People often take advantage of special occasions to show affection and love like how lovers would celebrate Valentine’s Day. However, people should celebrate and show their affection to their loved ones more often, including families. In fact, exchanging affection with other people, especially family members, should be part of everyone’s everyday life. But, as life happens and people have different degrees of openness with affection, they might not always be in tune with their own and their loved ones’ needs for affection.
People have different love languages and apply that to all kinds of relationships they experience; they show love in different ways and, in turn, feel loved in different ways as well. Similarly, it is also important to learn the love language between spouses, parent and child, and siblings. Individually, being able to speak the love language of each family member will make them feel loved and can also improve their well-being. As a collective, understanding each other’s love languages helps strengthen family relationships and enables everyone to love and communicate better.
Five ways families can express love to one another
You can invite your families to try these ways of expressing love and care towards each other:
- Prepare and share a special meal. There is nothing that brings a family closer better than a shared meal. Creating a special dish for certain occasions with your family is one way to go about it. In fact, a US-based company called The Little Potato had a survey done and revealed that cooking is one of America’s love languages, and more than two-thirds of the respondents choose cooking as their favorite way to spend time with their family. Also, having meals together as a family routine every day serves many benefits, including boosting a child’s language skills, strengthening family bonds, and improving family health.
- Exchange cards. Ask your families to prepare cards to express love for different people in the family on every special occasion and exchange cards after dinner. Cards can also be created for loved ones who are residing elsewhere, like grandparents or other extended family members, and be sent through mail or by utilizing other electronic means. If you have young children, invite them to create and decorate the cards together. This can be a moment to teach them a simple yet meaningful way to express affection as it tells the person that you took your time to make something for them.
- Exchange gifts. Giving each other a gift is also a way you can celebrate love with your family. Similar to exchanging cards, the act of giving meaningful gifts can also let your family know that you love them. Research done by Ed O’Brien and Samantha Kassirer supports this and finds that families can also benefit from this as giving to others brings lasting happiness.
- Show and turn towards physical affection. Even though people have different love languages, it is found that physical affection (e.g., holding hands, hugging) is a consensus among people regarding behaviors that make them feel loved. This suggests that it is important to show love through physical affection towards family members. While some families shy away from having physical contact due to reasons such as embarrassment or fear of rejection, giving a simple hug or kiss on the cheek will let your family know immediately that they are loved.
- Say “I love you”. As simple as it sounds, saying these three words out loud to other family members can be difficult. It could be the feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment, or losing their significance if spoken too often that stop people from expressing their love verbally. Even though actions speak louder than words, it would not hurt to do it and let your families know your feelings.