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Love Language #4 – Acts of Service

The author of The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman, learned a lot early in his career by teaching a couple about Love Language #4 – Acts of Service. Acts of service means doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. Often times it’s little things you don’t realize are important to them, such as cooking, doing dishes, vacuuming, washing the car, taking out the trash, cleaning the toilet, raising the lid on the toilet… ok I’m digressing. The fact of the matter is Jesus himself set the example of how to show love through acts of service when he washed the feet of the disciples, so I’d say it’s a pretty significant love language.

Now for those of you who have actually read the book and know a man who fits the story Gary Chapman is sharing… a big OUCH for those guys. I’ve been guilty of working too much or occasionally playing too much b-ball, and those are wrong too, but I’ve seen guys in to hunting and fishing so much their wife might as well claim widow status. Anyway, I will refrain from getting on that tangent.

What happens to most of us is during the in-love obsession (see earlier 5LL posts) we just naturally spend more time and energy helping each other and doing things for each other. Then when we get married we form expectations of what our spouse should do for us, and those expectations are often based on the example we grew up with from our parents. When those things don’t happen both sides begin to resent or demand things and before you know it you’re arguing about stuff that doesn’t matter and not agreeing on much of anything. Love is a choice. Demands and criticism drive a wedge between you, so just choose to love our spouse in the way they request to be loved and they will probably be willing to do the same for you. You might think you’ve been doing things as acts of service, but you have to do the right things that your spouse considers the most important.

Gary Chapman recommends making a list of about 4 requests you have for your spouse – things that communicate love to you. Talk about the lists, agree that they are do-able, then choose to do the list out of love – it is a choice. Try the original list for two months then add one per month until you’re getting so much acts of service love you can’t think of anything else to add…

Now I can hear some guy now arguing ‘I ain’t gone wash no dishes’ or some chick saying ‘I don’t take out the trash’ because that is not what men/women do. Male/female stereotypes that were developed in the good ole days are long gone. Some of them still linger because we learned from our parents, but these days the chances of your spouse having the same perception are much slimmer than when our parents got married. So you’ve got to be willing to change those stereotypes in your mind and do things out of love for your spouse because that’s what makes them feel loved whether you feel manly or princessy or not. Shawna loves it when I wash the dishes and I certainly feel loved when she helps me with the yard work (she rides the mower and I use the weed-eater). I used to feel bad for her to help but then I realized how much time it saves me so it is valuable and important to me, plus I like that we’re both dirty and have to get cleaned up afterward. Uhh, I’m digressing again.

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