Have you ever found yourself being presented with a theme or idea throughout your day-to-day without you seeking that information? Does that make sense? I have had the love languages permeate my life recently; much like after you Google a product or place and what you searched for pops up all over your Instagram and Facebook accounts! The difference in this situation is that I didn’t go searching for the five love languages; they found me!
The 5 Love Languages, written by Dr. Gary Chapman, was first mentioned by my best friend’s husband, though I don’t remember exactly why. I remember thinking (this was months ago) how cool it was that a man was interested in that content! Then Focus on the Family had written a quick article on the topic, and it came through my Facebook news feed. Later, at a playdate, my friend brought up her husband’s and her own love languages. My interest was piqued, but I didn’t act on it. Finally, while rounding out a four-part marriage series, our pastor discussed the love languages. After that Saturday night church sermon, I went to Target and purchased the book.
I met my husband when we were 15-year-olds in high school. We weren’t officially boyfriend and girlfriend until he asked me out on March 29, 1998, over the phone! (And by random placement, my blog posted in March!) Thank goodness we grew up in a time before texting! I cherish many notes left on my car windshield, photos that hung all around my dresser mirror in my teenage room, and I still love to see his letterman’s jacket in our closet. I tell you these things to note the length of our relationship. We had a few, brief off/on times during our courtship; however, we made it! We have been married 11 years and been a couple for 21 years.
Obviously, I feel strong in our marriage; nonetheless, we are realistic. Monte and I know life can get hectic, kids keep us hopping, and work takes precedence sometimes! But, we try to protect our marriage by:
- attending marriage conferences
- going to church
- talking about our needs/wants/dreams when the kids are asleep (allows for fewer interruptions)
- going on dates a few times a year
- having hobbies we like to do by ourselves and activities we participate in together
- maintaining positive relationships with other strong couples who share the same family values
- remaining open to learning what can help us succeed
Despite the confidence I have in our marriage, I felt God tugging at my heart to “do more.” No doubt, we have had stressful times together! Some years, we have been beaten down financially, relationally with other people, or in health. During those times, we have snipped at each other, ignored each other’s needs, and have shared many “I’m sorry” moments. When I finally acknowledged that the repetition of the five love languages in my life was no longer a coincidence, I knew God wanted to give us another venue for strengthening our marriage.
Dr. Gary Chapman wrote “The 5 Love Languages” in 1992. I was 10 years old! It is crazy to me that, as fast as information changes these days, this book is still full of applicable wisdom more than 25 years later! The author will take you through the stories of many couples he has counseled over the years. The concepts of “in-love” (honeymoon phase), “real-love” (the daily grind), and having a love tank are discussed. Dr. Chapman writes about how we each have our own primary and secondary love languages. A love language is how we receive love. The way in which we may receive love is not necessarily the way our spouse receives love! I realized I knew this prior to reading the book; however, I thought I knew EXACTLY how Monte received love. (More on that later.)
In the book, one of Dr. Chapman’s secrets is simply this: love is a CHOICE! Can I get an Amen? There are days that are all cupcakes and rainbows and days where every tiny thing my husband does aggravates me. I agree, wholeheartedly, that love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. While I can feel love, the act of love is a verb. Even on the crummiest of occasions, I have to make the choice to love my husband by honoring our lifelong commitment we made to God and our families. We take that as a covenant, not a fickle contract with conditions.
The 5 languages are:
- Words of Affirmation—words from your spouse such as “Great job,” “I appreciate you,” and “You take wonderful care of our family.”
- Quality Time—time intentionally spent together, often just as a couple not with the kids, time without scrolling the phone.
- Gifts—the amount of money spent doesn’t matter! Just a token to acknowledge your loved one was thinking of you.
- Acts of Service—examples include doing a task your partner asked you to, taking initiative to complete chores you know need to be done, or simply filling up the car with gas.
- Physical Touch—not just of sexual nature, but also holding hands, hugging, a pat on the back.
When I bought the book, I came home and told Monte about it. We took a guess at each other’s and our own languages. I guessed my own language was acts of service or words of affirmation, while Monte thought my love languages would be quality time and words of affirmation. I guessed Monte’s love languages to be physical touch and words of affirmation, and he thought his own languages would be quality time and physical touch. I am pleased to write after reading the book and taking the quiz, we weren’t too far off!
Monte: primary love language was quality time with a score of 11 (highest you can score in one language is 12). His secondary love language was physical touch with a score of 9.
Natale: primary love language was acts of service with a score of 11. My secondary love language was a tie! Words of Affirmation and quality time, each scoring 6.
Neither one of us was surprised to see gifts scoring the least on our quiz; it’s just not our thing. The author mentions that once you find out the primary/secondary love languages, you can’t forego communication in the others! We are just better equipped now, knowing the way our loved one receives love the best.
Chapman says, “In the context of marriage, if we do not feel loved, our differences are magnified. We come to view each other as a threat to our happiness. We fight for self-worth and significance, and marriage becomes a battlefield rather than a haven” (p. 142). It is our natural tendency to to give love in the way(s) we most feel loved; however, if the person we are trying to love does not receive love in the same ways we do, our efforts may very well end up missing the mark, leaving both parties frustrated, disappointed, and possibly feeling unloved. We not only have to make the choice to love others, but sometimes, we have to choose to love them in a way that may take us out of our own comfort zone (or, in this case, love language!).
The most basic need in life is to feel loved. Love is freeing, love is uplifting, love makes us feel significant, and love is liberating. Don’t you want to make your spouse feel this way? I KNOW I do! Monte has truly been a blessing in my life. I am thankful for the rough patches we have grown from and look forward to slaying life’s bad times together! I pray we can really understand what matters most in life together and be a strong, faithful example of marriage. God willing, I want to be rocking side-by-side on the porch, holding hands with Monte in our golden years!
I encourage you to check out this book, and if you have already read it, do it again! The book is a quick read with helpful ways and tips to show your love for your spouse in each of the five languages. It doesn’t matter if you have been married 40 years, are newly engaged, or are just dating! We ALL have room to grow! Now, Monte and I are certain how each other receives love. We can enjoy the challenge of showing our love in new ways, and we also know how to communicate our love well, even on our hardest of days.
At Target, this book was about $15. The book is also available on Amazon, our local library has it in audio and paperback versions, and you can check out www.5lovelanguages.com! There is also an app!
Did you know The 5 Love Languages of Children exists?! In it, Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell team up to help parents understand their child(ren)’s love languages. Not so subtle hint: this is the topic for my next blog entry for the Salty Sunshine!