Read an Excerpt
The 5 love Languages For Men
Tools for Making a Good Relationship Great
By GARY CHAPMAN, Randy Southern
Northfield PublishingCopyright © 2015 Gary Chapman
All rights reserved.
How Many Languages Do You Speak?
Did you hear about the guy who surprised his self-confessed "nerd" wife on their tenth anniversary with a geek-themed wedding reception? He spent eighteen months planning the party, which featured his wife's favorite pop-culture obsessions. The groomsmen wore superhero logos under their tuxes. Each tier of the wedding cake was dedicated to one of the couple's favorite movies or TV shows—Superman, Star Wars, Firefly, and Dr. Who—and decorated accordingly. The ring bearer, the couple's four-year-old son, wore a Superman cape. Somehow the guy managed to keep the whole thing a secret from his wife, even though all their friends and family were involved.
Then there was the guy who, for his one-year anniversary with his girlfriend, printed the story of how they fell in love on a bunch of flyers and posted them all over New York City. He asked people to take pictures of the flyers and post them on Instagram or Twitter, along with a certain hashtag. The whole thing went viral in a matter of hours. The couple received over a thousand photos, including some tweeted by celebrities such as Matt Lauer.
Or maybe you heard about the guy who created a book for his wife for their sixth anniversary. He spent an entire year writing 365 things he loved about his wife and then compiling the pages into one volume, along with photos of the two of them taken over the years.
Stories like these usually draw one of two reactions from fellow husbands. Either we tip our hats to these guys and give them kudos for their creativity (not to mention their fifteen minutes of fame), or we curse their names for blowing the curve and making the rest of us look lame by comparison.
Here's the kicker: Unless those guys made their plans with their wives' primary love languages in mind, they could have achieved the same results with, say, generic greeting cards and Chinese takeout.
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY; IT'S THE LANGUAGE YOU USE
That's not a plug for Cantonese cuisine (though a good dim sum is never a bad thing)—or a knock against guys who try hard to impress their wives. Instead, it's an exclamation point on the importance of understanding love languages.
Everyone has a primary love language—a way of expressing devotion and affection that touches us deep inside, occasionally puts a goofy grin on our face, and leaves no doubt that we are truly and spectacularly loved.
As you probably deduced from the title of this book, there are five basic love languages:
1. Words of Affirmation (chapter 2)
2. Quality Time (chapter 3)
3. Gift Giving (chapter 4)
4. Acts of Service (chapter 5)
5. Physical Touch (chapter 6)
One of them is an expressway to your wife's heart. That's not to say she won't respond politely to one or more of the other languages, especially if she sees you making a real effort. Ultimately, though, those other four love languages are as foreign to her as Cantonese is to most native English speakers.
On the other hand, when you express your love for your wife using her primary love language, it's like hitting the sweet spot on a baseball bat or golf club. It just feels right—and the results are impressive.
THE NO-LOGIC ZONE
Logic suggests that men naturally gravitate toward women who share their primary love language—that quality timers pair up with quality timers and physical touchers have eyes only for other physical touchers; that with their shared love language, they communicate their affection easily and freely, forever and ever, amen.
Since when does logic have anything to do with love?
The truth is that people rarely marry partners who share their primary love language. Instead, guys who are built up by words of affirmation fall in love with girls who are built up through acts of service (or quality time or gift giving). Women who experience love primarily through gift giving are drawn to men who experience love through quality time (or physical touch or acts of service).
And a language barrier is created.
In the first stages of the relationship, when the couple is drunk with infatuation, they may not notice the language barrier. They may be so eager to please each other that they do things that are out of character—that is, they speak a love language they don't understand. They stay up all night talking about hopes and dreams. They take long walks, holding hands and walking with their arms around each other. They exchange small but meaningful presents.
Any concerns they may have about their differences get swept away in the tsunami of romance and excitement. The result? Two married people who speak and respond to different primary love languages.
If that seems like a blueprint for failure, consider this: In the clubhouses of some of the most successful franchises in the NHL, MLB, and English Premier League, you can hear at least three (and probably more) different languages being spoken. The players on those teams find ways to communicate. People who are committed to excellence and success will not let a language barrier stand in their way.
WHEN THE HONEYMOON'S OVER
However, the obstacles are there. As the newness of the relationship wears off and the passion levels subside from their honeymoon crests, the two-language couple settles down into a routine. They go back to what they know best.
The acts of service-speaking husband gets busy showing his love for his wife in his "native tongue." He keeps her car serviced and clean. He tightens the washers on the leaky faucet. He repaints the bedroom and puts up new trim to match the room she saw and loved on HGTV.
