My Copy: 9780802412706 (image from 5lovelanguages.com)
I’d heard a little about this book in the past, and I can’t remember what finally made me select it and buy it for myself. Haven’t been in a relationship in ages and with my odd family situation… well, maybe that was part of the incentive to do so. It might’ve been a passing comment from my therapist that got me to remember this book in the first place.
Either way, glad I read The 5 Love Languages. It’s not that it was mind-blowing or I kept thinking “Eureka!” as I went along, but it felt a lot like that thought that’s bugging you at the back of your mind, that something’s missing and you’re getting closer to the answer. Perhaps it’s because this book’s been around so long and the teachings have gone all over the place by the time I got to it, so I’ve already absorbed some of the lessons without realizing it the past few years.
FYI: This book has been so popular that, like Chicken Soup for the Soul, it’s got spin-off books for more specific audiences (btw, never read CSFTS before, either). But I wanted the original one to see what the fuss and the major lessons were about. Perhaps I’ll dabble in the “singles” offshoot book later, but not now. So if you’re looking and get confused by the variety, there is an original out there and still in print.
The 5 Love Languages has some good explanations why some couples seem to go downhill after the initial “we’re in love” phase has dwindled and the rest of the couple’s life is before them. It seems that “in love” feeling doesn’t last forever, but takes work to keep going, and most importantly, communication.
And we’re talking communication beyond mere words for the most part.
Well, it turns out this communication comes in many forms, and the reason a lot of couples fall apart is because they haven’t learned to speak each other’s love language. It makes sense, actually, that even in a couple, each person’s going to want confirmation of their love in different ways. If you ask each person in the couple how they know their significant other loves them, they may have two very different ways of seeing it.
In essence, the 5 love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch (beyond just sex). Where couples seem to have issues is when they don’t understand how the other person feels about them beyond words. A husband my buy his wife some flowers to show his love for her because he likes getting gifts himself, but she might prefer him to come home and cook dinner or clean once in a while as she’s with the kids or a friend. Or the wife may want to spend quality time with her husband and do things together, but he works all the time and he thanks her for making his lunch and says she’s a great person as he heads to work. He might thrive with positive words and reinforcement and just be wanting to be the best provider for his family; she might see his commentary as just some afterthought and that he’s going to the office to be away from her.
And on and on. There are many examples in The 5 Love Languages that go further into how these miscommunications occur and how to fix them (and it’s not crazy hard, just takes some thinking). Nowadays the idea of love languages are more widespread, but how could people describe this feeling of disconnection before? This is where the languages come in, and asking questions about how each feels the other cares. It’s just another approach to get to the root issue.
I do think it’s a pretty interesting book and has a lot to offer, for those in relationships and even those not, because I could see it used with broader social interaction in a sense. Not all 5 perhaps (giving complete strangers gifts might be weird), but certainly some things like being responsive to a hug or handshake and a chat vs. a polite nod and going about your business. I’m curious how much I’ll be able to incorporate what I’ve learned in these pages. Definitely worth reading and loaning out.