📙Reflection: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman


Recently I picked up this book from my library’s recommended list. I had heard of the 5 love languages before and there is also a related online quiz you can take to find out your love language.

The main idea is that people have the deep need to feel loved by their closest, and different people have different ways in which they most feel loved, and express their love. That language is their primary love language.

💖Here are the 5 love languages:

  1. ⌚Quality Time
  2. 💁‍♀️Words of Affirmation
  3. 🫂Physical Touch
  4. 🧑‍🍳Acts of Service
  5. 🎁Receiving Gifts

🔖Details from the book

The book was mainly focused on how these concepts help married couples – although these concepts can be applied to other relationships as well. The author has written another book “for singles” where he explores those other relationships.

1. Feeling the Love

Dr. Chapman is a marriage counsellor and he says that he discovered these 5 languages while counselling people through their marital problems. It is possible that one person is expressing their love to another in their own way, but because that is not the primary love language of the other person, their “emotional love tank” stays empty and they feel unloved still.

For example, in the FAQ section of the book, there is an account of a man who when growing up believed that his mother didn’t love him and that the first time he was hugged by her was when he was heading out for prison.

But then he learned about the love languages and realized that her mother consistently showed him her love through Acts of Service. She had always made sure to work very hard to provide him with good food, a good place to stay and take care of many of his other needs. That’s how he realized that he was deeply loved all along, he just couldn’t see or feel it then.

2. Emotional Love Tanks

In the book there are many accounts of people in relationships not using the right love language to communicate their love to their partners, leaving the love tanks of their partners empty. Dr. Chapman refers to our emotional need to feel loved and supported as the need to have our “emotional love tanks” filled up.

He says that every human being has a love tank from the beginning, and when children don’t feel loved by their parents, sometimes they try to seek it elsewhere, even getting into relationships with people much older than them.

When love is not expressed the right way, the love tank stays empty. The feelings of love go away, and resentment or indifference takes place instead. According to him, many couples have saved their marriages after being on the brink of divorce or going through problems for many years.

The “in-love” period may be described by sparks and rose-coloured vision |Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

3. The “in-love” experience vs emotional needs

He says that one reason that people stop feeling the love after marriage is that in the first two years they have something called the “in-love” experience. That is the stage of infatuation that feels like deep love to many.

Biologically speaking this is probably our body’s way of pushing the agenda of propagating the human race. During this time people seem to only see how perfect and wonderful their partners are.

4. Acting on your loved one’s primary love-language

After that phase goes away, their love tank may start to run empty because now their emotional needs are not being met. And the way to create and maintain love and warmth in relationships is to do things for your partner according to their primary love language.

For example, if your partner’s love language is Acts of Service, and you learn that they feel loved and taken care of if you did the laundry for them, then even if it feels unnatural for you, you do the laundry. Or if their language is Receiving Gifts, then you train yourself to become creative in giving gifts.

5. Love languages have their own dialects

Another interesting thing he mentioned is that there are dialects even within one language, and to make sure you fill the love tank of your loved ones, you should learn the proper dialect.

For example, if we look at the love language Quality Time, then maybe one person wants their loved ones to join them in activities like sports or housework, whereas another person might find it more fulfilling if their loved ones have good quality conversations with them regularly.

6. Taking action and making changes

Usually, he gave people the advice to start taking action on the primary loved language of their partners twice or thrice a week for two months to see any changes and ask partners for feedback. And then keep doing it regularly throughout life to stay happy and fulfilled together.

One thing I realized while reading this book is that if you have complaints against other people, try to see the nature of those complaints. The thing you complain about not getting often might be your love language.

And afterwards, it’s important to recognize that even if other people are not speaking the same language, there may be other ways they are consistently showing you their love, which one can be grateful for.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

💭 Some last thoughts

Overall, this book seems to have very useful concepts that can be put to practice right away in one’s daily life. So in that sense, you could say this book is life-changing. Especially for people struggling with these problems in relationships.

Dr. Champan mentioned many many examples of couples who were in a bad place, and after starting to show their love to each other in the right way, their relationships transformed.

However, I also wish that he explored more of what cases there might be when these practices don’t work. What are the limits of the bad state of someone’s relationship where it may be better to leave than to stay? I think there wasn’t much exploration of that, although some relationships discussed here that eventually recovered were in a pretty bad state.

I am also curious about whether the nature of being in a married relationship vs. other relationships has any differences when it comes to these concepts helping out.

My assumption is that perhaps this might not work out in dating relationships as effectively because there are fewer stakes to leaving your partner, rather than being patient and working things out in a marriage. But I could be wrong, and this is where there is a need for statistics, which was not a focus in this book.

📖 Conclusion and Review

Overall, this is one of the books I’m glad I came across than not. If you’re someone who would like to learn how to improve relationships with family and friends, then this book, or its counterpart for singles, may very well be worth a read.

I would rate it 4/5. The concepts may be very transformative if you come across them at the right time of your life because the book is so focused on practical advice (5/5). But the audience it reaches with the language used is limited mostly to married couples, and it is missing statistics and possible limitations of these approaches (3/5). Perhaps Dr. Chapman explores those things in some other books he has authored.


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