Five love languages revisited

A year ago, I wrote this. I was talking to couples. But keep reading.


thank youI 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.


Tonight I was telling some guys in a class about it, in the context of working with volunteers. I explained that expressing appreciation for volunteers would benefit from thinking about love languages, too.

For example, some people love certificates. Some people find them a waste of money. Some people love to be asked how they are doing. Some people find it a waste of time. Some people like gift cards, some don’t. Some people like trophies, t-shirts, parties, thank you cards, telephone calls, public announcements; some don’t.

When you are thanking people for making a difference, I have a suggestion.

Speak their language. Not yours.


5 responses to “Five love languages revisited

  1. I’m not a huge fan of Gary Chapman…or “self help” books in general, but I have found that this concept is proven true over and over.

    Affirming someone, or showing love, in any of it’s forms is pure when it’s not about how it makes me feel when I give it, but about how I communicate it clearly to the one I am loving.

    Interesting how we take this beyond people to our relationship with God… if the chief end of man is to glorify God, etc…should we not be loving Him, as He has told us love him? with our whole heart and mind, etc…instead, we offer Him love in the way we feel most comfortable with, a prayer before meals, a kindness to someone who we consider safe…what works for us, with our timing, not what works for others…

    Last week, Matt and I were talking about his mom…who, like our mother, is a dear Christian woman who loves God deeply…she can’t hide her love for Him and lets in shine in ways that are sometimes embarassing (to us) who do not feel safe showing our love for Him that freely…we talked about how our embarassment is not really about her choices to show love, but about how we are embarassed by our inability to love God freely…by loving others, as He has commanded…and the ultimate Love, of course, is telling others about Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf…tangent…but at least it’s related.

  2. and you, dear sister, love so well out of your love language. Thank you.

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