Listen: ‘The Five Love Languages’ author Dr Gary Chapman chats to Duncan Robinson.
It’s sold over 13 million copies, been translated into over 50 languages, and now it’s turning 25: The Five Love Languages.
If you aren’t familiar with the famous book, it’s written by pastor Dr Gary Chapman and explores five of the ways we communicate love. Those five ‘languages’ are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.
To mark the book’s 25th anniversary, we caught up with Dr Gary Chapman on the phone on Hope 103.2 Breakfast.
He shared with us some of the keys to a successful marriage and effectively communicating love, as well as some effective strategies for apologizing.
How the 5 Love Languages Affect our Relationships
Dr Chapman explained how, in a relationship, we each have a primary love language and often we speak that particular love language.
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“That works well when our partner speaks the same language, but the challenge arises when our partner speaks a different language and we aren’t aware of it,” said Dr Chapman.
After reading several years of notes from marriage counselling sessions, Dr Chapman noticed a pattern emerging: when men and women felt like they weren’t being loved, there tended to be one dominant area that they most ‘complained’ about, or one thing they felt they lacked in their relationship.
And he noticed five particular categories for responses.
What are The Five Languages?
The first love language is Words of Affirmation: using words to affirm your spouse. If this is your love language, you feel most cared for when your partner is open and expressive in using words to affirm and encourage you.
The second is Acts of Service—doing something for your loved one. This might include cooking meals, washing the car or walking the dog, for example. This language of love is expressed through doing things for another person.
The language of Gifts is, obviously, where you give a gift showing you have been thinking about a person, to make them feel appreciated. The love is not so much wrapped up in the gift itself, but in the thought and heart behind it.
Physical Touch is another of the five key gifts, whether it be a warm hug, a kiss, touch, or sexual intimacy. Affirmation comes through contact.
The fifth in Dr Chapman’s five love languages is Quality Time: giving a person your undivided attention. This is not watching TV or playing a computer game together, and it is not so much about what you are doing—it is about the act of doing it together.
The ‘Sixth Love Language’
In the 25 years since it was first published, The Five Love Languages has been republished across multiple cultures and languages, and yet Dr Chapman said he hasn’t seen the list of ‘languages’ change much—although he did have a suggestion of a potential sixth love language: chocolate.
“Who wouldn’t want chocolate to be their love language,” he joked. He went as far as saying that if you bought the chocolate, it’s a gift; whereas if you made the chocolate, it’s an act of service.
The Importance of Apologizing Well
In our chat, Dr Chapman also shared some advice for apologizing well, including expressing regret (“I’m sorry”), accepting responsibility (“I was wrong”), making restitution (“What can I do to make it right?”), genuinely repenting (“I’ll try not to do that again”), and requesting forgiveness (“Will you please forgive me?”).
He said that often an apology doesn’t come across well because we’re simply failing to give it in the ‘language’ that best speaks to our partner or friend.
The Purpose of Marriage
When asked about the purpose of marriage, Dr Gary Chapman says it’s ultimately about deep intimacy.
“It is the opposite of being alone, but ultimately it is sharing deeply with another person and being connected with another person,” he said. “You are sharing emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual intimacy. When you connect deeply across those four pillars of intimacy, marriage is beautiful.”