The Five Love Languages is a book written by Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor and author. The book is written specifically for married couples but could also be helpful for those who are thinking of getting married in the future, as well as those who are in relationships in general. In the book, Dr. Chapman makes use of his years of experience in marriage counseling to guide the reader on a journey that will help them make the most out of their marriage. The entire premise of the book is that each person has what he calls a “love tank,” and that when this tank is full the person will be happy in the marriage, but if the tank is empty the person will experience dissatisfaction with the marriage. Chapman explains that each person experiences love in different ways and that we all have what he calls a “love language” that fills our love tank. Chapman has identified a list of five love languages that are commonly used in relationships, and how each language has various expressions or “dialects.” The five love languages include: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
Words of Affirmation are expressions of love such as verbal compliments or words of appreciation, such as when you compliment your wife on how nice her hair looks today, or how nice your husband looks in that new suit of his. They can be as simple as saying an encouraging word to your spouse or as elaborate as writing poetry dedicated to the way they make you feel. Words of affirmation make your spouse feel appreciated within a marriage, and reinforce their belief that you truly love them.
Quality Time is the second love language Chapman discusses. Quality time is defined as spending time with your spouse and giving them your full attention. The person whose love language is quality time will enjoy spending time with their spouse whether it is doing something that they enjoy or something their spouse enjoys; the point is that the two are spending time together and giving each other their undivided attention. Quality time would include sitting down for a personal conversation, going on walks in the neighborhood, and traveling together.
Receiving Gifts is the third love language, and is pretty self-explanatory. Bringing your wife flowers, buying your husband that new watch he fancies, or giving your spouse a birthday card all fall under the umbrella of receiving gifts. People whose love language is receiving gifts love finding little presents in the house. They will especially love it when their spouse gives them handmade gifts, because it will show them that their lover was especially creative with their gift.
Acts of Service is the fourth love language, and includes such activities as helping your spouse clean the kitchen, mop the floors, or vacuum the carpet. Reading this chapter made me think of my mother, who often shows her affection for my dad by performing acts of service for him. Acts of service are especially appreciated by wives who, after working eight hours, come home to find housework waiting for them in what has become known as the “second shift.”
Physical Touch is the fifth and last of the five love languages, and it refers to any sort of physical contact between companions. Most people would assume that physical touch would be primarily sexual relations but this is not so, because little gestures such as brushing against your husband or wife, rubbing their arm or holding their hand can also be strong signs of affection. Hugging is one of the most commonly used gestures of physical touch, and almost everyone enjoys hugging.
Dr. Chapman’s theory also goes along nicely with one of the theories of motivation from my psychology textbook, the incentive theory. This theory is known as the incentive theory, because it emphasizes the role that external stimuli play in motivating behavior. Chapman states that people in a relationship will respond favorably to their own love language and thus draw closer to their spouse as a result. This love language is the incentive for the person to respond in a similar manner. By contrast, a person’s spouse will be pushed away by behaviors that do not satisfy their love language, which are negative incentives. This is why so many marriages fail, because there is not enough positive incentives for them to feel motivated enough to keep the marriage going.
I believe that Dr. Chapman’s theory on the love languages is simply fantastic, and makes a lot of sense when you think about how a relationship works. His idea of everyone having a “love tank” that needs to be filled in order for that person to remain satisfied is just brilliant. I also feel that reading this book has helped me to better understand how relationships are supposed to work, and I am sure that if I ever get married, I will put his theory into practice.
There is a profile at the back of the book that the reader can take in order to ascertain his or her own love language. I decided to take the test for myself, and I feel that it was an accurate representation of how I feel love from someone else. I scored almost evenly in the love languages of words of affirmation and quality time (only one point of difference between the two), while physical touch was my lowest score. I know this to be true in my own experience, because I feel loved when people talk to me and give me supportive words of encouragement, as well as spending quality time with me doing whatever activities that we both enjoy. I think that this is true whether it is spending time with friends, family, or that special someone in your life.
In conclusion, The Five Love Languages is an awesome book that Dr. Chapman has written and I heartily recommend it for anyone who is in a marriage or is thinking of getting married in the future. A minister friend of mine has couples read it as part of his marriage counseling sessions, and I think that that is a fantastic idea! If you have not read Dr. Chapman’s book yet, I really urge you to read it for yourself and see what a difference it will make in your marriage or relationship.