The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman took America by storm in 1992 and its influence continues to spread. According to Dr. Chapman, the premise of the book is that, "What makes one person feel loved will not make another person feel loved. We must discover and speak each other's love language." The idea is that, because of innate characteristics and experiences growing up, we learned to recognize love when it was manifest in certain ways. Thus, later in life, we can recognize love in the ways that we understand but have a harder time when it is expressed in ways that are less familiar.
Dr. Chapman breaks down the concept of love languages into five categories:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Dr. Chapman suggests that each of us have a primary and secondary love language, and that our partners are wise to consider our love language to know how to help us feel loved. For me (Jeff), my primary love language is physical touch and my secondary is quality time. However, whenever I take their test, I come up pretty much equal in all five. I believe I am at least somewhat fluent in all of them. I am less convinced that each person only comes with one or two love languages.
Having said this, I do believe it is wise to pay attention and learn how your spouse gives and receives love. For those in the dating world, it is good to pay attention to your dating partner's love languages. The 5 Love Languages provides some good tools to think about how you can effectively bring goodness to a relationship.
There is also a danger in the way love languages are sometimes used. There is a mentality among some who embrace the concept of love languages that, "you must love me in the way I want or I won't recognize it!" It can be used as a demand or as ammunition against a partner. Those are not appropriate uses of the concept.
Remember that information about love languages is useful to help you show up better for your partner. If your partner joins you in this self-discovery, all the better. But if you are using it to demand that your partner provide love to you in a specific way, you are seeking imitation love (validation that you manipulate to receive). All real love is freely given. If you decide to study love languages, do it for increased understanding and to help you love your partner better, rather than to make your partner change. You may also use it to love yourself better and to respectfully ask for what you want while honoring the agency of others.
This week’s podcast is all about radical acceptance, particularly when it comes to love languages and honoring the agency of our companions, family, and friends. In our weekly video and short, we discuss the best ways to implement love languages in your life and relationships. Also featured is a special interview with a later married couple about three specific steps to deepen relationships, enhancing our focus on love languages this week.
To get a copy of "Intentional Courtship" on Amazon and create more love in your life in 2022, visit Intentional Courtship.
If you enjoy this letter, forward to a friend. Our goal is to support as many mid-singles and later-married couples as possible!