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Planning: The 6th Love Language

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Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’ve ever read any of Gary Chapman’s books on The Five Love Languages you know the term Love Language; you probably know it even if you have never read the books! Well, Planning is not one of the 5 Love Languages (they are in fact Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Gift Giving and Words of Affirmation) but as I was reflecting on Valentine’s Day and my 27-year relationship with my husband I realize that one pretty big way that I show my love is planning ahead. Does anyone else play this role in their relationship? I’m the one who makes the dinner reservations (to get the good ones you have to plan ahead!), plans the parties and makes all of the arrangements for our family vacations. Yes, it’s something that I love to do but it is also a way I show my love.

As we’ve already established, I love to plan. I plan almost everything, from meals to projects to the schedule for each day. I used to think it was a control thing and that’s definitely true but I’ve recently garnered some deeper insights related to my planning inclinations. I’ve realized that I like the feeling I get when I create an experience for my family that is optimized for their interests and priorities. When something works for them I can usually attribute the success to the preparation I put in ahead of time. This does mean that not a lot happens spontaneously in our family but when I’ve planned ahead it turns out great 95% of the time. Plus you can always take your learnings and incorporate them into the plan for next time to make it even better…

Here is an example. I’ve learned over time that my husband likes to know what to expect, especially when he is doing something new. So that means when we are going someplace we haven’t been before it helps him enjoy himself if I’ve done some reconnaissance beforehand. What’s the parking situation? Who is going to be at the party? How long will we be out? I’ve always planned ahead but over time I got so much better at using my planning skills specifically to enhance his experience.

I show my love for my husband my scoping out the parking situation when we go somewhere new

Another big example where this comes into play is family vacations. I have so much fun planning vacations and optimizing our time while incorporating the priorities of my kids and husband. For Jay I make sure there is time for a nap each day. For the kids I like to make sure we have dinner reservations or are eating dinner early so we don’t have to wait for a table. Activities are booked well ahead of time so they don’t fill up. The kids always want to know what the itinerary is for the day and especially once they hit their teenage years they want to know where their presence is ‘required’ (and how late they can sleep!) If I take these things into account while I’m planning for the trip it really pays off once we are there and everybody has a good time, which makes me feel great (gives herself pat of the back)!

When vacation-planning I always make dinner reservations well ahead of time because my family hates waiting for a table!

I wrote about my Meal Planning method last week but it’s my third example of how I use planning to show love for my people. Cooking yummy dinners that are well balanced for my family was important to me as a parent. So I used my planning skills to eliminate all of the activity that surrounds the cooking of the meal on the night it was being cooked (i.e. picking the dinner, knowing how long it was going to take to prepare, shopping for ingredients, etc.) so I could put all of energy into actually cooking the meal and serving it at a decent hour. Full disclosure I often lacked the energy to either serve the meal myself or make anyone help me serve it so in the latter years especially my lovingly-made dinners were self-serve and not eaten together at the vaunted ‘family table.’ You can’t have everything!

Planning ahead for meals gave me the time I needed to show my family love through cooking

So if you are feeling like all of that planning you do for your loved ones goes un-noticed, I see you! And if you think about your people’s needs when you are planning know that this is an authentic demonstration of love. If they make fun of you for planning let them know this is actually your way of showing how much you care about them! I have experienced all of these reactions from my peeps over the years but now they know the effort I put in and how it translates to a good experience for them and they appreciate it. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to write Gary Chapman and nudge him to add the 6th Love Language: Planning Ahead.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

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