Book Review: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Book Review: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Why did I decide to read this book? 

I first heard about the idea of “love languages” on a blog post I read a few years ago. I remember thinking, “that sounds interesting! I should read more…” and then, like a lot of things,  never actually got around to doing it. On a whim, I finally decided to check out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman from the library and ended up reading the 200-ish page book in one sitting, all while Little A was napping. The writing is simple, clear, and to-the-point which makes for an easy to understand, quick read. The idea is that there are 5 different love languages, and just like we all have a primary spoken language, each of us also has a primary love language. Once we discover the way we like to be loved, and the way our partner likes to be loved, it seems we will indeed discover “the secret to love that lasts,” as the subtitle suggests.

In Love Vs Real Love

I though the discussion about the difference between the euphoria of the “in-love” phase of a relationship versus the “real-love” phase was especially interesting. The “in-love” phase usually lasts 2 years or less for most couples. I often think back to the “in-love” phase of my own relationship, when everything was new and exciting. There were late night discussions, long phone calls, and lots of butterflies in the stomach! Chapman describes this phase as “obsessional in nature” when all you can think about is your new partner, morning, noon, and night!  It’s also temporary. What comes next takes real work. The “real-love” phase is emotional. And it’s a choice.

“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.”

That being said, knowing your partner’s love language is the key to knowing how to love them the way the need to be loved, according to Chapman.

The 5 love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation-  Giving your partner compliments, words of encouragement, kind words, and humble words (ex: making a request rather than a demand).
  2. Quality Time- Giving your partner your undivided attention, either through conversation, sympathetic listening, or quality activities together.
  3. Receiving Gifts- Giving your partner a gift as a symbol of your love or giving the gift of self (your presence).
  4. Acts of Service- Doing the chores, paying bills, mowing the lawn, cooking dinner for your partner.
  5. Physical Touch- A gentle caress, hand-holding, a kiss before leaving the house, and…more!

What is my love language? 

When I started reading, I thought my own love language would certainly be “Words of Affirmation.” I was surprised, as I continued reading, how much I seemed to relate to the examples of people who identify “Acts of Service” as their primary love language. Simple tasks that my husband performs mean so much to me: letting me sleep in on the weekend, turning on the coffee pot, taking out the trash, carrying the laundry basket downstairs, vacuuming the house, changing A’s diaper when he’s home…the list really goes on and on…it’s these things that make me feel the most loved. It’s the simple fact that he does these things, things I know he doesn’t really want to do, that matters the most to me. He is constantly taking care of me the way I need him to. Chapman calls these things acts of love. And I think they are. When I completed the Love Languages Personal Profile at the end of the book, my highest scoring love language was “Acts of Service”, with “Words of Affirmation” being a very close second.

Here is a passage that stood out in particular. I think it sums up the whole idea of meeting your partner’s needs through understanding his or her love language nicely:

“Meeting my wife’s need for love is a choice I make each day. If I know her primary love language and choose to speak it, her deepest emotional needs will be met and she will feel secure in my love. If she does the same for me, my emotional needs are met and both of us live with a full tank. In a state of emotional contentment, both of us will give our creative energies to many wholesome projects outside the marriage while we continue to keep our marriage exciting and growing.”

Overall, I think that this was a quick and interesting read. It made me think about how I need to be loved and how my husband needs me to love him in new ways.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married 6 months, 6 years, or 60 years…I think learning to look at your relationship in a new way is always a good thing!

What’s your love language?





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