The language of love: How do the mothers in your life express and experience love?

The Catholic Church has a special love of motherhood. What else of a people who so boldly revere Jesus’ own mother, Mary? 

By Laura Triggs

St. John Paul II writes in his 1995 Letter to Women: “Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child…the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.” How right he is! Mothers, both biological and adoptive, pour themselves into the task of raising their children. 

But our keen pope goes even deeper in his understanding of the feminine heart: “Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman!” he writes. “Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.” 

What our intuitive pope has hit on here is essential to understanding any woman, any mother. Women are made with a special gift for relationship. We long to know and understand the inner lives of those we love. As mothers especially, we want each soul in our care to feel uniquely loved and cherished. 

So, on Mother’s Day, May 12, how might we truly honor our mothers, the mothers of our children, or perhaps other special women in our lives who have not been gifted the physical role of motherhood? 

Let’s take a cue from mothers. A woman who so values knowing and loving those in her care also desires to be known and loved. So maybe this Mother’s Day, instead of our go-to Hallmark cards and breakfasts in bed, we ask ourselves what special thing she might like for her special day. We might do something for her that says we understand and value her unique personality, desires and heart. 

The following ideas are based on Dr. Gary Chapman’s theory of the Five Love Languages, which says every person has a preferred way of expressing and experiencing love. What sounds like the woman you’d like to honor this Mother’s Day? 


1. Does she light up when you say or write affirming, complimentary things about her? 

Words of Affirmation might be her preferred love language. This year, write a personal message in her card. Don’t be brief! Tell her how much you admire her and what she means to you. Be specific about her unique gifts. When you pray before your special Mother’s Day meal, offer a word of thanksgiving for her and invite others at the table to do the same. 

2. Does she often mention that she wishes you spent more time together as a family or prayed more together? 

This woman values Quality Time. Try wrangling the kids together for a family rosary or a Mother’s Day prayer service. Maybe get out for a bike ride together to enjoy God’s beautiful world. Or after dinner, make homemade popcorn and put on a classic like “The Sound of Music.” She will feel honored just being with her loved ones in a special way. 

3. Is she especially touched when she receives a thoughtful gift? Does she put time and energy into gifting others with just the right thing? 

For someone whose love language is Receiving Gifts, a gift is really just a token of love. It says you care enough to put thought and energy into picking out something that delights her. This means you have to pay attention to her tastes and interests. Maybe find a rosary bracelet in her favorite color, something to fit her kitchen or paraphernalia for her newest hobby. 

4. Does she feel especially loved and contented when someone does something thoughtful for her? 

Her love language might be Acts of Service. Maybe for Mother’s Day, lighten her daily load: take over on the laundry, insist she rest while you prepare dinner, wash her car and fill it up with gas. Think of favors that would be meaningful to her. 

5. Does she touch and hug those she loves often? 

Get thee to your mother’s place. See her physically and give her a hug, sit by her at Mass, squeeze her hand while relaying some funny tidbit, put your hand on her shoulder as you pass her in the kitchen. If Physical Touch is her love language, she will most feel your love through this kind of physical connection. 

For Mother’s Day, women really just want to be loved, appreciated and cherished. This is one day of celebration where a little extra thought will go a long way. 

Laura Triggs is a stay-at-home mom who spent years teaching English and language arts and has written for Verily Magazine. She lives in Sartell with her family and attends both St. Francis Xavier Parish and St. Mary’s Cathedral. 

(copyright Getty images/Deagreez)

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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