Friday, March 20, 2015

The 5 Love Languages

Feeling loved is a primary emotional need for all humans.  There are countless poems, letters, stories, books, and songs written about love.

Here's one song that kept running through my mind as I contemplated writing this post -
Everybody.  The chorus repeats, "Everybody, everybody wants to love, everybody, everybody wants to be loved."  So, so true.

In Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages," it says, "Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic that the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted.  With an adequate supply of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult.  Without that love, he or she will be emotionally and socially challenged." (You can listen to this book on YouTube).

Dr. Chapman shares a wonderful metaphor to illustrate the importance of feeling loved.  He heard this metaphor from Dr. Ross Campbell who is a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of children and adolescents.


"Inside every child is an 'emotional tank' waiting to be filled with love.  When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave.  Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty 'love tank.'"

He then shares that this 'love tank' concept does not just apply to childhood.  It continues into adulthood and marriage.

In the book, Mr. Chapman states, "I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile.  Running your marriage on an empty love tank may cost you more than trying to drive your car without oil."


This clip from an I Love Lucy episode illustrates how hard it can be to communicate with each other.

Throughout the world, people use different languages to communicate - English, Spanish, Chinese, Swedish, Russian... the list goes on.  Sometimes we struggle to understand each other.

Dr. Chapman shares: "Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and siblings, which becomes our primary or native tongue. Later, we may learn additional languages—but usually with much more effort. These become our secondary languages. We speak and understand best our native language. We feel most comfortable speaking that language. The more we use a secondary language, the more comfortable we become conversing in it. If we speak only our primary language and encounter someone else who speaks only his or her primary language, which is different from ours, our communication will be limited. We must rely on pointing, grunting, drawing pictures, or acting out our ideas. We can communicate, but it is awkward. Language differences are part and parcel of human culture. If we are to communicate effectively across cultural lines, we must learn the language of those with whom we wish to communicate. In the area of love, it is similar. Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other."

People speak different love languages.  We must be willing to learn to communicate in other people's love languages if we want to effectively communicate our love for them.

Here's a sweet video that illustrates these love languages.

Each of us has a different primary love language and we all tend to show our love by using our primary love language instead of thinking about how the other person would best understand the expression of our love. This is because we are most comfortable speaking our own love language.

Gary Chapman has been a marriage counselor for over 35 years.  Over the course of his career, he noticed that everyone he counseled had a "love language" which is "a primary way of expressing and interpreting love."

He also discovered that for some reason people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than they do.

At first glance one might think that this "Love Language" concept is primarily for couples, but that would be quite limiting.  These tools can be applied to relationships with teenschildrenadult childrenco-workersstudents at schoolmilitary, friends, singles, volunteer groups, church responsibilities, etc.

There are five primary love languages - Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Here's a video where Dr. Chapman explains the concept of "love languages:"

Here are summaries of each of these love languages (taken from The 5 Love Languages website). While these descriptions are meant for couples, I think they can apply to many other relationships as well.

Words of Affirmation—Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time—In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

Receiving Gifts—Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service—Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an Acts of Service person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear are, “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them, tell those with this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch—This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Here are some tests to help determine love languages for yourself, your spouse, your children, etc.


For Couples

For Singles

For Teens

For Children Ages 9-12

(Note: For younger children, it can be difficult to determine their primary love language so the best approach is to use all the love languages as much as possible.)

After you figure out the love language for your spouse (and yourself), click HERE to have some practical ideas to help you learn to speak your spouse's love language.  Dr. Chapman's book has so many wonderful ideas and I summarized them on my blog post.  But if you want more details, I would buy the book or listen to it for free online.

Click HERE to read my post about The 5 Love Languages of Children.

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