So… I’ve been putting off reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman for a while. I know… I know… It’s been on the best seller’s list for ages, it’s helped about a trillion couples save their marriages, and even my boyfriend has read it.
Yep. Boyfriend. Reading about love. Hope springs eternal, ladies…
But even after all that, I still felt trepidatious about picking it up. The boy had explained the principles of it, we’d discussed what our own “languages” were, and I’d even taken the online quiz on Chapman’s website. So I didn’t need to read the book, right?
Although the whole thing felt rather girly, it was a rainy Sunday, and as good a day as any to start a new book. Talking about feelings has not been my strongest trait in recent years, and while I felt strange reading a book about love, I pushed past my discomfort and decided to tackle this whole “language” BS.
And I finished it in two days…
Chapman’s book is a quick but powerful read. He details five different ways that people express love to others, and how they need love to be expressed to them in return. The five ways are:
Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch
- Quality time is–you guessed it!–spending time with each other. And none of that “Well, we’re sitting next to each other for two hours every night watching American Idol!” crap either. This means real QUALITY time. Talking, laughing, joking, doing things together. You know… stuff you did when you still liked each other.
- Words of affirmation are verbal expressions to your partner to make them feel good about themselves, and make them feel secure in your love. This can be anything from, “Wow! You’re such a hard-worker! Thanks so much for cleaning up around the house today!” to “Man, you are super hot and I can’t wait to get you home!” Basically, it’s complimenting your mate and showing your appreciation of them.
- Acts of service are doing things for them, especially if you don’t really feel like it. No one really wants to vacuum the house every week, but if that’s what’s necessary to make your spouse feel loved, then by golly, that’s what you had better do. (I know it makes me feel loved when I don’t have to put my own air in the car tires… *hint hint*)
- Receiving gifts is another language. Obviously this one entails making or buying objects for your partner to demonstrate to them that they were on your mind. They needn’t be expensive, but they should be thoughtful.
- And lastly, physical touch. This means that your mate feels most loved when you are rubbing them, holding their hand in public, massaging them, and having sex with them on a regular basis. They express their feelings for you through the act of intercourse and without it they may feel left out in the cold (even if you are using some of the other languages on them.)
The good news for us, is that these are all relatively simple things to do. If we just take notice of our partners behavior, translate that into a specific desire, and then meet that desire–we would all be much happier. Chapman also relieves us in acknowledging the fact that most couples don’t speak the same language, but can readily adapt to learn new ones if necessary. Phew.
And don’t say anything, but I really got a lot out of this book. It helped me understand a lot about myself and I learned new techniques to use in my own personal relationships. These can apply to others in your life, not just your spouse. ( Except maybe the sex part…) The book is targeted at married couples, but really anyone in a relationship—or looking to be in one–could definitely benefit from reading it. I can see why this book has been a best seller for so long…
The only comment I really have as far as criticism is that some of the phrases Chapman suggests for the Words of Affirmation chapter are terribly scripted and cheesy. They sound like something June Cleaver would say to Ward. It’s better to think of your own, anyway. It makes it more personal to the both of you. Also, this book is also listed in the “Christian Living-Relationships” section of the book store, and while Chapman refers to Jesus a few times, he doesn’t get preachy about it at all. Some people might not like it because it has some religious ties, but if you take it for what it is, I feel you can get much use out of The Five Love Languages.
5 of 5 stars