If you haven’t read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I highly recommend it. My husband and I read this book together while we were dating. My father suggested reading a book together as a way to handle a long distance romance. (In fairness we were only an hour apart, but I think he wanted us to have something to talk about when we were together instead of making out).
The book changed our relationship and the way we related to so many others. The book classifies five main areas of giving and receiving love.
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
As he breaks down each of these areas to describe them further, Chapman does a great job of defining these areas and clearing up any common misconceptions (such as that all men have physical touch love language just because they like sex or that all women are gifts love language because they like to shop). The book had a significant impact on our relationship (I am quality time and my husband is physical touch), but even more so, how we interacted with others. I quickly realized that some people give and receive love in different languages. My mother in law, for instance, is happiest when she is serving others. To the point where it is hard to get her to sit down and spend time with us when we visit. Like the biblical Martha, she can become overwhelmed with making sure everyone has enough to eat and forget to great her guests. But I’ve discovered that she receives love best through words of affirmation. When we compliment her culinary efforts or remind her how important she is to us, she lights up.
While this book has become part of the standard regimen of many pre-martial counseling materials, I think its benefits stretch much further than that. The Five Love Languages improved our dating relationship, saving us from many communication difficulties and conflicts. But it has also helped us each to better understand our families and friends.