In which Ariel summarizes the Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman's philosophy that seeks to explain how each and every one of us communicates love differently and why it is that often our loved ones cannot hear us when we do.
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
In this – the month of love – Brianna and I chose to read The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell as our parenting book. As a long-time advocate of Chapman’s love languages, I was excited to explore how to apply his philosophy to parenting young children. I was not disappointed! Though I do believe Chapman and Ross assumed a basic knowledge of the philosophy that not all of us possess. What follows is a brief overview.
What is a Love Language?
No one knows how it is that one love language comes to be our primary love language. Do we learn to speak the language of our family? Or are we hardwired to express affection in certain ways? More than likely, in the nature versus nurture debate the answers lies somewhere in the messy middle-ground. However it comes to be, our primary language is the love language we naturally gravitate to. We give and receive love in this way. As the years go by, we may choose to learn additional languages – maybe in school, maybe on our own. The more languages we learn, the better able we are to communicate with others. But no matter how we may try, our primary languages usually remains the easiest way for us to convey meaning.
This is the basis for the philosophy of the five love languages. Though there are an infinite number of ways to communicate our love for others, they fall into five basic love languages – Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Our primary love language, just like our primary language, shapes how we experience love. It dictates how we show love to others and how we interpret the loving actions of others. For example, if my primary language is English I will tell you “I love you.” If your primary language is also English, you will hear what I have to say and you may choose to respond with “I love you too.” However, if your primary language is German, you will not understand what I am trying to say. You may respond with “Was hast du gesagt?” (What did you say?) or “Ich verstehe nicht!“ (I do not understand!) The point is when two people speak different languages communication breaks down. You cannot correctly convey your message. Chapman believes that the same principle applies to communicating love. Though we can learn to speak other love languages, our primary love language will always be the easiest way for us to give and receive love.
What is a Love Tank?
Our emotional need for love is essential to our emotional, mental and physical well-being.
Chapman describes our emotional need for love as our love tank. When someone speaks our love language, our love tank fills up. With a full love tank, we are better able to face life's many challenges, because we have a sense that we belong and that we are wanted. When no one speaks our love language, or when someone speaks our love language in a negative way, our love tanks empties. When our love tank is empty, we become desperate to fill it up; this often results in reckless, wild misbehavior that seems counterintuitive to our primary love language. For example, if my love language is Physical Touch but my love tank is empty, I may lash out with my fists and hit my sibling. I am attempting to fulfill my need for physical affection, but in an improper way.
What are the Five Love Languages?
1. Words of Affirmation
For some of us, we give and receive love using written and spoken words. This love language is all about verbal compliments, or words of encouragement and appreciation. Conversely, nagging or unnecessary negative criticism will be the quickest way to empty their love tank.
2. Receiving Gifts
For some of us, we give and receive love by exchanging gifts. It does not matter what it is or how much it costs. It could be a wildflower you found on your walk home. It is the act of giving that has meaning to individuals whose primary love language is Receiving Gifts.
3. Quality Time
For some of us, spending time with our loved ones – quality time – communicates love. Quality Time means that our loved one has our undivided attention. No distractions! This love language is all about how we spend our time. If your primary love language is Quality Time, you truly believe that time is the greatest gift of all.
4. Acts of Service
For some of us, actions speak louder than words. This love language is all about doing what you can when you can. Individuals whose primary love language is acts of service, enjoy hearing “What can I do for you?“ or “How can I help?“ So take a look at her to-do list and see what you can check off.
5. Physical Touch
For some of us, a physical touch – no matter how brief – speaks volumes. Though we may read physical touch and immediately think sex, that is not the only way to show physical affection. If Physical Touch is your loved one’s primary love language a hug, a back rub, or playfully wrestling on the couch all say the same thing. “You are loved!”
This article was not meant to stand in for reading the complete original text. I purposefully kept the descriptions of the five love languages vague, so as not to encourage you to self-diagnose. If this summary resonated with you, I encourage you to take the time to read The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. Reading it helped me to understand my husband on a deeper level. Consequently, it has changed my marriage for the better.
If you aren’t in a long-term relationship, Chapman assures us that the love languages still apply! In fact, he wrote numerous books driving this point home. Try The Five Love Languages Singles Edition: The Secret That Will Revolutionize Your Relationships. And of course, stay tuned for our review and discussion of The Five Love Languages of Children and The Five Love Languages of Teens.
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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