I know I know… Many of you are thinking. Really? This loser is going to review a self-help book about LOVE on this site??? I can just skip this (and you can, if you really want to)! But bear with me! My next review will be on Ready Player One, a book which will suit many of your tastes far better. In the meantime, you might as well know upfront that I think this book is really worthwhile, otherwise I wouldn’t waste your time with it.
Once you get past the fact that Dr. Chapman sounds a lot like Dr. Phil, and mixes in a fair amount of religious talk at the beginning and end of this book, The Five Love Languages is actually a really interesting way of looking at our relationships with others (both romantic and non-romantic). In the book, Dr. Chapman reveals that people express and receive love in different ways. Because of this, even in some of the most loving relationships, one or both parties may not feel loved because the way the love is expressed isn’t necessarily in a “language” the other is receptive to. In other words, we feel most loved when the other person is expressing their love in a way that is important to us.
There are 5 main love languages: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Quality Time.
Physical Touch means that a person feels loved through hugs, pats on the back, hand-holding, back massages, hair stroking, and other thoughtful touches. An affinity for physical touch isn’t synonymous with wanting to get it on all the time. Sure, that can be part of it, but just being near someone can be enough to show them they are loved. Thus, when a loved one never initiates any sort of touching, someone who values physical touch may feel unfulfilled.
Words of Affirmation focuses on encouraging words. People with this love language feel loved when others complement them, verbally express their love, and give them meaningful praise. These people are thus very sensitive to criticism and insults.
Acts of Service is all about expressing love by helping others. These people feel loved when others offer their unsolicited assistance and do things to make their partner’s life a little bit easier. So, being lazy and not offering to help with chores around the house sends the message that you simply don’t care.
Receiving Gifts is not the same as materialism. Rather, people with this love language love the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. The type of gift doesn’t matter. Bringing home a person’s favorite candy after work or making something heartfelt is just as appreciated as something expensive – especially when finances are an issue. Every-day, simple gestures really communicate to these people that others love them.
Quality Time is the final love language. These people yearn for the undivided attention of those around them. That means no TV, no cell phones, no computers – just enjoying each other’s company and the chance to talk without interruption. Doing new things together or having a date night with a loved one are more meaningful than anything else.
This book was really enlightening; I understand now where the miscommunications in some of my relationships have stemmed from. Dr. Chapman shares many stories about how doing a six month experiment in trying to speak your partner’s love language has saved hundreds of marriages and led to more fulfilling relationships with all types of people – parents, children, friends, etc. (Chapman also has written books for the love languages of the office, children, and teenagers). Sure, at first it may take extra effort to communicate your love in a way that doesn’t come naturally to you, but he promises the payoff will be worth it, and all things considered, what do we really have to lose by trying it out? I highly recommend anyone to check out this book (he also writes a book geared towards guys for those reluctant male readers). You can probably skim through the first couple of chapters though, and get to the good stuff when he actually starts talking about what the love languages are.
For those of you interested in finding out what YOUR love language is, go take the quiz here (if you aren’t married yet, choose the “singles” option): http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/
Final Rating: 4/5 stars.