The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
Older subtitle: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate
© 1992, 2010, 2015 Gary Chapman
What is a love language? French is one, right? And Italian? ….no? Oh, those are Romance languages. Love languages, argues marriage counselor Gary Chapman, are different ways that individuals express their affection for one another —and more importantly, how they unconsciously expect others to express their own affection. If different people express their love in different ways, a relationship can suffer. It is therefore important, write Chapman, to understand the various ways people communicate love – to reflect on our own behavior and our loved ones to determine how they give and receive affection — in order to build healthy lives together. Although this is intended for married couples, the basic premise has been re-framed towards children, singles, etc, and from what I’ve heard is essentially the same and applicable to anyone who wants to nurture their relationships.
So, what are the five love languages? In Chapman’s view, they are: words of affirmation, which might be both praise and compliments, or requests that begin in appreciation; gifts, which are fairly self-explanatory; physical touch, which needn’t be as involved as PSA, but could simply be little touches in passing; acts of service, or doing things to make the other’s life easier without being asked; and quality time, or focused time spent together — put down that phone! Each language merits its own chapter, and Chapman uses a case study from his work to explore how a couple could be coached from being ignorant of one another’s expectations to mindful of them. Even a couple whose members have the best of intentions can operate at cross purposes – the man who works so much to provide that he’s never home, undermining his relationship with a woman who needs time spent together, for instance — if they’re not aware of the other’s needs. A love language is not a fixed thing; people can learn to understand, and communicate, their spouse’s way of love. Chapman closes the book with advice on how to discern one’s own love language.
Although I have my doubts that affection can be reduced to so simply, Chapman’s book strikes me as most useful on the whole, in reviewing different ways of expressing love, and a reminder that different individuals from varying families can approach communication from different angles. I’m fairly certain I encountered some of this information in a book I read as a lovestruck teen, Men’s Relational Toolbox, at least the bit about being aware that when people complain about a problem, they’re often looking for sympathy and support, not advice. At any rate, The 5 Love Languages is certainly worth reading for those who are serious about investing in their relationships with others.
“[…]the average lifespan of a romantic obsession is two years. […] We can recognize the in-love experience for what it was — a temporary emotional high — and now pursue ‘real love’ with our spouse. That kind of love is emotional in nature but not obsessive. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and recognizes the need for personal growth. Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love, but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving.” – pp. 30 – 33
“The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is let them be history. Yes, it happened. Certainly it hurt. And it may still hurt, but he has acknowledged his failure and asked your forgiveness. […] We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday.” – p. 45
“Love makes requests, not demands. When I demand things from my spouse, I become a parent and she the child.” – 35