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My love language is food

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by Sandy

Sandy Coughlin is an author, blogger, wife, and mom to three children. She lives in Oregon and loves to develop recipes, cook, and host dinner parties. Read more at Reluctant Entertainer.

My husband and I recently met some new friends. We immediately felt a warmth and connection, a desire to know them more. We’ve been doing this friendship thing for almost 23 years now, forming new bonds with other people, together as a couple.

“Going there”—exposing ourselves, becoming vulnerable and known. We all want to be loved, valued, and accepted. It’s just how we’re wired inside, but for many it’s a rough road to get there.

I was thinking about this last weekend, how my love language is food. You’ve probably read about the five ways that people like to experience and give love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and acts of service. But for me, I know that FOOD is what I’m all about. My love language is food.

And not just the four basic food groups, though I like those a lot. I mean all that food represents. It’s more than taste, calories, sustenance. It’s what sitting down and communing with others represents – the somewhat lost art of what it means to get together with others.

My husband and I love to take relationships to the next level through the sharing of a meal. It always involves food.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, around our dinner table, is the way I can show love and care about people, when gifts and sometimes words are uncomfortable. It says “I love you” without any physical touch (okay, well, I do often give a hug at the end of the evening). It’s a way to bring people together, to love on them, to listen, to nourish, and then when the night is over, I will know that I have done my job.

We’ve learned to do it together as a couple, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. We are individuals and we all have our own passions and ways to show love.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf

The love language of food is in my DNA. I really do think I was born with it, passed onto me from my parents and especially my mother. It’s a gift she gave to me, and I feel that I need to pass it onto others. Another way of “paying it forward.”

Hey, do you want to come for dinner?

Inviting people. Who should get to know who? Who could benefit by knowing this person, or that couple?

Planning the menu. Simplicity is the best form of happiness. Good food can be simple and healthy. Actually, the best is right from the garden.

Cooking the food. No long drawn-out recipes for me. Chop, serve it fresh, grill or broil, and make the plate colorful. *

Serving the guests. We like to serve; it’s just our style. Don’t get up, we’ll bring it to you.

Cleaning up. After they leave, we get our hands deep in the suds, push “start” on the dishwasher, then fall in to bed.

We’re in deep. Entertaining defines us.

When I think of my friends, the ones I want to cultivate deeper friendships with, the ones I find value in and want to get to know more, I can’t even imagine not having a meal with them.

You sit, relax, engage, pour your heart out, become authentic and vulnerable, and usually it’s mutually pleasurable. You learn pretty quickly from the times that it’s not.

The love language of food has a way of bringing down walls, because you’re less guarded and more trusting when sharing a meal.

It’s innately a trusting act.

It truly shows love.

Have you thought about your love language, and how it relates to serving others around your table?

*Cooking the food: Tsh explores the Slow Food movement in her new book, Notes from a Blue Bike, where she dives into growing, shopping, cooking, and dining; leading her young family into a healthy lifestyle of “normal,” which involves her 80/20 vision, and communing with others.

*Psst: Want the recipe for that gorgeous salad pictured at the top? Go here.

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Comments

  1. We are having a group of couples over tonight. We thought out thoroughly who we would invite. They are couples we love but ones we had never had in our home before. The meal is simple and each one is bringing a part of it so that I am not doing it all. I certainly love foo too :)

    • Kirstin, I know you’ll have a great time! “Intentional” hospitality can be so fruitful. We often really think through who we want to invite over, but of course, it doesn’t always have to be that way! Come back and tell us about your evening! :)

  2. This is wonderful food for thought ;-)
    I never thought about how sharing a meal can make us vulnerable, but it is so true. Maybe that’s the beauty of it? You definitely inspired me to have people over for a meal more often :-)

  3. This is my stepmother through and through.

  4. This is how I feel too! My husband is in the Air Force and so we have to start over in a new place, making new friends every few years and my favorite way to strengthen new friendship is over the dinner table. It really does allow people to open up and share more of themselves. Lovely post!

  5. Well said. I totally agree with you.
    I found one of the obstacles of inviting friends over and sharing a meal is our culture and tendency for perfectionism. When people thrive to do things perfect – perfect / clean house, perfect /nice decoration, perfect / delicious food, perfect …, some feel discouraged and are fearful of not meeting others expectations, even though we know those are not the most important aspects. The real intention is to share some time and share life together.

  6. I love every single word. I agree so much. Looking forward to reading Notes From a Blue Bike!

  7. I think food is a love language for me too. In this busy season of motherhood, I speak it mostly to my own family. But I would like to resume the practice of inviting others in to share a meal or dessert with us. Chaos is the main impediment for me right now, yet it is good to have hospitality as a goal.

    • Julia, what I found as a young mother is that in the midst of chaos, it was great to have other young couples over, because they understood our chaos. LOL. And we adults SO needed each other. It all worked hand in hand. Beautiful hospitality! :) Thanks for sharing!

