Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Review: The Five Love Languages

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: The Five Love Languages
Author: Gary Chapman
Author's web page: http://www.garychapman.org/
Book series web page: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Date: 1992, 1995
Publisher: Moody
ISBN: 1-881273-15-6
Length: 204 pages
Quote: "Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouse's primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love."
According to Gary Chapman, living in love begins after "falling in love" is over. "Falling in love" is wonderful while it lasts, but it doesn't last long. Nevertheless, there are people who love each other, and live or work together for fifty or seventy-five years. (These people are not necessarily couples; they may be friends who work as a team, who never did "fall in love" in a romantic or erotic sense.) The Five Love Languages is a book for couples who want to build a long-term partnership after the fireworks of "falling in love."
Chapman theorizes that individuals probably "speak" the same "love languages" in all the different love relationships of their lives. However, since couples "speak their love languages" in different ways than parents and children do, a companion book on the love languages of children is also available. (Actually, by now, a whole series of companion books is available.) From the companion books, readers can extrapolate ideas to express love (or good will) in appropriate ways with co-workers, neighbors, siblings, nurses and patients, and so on.
Briefly, the five love languages are words, quality time, gifts, service, and touch. None of them is really hard to learn. Chapman makes a few further points about each "language" (for instance, he separates sex from touch as a love language), and gives examples in the form of short stories about couples he's counselled.
If I have to point out a flaw in The Five Love Languages, it's that Chapman makes the idea so easy to understand that readers may not feel a need to keep the book around for reference over the years. It's often available at secondhand book sales.
Couples are not limited to expressing love in one or two "languages." They can and should use all five. The primary love language is not the only kind of expression a person wants; it's more of a baseline that allows the person to appreciate the others too. Word persons enjoy quality time, appreciate gifts and services, and enjoy being touched too, but if the atmosphere doesn't sound right we may not appreciate these things as sincere expressions of love...and so on for people with each of the other "primary love languages."
The Five Love Languages is not a religious or theological book, but Chapman is a Christian who "would encourage [readers] to make [their] own investigation" of the Christian doctrine of love. Non-Christians can use this book. If Christian-phobics avoid it, that will be their loss.
This book is warmly recommended to couples, or to those who want to try using the "love languages" to express friendship and good will in less intimate relationships.