The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts, by Gary Chapman
It is perhaps highly ironic as someone who thinks and writes about love so often that this book has escaped my voracious reading until now, even though I once attended a seminar at the Winter Family Weekend my church holds on the book. Among its many virtues is the fact that this book is straightforward and manages to toe a narrow line between the universality of its principles about there being a small set of core ways that people feel and express love with a large degree of variation within those types based on cultural, background, and personality concerns. Another virtue is a certain sense of humility in knowing that while certain principles may usually work and certain patterns of behavior exist that people cannot be coerced into feeling or giving love simply because someone speaks their language. This is a salutary and necessary reminder.
In terms of its organization, this book introduces the crucial issue of people not feeling loved after the wedding, and the problem of keeping people’s “love tank” full. Then the book spends about half of its pages talking about the five languages, including some of their major variations, with stories about how the author recognized those languages and how partners at the brink of separation and divorce can learn how to communicate love to each other before it is too late. The author talks about infidelity, the gradual cooling of love after initial infatuation, and about the fact that love is ultimately a choice to show outgoing concern for someone even apart from the shifting nature of one’s emotional state. This can be a hard lesson for any of us to take, and the fact that the book dwelt so much on troubled marriages and renewed romance was a bit tough to read.
At its core, this is a practical book about communication. Assuming we wish to convey love and concern for others, this book provides us ways this can be done that it will be most effectively understood. The fact that this book focuses mostly on marriage is understandable but, in my case, a bit lamentable. Nevertheless, insofar as all of us have our own characteristic ways of feeling loved and automatically showing love, this book is an easy-to-read and useful guide to doing so with an aim for understanding others as well as being understood so that we may have better marriages, a better relationship with our children, better experiences on the job, and better friendships. Of course, some of us long for the opportunity to show and feel love in these areas of life, opportunities that, for whatever reason, have not yet come.