After months on the waiting list at my local library, I finally got my hands on a copy of The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. This book has long been a bestseller, and is well reviewed by a lengthy list of happiness and relationship guru’s.
After having read Dr. Chapmans follow-up book, titled The 5 Love Languages of Children, I had a pretty good understanding of his views on what he identifies as the love languages, and his concept of “filling the love tank”.
While I enjoyed his book as it relates to children, I sped through the original in about 3 evenings worth of reading. The book was light, an easy read, and well articulated. Although Dr. Chapman has a clear standing of his own religious beliefs which comes through clearly in the book, he presents what he has learned in an objective fashion which keeps it accessible to readers of all backgrounds.
So a few key points from the book which I found extremely on point and relatable.
Dr. Chapman authored the book based on decades of marriage counselling and observations regarding the breakdown of communication in relationships. Specifically, the break down of how we communicate love towards our spouse or partner. Dr. Chapman has separated the love languages into five (5) categories, each with many different dialects, and surmises that each person experiences and feels loved most when they receive love in their “primary love language”.
Dr. Chapman indicates that when we are not communicating love to our partner in their specific love language, our partner’s “love tank” will begin to empty, leading to distance, emotional pain, feelings of hurt or resentment, and mistrust.
The 5 love languages categorized by Dr. Chapman are as follows:
Words of Affirmation: Consisting of many different dialects including compliments, comments which demonstrate appreciation, comments which are encouraging and supportive, and comments which convey love or emotion.
Quality Time: This one is pretty self explanatory, but can include spending time doing activities together, or simply conversing with each other. The caveat is that it is quality time when both parties are engaged with each other. Sitting on a couch watching marathon re-runs of The Office does not count towards quality time.
Gifts: Again, self explanatory. Receiving gifts, store-bought, self-made, expensive, free, it generally enters around the thought involved in the gift that makes your partner or spouse experience the feeling of being loved.
Acts of Service: Doing the dishes, cooking a meal, an endless list of household chores, making appointments, anything that demonstrates an effort to take something off the other persons plate and make their life a little easier.
Physical Touch: This is intimate touch of any degree, a hug when you get home from work, remember a quick kiss before you leave the house. Holding hands during a walk, a nice massage when you’re watching TV together, all the way up to having sex.
For couples who speak differing love languages, it’s important to both identify and learn how to speak your partners love language. According to Dr. Chapman, we all tend to be quite proficient at speaking our own primary love language, because we are emulating the actions we feel would make us feel most loved. But, sometimes this does absolutely nothing to meet ours partners needs because we are failing to communicate in the way that makes them feel loved.
A very logical approach when you start to break down the process.
Reading the book I was still left feeling uncertain as to which love language was my primary language.
I knew immediately that the language of Gifts was out for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional gift from my husband, especially when it is thoughtful and out of the blue, but he could never buy me another gift again and I would still feel loved.
When I looked at the other four though, it felt like they were all important to me. I love when my husband gives me comments of appreciation for the things I do, but when I looked at what I language I was most proficient at I think it would definitely be Acts of Service. I’m always trying to do things to make my husband’s day a little easier.
But then I wrestled with Quality Time. There is no one I would rather spend time with than my husband, and I love it.
Luckily there is a quiz at the back of the book to help people identify their own primary love language. So I sat down for the recommended thirty (30) minutes and really thought about the questions on the quiz.
Once I tallied up my scores I found I scored highest on Physical Touch, followed closely by Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Acts of Service. Gifts scored a zero, which was consistent with what I already knew about myself.
But physical touch, that result surprised me. When I thought about it though I realized it made a lot of sense. My husband would often come up behind me when I was sitting at the desk and give me a quick shoulder rub. Sometimes it would only be thirty seconds, but whenever he did it I always felt a surge of feelings reminding me how much he cared about me.
And looking back on the time when we were first dating, some of my most vivd and fond memories are simple moments when he would brush my hair away from face, or reach over and absentmindedly stroke my arm when we were sitting together. Those moments of touch made me feel extremely special and loved by him, and still do.
Reading the book did make me realize and appreciative of how my husband amazingly hits on all of the five (5) love languages. It’s a rare day that my husband doesn’t let me know he appreciates me, or gives me a compliment to put a smile on my face. It’s even more rare if we don’t squeeze in some quality time together, even if it’s just a ten (10) minute conversation as we are laying down for bed. And there is always time for a quick hug, or glancing touches as we move around each other in the kitchen getting dinner ready, or laundry done.
He also blows me away in the Acts of Service department. It’s the first relationship I’ve ever had where it feels as though he see’s household chores to be as much his responsibility as they are mine. There’s never any tally of who is doing what, nor does he make me feel like he emptied the dishwasher “for me”, as though it is normally my job and he has somehow done me a huge favour.
Reading the book highlighted all the amazing things he does that make me feel loved, and really brought my focus to making sure I am communicating not just in his own primary love language, but in all of the love languages to make sure he feels as loved as I do.
Now I just have to figure out what his primary love language is! Much like myself, after reading the book I could not pinpoint what his love language would be. I was leaning towards quality time, but his proficiency at acts of service also made me think that might actually be his primary language.
I’m hoping I haven’t somehow missed some major cues that his primary love language is gifts, because frankly I would be failing big time in that category, but I’m pretty confident I can eliminate that one for him as well.
Fortunately for me, after I told him about what I was reading, he was open to taking the husband’s profile quiz included in the back of the book, so that should help me out immensely!
Once I have that little piece of information, I can tailor my plans for the month around filling up his love tank and making sure he knows just how loved he is, and how much I appreciate him.
That is an idea that leaves me with a huge sense of happiness and contentment.
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