We may be nearing Valentine’s Day but this is a year round story about the people we love and the ways we say I love you.
For so many of us, nothing says 'I love you' like a nice dinner out with our partner or a family meal with everyone gathered around. Traditions of date nights with wine, three courses or receiving boxes of chocolates certainly look different after weight loss surgery, and family dinners can become an overeating and unhealthy food danger zone.
How can we continue to show our love and appreciation for our loved ones without food being the focus and still find meaningful ways to show our affection?
We can begin by asking the question, “What does this meal/date/dinner really get for me?”
The answer in most cases is connection, quality time, sharing, getting dressed up and, if the cook, recognition or appreciation.
These are all positive aspects that we want to hold on to. We all have different preferences or favourite ways of both receiving and giving love and achieving these same experiences, so it can be incredibly helpful to understand what is important to you and your loved one/s. Let’s take a look:
The 5 Love Languages (by Gary Chapman)
1. Words of Affirmation
Compliments, words of encouragement/appreciation/acknowledgement, verbally saying I love you or written in a card
2. Quality Time
Undivided attention (not vying for attention from sports, news, movies, Netflix), time spent doing things together such as activities or time for communication
3. Receiving Gifts
A gift says “I was thinking of you” or “I remembered you liked that.” It doesn’t matter the cost it’s about the thought behind it and an expression of love.
4. Acts of Service
Doing things you know your partner would like to do, or like you to do, without them asking. It could even be solving a an ongoing issue or completing tasks that take planning, effort and creativity. Done with a positive spirit, these are all acts of love.
5. Physical Touch
Physical touch is a great way of communicating emotional love. This can be both sexual and non-sexual touch. It could be as simple as sitting close on the couch, holding hands, stroking hair, or even massage.
Once you can understand why the dinner out or family gathering is really important, it can be a lot easier to create new rituals and traditions.
Instead of food being the focus of the occasion, try:
- Exploring a new location such as a park, beach or bush walk
- Creating a new hobby together such as golf, tennis, biking, hiking or walking
- Planning a home movie night with your favourite films
Instead of food being the focus of gifts, try:
- Taking a nice photo and printing it out each year
- Writing love notes
- Putting it towards a family holiday or long weekend surprise
It’s great to get clear on ways to say I love you, and the ways your partner likes to receive love too. You can even use this same idea to focus on giving yourself more of what you need too!