Book Review on “The 5 languages of love” by Dr. Gary Chapman
In June 2011, Julia and I were in Harbin China giving some basic teaching on marriage relationships and communication skills, albeit it was mainly within Christian and church context. We were quite surprised to know that the marital problems in China are no less severe as compared to the West. Many unhappy marriages are not reported and highlighted in the country. Culturally, marriage problems are viewed as shameful and dishonoring to the family’s name. They don’t talk about it, much less would it become part of country’s statistics.
Not long after we came back home, we felt that we needed to upgrade our family knowledge and marriage counseling skills, so we attended a marriage seminar organized by “Focus in the Family”. It was in that seminar that Julia bought “The 5 Love Languages” written by Dr. Gary Chapman. It costs us Thirty Seven Ringgit and Ninety Sen (Malaysian currency).
I gathered that Dr. Gary Chapman’s book has the main intention to help couples identify, understand, and speak their spouse’s primary love language. By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover each other’s unique love languages and learn some practical steps in truly loving each other.
The Book goes in great depth on the 5 different Love Languages:
- Words of Affirmation (You are beautiful. Your dinner is so delicious.)
- Quality Time (Spend time talking to me instead of watching a movie)
- Receiving Gifts (Buy me flowers, jewelries, chocolates, kitchen utensils)
- Acts of Service (Wash my car. Bring rubbish outside after dinner.)
- Physical Touch (Holding hands, massages)
Dr. Gary Chapman explains that your love language is the way that one knows that he or she is loved. For example while I might be thankful that my wife is buying me a nice birthday present (Receiving Gifts), I’d much prefer her to tidy up the house and avoid all the clutters in the rooms (Acts of Service). Of course, every couple is unique and your love language may be different.
When I read through the book, I quickly tried to figure out the primary love languages to my family members. Well, at least I thought that was the first thing I should be doing. Very methodically, I had the following categories:
- Julia, my wife – Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch
- Aloysius, my son – Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts
- Wynne, my daughter – Receiving Gifts and Quality Time
- Myself – Acts of Service
One of the most interesting parts of this book is Dr. Chapman’s writing style. It is very easy reading, filled with solid and real examples of his clients. He describes each love language in great details, giving us the signs and how they are manifest in real life examples. The stories can draw out reader’s much emotions. You will have no difficulty identifying with some situations written in the book.
I am a typical man who finds it hard to verbalize “love”. I was deeply rooted in the culture that I was brought up; a man loves his wife by taking care of her financial and physical needs and doing many things for her. Sad to say, my love language does not match Julia’s very well. What she desires most is to have a husband who can say complementary words and praises, and at the same time show appropriate intimacy in physical touch. Well, over 20 over long years, we are adjusting to each other’s needs and accepting each other’s weaknesses too.
I would recommend “The 5 Love Languages” should be read by all courting couples before they decide to marry each other. It helps you to know your boy friend or girl friend better, and it also give you some indicative signs whether both of you are compatible and whether you are able to work through those differences together.
Married couples should also read this book. We may be married for decades but we may not know what our spouse’ primary love language is. We may be working hard to “love” but your spouse just couldn’t feel your “love” at all. How tragic it is if a marriage is heading towards a divorce simply because one party has genuinely tried his or her best, but the other doesn’t feel love at all. I believe many marital problems can be solved if the couples will read and practice what the book says.
The author is a Christian. He mentioned God a few times in the book. But the book is not preachy and religious. I strongly believe that the readers need not be Christians or have any religion or belief to benefit from this book. The principles are universal to men and women all over the world, regardless of cultural and religious background.
Dr. Chapman has also created different versions of the book to suit different people. Some examples of the versions include The Five Love Languages for
You need to have time to read through the book. It is useful that husband and wife, or courting couples, will read it together and discuss about the 5 love languages. You will be surprised how revealing it can be. I strongly believe that by going through this exercise, you open up communication channels for you both to understand each other better, the result is your relationship will be strengthened.