Five love languages

nancy washing windows

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:

  1. Words of affirmation: encouraging, kind, humble, specific words, whether written or spoken.
  2. Quality time: undivided attention, listening conversation, significant activities.
  3. Receiving gifts: A visible, touchable reminder that someone else cared to think about you.
  4. Acts of service: Doing what matters to the person, for the person.
  5. 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.


6 responses to “Five love languages

  1. My wife and I read that book years ago and really appreciated it. Sometimes you can size up a situation pretty quickly using those categories.

  2. Thanks for recommending this, Jon. I think, as with many measurements, we can have multiple love languages, but show a preference for one.

    I have spoken with my wife, and I think I understand what hers is.

    God bless!

  3. As I read your post this morning, I nodded my head, and said to myself, there’s another way I’m like Jon — I don’t like these kinds of books either, even though they may actually be quite helpful. Then this afternoon I had a few minutes to kill and stepped into a bookstore and walked out with a copy of The Noticer, Andy Andrews’ new book. I’m not really a fan of this style of writing, but it’s been highly touted, and I needed to do more reading. And guess what? Chapter two talks about exactly what you wrote about in this post — love languages — but in a story. Who’d have thought I’d get hit twice with the same message in one day? Maybe I should pay attention?

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