Bible School

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.


Have 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...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 03/23/18 - Coach
You are very welcome Suzi!
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 03/19/18 - Coach
Welcome back Ajay! And thanks for pointing out being able to use these skills effectively improves our ability to relate to all sorts of people. Great comment!

John, interesting comment about dialects. So true. Just reminds me again of how important is to fine tune our understanding of the people close to us and relate to them individually rather than just lump them into 5 simple boxes. And yes, it's sometimes quite mysterious to me too!
Posted by John Gilmore on 03/17/18
I, too, have read on the 5 love languages. I'm sure they exist and operate in all of us. In that sense, some of us speak only one language well, but most of us more than one. On another point in Gary Chapman's book, each love language has dialects. Touch, for example, may be "loving" for one person only if it is gentle, but for another rough play may be interpreted as "love." For all of us though, as you Dan wrote, we do well to not always assume that we understand what another person is thinking when they haven't told us. I've misunderstood enough times, even with verbal exchanges, to know that good communication can be complicated and, to me, sometimes mysterious.
Posted by Ajay Nenavathu on 03/14/18
Hi all sorry i'm late i have been in meetings the last few weeks so not able to be on there much.... I agree with you complacently Ann but there is a basic need for the ability to communicate also (My wife speaks very little of the language i speak ... God has really blessed my mirage...) but it takes communication to build a healthy relationship. The same is true about how we understand and relate to others on the love level.... I learned about these language many years ago and it has really helped me to understand others and to be able to help others understand each other.
Posted by Dan Vis on 03/14/18 - Coach
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 - Coach
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 - Coach
Ann your 1st sentence in your comment took my breath away. I'm sticking that up on my bathroom mirror.
Posted by Dan Vis on 03/13/18 - Coach
Glad this was helpful to everyone! Appreciate all the comments and feedback. :)

Rodel Gotos you are so right about love being more about giving than getting, or at least it should be.

Shanthi, thanks for sharing your beautiful testimony. What an inspiration...
Posted by Shanthi Solomon on 03/13/18
Ann I totally agree with you about prayer being the best love language. My husband and I have been married for almost 25 years ( Praise God). Once we knew that our lives would be entwined, we began praying with each other and for each other. We also decided that once we were married it would continue morning and evening, because we are in a Love Triangle with God! We learned that the closer we are to God, the better our relationship with each other. Even when we are separated by thousands of miles and major time differences, we pray together when each of us wakes up and goes to bed. We use some of the time to read from Spirit of prophecy books, discuss the Sabbath school topic and also share insights from the word of God. It has bee so enriching as we have gown together to spend time with the One who gave us th ER elation ship we have.
Posted by Floride Leonce on 03/12/18
Thank you, Dan, for mentioning the book!
I agree with both Ann and Carole. Our top priority should be working on a closer relationship with God, only then we will be able to love our spouses the way we ought to. Also, like Carole said, we shouldn’t take each other for granted. Everyday should be an opportunity for us to love, celebrate, and cherish our spouses. But we can only do that if we love God and His love is perfected in us.
Posted by Carole Bliss on 03/12/18
As long as I have been married, I need to take more time, relearning how he feels and where he is at, at this point in time. This has been very helpful. We need to stop taking one another for granted.
No one knows from day to day, cherishing our time together must be met.

Posted by Dan Vis on 03/12/18 - Coach
I like your point Ann, about the best love language being a closer walk with God. So many problems are indeed spiritual problems. And drawing closer to God is the best way to learn how to love more perfectly. Of course, good tips can help speed up the process!

Glad you found the book helpful, Lee. It's a good framework for understanding people. And glad FAST has been a blessing to you...
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.
Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 03/12/18
Actually, the best love language is a closer walk with God. As we draw nearer to him we draw nearer to our spouse. Most marriage problems are actually spiritual problems. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe we call all benefit from marriage workshops, but ultimately it comes back to our relationship with God first. PA Conf of SDA has a marriage retreat weekend each year and It does give reminders and a time to concentrate on one's marriage. Maintenance is always a good idea.

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