Though his quality time-speaking wife appreciates the many things he does for her, she also pines for the long conversations they used to have when they were dating—the concentrated time and attention that feeds her soul. She longs for her husband to speak to her in her primary love language. As a result, her "love tank"—her reservoir of feeling genuinely adored, appreciated, and known—starts to empty.
How the scenario plays out from there depends on the couple. Some will chalk it up to the natural course of love and romance and settle for whatever is left. Some will blame the busyness and pressures of everyday life. Some will allow their frustrations and unmet needs to fester and spark conflicts and accusations. Some will suffer in silence, with each partner thinking something is wrong with him or her. Some will eventually convince themselves that they made a mistake in getting married in the first place.
There's no telling exactly what will happen when a persons love tank is empty.
WHERE THERE IS CHALLENGE, THERE IS OPPORTUNITY
Someone once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If right, that means the approach many spouses take toward overcoming their language barrier is downright crazy. They double down on their own love language, trying over and over again to break through to their spouse in the only way they know. In other words, they work harder instead of smarter. They put the onus on their spouse to translate their actions into a language the spouse can understand.
It doesn't matter that your heart is in the right place, or that you're trying as hard as you possibly can, or that other women would feel lucky to have a husband like you. You will not be able to fill your wife's love tank without using her primary love language.
The way to build a thriving exciting unpredictable awe-inspiring life-changing relationship with your wife is to master her primary love language, to embrace the challenge of becoming bilingual. The good news is that the process isn't nearly as challenging as learning an actual language. You don't have to worry about conjugating verbs or using the proper tense.
The challenge of becoming fluent in another love language might be better compared to perfecting a golf swing. If you've ever taken lessons from a pro, you know the first step is to "unlearn" all the bad habits you've developed over the years. In many cases, that involves starting from scratch. The process is awkward at first. Things just don't feel right. They feel unnatural. Little by little, though, that starts to change. With enough repetition, you start to see positive results.
The same goes for learning a new love language. If you're an acts of service guy, you're probably not going to feel comfortable giving quality time to your wife. Not at first, at least. Your initial efforts likely will feel unnatural and forced.
But with the right attitude—and with the tips and strategies outlined in the pages that follow—you will master a second love language. You will fill your wife's love tank and keep it topped off. You will make her feel uniquely and spectacularly loved. You will experience what it's like to be on the top of your game, not just as a loving husband to your wife but also as a role model—to your children; to other young people who don't see that kind of behavior modeled in their own families; to other husbands who are looking for answers.
To become bilingual in the languages of love is to make a difference in other people's lives.CHAPTER 2
How to Become Fluent in Words of Affirmation
(Love Language #1)
King Solomon, author of the ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, wrote, "The tongue has the power of life and death."
We can tell ourselves that Solomon was laying it on a little thick when he coined that phrase. But if you've ever received an exceptionally good review from a boss, you know how the tongue can add a little life to your step. Likewise, if you've ever been royally chewed out by a coach on the sidelines, you know what it is to die a thousand deaths in front of a home crowd.
Words can pack a punch.
If the movies have taught us anything, it's that the right words, spoken at the right time by the right person, can inspire people to do the unlikely, the improbable, and in some cases, the near impossible.
Think Rocky II, when Adrian, from her hospital bed, says, "There's one thing I want you to do for me: win. Win."
Think Rudy, when Fortunes verbal kick in the pants ("You're five-feet-nothin', a hundred and nothin'. And you got hardly a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years! ... In this lifetime, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody—except yourself!") stops Rudy from quitting the team.
Think Hoosiers, when Coach Dale's short motivational speech ("Forget about the crowds, the size of the school, their fancy uniforms, and remember what got you here ... If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game. In my book, we're gonna be winners!") sets the stage for the greatest upset in the history of Indiana basketball.
It's this potential for good—the power of language to inspire, encourage, and build up—that makes words of affirmation such a vital tool on your marital workbench.
PUTTING IN A GOOD WORD
Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." Spoken like a true words of affirmation guy. His admission gets to the heart of this love language. For someone whose primary manner of receiving love is words of affirmation, compliments and encouragement aren't just nice gestures or polite conversational techniques.
That person doesn't just hear this:
"You look incredible in that dress!"
She also hears this:
"You have value."
"I love you."
"You make a difference."
The real power of words lies in their ability to fill people's love tanks. If your wife's primary love language is words of affirmation, that power is at your fingertips—or, more specifically, at the tip of your tongue.
How you feel about wielding that power will depend on your own primary love language. If you're the "strong, silent type," a guy who generally prefers to let his actions do the talking for him, learning to communicate through words of affirmation may prove to be a challenge. Then again, if you were the kind of guy who backs down from a challenge—especially where it concerns the love of your life—you probably wouldn't be reading this book.
