Sunday, October 3, 2010

Love Languages (by Gary Chapman)

As a wedding gift from my new parents, my wife and I received a copy of “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.  As so many others have already said, I think that this is a great book.  I don’t totally buy into it for a couple of reasons though, but before I get into those reasons, let me give a brief overview of the theory.

The Theory
There are five categories (languages) in which you can show (or be shown) love.  These five languages are: Words of affirmation, Quality time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.  I won’t get into exactly what these involve, but it should be pretty clear to anyone with a little thought and research skill (try googling “love language words of affirmation” for instance).  There are a lot of areas of overlap between the five, for instance a gift of your time to perform a service involves three of the five in a loose way; so the five shouldn’t been seen as limiting.

Why I Don’t Buy Into It
  1. The key seems to me to be more about making the effort to understand your spouse than in learning a particular love language, though I have to admit that the 5 languages are a good framework to reflect on how you show love.
  2. It seems wiser to me to develop your ability to give and to show love in as many different ways as possible.  Focusing on one or two particular languages out of the whole is almost inevitable for the casual reader and this is very limiting.  I know that I don’t want to be boxed in such a way, especially when my tastes and passions shift depending on a much more complex set of variables.  I would hate for my spouse to expect a gift that worked on one day to work exactly the same the next.  It might, but the thought process behind the gift is more important and I think it is a real danger (of shutting off the thought process) when instantly and permanently categorising a person’s love language.

Why I Think it is Still Well Worth Reading
This is a book that is well worth reading for one main reason, and that is to get ideas for how to show your love.  Of the many experiences shared in the book, there is bound to be something that will make you think of your spouse (or yourself) and give you ideas.  Linked to this is the excitement you get from hearing about troubled relationships that have recovered.

I haven’t yet finished reading the book so, to be fair to Gary Chapman, he may deal with some of the concerns I’ve raised.  Even if he doesn’t, I heartily recommend this read to anyone.  After all, if you are reading without really engaging your mind to weigh up the validity of the content, you won’t get anything out of it anyway.

Happy reading, and happy loving!