Review: The five love languages

Partly in preparation for some relationship talks I’ve got coming up, and partly for my own benefit, I’ve just finished reading Gary Chapman’s The five love languages. Yes, it’s classic Christian self-help but that isn’t always a bad thing.

There is essentially one idea here, which is accompanied by real-life illustrations and practical applications. That’s fine – not much padding makes for a more readable (i.e. shorter) book. The thesis is that feeling “in love” isn’t the same as being loving or loved, and it is this latter (superior) state that makes for good marriages. This is a point made repeatedly elsewhere, i.e. by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. The USP of this book is the contention that to build this kind of marriage you need to learn to recognise and speak your spouse’s “love language”, which will be one (or two) of the following:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Acts of service
  4. Gifts
  5. Physical touch

There is, of course, a self-assessment took to help you work this out, though the short-cut tip is given that, “People tend to criticise their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”

As it is written by an American, its tone can seem synthetic to cynical Europeans but I think there are some helpful principles in here. It doesn’t take long to read but gives a way of thinking about communicating that will likely stay in your head.