The 5 Love LanguagesBy Dan Vis
March 12, 2018
In this month's featured class on marriage, Made in Heaven, I referred briefly to the five love languages in one of our studies. I decided to expand on that subject a bit more, for our Monday Memo this week.
The love language model was developed by an evangelical pastor and marriage counselor named Gary Chapman, with his book on the subject first coming out in 1992. It soon became a runaway best seller, with the total number of sales increasing every year for 19 of the next 20 years. It ultimately sold more than ten million copies, a success achieved by only a handful of Christian books. It ended up on the New York Times’ list of best-selling self-help books of all time, and at the top of its list of bestsellers on Love and Relationships. It has been translated into more than 50 languages.
The basic premise of the book is that we are each wired to feel love through one or maybe two of five primary love languages. A person can express love in one language, but it is not felt as love, if the recipient tends to "speak" a different language. Our tendency as humans, unfortunately, is to speak in the language most meaningful to us, rather than the language most meaningful to the recipient. And as a result of this "miscommunication", couples often experience frustration and a lack of fulfillment.
The Five Languages
The five languages, as outlined by Gary Chapman are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
These languages are pretty easy to grasp intuitively, but you can get a quick summary of each one in Chapman's own words in this short article posted at Focus on the Family. If you are not familiar with his model, it's worth taking a minute to read his summary of the different languages.
For those who would like to discover their own love language, Chapman has put up a free self-assessment you can take and get instant results. You may be able to get your spouse to fill it out, as well. In fact, I suggest filling it out for your spouse, first, and then have them fill it out separately, and see how close your scores match. That should give you some sense how well you know your spouse. They can do the same if they are interested in discovering how well they know you. There is also an assessment you can use to try and understand the love language of your child.
The success and popularity of Dr. Chapman's love language model suggests there is something to it. Personally, I'm not convinced there are just five langagues, or that we are innately wired to a single language. It's possible we are inclined one way or another based on genetics or upbringing, but I tend to think what communicates love best depends largely on the context. What is meaningful in one situation with one person, may not speak to us in the same way in a different setting, or with a different person. A three minute assessment is an oversimplification of what it takes to learn how to love another person effectively. Humans are wonderfully, and beautifully complex.
Still, we need all the help we can get! And Chapman's model is a good starting point for learning how to love our spouse. A study cited at Psychology Today, discovered couples are not much better at reading each other's mind than perfect strangers. According to the study, two strangers were able to guess what each other was thinking and feeling at a rate of about 20 percent. The rate among couples and close friends, in comparison, rarely rose above 35 percent! That means, even with a long term spouse, we are probably misreading their thoughts two times out of three!
In other words, our inability to intuitively guess what another person needs is a very real problem. We need tools like the 5 love languages to grow in our understanding of our spouse, and improve our ability to love them in ways that are meaningful. But we need much more than a short assessment. We should make understanding the needs, hopes, fears, and dreams of our spouse, a lifelong study. We need good communication, to discuss these very topics. And we need continual plans, strategies, and experimentation to find out what approaches do in fact work. Do that consistently, and we will steadily become more skilled at love.
Understanding the love language model is a helpful tool. We need more than a simple model--but a simple model is a good place to start.
CommentsHave you studied the 5 love languages? Did you find the information helpful? How important is it to know our spouse well, and communicate love in ways that are meaningful to them? Share your thoughts in the comments below...
|Posted by Suzi Woods on 03/22/18|
|Thank you for this , I have encountered this before and found it helpful as we were having some mis communication. But Dan I liked your comment on how it could change in various situations.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 03/14/18|
|I've read that quote as well Valerie. Powerful isn't it.
Ann, I wasn't sure what reference you meant (as there was a typo) but I took my best guess and edited your comment. Hope I got it right. :)
|Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 03/14/18|
|Ann, you are right. As one loves God, he/she can love his/her spouse. I read in Adventist Home that if the marriage partners each loved God supremely, the problems which might arise could be resolved in 5 minutes! We love him, because he first loved us. I John 4:19We love him, because he first loved us.. May we abide in His love today.|
|Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 03/14/18|
|Tnank you, Qing,Qing. I'm not very good with technology :). God is good. I am currently memorizing I John 4:18-1918 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.. The ONLY way we can love is by depending on God. Otherwise we are completely selfish. God bless.|
|Posted by Qing Ling on 03/14/18|
|Ann your 1st sentence in your comment took my breath away. I'm sticking that up on my bathroom mirror.|
|Posted by Rodel Gotos on 03/12/18|
|Yes, thank you for the 5 Love Languages. Love indeed is no longer about getting, but giving. It is laying down our desires and do what's in his or her best interest. It is to care for him/her even when there's nothing in it for us (Luke 6:32-3532 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.. Blessings and more power from on High!|
|Posted by Lee Griffin on 03/12/18|
|Yes very helpful and opened my eyes. Praise the Lord for Gary's book and for FAST.|
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