Actions like cooking a meal, setting a table, washing dishes, vacuuming, taking out the garbage, moving the grass, changing the cat’s litter tray, etc are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.
Within every language, there are many dialects. If you have a spouse with Acts of Service as her primary love language, find the specific things she would like to you help her with by asking her. If you are the person with that specific love language, make a list for your spouse with the things that would help you most.
Remember: love is always freely given. Love cannot be demanded. Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.
Learning the love language of acts of service will require some of us to re-examine out stereotypes of the roles of husbands and wives. Our actions are influenced by the model of our parents, our own personality, and our perception of love, our emotions, needs, and desires. Only one thing is certain about our behaviour: It will not be the same behaviour we exhibited when we were caught up being ‘in love’.
A willingness to examine and change stereotypes is necessary in order to express love more effectively. Remember, there are no rewards for maintaining stereotypes, but there are tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your spouse.
If your spouse’s love language is ACTS OF SERVICE:
- Make a list of all the requests your spouse has made of you over the past few weeks. Select one of these each week and do it as an expression of love.
- Cut out some heart-shaped note cards and print the following: “Today I will show my love for you by…” Complete the sentence with one of the following: mowing the lawn, vacuuming the floor, washing the dishes, taking the dog for a walk, feeding the baby, etc. Give your spouse the love note accompanied by the act of service every three days for a month.
- Ask your spouse to make a list of ten things he or she would like for you to do during the next month. Then ask your spouse to prioritize those by numbering them 1-10, with 1 being the most important and 10 being least important. Use this list to plan your strategy for a month of love. (Get ready to live with a happy spouse.)
- While your spouse is away, get the children to help you with some act of service for him. When he walks in the door, join the children in shouting “Surprise! We love you!” Then share your act of service.
- What one act of service has your spouse nagged about consistently? Why not decide to see the nag as a tag? Your spouse is tagging this as really important to him or her. If you choose to do it as an expression of love, it is worth more than a thousand roses.
- If your spouse’s requests for act of service come across as nags or put-downs, try writing them in words that would be less offensive to you. Share this revised wording with your spouse. For example, “Honey, I love you so much. You are a hardworking man and I really appreciate you. I’d love to thank you in advance for mowing the lawn this week before Thursday when Mary and Bob come over for dinner.” Your husband might even respond: “Where is the lawn mower, I can’t wait!” Try it and see.
- Do some major acts of service like washing the car, cooking a meal, painting a bedroom, or washing the deck, and then post a sign that reads, “To (spouse’s name) with love,” and sign your name.
- If you have more money then time, hire someone to do the acts of service that you know your spouse would like for you to do, such as the lawn, the housecleaning, the car washing, the laundry. If you take the responsibility for getting it done, you will be speaking love even when you are away.
- Ask you spouse to tell you the daily acts of service that would really speak love to him or her. These might include such things as putting your dirty clothes in the hamper, getting the hairs out of the sink, hanging up your clothes at night, closing the door when you go outside, preparing a meal, and washing the dishes. Seek to work these into your daily schedule. “Little things” really do mean a lot.
- Periodically ask your spouse, “If I could do one special act of service this week, what would you request?” If possible, do it and watch your spouse’s love tank fill up!