One of the joys of visiting other countries is having the chance to read badly translated signs. Here’s one from an airport in China, which reads, “If you are stolen, call the police at once.” In Taiwan, the Pepsi slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation,” was mistakenly translated, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead!” A Kentucky Fried Chicken billboard in China translated “Finger lickin’ good” into “Eat your fingers off.” Translation work isn’t easy. If you’re a married guy, you know this. Ramona and I were packing for a conference in Hong Kong and she said, “Sometimes you don’t listen to me.” At least I think that’s what she said. I was busy, you know.
In Hong Kong I discovered that Gary Chapman was speaking at the conference too. Gary’s book The Five Love Languages has been translated into 49 languages and when I had a chance to join him for a meal, I decided to ask for advice. “I have a (ahem) friend, who’s wondering which love language his wife speaks,” I said. “Well,” Gary replied, “the five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch.” “But how would this friend discover his wife’s love language?” “Ask three questions: How does she express love to others? What does she complain about? What does she request most often? If she says, ‘We don’t spend time together,’ you know her love language is quality time. If she says, ‘Would you give me a back rub?’ it’s physical touch.” “It’s me, Gary,” I admitted. “Sometimes I don’t get my wife.”
He laughed. “We naturally speak our own language,” he said. “If words make me feel loved, I’ll tell my wife how pretty she is and how much I love her. But if her love language is acts of service and I’m not doing anything to help her, it won’t be long before she says, ‘You say you love me, but why don’t you volunteer to help me?’” Gary recommended that I ask Ramona three questions: “How can I make your life easier? What can I do to help you? How can I be a better husband?”
“We have the power of choice,” he said. “You can choose to love or not to love. My wife and I have been through some tough stuff, but doing things God’s way made all the difference.” “Ok Gary, I’ll do the dishes,” I said.
And I’m happy to report that I’ve been doing a lot better ever since. So is our marriage. Colossians 3:14 says, “Put on love.” It’s a choice. We choose to do it whether we feel like it or not. Whether you’re married or not, I think that’s the best free advice I can offer you today. Which reminds me of a sign in the Beijing airport that says, “Take luggage of foreigner. No charge.”