What Are the Five Love Languages?
There are many people in this world who are dealing with failing marriages. According to some recent studies, one third of all marriages will end in divorce. Here at Pure Faith Living, we would like to do as much as we can to help remedy this tragic statistic. Though there are many different ways to approach marriage counseling, I really like the way Dr. Chapman simplifies the process. Before we really get into this article, I should say that I am not a marriage counselor nor am I any type of authority in the field of counseling or marriage. I am just a Christian with a hope and a dream of helping marriages by steering them in a direction where they can receive the help that they need. With that said, let’s take a deep dive look into Dr. Gary Chapman’s approach to marriage counseling which he calls the “5 Love Languages.”
Let’s start by giving you the five love languages along with a brief definition. These love languages are in no special order, but are as follows:
Words of Affirmation - This language uses words to affirm other people.
Quality Time - This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
Receiving Gifts - For some people, receiving a heartfelt gift is what makes them feel most loved.
Acts of Service - For these people, actions speak louder than words.
Physical Touch - To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate physical touch.
Now that we know what the five love languages are, we can start to get into the greatest benefit that these languages present.
I would like to start by discussing some of the benefits of using Dr. Chapman's approach to relationships. If you listened to our Marriage Series of our podcast, specifically episodes 43. Marriage…Part 1, 44. Part 2 and 45. Part 3, you will hear Michele and I discussing this very topic. In my humble opinion, the most important area that "The 5 Love Languages" can assist you and your spouse, or future spouse, is the area of communication. This book does more than just teach us about what love languages are. It gives us a common ground where we can approach our partner with whatever is troubling us in order to find a way to reconcile our differences. Without having this avenue, our relationships could fall into an unstoppable spin that ends in only one possible location...divorce. However, if you get your hands on this book, read it and understand what Dr. Chapman is trying to say then you greatly increase your chance of saving your marriage. It is up to each one of us to learn what your partner's love language is and then start to speak that language frequently and fluidly. It will fill your partner's "love tank" to the point that they will become willing to learn and speak your love language. During this process you will be able to lay the groundwork for communication about love languages. This is what we are going to cover in this article, and it will cover three areas under communication. These areas are:
What is the meaning of love languages?
How to speak your partner’s love language?
And, most importantly, openly discussing your love language with your spouse.
I know what you're thinking, "I can't open up to my partner about that kind of stuff because of whatever reason." As a Christian it is my responsibility to tell you the truth, those negative thoughts are from the devil. The devil doesn't want you to save, or even help, your marriage because the devil is here to kill, steal and destroy. You have to be willing to take a stand against the devil, audibly tell him to get out of your life and also audibly surrender to Jesus Christ. These actions combined will send the devil running for the hills. I can say this with confidence because I was in that same mindset when I first read “The 5 Love Languages.” I am not good at sharing my feelings and, for those who don’t know my wife, neither is she. We struggled finding the words needed to meet in the middle where we could build each other up. This book gave us those tools. Now, let’s look at the three points mentioned above.
What is the Meaning of Love Languages?
The entire meaning or purpose behind using love languages is to give you and your partner a common ground of understanding that you can go to when tensions start to build in your relationship. I will use my own marriage as an example. My wife’s primary love language is acts of service. Well, there are times where I get busy doing other stuff (like writing blog posts or editing podcasts) and I start to neglect my duties as a husband. Since my wife’s love language is acts of service, then that is my primary duty as a husband. She likes when I clean out the dishwasher and refill it, do laundry, pick up after the boys, etc. However, there are times where I don’t do as much for her as she likes or she deserves. At those times, she can come to me in confidence to say that I am not speaking her love language. When she does that then it tells me that I am slacking and need to do more for her. If we didn’t understand the meaning of the love languages, then that scenario wouldn’t work. That scenario would probably have a lot more arguing or cold-shouldering involved. A fight would probably follow where I wouldn’t understand why she was upset and she wouldn’t know how to tell me what she wanted.
I hope that you are starting to understand the need for and meaning behind using something like the love languages. There are other techniques out there that are similar to the love languages which would work just as well. As long as you and your spouse both use the same method and you both understand that method, then that method will work just fine. Again, the meaning behind it is communication. It gives you that common ground of understanding that can help guide your relationship into a better understanding of each other.
