The Five Love Languages is one of those books that is so pervasive, so simple in its practicality. It’s always one of the first recommendations from therapists about relationships and it’s easy to see why. I turned to this book myself during my own marital struggles after hearing about the book from a class years before. While it wasn’t a magical solution to my problems, it provided some insight that made me think about myself and my relationships, which is a start.
Through his work as a marriage counselor, Chapman identified a basic outline of different love styles. Though each love style is clearly defined it is not restrictive, and there can be overlap. The book comes with personal stories, a checklist, and a quiz, which is available online for free. While the quiz can be helpful, one of my issues of course is the fact that there is a quiz at all. People are aware that they are taking a quiz, the selections obviously sway toward a particular style, so it’s easy to skew. It’s a little too simplistic, but I get why a personality quiz is used.
“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.”
This book I think is a good jumping-off point for couples to start thinking about their relationship in a way that is easily digestible. While some of the advice given in the book sounds obvious it isn’t so for everyone. Chapman’s advice is only effective if both parties are willing participants, and its usefulness is only what each person takes away from it. It’s simple: people love differently, and when couples have mismatched love styles they may find that they’re not getting the type of affection that they need to feel emotionally satisfied, even in what would otherwise be a loving relationship. I can relate to this, having been in relationships where my partner was perfectly satisfied, while I found myself feeling like I was running on fumes.
It is notable that this book is dated and that Chapman is religious, so his writing is peppered with Christian perspectives which can definitely be offensive to modern sensibilities. Though the perspective is definitely “traditional” it’s not entirely overbearing, the central ideas about relationships are the same regardless. Ultimately it is up to the person seeking therapy to decide what they want to do with the advice received.
Since reading this book I have applied Chapman’s advice to my own love life, and it has been helpful in some ways. I can comfortably recommend this book for any couple, both those that have just started dating to those that have been together a while and are going through a rough patch.