This may be one of the most misunderstood love languages. It’s funny, because “acts of service” are things that we as a race often do just because we’re human. Yet, for those that communicate their love through this avenue, it’s more than just a thing that people do, it’s as important as the air we breathe.
Acts of Service is Love Language # 4
Service is something that we do for each other every day. Maybe it’s as simple as holding a door for someone, or mowing someone’s lawn, perhaps you’re picking up something at the store.
Yet, for someone that “speaks” acts of service, it’s more than that. Much more!
I am one of these people, and I can tell you that what I do for you is way more important than what I say to you.
My wife didn’t even think this was a thing until she read the book with me about love languages, now I can tell you that she thinks about our relationship and the things that motivate me (and her) a lot differently.
A Service Can Mean Sacrifice
A service isn’t always something someone actively does for someone, it can be something that someone doesn’t do.
For example, maybe a new video game came out and I had my heart set on playing it. You know, to spend a little quality alone time between me and some coordinated photons.
Now say that I overheard my wife say to my son, “man, springs coming quick, I really need to start thinking about my garden!”
So rather than play the game that I’d been so looking forward to, perhaps I wait a little bit and then “suggest” to my wife, “you know hon, springs right around the corner, would you be interested in running to the store to get some things you might need? I’m not implying you have to do anything about it but I know you’re going to be needing some stuff and I’d love to help you in whatever way I can.”
What has just happened, assuming she takes me up on my offer (even though if I’m honest a part of me is hoping she’ll not do), is that I’m performing a service for my wife by going with her, and spending quality time with her (her love language). So, I get double credit for that. J
Now, where SHE gets credit is if she notices that I’m performing a service for her. If she then enthusiastically agrees and thanks me, recognizing that I’m doing this for her, she’s satisfied my love language by recognizing that I’m performing a service FOR her.
Where she gets DOUBLE credit, is if she also notices that I’ve given up my own endeavor, in favor of hers and thanks me for that. What she has done is recognized my sacrifice which is a lesser known aspect of acts of service.
Consequently, that by her realizing that I’ve sacrificed something, she also understands that makes the quality time I’m spending with her even more profound, so really, I get triple credit.
You see how each aspect of affinity based acts builds on one another essentially resulting in a compounding of the sentiment?
That’s the realization and working of love languages as a master!
Simply Put, Acts of Service is About Doing Things
In its simplest form, an act of service is about doing something for someone else. For example, if my son mows the lawn WITHOUT being asked to, that has great meaning to me as a service type person.
Service is not something that you have to try inordinately hard to do. Service can be many simple things. It can be doing the dishes, washing a load of laundry (the right way), taking an active interest in even mundane tasks and doing them the way the service person would do them.
That’s an important point that I should expand on. Doing a service for someone that speaks using the love language of acts of service is an excellent start. But finding out how they like that same something done, and doing it how they would do it, that’s an order of magnitude better!
Providing is an Act of Service
What do I mean by providing? Simple, being a provider. Someone that contributes to the existence and the thriving of a family.
If you are the only provider, then this is an even bigger act of service because the continued livelihood of the family, in fact it’s actual well-being is completely on your shoulders.
That is a heavy burden to bear if you are but one of the people, and can become excruciating at times if that person is the sole provider.
Think about it. Whether the family eats or not, has a roof or not, can go on a vacation to Disneyland or not all rides on the shoulders of the provider. If that provider is an acts of service kind of person, then it’s not only a service, but a sacrifice. Often, they will do without something so that others can have more of what they want.
A person that is trying to “speak” to someone that understands acts of service should work toward showing appreciation. Not just with words, but with deeds.
For example, if you want something really bad, and the person that speaks acts of service KNOWS that you want something really bad, but then you indicate you don’t want it, by saying something like, “I’m just not sure now is a good time, that’s just too much money right now.”
See, that carries a lot of weight with a service speaker because that SHOWS them that you are thinking about something that is never far from their mind. It shows that you appreciate their time, because they are likely thinking that it’s going to take some number of hours at work to get back the cash that they were going to have to spend.
Another point is that it is very likely that you will still get whatever you were wanting, because they’ll remember, and they will likely want to surprise you with it at a later time.
Some Examples of How to Speak the Language of Acts of Service
Learning to speak “acts of service”, believe it or not, is probably one of the easiest dialects to master. It’s most likely one of the cheapest to be sure.
Keep Them from Thinking About Things
What am I talking about? Let me tell you.
Sometimes the best thing in the world to a service person is to not have to think about something. If the laundry is done, dinner is made, the dishes are done and the counter clean…if the lawn is mowed, if the bills are organized, if that loose doorknob is fixed…
They may not realize right away that all these things are happening, but they will realize it eventually.
