Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I highly recommend this book for anyone in a relationship - any relationship. I feel that Gary Chapman's theory could be applied to any relationship you are struggling with or that you would like to move to a deeper level.

The writing is just so-so, but Chapman is very genuine and he tells lovely stories about some of the couples he has helped. It is an easy and quick read and you can skim through parts of it to make it faster. The important parts are where he describes each love language and where he gives examples of how couples have missed communicating to each other in those languages.

The book describes how each of us has a preferred love language. A love language is a way of giving and receiving love that makes us feel loved by another individual. Chapman breaks down love languages into five categories: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts and Physical Touch. It is interesting to note that many times we give love either in the way we want to be loved or in how we were loved most as children, but unless we are lucky and have a happy coincidence we aren't loving our mate in the way THEY need to be loved. I love that Chapman uses a gas tank as an analogy for how loved we feel. The love tank is a nice visual, when spouses speak to each other in their love languages, their love tanks fill up!

There is a quiz at the end of the book to help you understand what your love language is; this is what we did on the drive to my parent's for Thanksgiving. It was kind of fun doing it together. The interesting part of course are the results and interpreting those results.

Not surprising my love language is "Words of Affirmation". I pretty much guessed this after reading the book and before taking the quiz. I am like a peacock who preens after someone gives me a compliment or tries to build me up. And equally so on the negative side, say a harsh word to me and I am a complete mess. The second most important love language for me is "Quality Time". I definitely want Jeff's time, especially after becoming a stay at home mom. With young ones a person can feel like they have done 10 hours of solitary confinement when Daddy finally walks through the door, and if he then browses the mail during dinner and watches 6 hours of football before stumbling to bed - well you can guess that my love tank isn't very full. The most interesting part of my evaluation was that my lowest scoring love language was "Acts of Service".

Coincidentally, when Jeff wants to show me some love, he does something for me. And when he goes above and beyond with an "Act of Service", I had better be pretty darned appreciative and my love tank better be full or he is going to get a bit peeved with me. But the problem is my love tank doesn't get filled up by "Acts of Service". Little does he know (although he should know after we took the quizzes together) that all he has to do is say, "Wow, you look really great today" or "That meatloaf was excellent I really enjoyed it" or "The house smells good, did you clean today" or "I read your blog today and it was really good" (need I go on?)

It gets even more interesting. Upon taking Jeff's evaluation, we discovered that Jeff's primary love language is also "Words of Affirmation"! Which really kind of surprised me, I would have guessed that "Words of Affirmation" was high up, but I would have thought that "Acts of Service" would have been at the top.

I think that why Jeff gives love through "Acts of Service" is because that is how his parents give love. They are amazingly generous with their time, energy and resources to everyone; but most of all their children. He saw this as a model growing up, and it is such a great one I might add, that he now uses it as an adult. What a funny sense of humor God has that he would pick a mate for Jeff like me who not only doesn't really get much out of people doing things for me (I must say that I am so appreciative of my mother and father in-law, I hope they don't take this the wrong way) but also has a love language that actually plays to Jeff's weakness. He has told me in the past that he isn't very good at compliments and that although he likes them, when he gives them he feels that everyone will think he is being disingenuous!

Anyway, back to Jeff's evaluation. His quiz revealed that "Receiving Gifts" and "Physical Touch" tied for second place and that "Quality Time" was on the bottom. I am not the biggest gift giver in the world, it is not that I don't care it is that I don't even think about buying the gift when I am out of town or shopping or running errands. I have to try to do better at this one. And anyone who knows me knows that "Physical Touch" has a time and a place, I am not a hugger, I am not a toucher. When I am busy or in a hurry or just feeling uncomfortable in a situation, I do not want to be touched. Jeff likes hugs and kisses and hand holding, which of course I like - but at the right time when I am comfortable and at ease. We do give kisses before he leaves and I try not to get offended when he does the boob brush - but come on! When I am in a whirlwind in the morning trying to get out the door with two little ones I need him to step off!

I do feel that we should communicate love through all of these languages but be extra sensitive to our mate's primary love language and go out of our way to incorporate it into how we love our mate. I am going to work on "Words of Affirmation" and "Receiving Gifts" and thoughtful "Physical Touch" for Jeff.

I am very interested in reading the The Five Love Languages of Children as I really need some insight into Jac's love language. He is definitely my child whose love tank runs dry.

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