“Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.” Then the one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision…”
We all search for love. Regardless of age, sex, culture, or any other demographical divide one can imagine, this is true for everyone. We want to be loved. This truth appears in our stories, in our religions, in our philosophy, even in our economical world. We all want to know that we are cared about, thought of, and respected as someone unique in the world.
But as much as we may all seek for love, we all know that love is not easy to show. We will desire to be shown love, but we will lack the ability to show love. We want it for us, but are slow to demonstrate it towards others. This is why a large number of marriages fail. There is a misunderstanding, even a misinformation about love; how we feel it and how we show it. And when we don’t feel the love that we desire, in the way that makes sense to us, we seek for solutions or a way out.
As a relationship counsellor and , Dr. Gary Chapman has seen numerous couples come to him in search of love. They had it once; this deep, passionate love for each other; but that has changed. It could have been before the wedding, and they went through the motions anyways. Things may have changed over the honeymoon, or a few years into the marriage. Perhaps a married couple has just had enough of decades of fighting and is ready to call it quits.
For Gary Chapman, this desire for love is not one in vain. The problem is that we may have failed to understand how to show love, even how we feel love. In this New York Times bestseller, Chapman explains the secret to love that lasts longer than the wedding day, the honeymoon, and even a few decades of marriage. He calls them The 5 Love Languages.
The idea is rather simple, but earth shaking if actually implemented. Chapman asserts that there are five distinct ways that all people experience love. This he has found to be true across the language and cultural barriers, as he is an anthropologist as well as famous pastor and speaker.
The 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
Not only does Chapman explain how each of these Love Languages work, but he shares accounts from his time counselling how these Languages manifest within a marriage. And with that manifestation, he gives helpful advice on how to work better in our love languages. We can be better at speaking and showing love, and it starts with the knowledge of how we express love. But that is only half the equation. We may show love in one way, our spouse may feel it in another.
If we are going to effectively show love, if we are going to find that spark that started a burning, passionate love between spouses, we need to do more than identify our own love language. We need to learn our spouse’s love language, and learn to speak it. While this may sound like a daunting task, Chapman has given helpful and supportive ideas all the way through this outstanding work of marital advice.
“A doormat is an inanimate object. You can wipe your feet on it, step on it, kick it around, or whatever you like. It has no will of its own. It can be your servant but not your lover. When we treat our spouses as objects, we preclude the possibility of love.”
I put off reading this book for a long time. I had thought that I had already absorbed all that The 5 Love Languages and Dr. Gary Chapman had to offer from other sources. These 5 Love Languages have become a staple of Christian culture that I assumed that I understood and that I had some kind of mastery over the information.
That could not be further from the truth. Even Chapman states in his book, that as a marriage counsellor he is still human and at times has forgotten the things that he knows and teaches to other couples. Far be it for me to assume that I hold a candle to Chapman and his knowledge. What I found in the pages of this book quickly humbled me, and made me face the painful reality that I have been a failure at loving my wife.
This conviction didn’t come from Chapman. In no way does he condemn his readers. In fact, everything he says, the words of education, the illustrations to make these ideas real, even the instructions to make the ideas a regular part of our marriage—they are all done with a gentle spirit and kind word. It is correction spoken out of the love that leads the Spirit to convict my own heart of its shortfalls. With that comes grace and understanding that I can make the changes necessary to better my own life and that of my wife’s. And in return, I can watch our daughter, and our soon to arrive son, grow up in a home that is filled with godly love and respect for their parents and hopefully, one day, they will be able to instill what they saw and learned in their own relationships and marriages,
The 5 Love Languages may have become a staple of Christian thought, but that doesn’t replace the brilliance of Chapman’s work. He has crafted something exceptional in this book. Not only is all the information backed with personal and clinical stories, he tackles the fragile idea of love and marriage with such grace that any reader will feel reinvigorated. After reading this book, a renewed desire to show love will ignite in the heart. Love will be shown and felt. Marriages will be repaired and renewed.
Do not be fooled as I was. While the information may be easy to read and digest, the implications and the actions that these words compel you to will not be so. To show love, to learn a different love language and become fluent in it will take great effort. It will take time. But it will all be worth it. A love that lasts is within our reach. Experiencing love, showing love is not so hard to imagine or do, if we understand these 5 Love Languages.
The wealth of knowledge that Dr. Gary Chapman has packed into these pages is priceless. With the understanding of how we all express and understand love, we can revive, reignite and restore the love in our marriages. For that reason, The 5 Love Languages will remain ON MY SHELF for a very long time.