You can become fluent in words of affirmation. Here are some tips to get you started.
FLATTERY WILL GET YOU NOWHERE
First things first: flattery is not a dialect of the words of affirmation love language. To the untrained ear, the two may sound similar, but there are several distinct—and important—differences between them. The quicker you recognize those differences, the fewer rookie mistakes you're likely to make as you strive for words of affirmation fluency.
Flattery is the language of manipulation. Flattery has an agenda. Its ultimate aim is to get something from the person being flattered—or to cast the flatterer in a positive light.
Flattery is the tool of lounge lizards ("Hey, baby, you look good. You wanna dance?") and apple-polishers (You're looking especially fit today, sir. Have you been working out?"). The more flattery your wife has been exposed to, the better she will be at recognizing—and dismissing—it. Flattery lacks the key ingredient of meaningful affirmation: sincerity. If your words are going to make a difference in your wife's life, you have to believe what you say.
Unlike shallow flattery, words of affirmation run deep. They spring from an intimate knowledge of the person being affirmed—in this case, your wife. Unlike flattery, words of affirmation don't arouse suspicion or put people on guard. Words of affirmation won't be met with a defensive posture or dismissed with an eye roll.
ALL JOKING ASIDE
Guys who are especially uncomfortable with verbal affirmation may be tempted to fall back on humor to ease the tension.
Resist that temptation.
What eases your discomfort may also cause some unintended pain for the person you're trying to affirm. The problem is, many people who are especially inspired or moved by words of affirmation are also especially susceptible to being hurt by less-than-loving words used in sarcasm, insults, and faint praise. Here are some examples:
"It wasn't the worst meal I've ever had."
"At least you get points for trying."
"Not bad—for a thirty-five-year-old."
Such thoughtless, backhanded compliments can do more damage than you might imagine—and cause more pain than your wife might acknowledge.
"I was just kidding" is a pretty weak defense for throwing verbal dust in the face of someone who's thirsty for words of affirmation.
SENSES WORKING OVERTIME
Communicating love through words of affirmation involves more than your mouth; it also involves your eyes, your ears, your memory, your imagination, and more. In order to become fluent in this love language, you have to develop an extensive knowledge of—and appreciation for—the many things your wife does. In order to develop that appreciation, you have to watch her. In stealth mode, pay attention to the things she does, the things she says, the way she interacts with other people, the thankless jobs she tackles, and the ways she makes life better for you and others.
Keep a list of your observations on your phone or tablet. Make a point of adding to the list—big or small things—every day.
Your list might include things like the following:
After you deliver a compliment or words of affirmation based on an item on your list, delete it. This will ensure that you maintain a constant, fresh supply of affirmations to use.
WORKING THE GRAPEVINE
What's better—having someone high-five you after a pickup game and say, "Good job," or walking into a gym and having someone point to you and say, "I hear that guy's got some serious game"?
In both scenarios, you're getting complimented. But the second scenario carries with it some fame and notoriety, which only sweetens the pot.
Discovering that people are talking about you—in a good way—makes any day better. With that in mind, look for ways to send words of affirmation "through the grapevine" to your wife. Talk her up around other people when she's not around. Publicize her accomplishments and skills. Help others recognize how incredible she is. (All things in moderation, of course. You'll want to be careful not to become "that guy"—the one people try to avoid because they're tired of hearing about his practically perfect wife.)
You won't be able to control which words of affirmation actually make it back to your wife. But you can direct your comments to the people most likely to spill the beans: your kids, other family members, your mutual friends, her coworkers, and anyone else who spends a lot or time with her.
Along those same lines, public affirmations can go a long way toward ruling your wires love tank. Look for opportunities to talk her up when the two of you are with friends or acquaintances. During a dinner out with coworkers, you might say something like, "I thought the tiramisu was pretty good, but if I could have any dessert in the world, it would be my wife's peach cobbler."
WHERE OFTEN IS HEARD AN ENCOURAGING WORD
Some of the best opportunities in life involve risk—the very real possibility of rejection, embarrassment, or failure. It takes a lot of courage to roll the dice and face the possible consequences. Those who choose to pursue those opportunities usually face no shortage of discouragers—people inclined to rain on their parade and argue that something can't be done or shouldn't be tried. These doom-and-gloom promoters can be pretty persuasive, especially if there's no one to counter their influence.
Cue the encouraging spouse.
Excerpted from The 5 love Languages For Men by GARY CHAPMAN, Randy Southern. Copyright © 2015 Gary Chapman. Excerpted by permission of Northfield Publishing.
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.