By Annette Griffin, Crosswalk.com
Love and time have always enjoyed a strong relationship. Love makes our time more fulfilling, and time seasons our love—giving it depth and meaning. It’s no wonder then that Dr. Gary Chapman joins the two by listing quality time as one of the big five in his bestselling book The Five Love Languages. But is the Quality Time love language a dialect that has become more difficult to speak—and hear—in our noisy world?
In What Are The Five Love Languages, Brittany Rust explains that Quality Time is not just about being in the same room with someone. “The quality time love language is focused, undivided and uninterrupted attention, despite busyness and business.” And therein lies the challenge. Distraction is the enemy of attention.
Our culture is on a mission to provide purposeful distractions to fill every spare moment, and we’ve readily embraced them. We tend to scroll during lulls in conversation, click or swipe at the prompt of every ping, and are quick to interrupt life so that we can post about it. In light of this, how can we resist the lure of distraction, to show love to others—especially those who speak Quality Time as their primary love language?
What Are the Five Love Languages?
According to Dr. Chapman, in Languages of Love, “Each of us speaks and understands a unique love language that makes it easy for us to feel loved. If you try to communicate using only your native language, it may be foreign to your husband or wife. To be understood, you need to know - and speak - your spouse's language.”
Although Dr. Chapman’s original book, written 30 years ago and acclaimed ever since focused on the relationship of marriage—the five love language pillars can be applied to any relationship that requires mutual understanding and respect. In John 13:34 Jesus gives us a new command. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
God’s love can shine brightly through us when we humble ourselves and love others in ways that speak to them personally. Here’s a breakdown of the five love languages:
Words of Affirmation
Uplifting and encouraging words enrich the hearts of those whose love language is Words of Affirmation. If this is you, you receive love best through verbal or written communication. A heartfelt card, email, or text means more to you than anything more tangible. You tend to listen closely during personal conversations and hang on every word so that you can store those words in your heart as a treasure. To you, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” Proverbs 16:24.
Acts of Service
If you believe that actions speak louder than words, or a helpful act of kindness makes you feel valued then Acts of Service may be your love language. This love language treasures the investment of energy on the part of the giver. When someone goes out of their way to complete a task for your benefit you feel loved. These acts don’t have to be grand gestures. Sometimes a small act, in response to a deep need, goes a long way. “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'” Matthew 25:35-36.
A warm embrace, holding hands, a gentle kiss, and more intimate gestures of affection speak to your heart if your love language is Physical Touch. All humans have an innate desire to connect through physical touch. “Studies show that touch is a powerful way to convey meaning to another person, and that we interpret touch by way of who it is that is doing the touching,” says Dr. David B. Hawkins in Why Your Marriage Needs Physical Touch. But if Physical Touch is your love language this need may run deeper for you. You feel cared for when others reach across a void of space and offer a piece of themselves to bridge the gap. “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed” Mark 1:41 (NKJV).
Tokens of affection are much more than material objects if your love language is Receiving Gifts. They are a symbol—tangible evidence that you are loved. Whether it’s an ornately wrapped present of great monetary value or your favorite candy bar tossed to you from across the room, makes no difference. The knowledge that someone went to the effort, thought, or expense of buying or making a special treat—just for you—makes you feel cherished. “Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother” Genesis 24:53.
If above all else, you crave one-on-one time with your loved one Quality Time is probably your primary love language. Quality time doesn’t have to involve a long weekend getaway. “Something as simple as … playing board games or cooking a meal together can go a long way toward strengthening the bond between you,” explains Betsey St. Amant Haddox in 10 Little Things All Healthy Couples Do Each Day. If Quality Time is your love language you feel valued when others purposefully set aside everything else to devote time to connect with you in meaningful ways. “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”Luke 19:5.
What Does Quality Time Look Like?
At first glance, the definition of quality time seems like a no-brainer, but the concept gets more complicated when you consider that the word time—when used in the context of a love language—isn’t always measured by the hands of a clock.
