Have you ever read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman?
It's a good read. It talks about all the different "languages" or ways that we give and receive love. Often you show love to others in the way you want to receive love. The five are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Nothing is universal but I think it's a good resource for marriage and even parenting because it helps you understand your partner or kids better. It helps you understand how they understand love and better ways to show them love.
I remember a time when my dad cleaned our house for my mom, and she didn't really notice, and he was upset because he was trying to be thoughtful and show her love by doing something nice for her. But that wasn't my moms love language, it was my dads. Eventually she realized that when my dad served her like this, he was trying to show her his love, and she could appreciate that. They also started to learn how to put effort into showing love in the way that meant the most to the other.
Honestly though, I think most people like all of the love languages in the right setting. We just tend to have a dominant one.
My love language is gifts. I hate telling people that because everyone thinks that gifts is the selfish, materialistic one. "Gift people" just want stuff and you have to spend lots of money on them. This couldn't be further from the truth for me.
I think anyone whose gotten to know me figures out that gifts are my love language pretty early on. I love to give gifts. I want time to put thought into them, personalize them. I want to know you well enough to get you something you will love or something that will mean something to you.
As far as receiving gifts, expense has nothing to do with it. I love letters and cards. I would cherish a leaf or a rock if it had sentiment and a good story behind it. I love flowers. I love sharing meals. I love homemade things, books, trinkets found in thrift stores and at yard sales. But you have to really know a person before you can find things that remind you of them, or you know they'd love.
I'm going to use Margaret from Nightingale Handmade as an example. She recently posted about decorating her screened-in porch noting all the different elements that for the most part were thrifted or gifted. Her dad picked up crates off the side of the road because he knew she would love them and she did! She used them as side tables and they look pretty awesome. I love that. He saw something, thought of her, and took the time to pick them up. No currency was involved yet it was a great gift!
It seems like most people hate giving gifts. How do you know what to get someone? So much pressure! And even more so when you know that person is a "gift person." I sometimes wish I could just made a list of all the things I love for people who have no clue what gift to get me, but I never will. As much as I love giving and receiving I never want to be the person who wants "stuff." That's just not me. I don't really care if I get anything at all for my birthday. I don't want to be hurt when I don't receive a gift...because at the end of the day...it's not really important. Love is shown in so many ways, and time spent together is more precious. And to be honest, having gifts come only rarely makes them that much more treasured.
Gift giving...it's kind of an art, isn't it?