Book review: “The 5 Love Languages” By Gary D. Chapman

Book review: “The 5 Love Languages” By Gary D. Chapman

5loveimageThe 5 Love Languages.  As a therapist, I am always learning.  I read everything I can get my hands on – always wanting to improve what I can offer to my clients.  Many of the clients I work with make fun of me because I will come back from vacation and mention a relationship or psychology book that I was reading on the beach and they will say: “You mean you were working while you were on the beach??!”  Yeah, but see – I don’t see it as working.  I love what I do and I love getting better at it.

Today, I want to give a little review on one of the biggest selling relationship books on the market: The 5 Love Languages, by Gary D. Chapman.  This book came out several years ago and now Mr. Chapman has milked the concept for all it’s worth, offering The 5 Love Languages for Men, The 5 Love Languages for Single People, The 5 Love Languages for Children – pretty soon I expect the 5 Love Languages for Cats.

I read the book several years ago and my review can be summed up by:

Brilliant concept – really bad book.  (Sorry, Mr. Chapman)

I found his examples to be a little too trite and a little too religious.  I get a since that this was originally aimed at the evangelical mega-church crowd, which is fine, but a little to limiting to the world at large who might be turned off by his not-too-subtle way of preaching.

So with apologies to Mr. Chapman, perhaps I can give you the concept part and if you want to get the book – please do.  Again, the concept he has established is spot-on and I’ve used it with most of my couples.  It is the single most effective way to turn around a relationship quickly and effectively.

Basically, he states that we all communicate love in one of 5 different ‘languages’.  And I love that he uses the idea of languages here.  For example, if I learned Spanish.  And I learned it really really well and someone came up to me and spoke to me in Spanish – I would understand them.  But I wouldn’t really GET all of their meaning – all the subtlety and nuance that comes with any message – unless they spoke to me in my native tongue.

Same applies to Love.  If you communicate love in one manner, and your partner communicates love in another manner – you both understand that they love you, but you don’t really FEEL it unless they speak to you in your ‘language’.  What happens is that you intellectually understand they love you, but your heart doesn’t get what Mr. Chapman calls: a deposit in your love bank.  And when we don’t feel loved in our own special way, all the irritations of life begin to build up.

Here are the 5 Love Languages

Verbal
This is the most obvious – little messages of love communicated verbally or in written form.
I love you
I think you are beautiful
I appreciate you.
Can be communicated with little texts or emails, etc.
Gifts

Some people feel love when their partner has gotten them something material.  And it doesn’t have to be big.  It can be as simple as: I thought you might be hungry, I picked up a banana for you.  It shows they were thinking of you.

Tasks

Sometimes people feel loved when their partner does something for them.  Picks up the dry cleaning, mows the yard, cleans out the basement, etc.

Time

These people feel love when their partner chooses to spend time with them over someone else.  They need a bucket of time spent together to feel close.

Touch

These people need physical contact to feel love.  And we aren’t just talking about sex here.  It can be holding hangs, tickling, putting your arm around them when watching a movie – just some type of physical touch.

The key here is to understand what your primary language is and what your partner’s language is and begin expressing your love in a way that is meaningful.  All of these methods are good and they should all be used – but one of them will have more “bang for your buck”.  It can be fun to experiment with them all and see what kind of reaction you get.

I’m always amazed at how quickly a couple re-connects when they target their partner’s love language.  Again, it’s a great concept – I’m just not sold on the actually book.

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