COLUMN: Counting the ways to express your affection

Love is more than a four letter word

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Biblical words seen on a billboard in Arizona remind us of the real meaning of love as we celebrate another Valentine’s Day.

By the time you read this column, Valentine’s Day will have come and gone but the importance of love will hopefully linger.

Love is not about rushing to the florist and buying some overpriced roses and a sappy card on Feb. 14. We don’t need Mr. Hallmark telling us how and when to express our feelings for someone we care about.

There are so many other ways to express our love for someone. Let me count the ways.

First, buying those aforementioned roses on a rainy Tuesday in November, for no particular reason, is a sure-fire way to express one’s affection.

As is buying a corsage for one’s love on her birthday, knowing she never attended her high school graduation and therefore has never received a corsage.

Cooking for her creates a direct link from her stomach to her heart, believe me. This is not exclusive territory for men. Mango teriyaki salmon or beef bourguignon are two guaranteed recipes for love.

Walking hand-in-hand on a deserted Hawaiian beach for hours without the need to speak.

Him watching Downton Abbey with her without complaining and her reciprocating by going to see the latest Star Wars movie with him.

Telling her how lovely she looks, making sure not to say, “You look fine.”

Giving her a bear hug, cuddling in bed and expressing physical love in a fun and playful way.

These are examples of creating and maintaining a loving and healthy relationship.

In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman summarizes this nicely.

He says the five languages of love are:

l. Words of affirmation – using words to build up the other person. “Thanks for taking out the garbage.” Not – “It’s about time you took the garbage out.”

2. Gifts – a gift says, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.”

3. Acts of service – doing something for your spouse that you know they would like.

4. Quality time – by which I mean, giving your spouse your undivided attention.

5. Physical touch – holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse, are all expressions of love.

Out of these five, each of you has a primary love language which speaks more deeply to you than all the others. Discovering each other’s language and speaking it regularly is the best way to keep love alive in a marriage or relationship.

For me, I think acts of service are the most important.

I am confident a close friend of mine would agree. She recently underwent months of chemotherapy and radiation for dreaded cancer. Her partner demonstrated his love and devotion by the hour in his selfless care and concern for her. Now that is love which is indeed patient and kind and a testament to true love.

I can think of another way to test true love, though.

Going on a long road trip with your beloved with its resultant arguments.

As the navigator, missing the turnoff to Sacramento.

Him insisting on having the air conditioning on in the car while she shivers.

Choosing high-carb fast food lunch instead of a healthier choice.

The stress of driving in heavy traffic in a strange environment.

But having survived all that, we arrive at our destination and my beloved asks, “May I make you a martini with a lemon twist?

Martini with a twist…now that spells love that is patient and kind.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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