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Woman holding a bouquet of flowers she was given as a gift

Recall the most memorable present you've received and the emotions it stirred within you towards the giver.

On the other hand, have you ever unwrapped a gift and felt disconnected from the giver, thinking they hardly knew you?

Both situations are likely familiar, highlighting that the value of a gift lies in the thought and sentiment behind it, rather than its price tag.

Today we’re going to dig a little deeper into the Receiving Gifts Love Language and dispel the common stereotype that these people are materialistic.

Let’s dive in!

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A Love Languages recap

We’ve been going over The 5 Love Languages for 5 weeks now! But maybe you’re just joining us today! In that case, here is a short synopsis of the book:

Gary Chapman, a marriage and family counselor and author, identified 5 main ways that people give and receive love, which he explains in his book The 5 Love Languages. He explains how learning to speak your partner's love language is crucial for their emotional security in the relationship.

Our emotional gauge of how well we are being loved is our "love tank," which can be depleted by neglect or love expressed in a way that does not resonate with us. Something hurtful, neglectful or not in our love language can cause a withdrawal from our love tank. The deposits come when our spouse clearly communicates their love to us in a way that we can relate to and understand.

Check out our post, The Power of Love Language Loving, for a more detailed summary and review of the book.

We’re breaking down all 5 love languages into easily understood details and actionable ways you can express them right away. We also include a few behaviors you should avoid that make deep withdrawals from your spouse’s love tank.

We’ve explained Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch and Acts of Service. We will end our series on Receiving Gifts.

What is Receiving Gifts?

A gift is a tangible way you say I’m thinking of you. The receiver not only thinks of you every time they see or use your gift, but they also get to remember how good it felt that you were thinking of them when you picked it out.

Dr. Chapman, who has traveled the globe doing anthropological research notes that he has experienced gift giving as a love representation everywhere he’s gone. He says, “From early years, children are inclined to give gifts to their parents, which may be another indication that gift giving is fundamental to love.”

Loving gifts can bring the misconception of being materialistic or high maintenance, but that is a misunderstanding of this Love Language. Sure, some gifts may be more expensive or elaborate than others, but the gift is a visual symbol of your love. When you put effort into what you give, it could be as simple as a picked flower from the yard. It really doesn’t matter if it’s free because for a Receiving Gifts Love Language, it’s the meaning that counts.

Check out our 15 ways you can love your spouse through Receiving Gifts. (Download a printable version here)

Hands holding a small gift wrapped box

15 ways to love through Receiving Gifts

  1. Think meaningful

    It’s not just about the giving of a gift, it’s about the thought behind it. So when you’re weighing out what to give your spouse, meaningful gifts are the way to go. Size and expense are no comparison to showing them that you were thinking of them.

  2. Mementos

    Going along with meaningful, gifting them your collection of every movie ticket stub from your dates over the years will make a big impact. Something that brings up great memories is an excellent choice.

  3. Knowing their favorites

    Pull out your notes app and jot down several of your spouse’s favorites. You can pick up their favorite snack when you’re getting gas. You could bring home their favorite flowers or have their favorite meal delivered on a particularly stressful day. If they have a favorite lotion scent or cologne they wear, grab it for them when they’re running low.

  4. Bring home a souvenir when you travel without them

    It can be lonely to be left home when your spouse is away on a work trip or on a retreat weekend with their friend group. It’s a special gesture to bring them home a little trinket. It shows them that even though you were out enjoying yourself, you still took the time to think of them.

  5. Surprise them with flowers (or another favorite) when they’re not feeling well

    It stinks to get sick. Work falls behind, housework piles up - it can be stressful just thinking of all the catch up you’ll have to do when you’re better. Bringing home a “favorite” can be just the pick up they need to focus on their healing.

  6. Make a mixtape…I mean playlist

    Songs from a special occasion, romantic songs, songs that make you think of them…any sort of playlist! The fact that you made it and put thought into it is the key! (I am a proud elder-millennial who definitely waited next to my stereo with my finger on the record button, IYKYK)

  7. Bring them lunch at work

    Show up and take them to lunch. You could even have a picnic at their desk. These little treats can be a welcome escape from the work day.

  8. Give greeting cards

    Do you have a friend who has a box of every card or note someone has ever written to them? This may seem like a Words of Affirmation idea, but these physical cards portray beauty and meaning that you didn’t have to write. The greeting card is the symbol of your feelings for them.

