down to visit him for long weekends and holidays. We didn’t typically do anything, really. Usually, he’d watch football or the news, and I’d knit or read. Often we weren’t even in the same room. Before I got up to go back home, he’d take my car out to have it washed and bring it back with some observation about how it was running. It took me a long time to figure out that he genuinely enjoyed these visits, because from my perspective, we never actually did anything together.
After I read Chapman, I figured out what was happening. Dad’s Love Languages were quality time and acts of service. Those aren’t my primary languages, so at first I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.
One year, he watched me struggling with my NaNoWriMo draft, and he gave me a flash drive to make sure my work was always backed up. I keep most of my flash drives in a heap in my desk drawer; they’re jammed with multiple copies of all sorts of things. I keep the one Dad gave me in a special case. Aside from that single draft, it is empty.
You guessed it. My primary language is giving (and receiving) gifts.
So over the years, I’ve learned to stifle the voice that insists I can wash my own car, and I let Dad do it when I see him. I’ve also learned that spending lots of time on a material gift for Dad is always going to be less appreciated than showing up on the doorstep empty-handed. Dad is learning to speak my language, too. He let me take a salmon-colored blazer that he wore to the Last Dance of the Seventies (New Year’s Eve, 1979) without even asking what I wanted it for.
Watch your honey these next few weeks. Does he always have the right thing to say at the right time? Does he just want to be there? Will he quietly do the little things for the people he cares about? Is he a hugger?
What does he prize most? What would he miss the most if it were gone?
Alternately, you could have him take the quiz. It only takes a few minutes.
Learn his language, and that gift idea will materialize. And you know how much people love it when you speak their language, right?
**Of course, you could get your honey something you can both enjoy … starting January 16, you can pick up my new short story, “1-800,” at your favorite e-book emporium. It’s a tale geared for the fellas, and it’s all about a guy whose search for a romantic Valentine’s Day gift leads him to a very stimulating home shopping channel. Check it out! I bet he doesn’t expect a hot little number for his Kindle this Valentine’s Day.