- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Before I take you on a journey into the lives of my friends, let me first share with you the basic paradigm that has helped many individuals make love connections on the human level. After more than thirty years of counseling couples and families, I am convinced that there are only five basic languages of love. There are many dialects but only five basic languages.
Each of us has a primary love language. That is, one of the five love languages speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other four. When someone speaks my primary love language, I am drawn to that person because he or she is meeting my basic need to feel loved. When a person does not speak my primary language, I will wonder whether he or she really loves me, because emotionally I am not understanding that person.
The problem in many human relationships is that you and I speak our own love language and wonder why the other person does not understand. That's like my speaking English to someone who only understands German and wondering why he doesn't comprehend my message. Human relationships are greatly enhanced when we learn to speak the other person's love language.
It works.Thousands of married couples echo the story of Scott and Anna. They had driven four hundred miles to Atlanta to attend a "Love Languages" seminar. After the Friday night session, Scott said, "Dr. Chapman, we want to thank you for turning our marriage around."
I couldn't figure it out. They had just started the weekend seminar.
Sensing the question in my eyes, he continued. "I know that you don't know us, but God used the love language concept to transform our marriage. We have been married for thirty-three years, but to be very honest with you, the last twenty years have been utterly miserable. We have lived in the same house and been outwardly friendly with each other, but that's as far as it went. If you want to know how bad it was, we had not taken a vacation together in twenty years. We simply didn't like being with each other.
"Some time ago, I shared my misery with a friend. He went into his house and came back with your book and told me to read it. He thought it would help me. I went home and read it. I finished reading it about two o'clock one morning. I shook my head and asked myself, How could I have missed this?
"I realized immediately that my wife and I had not spoken each other's love language for years. I gave the book to her and asked her to read it and let me know what she thought of it. Three or four days later, we sat down and discussed the book. We both agreed that if we had read the book twenty years earlier, our lives would have been different. I asked her if she thought it would make any difference if we tried now. She replied, 'We don't have anything to lose.'"
LANGUAGES THAT TRANSFORM
At this point, Anna broke into the conversation and said, "I didn't have any idea that things would actually change between us, but I was certainly willing to give it a try. I still can't believe what has happened. We enjoy being with each other now. Two months ago, we took our first vacation together and had a wonderful time."
During the conversation, I learned that Scott's love language was words of affirmation and Anna's love language was gifts. Scott was not a gift-giver by nature. In fact, gifts meant very little to him. He got no special thrill when he received a gift, and he had little interest in giving gifts. Conversely, Anna was a woman of few words. She was not given to compliments and admitted that she was often critical.
It was not without effort that Scott learned to buy gifts. In fact, he recruited his sister to help him with the project. Anna admitted that at first she thought it would be a temporary phenomenon. Their original agreement was that for three months they would speak each other's love language at least once a week and see what happened. "Within two months," Scott said, "I had warm feelings for Anna and she had feelings for me." Anna said, "I never dreamed that I would be able to say the words 'I love you' to Scott and really mean it. But I do; it's incredible how much I love him."
When a married couple discover each other's primary love language and choose to speak it on a regular basis, emotional love will be reborn.
Single adults have also benefited greatly from understanding the five love languages. Megan wrote me from Japan.
Dear Dr. Chapman,
I wanted to write you and let you know how much your book, The Five Love Languages, has meant to me. I know you wrote it for married couples but a friend of mine gave it to me and it has had a profound impact on my life. I am in Japan teaching English as a second language. The main reason I came here was to get away from my mother. Our relationship has been strained for several years. I felt unloved and that she was trying to control my life. When I read your book, my eyes were opened. I realized that my love language is words of affirmation, but my mother only gave me critical, harsh words.
I also realized that my mother's language was acts of service. She was forever doing something for me. Even after I got my own apartment, she wanted to come over and vacuum my floors. She knitted a sweater for my dachshund and baked cookies when she knew I was having friends over. Since I didn't feel loved by her, I saw all of these as efforts to control my life. Now I realize it was her way of expressing love to me. She was speaking her love language and I know now that she was sincere.
I mailed a copy of the book to her. She read it, and we discussed it via E-mail. I apologized for misreading her actions over the years. And after I explained to her how deeply her critical words had hurt me, she apologized to me. Now her E-mails are filled with words of affirmation. And I find myself thinking about things I can do for her when I get home. I have already told her that I want to paint the bedroom for her. She can't do it herself and can't afford to have it done.
I know that our relationship is going to be different. I have helped some students here learn to speak English a little better, but my greatest discovery has been the languages of love.
LANGUAGES THAT TRANSFORM CHILDREN AND TEENS
Parents also must learn the primary love languages of their children if the children are to feel loved. Thirty-three-year-old Marta was the mother of two young children, ages five and a half and six months. About two months after the baby came, Marta began to notice a change in Brent. Prior to the second child, he had been "a perfect child," she said. "We never had any trouble with him. But almost overnight we began to see behaviors that we had not seen before."
"He would do things that he knew were against the rules and then deny that he had done them. We noticed that he was deliberately rough in handling the baby; once I found him pulling the blanket over the baby's head in the crib. He began to defy me. I remember the time he said, 'No, and you can't make me.'"
About the time of Brent's defiant statement, Marta began attending a ladies' study group that was studying The Five Love Languages of Children. "When I read the chapter on quality time, I knew what was going on with Brent," Marta said. "I had never thought of it before, but I knew that quality time was Brent's primary love language. Before the baby came, I spoke his language loudly and he felt loved. After the baby came, we no longer took walks in the park together, and our quality time was greatly diminished. With this insight, I went home determined to make time for Brent. Rather than doing housework while the baby slept, I determined to give him quality time.
