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Reviewing and Revisiting The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – And why I still recommend it to couples
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman has sold millions of copies.
I originally read The Five Love Languages as a newlywed. At the time I was still pretty insecure about myself and truly didn’t really have an understanding of how I wanted to be loved. And I definitely didn’t feel comfortable saying I understood how my new husband wanted to be loved.
I have kept this handy book over the years to revisit and remind myself of the various ways to love up on my husband. What I have also noticed is that as I have grown in my faith and my maturity, my own love languages have shifted slightly and grown.
I also use The Five Love Languages as a resource for my married couples that I do Christian counseling with. Gary Chapman discusses easy to understand concepts about love that are a great starting point for couples in all seasons of their marriage.
I mention a “love tank” to my clients and they can tend to roll their eyes at me. But it’s important! The concept of a love tank is the understanding that we need to experience more positives than negatives. Whether it is called a tank, a bucket, or an account, we need to keep it full! We start to act and feel depleted when our love tank is running on empty.
This is why I start with this book for my couples. No matter what situation they are going through they need to continue to fill each other’s tank! The result is greater energy to focus on fixing the struggling areas of the marriage.
But here’s the problem. We each have different ways that we desire to have our love tanks filled. And so brings us to the five love languages that Gary Chapman discusses.
Words of Affirmation
Dr. Chapman categorizes words of affirmation as giving verbal compliments, encouraging words, kind words, and humble words. But he also acknowledges there are many other types of words of affirmation that may be best used to fill your spouse.
At the end of the chapter, Dr. Chapman discussed 10 tips to utilize if your spouse’s love language is Words of Affirmation. Some of the tips include: set a goal to give your spouse a different compliment each day for a month, write a love letter, paragraph or sentence to your spouse, and compliment your spouse in the presence of his parents or friends.
Words of affirmation are more important for me than for my husband. And this was even higher for me when I was younger and we were early in our relationship. My husband can hold onto and be filled for longer, off of one kind and loving statement. I need them more often!
Quality time means giving someone your undivided attention. Actually looking at each other and talking. Not talking to each other while looking at your cell phone screen, computer screen or television screen!
The five love languages discusses quality time as togetherness. That means doing something together and that the attention is on the other person. Quality conversation is also a part of quality time. So sharing experiences, thoughts, feeling, in an uninterrupted context. In focusing on quality time is it important to learn how to talk, take into consideration personality types and find quality activities.
Tips that Dr. Chapman includes pertaining to quality time are: maintain eye contact when your spouse is talking, don’t listen to your spouse and do something else at the same time, listen for feelings, observe body language, and refuse to interrupt.
Quality time is the most important love language for both my husband and I. (That is incredibly helpful for us because we both make it a priority to each other and selfishly for ourselves, too. I understand that not all couples are blessed to want to be loved in the same way.) Every evening we get the kids to bed at a good time so that we have an hour or two to spend together. While it is not always deep conversation, it is uninterrupted time that we give to each other.
Dr. Chapman separates receiving gifts into two categories, gifts and money and the gift of self. We typically think of the first when discussing gifts but the second can be just as powerful, if not more.
I enjoy physical gifts more than my husband does. And they don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. For Christmas last year my husband wrote me a letter. It was one of the best presents I have received from him in 15 years together. Not that any of the other presents have been bad, not at all, but this one was so tender and heartfelt. Almost ten months later I still have it right next to the bedside to read whenever I want.
My husband enjoys the gift of my presence more than physical gifts. He would rather I was hanging out with him watching college football or reading together in the same place. I’m busy. Often really busy. So when I take time to be with him, even if we are both doing our own thing in the same room, it means a lot to him.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is seeking to please your spouse by serving him/her, and expressing your love for them by doing things for them.
It is important to made the distinction between doormat and lover. When acts of service is a spouses primary love language, make sure you don’t become demanding of your spouse to complete certain acts as a way for them to prove their love. Such as, “If he loved me he would clean the garage.” or “If she loved me she would have dinner cooked when I got home.”
I enjoy completing acts of service for my husband because I know he appreciates it. There are no demands or expectations associated so it is done purely out of love for him. I like making him complicated recipes or his favorite meals because he feels loved when I do!
However, acts of service is not one of my primary love languages. I’m actually pretty dense in this area. My husband may do something nice for me around the house and I don’t associate at it with a way of showing love at all. I’m a list maker and a box checker. I just view it as “Nice, one thing to check off the list.” What’s next? I have had to learn to recognize these acts as ways my husband is showing me love and to in turn show gratitude and appreciation.
The five love languages describes, “In marriage, the touch of love may take many forms.” Physical touch does tend to be one of guy’s primary love languages but that doesn’t mean just sex.
Physical touch can be both explicit and implicit. Explicit touch are more direct, such as, kissing, hugging, sexual foreplay, and sexual intercourse. Implicit touch is more subtle. Examples would be touching his arm as you walk by or leaning against him while talking to a group of people. While explicit touch is more focused, sometimes the implicit touch shows more security and intimacy in a relationship.
My husband and I both receive love through physical touch. We are touching each other all the time! We brush against each other and hug, snuggle, tickle, wrestle, kiss, and make love. If we are sitting next to each other I am leaning into him and he has his arm around me. It just feels comfortable.
The Five Love Languages Profiles
Often couples are like me when I was first married and don’t really know how they best want to be loved. So then they aren’t able to express that information to their spouse. At the end of the book are two profiles. One for husbands and one for wives.
I encourage all of my couples to complete this profile and share it with your spouse.
If you have complete the profiles in the past, I also encourage you to fill it out again. With age, maturity and growth, your primary love languages may shift slightly. This is also important information for you and your spouse!
Check out the multiple other books in the Five Love Language series to help you understand how to best love everyone in your family!
For other book reviews on some of my favorite books check out A Therapists #1 Recommendation for Women is Captivating, Change Your Relationship Forever with Made to Crave, and I Read the Book Curious Faith and this is What Happened to My Faith.