I had a thought provoking experience a few weeks ago. In a couple’s therapy session, a client turned to me (after arguing with her husband for a few minutes), and said, looking for confirmation: “the greatest gift you can give someone is your undivided attention.” It felt poetic! It sounded true, at least worth arguing about! I thought about it for a while after the session. As a marriage therapist, it is important to know what the greatest gifts you can give to one another truly are! The other interesting part that stayed with me was that her husband did not seem to agree…
So, I decided to put it to the test. I started asking others what they thought about the concept of undivided attention. Some people’s eyes would light up like a Christmas tree and would whole-heartedly agree with the statement. However, others would seem to be unaffected by it, receiving it with a “ho-hum” response, if anything at all. Surely, the greatest gift for that client was undivided attention, and she is not the only one! However, it appears that others would fill in the end of that sentence with a different response: “The Greatest Gift You Could Give Me is _______________.” How would you fill in the blank?
Gary Chapman’s seminal concept of the five love languages isn’t necessarily conclusive or all encompassing, but it does give us a framework of understanding that different gifts and expressions of love can be more or less meaningful, depending on the person. He describes that the five basic love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. For further descriptions of examples of these love languages, see his website www.5lovelanguages.com. Comically, but importantly, the description of Quality Time on the site states: “this language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.”
When it comes to connecting with your spouse, or even other loved ones, it can be tremendously valuable to know your own love language and the love language of others. Everyone has their own unique blend of the five languages that are important to them, based on their history and current needs. A back scratch, a Chik-fil-e gift card, a short love letter (maybe even on paper), or scrubbing a dirty bathroom can be just as meaningful to others as undivided attention. No love language is more important than another, but knowing which one applies most meaningfully to your significant others is crucial.
So, in conclusion, what is the greatest gift you can give someone? The greatest gift you can give someone is the one that would mean the most to them!