  8. YES! nailed it on the head. Food is part of my love language too… and it becomes even more complex with trust and love when food allergies are thrown into the mix. I love cooking for my friends and loved ones… especially taylored to each individual <3

  9. My husband and I love to do double date’s as well, and we LOVE going out to dinner, we love food in general so you are speaking our love language for sure!

  10. I love this post! Sometimes I feel I spend so much time planning menus that I’m missing a few moments here or there with family. I have started to consciously tell them- this is one of my number one ways to say that I love you!

    • It’s good your recognize that. Just for fun, try winging the menu planning for one week, and spend more time with your famiy. Write in your journal the pros and cons, and then re-evaluate if you want to spend so much time doing that? Just a thought. I can see food is your love language, Amy! :)

  11. The salad link isn’t working – The Reluctant Entertainer is down.

    I do enjoy catching up with people over a meal… But sometimes our lives are so busy that there just isn’t time, especially if we want breathing space.

    • It’s up and working, Liz! Sorry for the inconvenience.

      We all have to find the limits of what works best for our schedules, but prioritizing people (which is quite easy to do over food), we’ve found, enriches our lives. But I understand what you mean on the breathing time … :)

  12. Love this!!! Yes, we are right there with you!!!

    I cannot tell you how many people we have had in our home that say no one ever invites them over. We expect that ourselves since we have five kids, haha! But the latest was an amazing, giving older couple. This is totally a lost art and way to love and know others that we need to revive! Bring them in…to our homes and lives, not just coffee shops!

    • Lindsay, I’ve written about that for years. We are always surprised how our older friends don’t get invited out. They often tell us, “you’re the only ones who invite us over.” They are so wise, and such beautiful people. It IS a lost art. Thank you for sharing!

  13. People always joke that “you get to a mans heart through his stomach” but that is actually more true for me then for my husband. I have always loved food, for the reasons you mention. It’s funny how much more I feel loved and appreciated if he comes home with a cannoli then flowers or jewelry.
    But I will say that I have also learned from him, who doesn’t speak that same love language naturally, that there is something really beautiful about “sharing life” vs. entertaining. We have been to a number of dinners/events lately where the amazing food dominates the conversation, and honestly I don’t know if I would have noticed (and it definitely wouldn’t have bothered me) if it wasn’t for him. But in the last few years, I have found that making good, but simple meals, allows for a sharing of life where people actually put their guard down, as you mentioned.
    One thing we love is having single people over for lunch or dinner to share life with our young family. As they discern their own vocation, seeing family life lived out can be very important. Also adding in one more plate (especially for lunch) is rarely too much trouble.

  14. Thanks for this. I often see myself going in spurts. Times when I invite over frequently and then seasons where for various reasons I neglect it. We’ve just come off a very difficult season of a very sick daughter and moving overseas (Scotland). My husband and I were just talking this week about how we needed to start having people over to make friends and create deeper bonds, but actually doing it is another thing. With four littles (including an 8week old) it is always such an ordeal and yet when I do it, I always love it…especially after the dishes are all done. ;)

  15. I love your post. My husband & I don’t entertain much. He loves to have people over for a bbq in the summer, but he says we only need meat (sausage on a bun, hamburgers, steak and onions). Also, he gets stressed if things don’t come together perfectly (because I always insist that we have more than meat, he he). We should try to get out of this and branch out a bit. I have a friend that will always feed extra people for dinner without thinking about it. For us, we turn it into such a big deal that we don’t enjoy it.

    • We had to work on our “entertaining style” together, it just didn’t happen. We both had to “give” and change the ways we thought we should do it. But the hard work paid off, and we have so many beautiful entertaining moments in our home. I’m glad we didn’t give up! Don’t give up! :)

  16. We just had some friends over last night. And while it was nice to have them over, the chaos of the 4 kids was a bit rediculous. There really was no conversation, just managing the kids and trying to make sure everyone had at least something to eat.
    I used to like having people over more, but with kids it has lost all of its luster. Maybe we should try double dates for a while until kids are older? Of course we should have others join us sometimes in order to model that for our boys, but I just won’t plan on those meals/conversations being very fulfilling.

  17. Yup, Reneee, been there. We had a small house and a family with 5 kids over quite often. Because we loved this couple so much, we made it work and piled all the kids on our master bed to watch a movie, so we could have at least an hour of time to talk around the table. There is a season when the kids are younger, that it’s hard to do, but for us, it was still so worth it. Going out (double date) is a great idea, too!

  18. I’m totally with you on everything you said here, everything… in fact have you been in my brain?! xxx

  19. Love everything about this. And love how YOU spread so much love via food. :) Inspiring!

  20. It breaks my heart when I hear a friend say she doesn’t want to have people over because her house isn’t nice/clean/big enough. I have found so much freedom in inviting people for dinner, ready or not. Turns out once people are here they don’t care if my floor is clean (it never is) or if my meal is perfect. They just want to be welcomed and loved.

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