"It was amazing to watch the results. Within four or five days, Brent was back to being the happy child he had always been. I couldn't believe how quickly he had changed."
The craving for love is our deepest emotional need whether we are children or adults. If we feel loved by the significant people in our lives, the world looks bright, and we are free to develop our interests and make a positive contribution in the world. But if our love tank is empty and we do not feel loved by the significant people in our lives, then the world begins to look dark and this darkness will be reflected in our behavior.
Transforming Our Teens
Much of the violence among teenagers in our society is rooted in their having empty love tanks. In the heart of the teenager, love has to do with connection, acceptance, and nurture. Connection requires the physical presence of the parent and meaningful communication. Acceptance implies unconditional love regardless of the behavior of the teen, while nurture is feeding the spirit of the teen with encouragement and comfort. The opposite of connection is abandonment. The opposite of acceptance is rejection, and the opposite of nurture is abuse-physical or verbal.
The teen who feels abandoned, rejected, or abused will almost certainly struggle with self-worth, meaning, and purpose. His or her love tank will be empty, and eventually the pain of feeling unloved will show up in the destructive behavior of the teenager.
Negative behavior often changes radically and quickly when the teenager genuinely feels loved by parents. Speaking our teens' love languages can transform our relationships with them.
THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES
Let me briefly describe the five love languages for those who have not read my previous books.
1. Words of Affirmation
Using words to affirm the other person is a key way to express love. "You look nice in that dress.... You did a good job with that assignment.... I appreciate your sticking with this until you finished.... Thanks for cleaning your room.... I appreciate you taking out the garbage." These are all affirming words. Here are others: "I know you worked hard on this project and I want you to know that I sincerely appreciate what you have done.... This was a great meal.... Thanks for all your hard work."
There are thousands of ways to express affirmation by words. These affirmations may focus upon the person's behavior, physical appearance, or personality. The words may be spoken, written, or even sung. To the people whose primary love language is words of affirmation, such affirming words fall like a spring rain on barren soil.
2. Quality Time
Quality time is giving someone your undivided attention. With a small child, it is sitting on the floor rolling the ball back and forth. With a spouse, it is sitting on the couch, looking at each other and talking, or taking a walk down the road, just the two of you, or going out to eat together and looking and talking to each other. It is taking a teenager fishing and telling him what life was like when you were a teenager, then asking how his life differs from yours. You are focusing on the teen-not the fishing.
For the single adult, quality time is planning an event with a friend where the two of you can have some time to share your life with each other. The important thing is not the activity but that the two of you have time together. When you give someone quality time, you are giving him or her a part of your life. It is a deep communication of love.
Giving gifts is a universal expression of love. Gifts say, "He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me." Children, adults, and teenagers all appreciate gifts. For some people, gifts is their primary love language. Nothing makes them feel more loved than receiving a gift.
Gifts need not be expensive. You can pick up a colored, twisted stone while hiking, take it home, and give it to a ten-year-old boy, tell him where you found it, and tell him you were thinking of him. I can almost guarantee you when he is twenty-three, he will still have the stone in his dresser drawer.
4. Acts of Service
"Actions speak louder than words," the old saying goes. That's true for people whose primary love language is acts of service. Doing something that you know the other person would like for you to do is an expression of love. So is cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, mowing grass, cleaning the grill, giving the dog a bath, painting a bedroom, washing the car, driving the sixth grader to soccer practice, mending a doll dress, and putting the chain back on a bicycle. The list could be endless. The person who speaks this language is always looking for things he can do for others.
To the person whose primary love language is acts of service, words may indeed be empty if they are not accompanied by acts of service. The husband says, "I love you," and she's thinking, If he loved me, he would do something around here. He may be sincere in his words of affirmation, but he is missing her emotionally because her language is acts of service; without it, she does not feel loved.
A wife gives her husband gifts, but if his love language is acts of service, he is wondering, Why doesn't she spend her time cleaning the house instead of buying me gifts? "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is not true for all men but may well be true for the man whose primary love language is acts of service.
5. Physical Touch
We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. That's why we pick up babies, hold them, cuddle them, and say all those silly words. And long before the child understands the meaning of love, the child feels loved by physical touch. Hugging and kissing a six-year-old as he or she leaves for school in the morning is a way of filling the child's love tank and thus preparing him for a day of learning.
If the child's primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important. The teenager whose primary love language is physical touch may draw back from your hugs and kisses, but it does not mean that he has no desire for touch. He associates hugs and kisses with childhood. He is not a child any longer. So you must learn new dialects, new ways of touching the teenager. A slap on the shoulder, an elbow at an appropriate moment, wrestling the teenager to the floor, a back rub after a tough football practice will fill the teenager's love tank. Stop touching this teenager, and he or she will feel unloved.
THE GOAL: A FULL LOVE TANK
The key to making sure that your spouse, your children, your parents feel loved is to discover the primary love language of the other person and speak it consistently.
Excerpted from The Love Languages of God by Gary Chapman Copyright © 2006 by Gary Chapman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
I was ecstatic to realize and understand God's love language to me. My primary love language is "words of affirmation." As I was reading "The Love Languages of God," all of a sudden it clicked why I loved God's Word so much. God's Word speaks my love language. I leaped off the bed in sheer excitement. Every time I read God's Word, I am drawn closer to God Himself. The Bible doesn't contain just words on a page; they are life giving words for me. I am grateful that Mr. Chapman followed God's leading to write "The Love Languages of God." Thank you!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2003
Posted November 21, 2002