I was introduced to the book “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman over 10 years ago. It was presented to our single moms group and I found it so intriguing. I learned as a mom how to identify my children’s love languages (and mine) so that I could love them in the manner which they received love. It was very enlightening for me as a mom. It was also an effective parenting tactic. I wish I had revisited the book when my children became teenagers because I seemed to lose all types of “mommy cool points” when the kids reached teen years (or maybe love languages don’t apply to teens 😊). (Side note: I think I need to write Gary Chapman and give him another book idea: “5 Love Languages for Those Who Are Hard to Get Along With.”) He has several versions focused on various groups (e.g. teens, singles, children, etc.)
I suggested to Terry that we read 5 Love Languages for Couples. I was a little intimidated suggesting a book to him because he has a very extensive library. Terry reads a lot and he retains it all! It’s one of the things I find fascinating about him. He is a walking encyclopedia. Sometimes I just ask him random things that I don’t even care about just because I know he’ll either know the answer or find the answer. Although I love his big ol’ brain, introducing a new idea to him was scary for me. I thought he would reject it and miss this opportunity to explore this book with me. I was very surprised when he said he hadn’t heard of it. Alas, I knew something Terry didn’t know 😊. Truly, I only knew the title. I remembered the concept of the book, but I didn’t remember the details and surly I didn’t understand the content in the context of a couple’s relationship. Terry (of course) did some research about it and agreed to read it with me. I don’t know if he was just trying to appease me, but I was thankful either way.
We delved right into the books when they arrived. We assigned ourselves chapters to read and discussed them every night. I have never had a guy agree to read a book with me, EVER! Terry gained so many cool points when he said yes, but the way he faithfully read the chapters and shared in the discussion was absolutely beautiful! Most of the time he finished his reading before me.
Dr. Chapman introduced the concept that people naturally give and receive love in innate ways which are described as “Love Languages”. I won’t delve too deeply into the details because the book does that beautifully and I highly recommend that everyone read the book. By the end, I realized so many implications this concept has. Not just with my relationship with Terry, but my relationships with my parents, siblings, friends, and peers. I revisited the information I had previously applied to my relationship with my children and refocused on loving them in their own (love) language. As the title of the book suggests, there are 5 (love) languages and different “dialects” of how they are shown or received. The languages are: Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts and Words of Affirmation.
I didn’t know what Terry’s love language was. I had a suspicion but I was wrong. Terry is a gift giver. He would send me flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, whatever (just because). I assumed that because Terry was big on giving gifts, that “gifts” was his love language. I was unaccustomed to receiving gifts. I literally had a relationship where I would get dumped about a week before Christmas, so the guy wouldn’t have to buy me gifts for the holidays. Since my birthday is right around the corner from Christmas, the “breakup” would continue into the new year. Then, there was Valentine’s Day, so you know what that meant…yup, a stupid argument to ensure he didn’t have to buy a gift in February. Then he’d want to make up sometime around February 15th. That went on for years before I figured out the pattern. Absolute foolishness! Now back to Terry. I thought for sure giving and receiving gifts was his love language. But turns out, it’s not.
We learned in the book that sometimes behaviors can be learned through experiences. For instance, someone may be a good listener, because of training or profession. Quality conversations is a dialect of Quality Time. Just because someone practices active listening, doesn’t mean that’s their love language. There is a quiz at the end of the book which helps you identify your own love language, but more importantly, it helps you identify your partner’s love language. Couples are encouraged to know each other’s love language and commit to love their partner the way that they receive. It’s being intentional about love.
When I was a very young woman, I had a revelation about the state of relationships in my generation (at least in my surroundings). In my view, I saw that everyone was looking at what they could get out of the relationship versus what they could add to the other person’s life. They based their “love” on what the other person could do for them. That formula worked until the other person could no longer deliver what was expected. Once that happened, it felt as if they had “fallen out of love”. This concept of loving intentionally is about love being more about what you can add to the other person vs what they can give. When both parties are committed to doing that, it’s the most romantic language there is! My prayer is that I always stay committed to loving Terry the way he needs to be loved.
The Language of Love? Really?
Terry’s Thoughts (T2):
One night while Faith and I were talking on the phone, she suggested that we read a book together. I thought that is would be a good idea to help us get a better understanding of how we thought about a subject and help both of us learn more about the other. So, I asked her what did she want to read or was it just something that she thought about. As always, Faith had something in mind: ‘The 5 Love Languages for Couples’ by Gary Chapman. I had never heard of it, but she had read the version for parents to learn their children’s love language. (Side note: There are several versions on the subject and all are centered around learning a person’s love language. The primary book is ‘The 5 Love Languages’ and I highly recommend it.) As she explained to me the principles of the book, I thought that it would be very interesting to see what the author said about the subject and where each of us landed. So, the next day I ordered our copies of the book and awaited their arrival.
When they arrived, I gave Faith her copy and we decided to read a chapter each day and talk about the chapter we read that evening/night. Faith kept saying to me before we read it together, “I know what your love language is, and the book is going to confirm it.” Well, even though I hadn’t read the book, I knew I wouldn’t be pigeonholed by any category. Never have and probably never will, but I told her “We’ll see if you are right or not. But I’m not what you think. I know me.” She was certain that from her previous exposure to the teachings that she new what my language was/is. Boy, was she in for a surprise!
As we continued to read each chapter and discuss what it entailed, we began to learn more about ourselves and well as each other. Some of the things that I thought she ‘spoke’ through her love language was not what it appeared to be, while things that she thought I ‘spoke’ ended up being totally contrary to what she believed about me. None of these things were negative, but they opened our eyes that we are more complex beings and have many layers. In the words of Shrek, we were like onions: we have layers. And like onions, sometimes if a layer is cut, it can make you cry. During the 2 weeks that we were reading this book and our follow up discussions on the chapters, we would discuss our thoughts and feelings towards the subject and would relate our personal experiences to the chapter’s subject matter. This was a watershed moment in our relationship. We were learning how the other person “speaks” to express their love and how to listen with not only our ears, but with our hearts.
At the end of the book, there was a test that helps couples learn their love language and gives them an opportunity to discuss their findings and evaluate what their opinions at the beginning versus the end of the book. In the end, we both learned about how the other expresses their love and receives love. Knowing how a person receives love and how they “speak” it can help people communicate effectively and efficiently to each other. There is no sense in speaking French when the other is speaking Italian and expect everyone to be on the same page. The same with love languages. By knowing how Faith receives expressions of love, I know what and how to “speak” to make sure that she knows that I love her and vice versa. By taking a little time to learn your partner’s language of love, you may be surprised how much deeper your relationship will grow towards one another. I know I did.