My sister recently recommended The Five Love Languages to me, and I’ve already recommended it to two others. Why? Because Gary Chapman coherently and succinctly explains how people communicate love. Chapman wrote the book based on years of experience as a marriage counselor. I’m thankful that he decided to stop and review his experiences to identify these patterns in how people communicate with each other. As he’s sold eleven million copies, it seems there are many others out there who have also turned to his book.
I listened to the audiobook with my husband, which meant we were often stopping and starting it again in order to talk through different points. It is read by Chapman himself, and I enjoyed his familiar, warm American accent. The anecdotes from the various couples he has helped bring to life the concepts he explains. His theory is that there are five different languages of love; problems arise in a relationship when you don’t speak the other person’s love language. Simple but clear.
The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. To understand each, you should read the book. I found myself nodding along during the chapters that most closely connect to my own love languages, thinking, “Yes! That’s it.” For the other chapters, I listened closely to understand what it was that made someone feel loved. Since we often express love in the language most comfortable to us, Chapman helpfully gives ideas at the end of each chapter for what you could do if your partner (family member, friend) speaks that language. Chapman very clearly helps you understand how other people may think and feel differently from you. Those differences do not have to be obstacles but can add richness to your life and relationship as long as you understand them. He does suggest that everyone has a main love language, but I found myself solidly in two, as did my husband, so it is important to remember that love is not always prescriptive. Regardless, the book offers you a solid starting point to work on how you communicate love.
Since listening, my husband and I already adopted two practical strategies. First, we’ve identified each other’s love language (and those of family members) and started to evaluate whether we speak them regularly. It’s given us common terms we can use when discussing our relationship. Second, we’ve occasionally stopped to ask each other how full our “love tank” is and what more we could do to fill it.
Do you need to be having problems in your relationship to read this book? Of course not. Do you need to be in a relationship to read this book? Definitely not. It is a book that will help you understand love better: how you express love, what makes you feel loved, and how you can love others. To me, this is extremely important at whatever life stage you are in (and probably worth revisiting over several stages). Whether it’s a sister or brother, mother or father, partner or friend, this book will help you relate to them better. It will also help you understand yourself so you can advocate for your own needs.
What is your love language? Find out through reading the book and then taking the quiz.