Thursday, June 30, 2011

Character Development - Love Languages

Have you ever read the book “The Five Love Languages” written by Gary Chapman?  It’s a really interesting read.  I read it some years ago and ascertained that my love language is “Words of Affirmation”.  The other love languages are Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.  There is even a section related to identifying your children’s love languages.  (If you’re having trouble connecting with your kids, maybe you’re not speaking their language!)

It was Marriage Enrichment Sunday at our church this past Sunday and it got me thinking about the love languages.  Marriage Enrichment Sunday is an opportunity to stand in front of the church as a couple and restate your vows.  It’s done as a group, meaning all the married couples have the opportunity to come to the front of the church, or just stand in front of their seats, and gaze into the eyes of their spouse and repeat after the pastor and renew their vows to each other and to God.  It might sound hokey, but it’s very touching, and more than one person tends to tear up.  Last year I cried during it and made the organist cry since she just happened to be watching my husband and I renew our vows.  

According to the book, we should understand the love language of the people we love and show our love to them through the language that they speak.  My love language is Words of Affirmation, but my husband’s is Quality Time.  So, to show my love for him, I wouldn’t necessarily tell him what a great job he’s doing painting the deck rails, I would sit out on the deck to keep him company while he paints.  He doesn’t need to hear that he’s doing a good job; he just wants me to hang out with him.  This I can do, and did do on Saturday.  (I admit that I also told him he was doing a good job, I couldn’t help myself.) 

My love language is a tough one for me.  I crave words of affirmation so much but rarely believe it when they are bestowed.  What’s up with that?  It’s just stupid, but it’s true.  In my opinion, it’s just that the people who need words of affirmation don’t think they deserve them.  That’s why they desire them.  So when they’re given, it makes the person doubt.  It’s really a silly catch-22.  And in fact, words of affirmation are hard to come by sometimes.  I give people words of affirmation a lot; because it’s what I wish people would do for me.  But it might not be their love language.  Words of affirmation for a writer don’t always happen very often either.  It’s not an instant gratification type of life.

In fact, writing seems to be contrary to several of these love languages.  Writing tends to be a solitary endeavor, so Quality Time and Physical Touch tends to go out the window when the writer is writing.  And then of course, providing gifts or acts of service tend to be forgotten when you’re deep into your story.  And lastly, you get tons of rejections which are definitely not words of affirmation.

So where do the love languages come into play for the writer while crafting the ms?  The love languages need to be a part of your characters.  If your characters don’t ring true, if they seem to be shallow, it might be because they are not behaving according to their love language or the love language of the other characters in the story.  This is just another facet of consistency for the character.  The building of the characters’ depth.  How would your character behave in a certain situation?  What would they think if something particular happened?  What do they need the other characters to do when the MC is in a certain situation? 

Do you believe the love languages play a role in character development?  How have you expressed the love languages in your story and in your life?  Share with us by commenting!


cherie said...

Wow, I didn't know about love languages. What an interesting concept! Plus, how sweet that you and your husband got to renew your vows. Good post, Kellie!