The age-old debate about quality time vs. quantity time got a reboot in 2020. “For many, the ‘new normal’ is for both the husband and wife to work from home as their children attend school over the internet. Daily, parents across the nation juggle the obligations of working from home, running the household, refereeing arguments between siblings who are spending way too much time together, and figuring out how to get kids logged back into their Zoom class, all while trying to decipher Common Core math. It’s enough to make a grown-up cry, and it’s no wonder that even couples who are spending all of their time together are getting no actual ‘alone’ time to focus on their marriage,” observes Dolores Smyth in 9 Romantic Ways to Get the Quality Time You Need, Even during COVID
Sheltering in place has shown us more clearly than ever that it’s possible to be physically together for hours on end, without sharing one minute of quality time. Similarly, the quarantine has demonstrated that, through the aid of technology, genuine togetherness can be experienced even when we’re physically apart. Why? Because quality time equals undivided attention.
What Does the Bible Say about Quality Time?
During his ministry on earth, Jesus did a great job of showing us exactly what the Quality Time love language looks like in action. He left the comforts of Heaven to be Immanuel—God with us. (Matthew 1:23) He initiated invitations and enjoyed leisurely meals with the sinners He came to save. (Mark 2:15), He was fully present and did not allow busyness, chaos, conflict—or even His own physical needs to distract him from intentional moments of connection (Mark 5:31-34, John 4, Matthew 19:14, Luke 23:43). Jesus recognized the needs of those He loved. When He sensed they were overwhelmed, He purposefully called them away from the crowds to a private place where they could be alone with Him to rest. (Mark 6:31) He dedicated distraction-free time each day to connect with the Father (Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:18,28, Luke 11:1, Matthew 26:36-45; Mark 14:32-41; Luke 22:39-46).
How Do You Love Somebody Whose Love Language is Quality Time?
Even though we live in a much different culture than Jesus did, we can still glean from His example. Here are a few ways we can resist the lure of distraction and love others through Quality Time as Jesus did:
Initiate an invitation to enjoy a meal or walk together. Part of the gift you give someone who values Quality Time is letting them know that you took the time—ahead of time—to plan togetherness and make it special.
Don’t let what’s urgent distract you from what’s important
Put away your phone. Our phones can be tools that bring us together or drive us apart. The choice is ours. In 4 Signs Your Phone Is Stealing Your Soul During Quarantine Heather Riggleman asks these probing questions: “What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you roll over and kiss your spouse? Or do you grab your phone and start scrolling through social media or checking emails? Or what about this scenario: Your kids ask you a question, you reply, ‘Yeah, uh-huh just a second.’ They pester repeatedly but get the same response.”
Jesus may not have faced the same tech temptations we do, but he lived in a world full of people competing for his attention. Hordes of seekers constantly followed Him—begging for healing, hope, and truth. It was for them that Jesus had come, but He could have ministered around the clock and still not satisfied the voracious demands of all the people.
Where did Jesus draw the line? He had a mission, He stuck to that mission, and that mission guided him past the urgent to the important. If your mission is to spend Quality Time with the ones you love, choose to guard that time together. Set aside any device, thought, person, or project that might capture your attention during that time. Make a choice to be fully present.
Recognize others’ needs and cater your time together to meet those needs
Quality Time doesn’t always have to be spent in deep, meaningful conversation. That would be exhausting. Remember, Quality Time is more about attention than activity. If your loved one feels weary or overwrought one of the most loving things you can do is to call them apart for the purpose of resting and relaxing together.
Dedicate time together that you and your loved one can count on
Whether it’s setting up regular date nights for you and your spouse, a weekly parent-child outing, or even a routine coffee date with friends or family—the steady, reliable, and scheduled allotment of time between you and your loved one is considered Quality Time. The anticipation of those appointments can breathe hope into a hectic week and will be a lovely reminder to those who speak Quality Time that they meant enough to you to occupy a regular space on your calendar.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Annette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.