Author: Gary Chapman
Series: The 5 Love Languages #1
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
First Published: 1992
Genres: Marriage & Relationships, Self Help
Source: Prime Reading
Are you and your spouse speaking the same language? While love is a many splendored thing, it is sometimes a very confusing thing, too. And as people come in all varieties, shapes, and sizes, so do their choices of personal expressions of love. But more often than not, the giver and the receiver express love in two different ways. This can lead to misunderstanding, quarrels, and even divorce.
Quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch are the five basic love languages. Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these and guides couples towards a better understanding of their unique languages of love. Learn to speak and understand your mate’s love language, and in no time you will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return. Skillful communication is within your grasp!
I had first heard about this book in a Communications class while I was attending university and it is apparently widely referenced. It made me curious and I had made a mental note to check it out someday. Years later when my first marriage was not going so well and I found myself feeling emotionally empty, so I put aside my pride and decided to seek help.
While some of the advice given in the book sounds like common sense it isn’t so for everyone. It is a well-known fact that communication can be difficult in a relationship, especially when egos get involved. I appreciated this book for the practical advice that it gives delivered in a simple and straight forward package. It’s a quick read that can easily be completed in one sitting with chapters divided by Chapman’s proposed love styles.
He writes that a good indication on how a person likes to receive love is the same way that they give it. Couples with mismatched styles may find that they’re not getting the type of affection that they need to feel satisfied emotionally even in what would otherwise be a loving relationship. He makes it clear that many people might have more than one “love language” and it is just as important for folks to understand themselves as well as understanding their significant others.
For each of his explanations on the love styles, Chapman goes over the ways that a person of that type communicates love complete with a checklist. With it he also includes a story from one of his prior cases as a marriage counselor that led him to outline each specific love style and how these couples would resolve their conflict. The addition of these anecdotes serve as examples of how well Chapman’s theories can work for those willing to try.
“That kind of love is emotional in nature but not obsessional. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it 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 living.”
It is notable that this book is dated and that Chapman is religious, so his writing is peppered with Christian perspectives which may be a positive or a negative for readers. I personally wasn’t bothered by it and didn’t find any of the traditional views to be overbearing, the central ideas about relationships are the same regardless.
At the end of the book is a quiz to determine your own love language(s), but because the internet is a beautiful thing it is available online for free. It gives you a number value for each love language category and a basic description on the way each style works. It’s simple, quick, and surprisingly insightful.
I was able to apply the advice in this book to my previous marriage and it helped out in some ways. This book is no miracle that will work for everyone, of course, and it is so simple that it probably seems unnecessary. Obviously it depends on the people and whether they are willing participants and its usefulness can only be what you take away from it. I can comfortably recommend this book for couples, new lovers getting to know each other, or even ones that I’ve been together a while and are going through a rough patch.