8 months ago · Leah Fogt · 0 comments
Originally published in 1995, Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages: The Secrets to Love That Lasts” has become a very popular reading choice for couples looking to deepen, strengthen, and maintain the love that forms the foundation of their relationship. The subsequent editions of the book have been updated and the author has also written additional books applying the Five Love Languages to the unique needs and experiences of children, teens, and men.
Chapman identifies the Five Love Languages as:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Gift Giving/Receiving
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
His premise is that we all give and receive love in different ways, but we can run into trouble in relationships if we are not “speaking the same language” as our partner. We can miss expressions of love from our partner if we’re not away of the way they say “I love you”, and we can be misunderstood just the same.
As a Baptist Pastor, Chapman’s presentation of the Five Languages takes a very Biblical and Christian slant, though his degrees in Anthropology clearly inform his work as well. Though the book has a “churchy” feel in a lot of ways, I believe non-Christian readers can certainly benefit from the book.
For those who find the book helpful, online resources on the Five Love Languages (including a really fun test you can take to identify your love language!) are available at www.5lovelanguages.com.
I give this book a B+.
Chapman gives practical advice that can be applied in everyday life, which is one of the primary things I look for in any self-help book. I love the specific instructions and guidance he offers of things to try, even in the most challenging of relationship dynamics (see Chapter 12: Loving the Unlovely). One recommendation Chapman encourages that I find essential for a healthy relationship (and I’m speaking as both a therapist and as a married woman) is prioritizing a regular date night. He even offers solutions for prioritizing time together when schedules and budgets are tight.
I do have some complaints about this book, however. While I feel very confident that Chapman has noble intentions, “The Five Love Languages” does lack attention to diversity. Chapman’s examples and recommendations reflect a strong bias toward the white Christian (and Protestant) heterosexual relationship. I suspect many non-Christians might be turned off or even discount what could otherwise be very helpful. Additionally, Chapman’s writing is only minimally trauma informed. His recommendations related to physical intimacy lack an awareness toward survivors of sexual trauma, and there is minimal consideration of dysfunctional power dynamics linked to domestic violence.
As with all self-help books, this cannot take the place of therapy (especially couple’s therapy), but it can supplement or even help identify areas to address with a therapist.
Chapman, G.D. (2015). The 5 love languages. Chicago: Northfield Pub.
Categories: Skills and Resources