The third Love Language is Receiving Gifts. This one is easy to grasp, but it sometimes gets a bad rap because to some people it smacks of materialism. In fact, a person whose Love Language is Receiving Gifts may or may not be materialistic, just the same as anyone else. There is a big difference between giving a gift to someone for whom it is the primary way of receiving love and giving a gift to someone who is out for material gain.
What Are Gifts About?
The dictionary definition of materialism is “a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.” For a materialistic person, items received as gifts are about themselves: how much they have, what they own, what they can show off to others, etc. But for someone who needs gifts to feel loved, the item received itself is by no means the most important part; rather, it is the meaning it holds for the relationship. A simple gift that speaks to your connection with your partner will mean much more than an expensive one that does not.
What do I mean by this? If your fiancée loses her favorite water bottle and you show up the next day with a new one, that is a significant gift, though probably not an expensive one. It shows that you pay attention to her, know what she likes, and consider her needs. By contrast, buying her the newest laptop may not make a big impression if she is not very computer-savvy. Someone whose primary vehicle for receiving love is a gift does not need for that gift to be costly or ostentatious for it to hit the mark. You don’t have to buy your spouse a car or a diamond ring or a new smartphone to communicate your love. That’s not what it’s about. A gift can be anything that shows you love your partner. “It’s the thought that counts” is really true here!
What Counts as a Gift?
Since the cost is essentially irrelevant, there is really a wide range of things you can offer that count as a gift; many of them don’t need to be bought at all. Certainly, some of them do – the water bottle is a good example of that, as are plain old gifts you think someone would like – a new shirt, a smart watch, a favorite CD. Just getting something new is nice sometimes. These gifts, of course, are much better when tailored to the recipient. Knowing your partner’s favorite band (especially if he hasn’t told you) says to him that he’s important to you – he takes up space in your mental hard drive – and that is the message that a gift so powerfully sends. Getting the style of shirt that she loves tells her you pay attention to her and what’s important to her.
Because these are the messages you are looking to send, virtually anything can count as a gift. If you attend a reception and bring home a cookie for your girlfriend because you thought of her, that is a real gift, no less than a shirt or a CD. If your husband has been complaining that his feet hurt and you buy a pair of comfy insoles, that can be very meaningful, unglamorous as they may be.
Certainly, a handmade gift can mean a lot – a painting or sculpture from someone artistic, or even a nice handwritten card from someone who isn’t. They speak loudly of your love, and remain as a tangible reminder of it long after they’ve been given. Even things that won’t last long and that take little effort can count in the right context – a flower picked from the side of the trail you’re hiking on, or a stone from the beach you visited together.
As you can see, a gift can come with a lot of emotional power. If your partner is a Receiving Gifts person, use this post as a springboard to get creative and come up with things that will be meaningful to him. Try to get out of the mindset that a gift is about what you spend (a message that our highly commercial culture puts out there loudly); a real gift is not a financial investment but an emotional one.
Learn more about our couples counseling services here, or book an appointment today!