The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts Book Review

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My mother brought this book home from somewhere when I was in my teens and our whole family ended up reading it and discussing it at length. While I wouldn’t say it’s the be-all-and-end-all of relationship books, it’s definitely one of the best I’ve personally read, and it provide a useful and actionable framework for reducing misunderstandings and maintaining relationship satisfaction.

The Five Love Languages begins with the simple and common sense premise that people have different ways of expressing affection (“love languages”) and that misunderstandings can ensue if people happen to have different primary love languages. Chapman’s five love languages are:

  1. quality time
  2. words of affirmation
  3. gifts
  4. acts of service
  5. physical touch (not just sex, but also hugs, back rubs, cuddling, etc.)

He devotes a chapter to each love language, with numerous examples from his many years as a pastor and relationship counselor.

Although most people will respond to some degree to any of the five love languages, Chapman argues that most people have one or two that are dominant and that neglecting a person’s dominant love language can, over time, make them feel unloved and unhappy in their relationships.

My own family had some interesting revelations in our discussions of the book. Though nobody was surprised to discover that the primary love language of my mother, my brother, and I was Quality Time, my sister announced that hers was Physical Touch, a rather unfortunate happenstance given that the other four of us are physically aloof, with a very low need for touch. Similarly, my father concluded that his was Words of Affirmation, another weak point for the rest of us, who tend to be bad at giving compliments and worse at receiving them. To this day, over a decade after reading the book, I make a conscious effort to be more physically affectionate with my sister and more verbally appreciative with my father (practice that later came in handy with my husband, who’s also strong on Words of Affirmation).

I am doubtful whether Chapman’s love languages would be enough to save relationships with severe, long-term problems or incompatibilities, but in situations where the main problem is just that one or both partners are feeling unappreciated, unloved, or taken for granted, I think it could work wonders.

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My rating: (4 / 5)