The Five Love Languages

How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.

Gary Chapman

Northfield publishing. 1995

This book is very easy to read and has   very sound advice. His first question is to ask 'why do marriages fail?'.

The early chapters focus on the marriage by way of the 'in love' experience.  The suggestion is that when we ‘fall in love’, we become emotionally obsessed with one another. In sleep we dream of the other person, awake we think of nothing else. The person who is in love, has the ‘illusion’ that his beloved is perfect. It is not a state where rationality or logic is at the forefront. For Chapman, the eternality of the in-love experience is fiction, not fact. One psychologist the writer quotes suggests that the name in love for this aspect of our lives should be changed.

Chapman gives three reasons why 'falling in love' is not a good time to make long-term decisions.

  1. Falling in love is not an act of the will or conscious choice. No matter how much we may want to fall in love, we cannot make it happen. On the other hand, we may not be seeking the experience when it overtakes us. Often we fall in love at inopportune times and with unlikely people.

 It is interesting that we use the word ‘fall’ for the process. Most of us would not want to fall anywhere.

  1. Falling in love is not real love because it is effortless.
  2. The one who is 'in love' is not genuinely interested in fostering the personal growth of the other person. Since, if we have any purpose in mind when we fall in love it is to terminate our own loneliness and perhaps ensure this result through marriage. The ‘in love’ experience does not focus on our own growth or the growth and development of the other person. Rather, it gives us a sense that we have arrived and that we do not need further growth. We are at the apex of life's happiness and our only desire is to stay there.

The good news to the married couple who have lost all their 'in love' feelings is love is a choice and they have the capacity to love after the 'in love' obsession has died and they have returned to the real world. That kind of love begins with an attitude – a way of thinking. Love is the attitude that says, 'I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interest. Then the one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision.

There are Five Love Languages.

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

To Chapman, love is a choice. The quotes the Bible where Paul and Jesus both charge people to love one another were also expanded.

The author couples the notion of love being a choice with the picture of a tank. The challenge in a marriage is to take up the love choice understand our partners love language and work towards using it to make sure that their tank is always full.

Through the book there are great examples of how this happens and the changes that happen in the partner when used effectively.

From a teacher's point of view, children are not omitted. There is a detailed picture of how children learn the love languages from the parents. There are pointers within the last chapters of the book to help in identifying the particular love language that your child responds to and feels the love of the family when used. So, within that framework there are ideas that can be adopted in the classroom.

So, when a child says ‘My family do not love me” when obvious they do, perhaps they are using the wrong love language. With adjustment in that area the problem may have a solution.