During the mid-1990s, I purchased the book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The book was written by Gary Chapman, a Christian marriage counselor who had several years of experience helping married couples with their problems.
During the years that he counseled couples, Chapman had discovered that there were similarities in the way that couples expressed their love toward each other. Over time, he developed a framework for the different “love languages” that individuals use to express their love toward each other. He eventually settled on five different ways that people express and experience love. He called them the “five love languages.” Here are Chapman’s five love languages:
• Words of Affirmation
• Physical Touch
• Quality Time
• Acts of Service
• Receiving Gifts
According to Chapman, every person has a primary and secondary love language. They may also have a third love language that is high in priority but lower in priority than the primary and secondary love language. Every person also has at least two love languages that are low in priority.
After Georgette and I read the book, we identified and discussed what we concluded were our individual love languages. It turned out that my primary love language was different from her primary love language. In fact, my primary love language was low in priority on her list of love languages, and her primary love language was low in priority on my list of love languages.
What this meant was that when we showed love toward each other through our words and actions, we would automatically express our love in ways that were important to us but not necessarily important to the other person.
The best way to explain how this works is to give you an example. In this example, the husband’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation and his low priority love language is Acts of Service. His wife’s primary love language is Acts of Service and her low priority love language is Words of Affirmation.
Because the husband’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation, he will, by default, frequently compliment his wife and tell her how much he appreciates and loves her. Because his wife’s primary love language is Acts of Service and the love language of Words of Affirmation is her low priority love language, while she may appreciate her husband’s compliments and words of encouragement, she will not interpret them as an act of love.
On the other hand, if her husband gets up from the table after dinner and walks over to the sink and washes the dishes — a job that she always does —his particular act of service will automatically be interpreted by his wife as an act of love. At the moment that he gets up and does the dishes, she will feel as though he really loves her. To her, his act of service is the equivalent to an act of love.
His wife may then wish to express her love for him by taking the extra time the next day to cook his favorite meal. When her husband comes home and sits down to eat dinner with her, if the love language of Acts of Service is his low priority love language, he may have an appreciation for what his wife did for him, but he will not interpret the cooking of his favorite meal as an act of love.
On the other hand, if while they are eating dinner his wife says to him, “I really appreciate everything you do for me. Your dedication and hard work mean a lot to me and I thank God every day that you chose me to be your wife.” At the moment that she says those words of affirmation, her husband feels as though she really loves him. To him, her words are the equivalent of an act of love.
The discovery of the five love languages was of great benefit to me and my wife because what we learned made us consciously aware of what we needed to do to better express our love for each other.
Last month, the thought occurred to me that it would be worthwhile for me to go back and review what I had learned about the five love languages more than 20 years ago. I did a quick search on Google and discovered that there’s an actual free online quiz that anyone can take to discover what their primary and secondary love languages are. The website where the free quiz is available is associated with Gary Chapman and can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com.
In addition to the free quiz, the website promotes marriage conferences that Gary Chapman leads in various cities throughout the United States. The conferences are for one day and the topics that are covered include, Communication 101, Understanding and Expressing Love, Initiating Positive Change, Making Sex a Mutual Joy, and How to Share the Things that Bug You.
It occurred to me while I was writing this article that it might be worthwhile to invite Gary Chapman to come to St. Philomena later this year to present his one day marriage conference. If you take the quiz and are interested in his one-day conference, let me know and I’ll talk to Jenny Witt at the Office of Evangelization to see if it’s feasible to invite Chapman to do a conference at St. Philomena. I would probably also approach the “go-to” person, Anne Kennedy, to help out with the conference because she’s really good at organizing and seeing projects through to completion.
There’s an old saying in business: “School is never out for the professional.” The same could be said about marriage: “School is never out for the married couple.” If I were a relationship counselor, the first thing I would do is to have the people that I am counseling take the love languages quiz.
If you’re married or in a relationship, as a part of your Valentine’s Day celebration, I would strongly recommend that you and your loved one go to www.5lovelanguages.com and take the quiz. I would also recommend that you ask your children and the other people that you love to take the quiz.
The quiz and the subsequent report that you receive will help you develop a stronger and more loving relationship with your spouse, children, friends, and the other members of your family. You will find that once you learn about the five love languages, a whole new world of communication will open up for you and the people that you love, regardless of your age, and it will benefit you and the people that you love for the rest of your lives.