I don’t like to follow trends. When a book becomes popular or has multiple editions and workbooks, I avoid it. It’s just how I am.
Because of this tendency, I put off reading The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate for years. (It came out in 1992. I read it in 2003 or 4). One day, however, I saw a copy and decided to skim it.
I’m glad I did.
In this book, Gary Chapman suggests that rather than there being just one way to say, “I love you”, we can think about five languages:
- Words of affirmation: encouraging, kind, humble, specific words, whether written or spoken.
- Quality time: undivided attention, listening conversation, significant activities.
- Receiving gifts: A visible, touchable reminder that someone else cared to think about you.
- Acts of service: Doing what matters to the person, for the person.
- Physical touch: Physical contact, usually without direct sexual connection.
Chapman suggests that it is possible for couples to have different love languages and, as a result, to experience great frustration in their relationship if they are actively saying “I love you” in a language their other isn’t hearing.
For example, spouse #1 may love gifts. Even little, handmade, cheesey gifts. They mean paying attention. They mean thinking about. Spouse #2 may love quality time. Even sitting looking at each other without the TV on for 15 minutes, talking. If spouse #2 thinks gifts are a waste of time and money but is always hanging around, and spouse #1 spends time making scrapbooks of the relationship, this couple is going to feel empty and unloved, though they love each other very much.
On the other hand, spending even a little time learning another language will strengthen the relationship significantly.
There is much more in the book, but even this much has been helpful to a number of people I know. Including me.
Why do I randomly decide to write about this concept today? Because on Saturday I talked about it with a couple who I will be marrying in a couple weeks. Today I suggested it to a friend who is wanting to do something special for his anniversary. A month ago, I promised a friend that I would send him the basics as he thinks about his wife and children (and I forgot).
Two-thirds of these people didn’t know about the concept, though it made tremendous sense and brought insight. And a social media chaplain should probably be giving people some tools.
Maybe it will help you.
Photo: Nancy saying “I love you” though it looks like she’s washing windows.