The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

In some literature class long ago, I learned that love stories end with marriage or death, which is why those of us who crave insight into the day-to-day workings of a relationship need to look beyond narrative.  A friend recommended The Five Love Languages, which is a decent read.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all speak a love language:  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gifts, or Physical Touch.  As Chapman says, “no one can be happy with an empty love tank,” so partners ought to know one another’s love languages so that they can express love in way the other will understand.  Many examples of couples and their love languages are cited in the text, as well as extensive profiles of each love language.  Christian scripture is incorporated in a non-offensive way.

The discussion of the love languages themselves is interesting, but I found Chapman’s most compelling points to lie in his distinction between the in-love obsession experienced at the beginning of a relationship and the rational, mature love that evolves over time.  Chapman insists that to love someone is a choice, and to love someone well requires the lover to make the conscious choice to speak the love language of the beloved.

I’m in love with the idea of reasonable love, love that can be understood intellectually.  As for this book, it’s a quick read, well-suited for travel or as a Valentine’s activity to do with an open-minded partner.  A “Personal Assessment Tool” is included.  Since the book’s original publication, Chapman has expanded the Love Languages into a series of books that includes The Five Love Languages of Children and numerous other titles.

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