In The Five Love Languages Dr. Chapman departs from academic definitions of love, which are mostly intellectual and therefore cold, and discusses what he refers to as “emotional” love. This is the romantic kind often portrayed in novels and movies and rooted in our psychological makeup.
He also popularizes the concept of the “love tank” which, though unseen, every person has. The level to which this tank is filled determines how loved a person feels and this in turn produces in them a sense of significance, self-worth and security. Or not.
When the love tank is full, he says, your spouse “will move out to reach his highest potential in life.” When it is empty you will find yourself sleeping with the enemy.
This tank is filled when one partner loves his or her spouse in the right way, i.e., the way they want to be loved and love can be expressed in one of five different ways which he refers to as languages. Each person responds to only one of those languages primarily. The most important point of the book is…
A person can feel unloved even when their partner has good character and does many apparently loving things. They feel loved only when their spouse identifies their particular love language and learns to speak it well everyday.
Simply stated the five love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Dr. Chapman suggests that many failed or failing marriages could be revitalized if the couples would identify and learn to speak their mates love language. It almost sounds too good to be true but he backs up his claim with examples of couples he has coached through this learning process successfully.
Several of his clients refer to the effect as “miraculous” and from the descriptions, some of them seemed hopeless.
This book brings a breath of fresh air to discussions on marriage/divorce. Although Gary is a Christian and would encourage couples to stay together, he doesn’t take a “tough it out” approach when the relationship is drowning. He brings real insight to each persons need for love and how to meet it. Without doubt he presents a “feel good” approach to managing marriage problems.
The book includes many philosophical ideas about love and human nature:
- Falling in love is a natural and necessary part of human interaction but it doesn’t involve real love: it isn’t an act of the will, requires no effort and doesn’t have a genuine interest in fostering the personal growth of the other person.
- With regard to emotions, Gary says they “are neither good nor bad. They are simply our psychological responses to the events of life.”
- “Love is a choice and either partner can start the process today.” Through his experience he shows that one loving partner, using the correct love language, can transform a hateful spouse into one that loves. He practically illustrates “love your enemy.”
- “…Almost all sexual misconduct in adolescents is rooted in an empty emotional love tank,” Dr. Ross Campbell.
- “True love always liberates.”
The book has no bibliography. It is based predominantly on Dr. Chapman’s experience working with troubled couples but the information is immediately accessible and self apparent. You don’t need a reference library or labratory to try these ideas for yourself.
He doesn’t deal with excessively abusive situations but many failed marriages don’t fall into that category. Relationships fail even when partners have good character and are high quality individuals in every way except one, they haven’t learned that what their partner needs is different to what they are getting.
There are exercises at the end of each chapter to help develop skills in using the various languages and a battery of questions at the end of the book, for both men and women, to help determine what your love language is.
He does include a section on kids in which he verifies what I have often said. If you treat all of your children the same, you are probably mistreating some. Children respond to different languages also.
What I Took Away From The Book
- An insecure person may have difficulty openly identifying their love language. It represents an area of need and if they were raised to think “needy” is somehow bad they will not easily accept or admit to this need.
- Self-love has little to do with self. We feel significant because we feel loved by others.
- The only love we have to give is the love that others give us first.
You can get the book inexpensively here.