  9. Concert tickets, theater tickets, sport tickets

    If you know their team is in town or that play they’ve always wanted to see is touring, get them tickets and go together. This could even be a two-fer especially if YOU value Quality Time!

  10. Home decor

    You share a home that you want to be comfortable and reflect your lives together. Think of a little trinket for their desk, man-cave, she-shed, a picture to hang on the wall or even those new curtains that she refuses to buy for herself!

  11. Surprise them!

    Not everyone likes surprises, but this Love Language does! Catching them off-guard with a small token or a huge event - they’re all wonderful! A lot of the suggestions above are based on the unexpected, so think of new ways you can unexpectedly bring a smile to their face.

  12. An experience counts

    Plan everything and take them out for a night on the town. Maybe you book a romantic hotel for your anniversary or a couples massage. Look for memorable experiences for the two of you.

  13. Invest in their hobbies

    If your spouse has a regular hobby, look at how you can keep them stocked and ready to enjoy their individual time. Grab the latest best selling book or pick up a gift card for their video game console (Steam, Nintendo, Xbox, etc) or renew their online subscription.

  14. Think of what they normally wouldn’t get for themselves

    Sometimes we talk about wanting something, but don’t want to splurge on it for ourselves. This is a great opportunity to practice listening to your spouse’s cues and getting them exactly what they’ve been wanting.

  15. The power of presence

    Being there for your spouse can be a gift in itself. When you’re experiencing an important moment, your presence becomes the symbol of the gift. If you leave or are distracted, you remove the emotional security of your gift. Communication about their expectations would help to make what they need crystal clear. The 5 Love Languages book has several excellent explanations of real life situations that we highly suggest reading to help understand this one.

Receiving Gifts behaviors to avoid

In most cases, we’re never purposely trying to deplete our spouse’s love tank. In reality, they naturally empty over time. It’s definitely not enough to tell them you loved them on your wedding day and assume it stands until you tell them differently. You must continually renew and refresh their security in your love and avoid behaviors that quickly drain their love tank.

For Receiving Gifts, you’ll want to minimize the following behaviors:

  • Missing or downplaying important days

    Anniversaries, birthdays and holidays are at the top of the list of days not to forget or downplay. These days may not be as important to you, but they mean the world to your spouse.

  • Thoughtless gifts

    It’s the thought that counts! They would much rather get a leaf you saw on a walk that made you think of them than a gift card because that was the easiest thing. They can also tell when you get them a gift that’s really for you.

  • Complaining about the cost of loving them through gifts

    If you’re a saver, you’ll have to shift your mindset about purchasing gifts. You invest in your savings for the sake of a financially healthy future, so you could even think of it as an investment in your marriage. If you refuse to love your spouse the way they were wired, your future marriage might feel meager.

    If your current budget doesn’t seem to have room for gifts, get creative. You can hand make a card, put together a photo album of your favorite memories and more. Don’t let your finances get in the way of finding ways to love your spouse.

  • Don’t wait for special occasions

    We just said that your spouse’s love tank naturally depletes over time. So you need to remember that gifts need to be more frequent than birthdays and Christmas. Look for ways every week to love your spouse. Remember, they can be free as long as they are thoughtful.

  • Not being enthusiastic about the gifts they give YOU

    You don’t have to pretend you like something, but show a little more enthusiasm than a straight face. At least express your appreciation through a “Thank you” or a hug. True to the Gifts Love Language, your spouse probably spent time thinking about what you would love the most or what would be most sentimental. So even if you don’t jump up and down, acknowledge their effort.

Gifts don’t need to cost a dime and they don’t need to be given every day. Remember that they are the tangible symbol of your love for your spouse.

Love Language resources

Bonus tip! Dr. Chapman suggests keeping a gift idea notebook. A place you can make notes about their reactions to any gifts they receive. It can be a great way to remind yourself of things they like, dislike or were over the moon excited for. This is a good place for all those “I would love this” hints they drop for you!

We made a free Receiving Gifts printable list for you! Download it here. Stick it on your fridge or save the list to your phone - either way keep it as a handy reference while you become proficient in your new language.

Be sure to grab The 5 Love Languages book if you’ve never read it. There’s nothing quite like learning straight from the source!

Take the 5 Love Languages official quiz if you haven’t already. It’s much easier to get started when you’re not assuming anything!

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