How to Speak Your Partner’s Love Language
For some people it is extremely easy to speak your partner’s love language. For others, it will be the most frustrating thing you ever have to do. It really just depends on what your personal love language is and what your spouse’s is. If you have the same primary love language (which is an extremely rare thing) then life will be easy. I say that because you are typically well versed in speaking your own love language. I’m sure that makes sense because you obviously know what you like. However, just because you and your spouse have the same primary love language, your dialects could be different. I don’t want to get too deep into dialects here, but I will give a quick overview. My primary love language is quality time, but my primary dialect is quality conversation. That means that when my wife and I are together and are talking, I like to have a more intimate, sit-down, eye to eye conversation. A conversation without distractions. However, somebody else who has quality time as their primary language may prefer to sit together and watch a movie without talking. Some may want to spend time together doing activities like hiking or biking. Others may enjoy playing board games or something similar. There are numerous directions that it could go, and this is true for all the love languages. Therefore, those sub-categories are what Dr. Chapman calls dialects. If you want to learn more about dialects then you can go to our podcast episode where we discuss some of the dialects.
Once you learn what your spouse’s love language is, as well as their dialect, then you are ready to start learning how to speak it. The simplest way to learn is to ask your spouse. Like I said before, nobody knows how to speak a person’s love language better than themselves. So, just ask. Then establish open communication on the topic. My wife and I have started the habit of thanking each other when we properly speak the other person's love language. This habit just clues us in on what the other likes so we can remember to do that again in the future. Once you learn what your spouse likes, then it’s just a matter of putting in the practice in order to master that language. If you can do that, then you will be on a long and happy road of blissful marriage.
Openly Discussing Love Languages
I have already hinted at this at the end of the last paragraph, but it is important enough to have its own section. The reason for that is because, like I said at the beginning of this article, this entire principle is based on communication. The most important thing in any relationship is communication. So, being comfortable enough to openly discuss love languages and how you feel when your spouse speaks yours is critical. I understand that it can be uncomfortable in the early stages of this process. I know this because that is the way it was for my wife and me. We struggled early on, and I could physically feel the awkwardness of it between us. Now, however, after getting plenty of practice over the years, we have become rather fluid with the entire concept. That is primarily because we went through that awkwardness that a lot of people get stuck behind. Trust me, if you can make it through that then things will be a lot smoother on the other side. I’m not saying everything is going to be rainbows and unicorns, but fights will be fewer and less severe because you have that common ground of understanding that really does smooth over a lot of the big hills you will face as a couple. So, don’t let fear get between you and the love of your life. Discuss your love languages, your dialects, how you like them to be spoken and how you feel when they are spoken correctly. If your spouse is struggling, then be patient. If they are trying, then that means they are putting in the effort. Give them time and guidance and they will eventually figure it out. Just remember to maintain that open line of communication. I cannot stress that enough. You chose your spouse for a reason. If you lose them because you were too scared to discuss your feelings, well, that means the devil has won another battle. Don’t let the devil win.
In episode 44 of our podcast Michele spoke these words about the book, “I sat down last evening, and it’s very easy to read. It really is. I got through half of it last evening, and just the half that I got through has been very eye opening to me. So, I look forward to finishing the book…hopefully today.” Then later on in the same episode Michele says, “Again, you read the book and your eyes are just opened to certain things. Again, I can’t state enough that if you’ve got a weekend where you can pick up a book, and like I said it’s an easy read, then you can learn so much just from the first couple chapters.” Michele has been married for 22 years and is just now reading this book, but she claims that even if you are a seasoned couple, you can still learn something. Everybody can learn how to communicate better, and that is what this book provides for couples. I’ve said it a few times already, but I am going to say it again. It provides a common area for you and your spouse to discuss the things that make you happy and fill you with love for your spouse. So, all of us here at Pure Faith Living greatly encourage you, and challenge you, to strengthen your marriage. If we all work together in building up the foundation of marriage, then we will also strengthen the foundation of this nation and God’s Kingdom. If you are interested in purchasing the book then you can just click here for Amazon.com or here for Christianbook.com.
If you want to learn more about how to strengthen your marriage then I suggest reading “United Marriage Encounter.” If you want to strengthen your prayer life then I suggest starting at “What is Bible Journaling?”