But I need you to notice something. When I spoke about laundry and dishes above, I didn’t mean SHE did them, I meant that they were done so SHE wouldn’t have to.
When I indicated that list I didn’t indicate who was doing them, so let me point out a very important piece.
If you are the person whose primary love language is acts of service, and your partner is the one that normally does the tasks around the house and they do them and keep them done, you are going to appreciate that.
However, all of us get overwhelmed from time to time, and when that happens if YOU as the person that speaks service pitches in and does those things, you’ll end up with a level of satisfaction you hadn’t realized, and even if your partner isn’t a service person, they’ll appreciate it, which will give you more satisfaction.
One point, don’t do it out of spite or frustration, even if it’s warranted. Do it out of a spirit of helpfulness, of giving, of service.
On the other hand, if you aren’t the service person and your partner is, then do the same as I’ve just described. I guarantee, that if you do, they’ll love you deeper and deeper as those trends continue over the years.
One note of caution, it’s likely that if you are doing something that “they should have had done already”, there will be a level of guilt. It is your job to assuage that guilt, help them to eliminate those feelings of guilt, they’ll love you for it all the more.
Ask How You Can Help
Sometimes people that speak acts of service don’t share what they would like done, or someone to do for them. That’s that pesky sacrifice thing at work again. They’d rather “suffer in silence” and play the martyr in their own minds.
Sometimes asking (sometimes repeatedly asking) is necessary to gain some insight. Focus not only on what is being said to you, but what is NOT being said. What they get squeamish (guilt) about asking you to do.
This simple act, especially over time will begin to work toward satisfying a level of service that the service person themselves didn’t even realize existed.
If You See Something that Needs to be Done, Do It!
If you see something that needs to be done, then do it. Don’t just keep ignoring it, get it done. This is something service people “get”.
Walking over that same piece of garbage someone dropped in the hall over and over again is a trivial example. Understand, it’s possible that the service person, who is just as capable as you to bend over and pick that thing up, is just testing everyone in the house to see “how long it takes” before someone else does it.
Be that somebody, little things are what fills the void within the hearts bank account. Little heart shaped pennies add up quick, and help hold the tide even when large withdrawals need to be made.
Surprise Her or Him with Something Done Unexpected
Get the kids to help with something like cleaning the house, doing some yardwork, moving around and organizing furniture or an entire room while they are away from the house.
Then when they get home, show him or her the surprise, maybe even get one of the kids to excitedly show them what was accomplished.
Take care though, sometimes things like offices and other personal type spaces and tasks can be taken as an invasion of their privacy. Some of us service types are very private individuals…it comes back to that sacrifice thing again.
Acts of Service Can be As Simple as Playing the Blocker
Acts of service come in many, many forms. One less obvious one is being the blocker. If your partner has settled in to watch the game, intercept any phone calls, kids, or other interruptions. Make sure they see you doing it and make sure to alleviate their sense of guilt by sincerely indicating they should sit down and relax, that you’ve “got it covered”.
Same thing for the lady in your life. Maybe she’s just getting into the bath tub, or maybe she’s settling in to watch her favorite show. Make sure to intercept EVERY type of interruption, and be loud, boisterous and good natured about it. Laughter goes a long way toward convincing someone they need not feel guilty about your endeavors.
Other Random Acts of Service
Some other random acts that will hopefully get your creative juices flowing:
- Wash the car
- Pay someone to replace the door, washing machine, retile the kitchen or whatever
- Drop off or pick up the dry cleaning without being told
- Notice you’re out of something and pick it up to save them a trip to the store
- Write them a note with a coupon for one free:
- Weekend of relaxation
- Night off cooking dinner
- Get out of diaper change day
- Take pictures and post them to social media indicating how thankful you are of whatever they do
Hopefully you get the idea.
Love Languages are Asexual
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a love language is more masculine or feminine. Don’t do this!
Often acts of service are associated with the masculine, I can tell you from experience that there are many ladies out there that speak this language too! Never make the mistake of thinking a love language is explicitly a girl’s or a guy’s language only.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this explanation of the love language, acts of service.
The Other Love Languages:
For an even more in depth discussion about love languages, I encourage you to check out the book, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts”.
What’s your love language? You can tell me about it in the comments below.
Leave a Comment About Acts of Service
If your love language is acts of service, what could that special person in your life do for you that would be most meaningful to you? Let me know in the comments.
If you have any questions or comments of any kind, use the comment form below to let me know, I’d love to hear from you!