Posted by: Mike Willoughby | August 18, 2011

How do you say Love? (Part 2)

Is your native love language Quality Time?  If not, I’ll bet there is someone close to you who speaks Quality Time particularly if you have children at home.  If there is one mandatory love language everyone should learn, it should be Quality Time!

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages primarily to help married couples discover the love language they should speak to each other.  This discovery process can help married couples restore troubled marriages and make good marriages great – if they are willing to invest in their marriages by learning to fluently speak the love language of their spouse!  I believe the concepts in The Five Love Languages apply to other loving relationships such as parent/child.  As I said last week, I believe my willingness to put others first and truly selflessly invest in my relationship is the key to success in all my loving relationships.

In discussing a relationship where the other person speaks Quality Time, Dr. Chapman focuses on two main objectives:

  • Learning to give Focused Attention to the Quality Time speaker in your life and
  • Learning to participate in High Quality Conversation with Quality Time speakers

Since I am not a native Quality Time love language speaker, I’ve had to continually work on speaking this love language to the Quality Time speakers in my life including my wife, Kristal. Each of my children also spoke Quality Time as young kids.  I believe all young children begin speaking this love language at an early age and then later they may develop a different primary love language.  That is why I think it is so critical that parents learn to speak Quality Time especially fathers for whom this love language my not come naturally.

Giving focused attention to another person frequently requires advance planning.  When I plan ahead to devote focused attention to the Quality Time speakers in my life, it is a precious gift to them that says “I love you” straight to his or her heart!  Part of the planning involves selecting an activity that the other person enjoys.  Over time, I have discovered activities that my wife and my kids each individually enjoys in which I can participate and through my participation say, “I love you.” For my wife, these activities include romantic dinners, drives in the country, long weekend get-aways and nights sitting in our outdoor kitchen catching up after a long day.  For my kids, these activities have included Boy Scout events and projects, sports activities, car shows, model building, time horsing around in the pool and spending time at the shooting range.  For me, the unexpected bonus was learning to enjoy some activities that I wouldn’t have naturally chosen to do.  Kristal and I are also prioritizing family vacations and saying “I love you” to our kids in this way.  I’ll have more to say about family vacations next week!

Giving focused attention also requires deliberation especially for a guy who only operates on one channel (like me).  If I’m going to tune my one channel to someone, I’d better be deliberate or run the risk of drifting off into The Zone.  I’m certain all you wives have seen The Zone!  It usually happens when your husband is in front of the TV with his one channel locked onto the screen.  We can nod our head in affirmation of the words leaving your mouth but no meaning is registered in our brains.  If I’m going to give my wife or kids focused attention, I have to switch off the input competing for my attention and switch on to just them. They see right through any attempt on my part to multi-task which is offensive to the Quality Time Speaker.

Once you have created a time of focused attention, you have to engage in quality conversation.  It’s not enough for a Quality Time speaker to just “be together” with the one they love – there needs to be quality conversation. Obviously, trivial chit-chat doesn’t cut it either.  This has always been especially challenging for me.  I think I have about five thousand words to use up in an average day and most days when I get off work, I’m in the hole a couple thousand words!  On days like this, I have to suppress my selfish desire to sink into my recliner and conserve words,  Instead, I have to intentionally chose to make investment in my Quality Time speaking loved ones by engaging in quality conversation.  The benefit is always worth the effort!

Quality conversation also benefits from advance planning.  Just as it’s important to find activities of common interest for focused attention, it’s also important to find topics of common interest for quality conversation.  This takes effort on your part to bone up on areas of interest for your loved ones. This process might take you out of your comfort zone but your investment in your Quality Time speaker will speak straight to his or her heart.

If you need help recognizing Quality Time speakers in your life, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Five Love Languages.  For those of you with obvious Quality Time speakers in your life, say “I love you” by giving them some focused attention and sharing quality conversation with them this week.

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Copyright © 2011 Michael Willoughby. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to author and/or owner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Mike thanks for the reminder about the Love Languages. I think it’s a good idea to review these with your spouse regularly to see how you are doing and what you can do better. There is always room for improvement. Best wishes!

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