Monday, June 13, 2011

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That LastsMy wife and I were talking with a group of friends recently about marriage issues, and the subject of the five love languages came up. I'd heard about it somewhere, but never really gave it much thought. The next morning I googled it, came up with the author of the book, so I could go to the library and reserve a copy, and then my wife and I both took the quiz available on the web site. Turns out we're speaking the same love languages after 28 years of marriage, so there wasn't a whole lot of new ground to cover in the book, but I read it anyway.

Chapman explains that we are all either by nature or nurture conditioned to speak one of five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, or Physical Touch. If we don't get enough of the ones that we crave, or our spouses are speaking a different language, then our "love tanks" get empty, causing problems within the relationship. In the early going, I realized that even though we may primarily be affected by one or two of these, it isn't a bad idea to use all of them, at times. Even if your spouse doesn't crave Words of Affirmation, paying them a compliment every so often is still a good thing. It's just that they're more in tune with their primary language, and you should mostly focus on that, if you want the most bang for the buck.

While, for my wife and I, spending quality time together, often while traveling, or having substantial conversations (no grunting allowed), is probably the most important, we both dabble in other dialects, and enjoy giving and receiving the occasional thoughtful gift, doing nice things for each other, or expressing appreciation for one another. One has to wonder what kind of relationship could be attained by speaking all of the love languages fluently.

The book contains anecdotes from Chapman's counseling practice, giving concrete examples of couples whose lives were changed by learning to speak their partners' languages, and I'm sure we can all take something away from their stories. It's a quick read, but might take some time and patience to put these principles into practice.

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