Thursday, April 04, 2013

Different Languages

If you have never read the book The Five Love Languages, I recommend it.  In it, the author postulates that people basically have 5 love languages - ways in which they express and feel loved.  He surmises that many relationship difficulties occur when people are ignorant of the languages. Here they are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts
  • Physical Touch
  • Acts of Service

A man who feels loved when he receives affirmation gives affirmation to his wife, not realizing that her love language is acts of service.  So, though he feels he is communicating love and appreciation, she still feels unloved and unappreciated.  For her, love is received not by what he says, but by what he does.

Of course, it is not an either or proposition.  Most people probably have some level of each, but 1 or 2 tend to be primary.

It occurred to me today that this may be what is at issue in some of our discussions as a nation. We speak to others assuming that what motivates me, makes me feel valued, or gives me satisfaction will be the same the same items that work for others.  Like in a bad marriage, we keep trying to get the other to respond based on OUR list of motivating factors ... and get frustrated when they do not react how we would.  There must be something wrong with them.

For example, I am a teacher.  A common conservative solution to our educational struggles is to tie teacher pay to student test scores.  My conservative friends assume pay will motivate teachers to get the students to score better because, after all, pay is what lights THEIR fire.

However, I can never seem to convince them that this will have pretty much zero effect.  Although I need a paycheck, that is not what MOTIVATES me.  Let's face it, if pay were what motivated me, teaching was a poor choice for a profession.

So in many ways, we struggle to relate to one another as citizens as some people do in a marriage.  We repeat our arguments and solutions over and over again... louder and louder....

...not realizing that we are, at times, speaking entirely different languages.

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