I first heard about this book from Michael Hyatt’s podcast, “This is Your Life”, in which he credited this book to essentially changing his view how wonderful married life could be. Since it’s soon to be Valentine’s day, I’ld would like to present what I’ve learnt about myself and what I’ve applied from the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman.
I had so many light bulb moments reading it ,that in my view, it should be required reading for all couples and not just married ones.
So without further ado, let’s dive in!
But first, some background…
Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of “the five love languages” suggests that the in-love experience that we have when are falling in love is just a temporal emotional high . When reality catches up with our altered perceptions, there is incongruity – usually after marriage. The reason why we have incongruity is that we speak different love languages – that is, we view activities done as acts of love differently.
For example, for me I may perceive making breakfast for me as an act of love while my partner may think it is spending time together at the park. As we speak each others’ love languages, we start to fill out our love tanks. In essence, a fuller tank equates with a more loving and fulfilling marriage.
What are the 5 love languages?
1. Words of affirmation
These are encouraging, kind or humble words that are made to our loved ones. Encouraging words cause us to be more motivated to reciprocate. Sometimes latent potential is unlocked by your words.
Additionally, the way we speak matters as much as the way we put our words – as a demand or a request. Which statement would you be more likely to argue about?
“Could you make that good pasta one of these nights?” or
“Can’t we get a decent meal around here?”
For me and I believe many other, it is the second statement that will initiate a fight. Hence, it is essential to make requests as in the first statement rather than demands as in the second statement. Besides the spoken word, words of affirmation may also be written down as well.
2. Acts of service
These are small gestures like doing the dishes and mopping the floor. Though most acts of service tend toward chores, they can be as simple as helping to pick up dinner as well.
For people whose primary love language is acts of service, your spouse helping out in the house can be one of the ways he or she communicates love to you.
3. Receiving gifts
If you discover that your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, you can think of purchasing gifts as an investment.Sometimes to be an effective gift-giver, you may have to change your attitude about money if you are one that does not like to spend frivolously.
Apart from giving gifts, the gift of self is also one of the most powerful gifts you can give.
For the multi-taskers amongst us, quality time may be one of the most difficult love languages to speak. Quality time means to give our full undivided attention to another person while doing something together.
The type of quality activities is only limited by interest and each others’ willingness to try new experiences. These activities have the side benefits of creating memories to be drawn from in the years ahead.
Quality time can also translate into quality conversation as well. This requires sympathic listening, where two individuals are sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly uninterrupted context.
Finally, in the love language of physical touch, a slight touch on the elbow or pat on the back communicates love and fills up their love tank.
Light bulb Moments
As I read the book, I had moments where I said to myself, “oh…so that was what was happening.” At the same time, light bulbs were coming on in my head. I’ll like to share with you 3 light bulb moments here.
Light bulb Moment 1: Quality conversations
She didn’t want advice; she just wanted to know that I understood.
Early on in our relationship, my then girlfriend let me know that sometimes when she shared her problems with me, she didn’t need solutions.
And at that time, I thought that made no sense.
Now , having read the book, I know that to listen for feelings instead. I know to ask myself ” What emotion is my finacee experiencing?” and ask for confirmation. For example, “It sounds to me like you are feeling disappointed because ___________” giving a chance for him or her to clarify.
Additionally, it also communicates that you are listening intently to what they are saying.
Light bulb moment 2: Learning to talk
Quality conversation requires not only sympathic listening but also self-relevation.
For me, I find it hard to reveal what I am feeling or thinking. And as the author suggests, I may not be as in touch with my emotional self as when I was younger due to denial of certain feelings.
Having an awareness of this help in taking more concrete steps in bridging the gap.
Light bulb moment 3: I am a mild Babbling Brook
Not all of us are out of touch with our emotions, but when it comes to talking, all of us are affected by our personality.
The author describes two basic personality types : a “Dead Sea” and a “Babbling Brook”.
The Dead Sea goes nowhere. It receives but does not give. This personality type receives many experience, emotions and thoughts throughout the day and yet – they have a large reservoir where they store that information and are perfectly happy not to talk.
The Babbling Brook as you can imagine is quite the opposite.
On many train commutes home, I will be quite concerned when she was quiet and would ask her if she was alright. As it turns out, she really was alright.
What’s your love language?
I was in the first few pages of the book but decided to run through the five love languages with my finacee and asked, “Do you know your love language is?”.
She shook her head.
And If I’m honest, I’m not sure what’s my love language as well. But there is a simple way to verify that and that’s through the Discover Your Love Language assessment.
Here’s what the assessment looks like.
I’ll caution against taking the assesment as the be all end all though. The best way to ascertain is through examining these 3 questions over time.
- What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply
- What have I most requested of my spouse
- Examine what you do or say to express love to your spouse
What I did
1. Getting your other half onboard
I posted the screenshots of the pages where I had the 3 light bulb moments to my fiancee and she instantly requested for me to pass her the copy when I am done because she felt that the passages quoted were very true.
This is an advantage for me as well. It is my view for effective transformation to take place, both parties should embark on the journey together to enable greater understanding between themselves..
However, since I was not done with the book, I asked her to take the quiz online instead.
2. Evaluate my results
On my side, I tried to take it again and this resulted in a slightly different ranking. Taking the assessment is however a good starting point from which we can further refined by asking our partners to consider the 3 questions above.
This discrepancy in result also prompted me to evaluate it in light of my actions in the relationship so far.
Here are my results as seen in the video above:
- Acts of service
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
It was early in our relationship and I used to be quite irritated that she wasn’t on time. This irritation, it occurred to me , happens because as an act of service to my friend or family I like to be on time and hence very much like to see it reciprocated. And it has! My fiancee is perhaps even more on time than I am now.
Another one that jumped out at me was Quality Time. I find much joy in spending time exploring the nooks and crannies on this little island or just doing things together.
In the end, we ourselves must take action and work at understanding each other better and this can be done by first unraveling each other’s primary love language.
Do you know your partner’s love language? Why not take this Valentine’s day as an opportunity to discuss reading the book together?
I believe by understanding love and it’s constructs, we can demonstrate more love not only to our partners and spouses but to our families as well.