Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book - "Five Love Languages" (Gary Chapman)

Book Review: The Five Love Languages – the secret to love that lasts
Author: Gary Chapman
Published: Chicago, Northfield Publishing, 2010.

This is a classic book on communications, in particular marital communications. Published since 1992, this book has become a phenomenal bestseller worldwide. The idea is simple. Every spouse has one or more out of five major ‘love languages.’ By learning, knowing and learning each other’s love language, spouses will be better able to connect meaningfully and love wonderfully. These five languages are: ‘Words of Affirmation,’ ‘Quality Time,’ ‘Gifts,’ ‘Acts of Service,’ ‘Physical Touch.’

Using his personal encounters with hundreds of couples over a period of 30 years, Chapman crystallizes his experience into five conveniently packaged ‘love languages’ which becomes the ‘secret to love that lasts.’ Indeed, we all claim to love our spouses. Often, we become more frustrated instead even when each of us tries to display acts of love without our spouses responding in some meaningful way. Gary Chapman argues convincingly that the reason lies in our lack of understanding of both our own as well as our spouses’ love language. In the book, the author explains in detail what the love languages are an in easy to understand manner. He tries to make it interactive by posing questions for reflection after every lesson. He provides a simple exercise to help couples discover their primary love language. Now, with online exercises, this is made available to even more people.

My Comments

POSITIVES: The first time I read this book, I was blown away by its sheer simplicity and relevance to many marriages suffering from communication problems. It makes one more aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses. It helps one to become more conscious that showing love is not a one-size-fits-all box of chocolates. Often, what is needed is for people to have their inner lights turned on so that they can see the road ahead. Chapman’s metaphor of an emotional love tank is especially helpful. Filled with optimism, it makes marriages exciting and significant for both parties when both know what to do.

“When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and he feels secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach his highest potential in life.” (34)

POTENTIAL PITFALLS: Two brief comments. Firstly, I notice very little updated citations on the latest research on marriage communications. The book does look a little outdated. It seems like the book stands mostly on its own authority. Perhaps, that is understandable as it has blossomed into its own ministry. As our world becomes more interdependent, I feel that Chapman may do readers a greater service by having additional reference materials and links to other notable authors and resources, other than Gary Chapman incorporated. Secondly, as I reflect, I think its simplicity may lead people to practice it simplistically. In other words, a simple concept, naively applied without due consideration for timing, for appropriateness, for many other non-communications factors will let the best ideas give the worst possible results. Marriage counselors will be the first to argue that communications is important, but is definitely not the only factor that make love last. By having a subtitle that claims to be a ‘secret to life that lasts,’ the book may be overselling its main optimism of the author, which is,
When the emotional need for love is met, it creates a climate where the couple can deal with the rest of life in a much more productive manner.” (167)

My conclusion is that this book works best as a primer that turns one’s inner lights ON, as far as marital communications are concerned. It could be the ‘secret’ switch to shine light on a darkened path of a troubled marriage. However, it is just a switch. Like a flashlight, there are batteries to keep the light running, a hand to hold the light, and a conscious decision to know where and how to shine the light. Otherwise, it can become an insensitive effort to blind one another into thinking that we are in marital bliss. If you have not heard of the five love languages before, go get this book. If you have, it is certainly worth re-reading it and let it turn our lights on again. Remember, it is only a 'switch.' Marriage after all, is more than a switch. It is a love for life and a life of love.

The book is available now at your favourite bookseller.


1 comment:

Gift Baskets said...

This is a good book that will help you improve your relationships with your family, friends and co-workers by helping you understand what is their primary love language. It should be required reading for all high school seniors, and it is a MUST read if you are engaged to be married as the minor time investment now can potentially save you much headache and strife down the road.

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