The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (1992, 2015) by Baptist pastor and marriage expert Gary Chapman is a guide to understanding, strengthening, and transforming intimate relationships. Since each person has different needs for giving and receiving love, the key to a healthy, happy marriage is to understand these needs in oneself as well as in one’s partner. Chapman describes these needs as “love languages.”
Everyone has an emotional love tank, much like a gas tank. When spouses speak each other’s love language consistently, they both feel loved and their emotional love tanks overflow. When the love tank is full, it’s only natural to want to give abundantly in return. When people feel loved, they want to express love to their significant other. This notion also applies to children, who tend to misbehave when their love tanks are low. Speaking to each other’s fundamental love languages encourages generosity and well being within the relationship.
Conversely, failing to speak each other’s love languages engenders resentment, bitterness, and conflict. If a partner doesn’t recognize a spouse’s love language, any effort to express love and affection will not register with the spouse, as it is not in the love language the spouse speaks. Therefore, spouses must identify the emotional love languages within their relationship, the first step in creating a firm emotional foundation within the relationship.
There are five main love languages: Words of Affirmation, or verbal expressions of adoration and appreciation; Quality Time, defined as having uninterrupted time with and attention from one’s spouse; Receiving Gifts, which means receiving thoughtful gestures and presents; Acts of Service, or receiving help and practical assistance that make life easier; and Physical Touch, which refers to physical expressions of love such as hugs and non-sexual caresses.
Learning the main love language of one’s spouse, as well as understanding one’s own, ensures that sentiments of love and affection will be received and felt by the other party. Meeting each other’s needs will naturally create the right conditions for getting to the heart of disagreements. Strengthened bonds and a lasting, happy marriage result from making the effort to understand and speak each other’s love language.
The key insights for this book are:
- People speak different love languages.
- Love is the most fundamental emotional need.
- Real love, unlike infatuation, requires consciously choosing to support each other.
- Words of Affirmation include compliments and kind words.
- Quality Time creates a reservoir of happy memories.
- Whether pricey, low-cost, or free, gifts can be symbols of value and love.
- Love can never be given under duress.
- A couple may have the same love language but speak different dialects.
- Those whose primary love language is physical touch require physical displays of affection to fill their love tank.