When I moved into the dorms at my university about ten years ago, I started hearing the phrase “love languages” all over the place. “What is your love language?” “My love language is words of affirmation.” “Do you know the five love languages?”
I can’t remember exactly what it was I heard about them, but it was clear that there was a phenomenon about love languages and I was interested to know more about it. Gary Chapman is the author of a number of books based on the love language concept, including his original book The Five Love Languages. Additionally, he authored The Five Love Languages of Children, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, The Five Languages of Apology, and finally, the book we are featuring in this series, The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition. These are only a few of the books he’s written and I would encourage you to check out Chapman’s website for more of his resources and helpful information!
Dr. Chapman, after years of working with couples, posits that we all speak a primary love language. The five love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Before reading The Five Love Languages of Singles this past week, I had not deeply and seriously visited the concept of love languages in a few years. For the longest time, I thought I was Physical Touch, but after reading this book and taking the profile in the back of the book, I’ve come to discover that my primary love language has shifted to Quality Time (with Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch tied for second place ~smile~).
As I was reading the fourth chapter of The Five Love Languages for Singles, a phrase stood out to me. Dr. Chapman was talking about how some people will say that they never learned to speak a certain love language, that it is hard for them, and that it doesn’t come naturally to them. His response to these arguments was simply, “Congratulations, you have just made the first discovery of becoming a great lover. Love requires effort. Often love requires learning a love language you have never spoken” (emphasis mine).
Being in a successful relationship does require effort. It’s effort that’s well worth it, but effort nonetheless. Even if you and your sweetie have the exact same love language, you will still have to be determined to speak it to him or her love when you’re tired, stressed, angry, and distracted with life. If your sweetie’s love language isn’t the same as yours, but you do know how to speak it, it will require a bit more energy than if you both had the same primary love language.
The grueling effort comes into play when your sweetie’s love language is completely foreign to you. This is when you might be tempted to say, “Forget it. I don’t know how to pick out the perfect gift. I have no idea when to touch him. I feel awkward giving her compliments.” The fact is, anything worth doing is worth doing well – and any treasure worth having is worth expending energy to preserve. If you are going to have a relationship, it’s worth it to learn how to make your sweetheart feel secure, adored, and completely loved. If you treasure your sweetheart, as you should if you are considering marriage, it is worth the initial struggle to learn how to communicate love to him or her in the way he or she best receives it.
In so many cases, people try to communicate love to others by speaking their native love languages, but the people they are trying to love don’t feel loved in that way at all. He might be changing her tires, fixing her washing machine, and painting the outside of her house, but if she is not an Acts of Service girl, she’ll probably think he’s just a really nice guy. She might be hugging him every time he walks in the door, scratching his back, and rubbing his shoulders, but if he’s not a Physical Touch guy, he might just think she’s a really touchy feely kind of person.
It is important that we study our loved ones and discover how they feel most loved (as well as understanding ourselves too). Reading The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition is a great place to start! Dr. Chapman gives many insights into how you can discover your sweetheart’s, friends’, parents’, siblings’, and co-workers’ love languages. Reading this book is a small investment of time that can positively change your relationship forever (if you apply it! ~smile~).
Do you know your and your sweetheart’s primary love language?