Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages”

If you are married, or in a serious relationship, you have to read this book! I have never been a good or fast reader. While I enjoy writing and write quickly, I am a slow reader. So, when I get excited about a book, it’s a big deal. I also take recommendations from parishioners on books to read. When someone is “jumping up and down excited” about a book, I do take notice. And I ask you to take notice of this one—THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ ON IMPROVING YOUR MARRIAGE.

In his book The Five Love Languages (a New York Times Bestseller), Gary Chapman identifies FIVE specific love languages—Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. His hypothesis is that everyone has a primary love language and usually a secondary love language. While we may have elements of all five languages in our vocabulary, there is one, and sometimes two, that are dominant.

What is a love language? A language in which we feel comfortable receiving or expressing love. If one’s primary love language is “Words of Affirmation,” as opposed to, let’s say, “Giving Gifts,” it means that when that person gives a loving gesture, he or she is more likely to write a letter expressing love than to buy a gift. It also means that when receiving love, he or she would rather receive a heart-felt letter than a material gift.

The second hypothesis is that, in a marriage, the primary and secondary love languages of the respective spouses are not necessarily the same. In fact, often, they are very different. And this can potentially cause conflict in the marriage. A simple example—let’s say that the husband’s primary love language is “Words of Affirmation” and the wife’s primary love language is “Acts of Service.” Here’s an example of a potential conflict—the husband is constantly telling his wife that he loves her. But she says “If you love me, pick up your socks off the floor.” And when the wife wants to express her love for her husband, she takes his car out and gets it detailed, but what he really wants is for her to tell him how proud she is of him.

Which leads to the third hypothesis—obviously, we are most comfortable speaking in our own language. But if we could learn to understand and speak to our spouse in his or her primary love language, imagine what that could do for a marriage. Everyone has an emotional “love tank” which is filled by receiving love in your primary language. When that tank is full, everything in the world looks better, including one’s marriage. When that tank is empty, everything in the world looks worse, including one’s marriage. So, if you can learn to speak your spouse’s language and keep his or her tank full, it will vastly improve your marriage.

This book is not a hard read, nor is it very long, about 200 pages. It is funny and is filled with real-life stories which every married person can relate to. It is positive and uplifting and not threatening in any way. It is a book which spouses can read together if they wish. At the end of the book, there is a 30-question profile for husbands and a separate one for wives, so that each party can identify their primary and secondary love languages. Armed with knowledge of your primary language, and the primary language of your spouse, along with tools for learning how to speak a “foreign language”, i.e. not your primary love language, you are ready to take your marriage to another level.

There are other books in Gary Chapman’s anthology, including Five Love Languages for Children and Five Love Languages for Teenagers, as well as several other titles.

You can buy “The Five Love Languages” for $14.99. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE WHO IS MARRIED OR IN A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP!!!

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Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John…
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