Many marriages fail not because couples don’t put in the effort, but because they are expressing their love in the “wrong” ways. When you learn to understand and speak your spouse’s love language, you will be able to effectively express your love and truly feel loved in return. In this summary, we’ll be sharing a synopsis of the “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr Gary Chapman, with powerful insights on how to strengthen our relationships with the right love language.
Do get the full tips and details from our full “The 5 Love Languages” summary bundle, get a copy of the book or read more about how these languages may be applied at work in “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” summary.
Different Love Languages
Like linguistics in communication, people speak different love languages. We have our native love languages that we speak and understand best in, and our secondary language(s) that we are comfortable but less fluent at.
It is possible for couples to love each other, but to feel unloved because they give and receive love differently, i.e. they don’t share the same primary emotional love language. After 30 years of marriage counselling, Chapman concluded that there are 5 key emotional love languages, though there are many “dialects” within these five languages.
All of us have an “emotional love tank”. When we receive love in our primary love language, our love tank is filled and we feel loved. When we don’t receive love expressed in our primary love language, our love tank gradually depletes and we feel unloved. When our love tank is empty, issues is the relationship arise.
Falling in Love… and out of it
When we fall in love, we feel euphoric. We have the illusion that our partners are perfect and that the romantic feelings in our relationship will last forever. During this in-love period which typically lasts about 2 years, we feel altruistic toward each other. We give freely because we believe our lover feels the same about us, and are equally committed to meeting our needs. When the phase eventually passes, relationship issues start to surface. In the book, Dr Chapman explains the details of the “in-love” vs “real” love stages (you can also get an overview in our full 10-page book summary).
To have a lasting relationship, we must learn and speak our spouses’ primary love language. When their love tanks are full, they are in a better position to reciprocate your love, and are free to grow to their full potential.
The Five Love Languages
We’ll now take a brief look at each of the five love languages.
LOVE LANGUAGE #1: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Words of affirmation are words that build someone up. If this is your primary love language, it means the world to you when you receive unsolicited compliments, hear the words “I love you” and the reasons behind that love. Insults can break your heart and leave lasting scars.
LOVE LANGUAGE #2: QUALITY TIME
If this is your primary language, you deeply value doing things together and receiving full, undivided attention from your spouse, including sharing quality conversations and activities. Distractions, postponed dates, or not being listened to can be especially hurtful to you. In the book, Dr Chapman shares tips on how to enjoy quality conversations especially if this is your spouse’s primary love language but not yours, and and make time for quality activities.
LOVE LANGUAGE #3: RECEIVING GIFTS
If this is your primary language, you deeply treasure a gift or gesture that shows you are being thought of, cared for, and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring you the gift. Gifts are visual symbols of love. You feel hurt by the absence of daily gestures, a missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty/ thoughtless gift.
The value of the gift is often less important than the significance of the gift. If you are not intuitive at giving gifts but your spouse’s primary language is receiving gifts, you can start by making a list of all the gifts that your spouses has been excited about – this will give you an idea of what gifts he/she appreciates.
LOVE LANGUAGE #4: ACTS OF SERVICE
If this is your primary love language, you feel loved when your spouse says “let me do that for you”, and helps to ease your burdens or share your responsibilities e.g. cooking a meal, washing the car. Broken commitments, unwillingness to help, laziness/ sloppiness, or taking your spouse for granted, all send the message that your spouse doesn’t matter.
Even if you and your spouse share the same primary love language of Acts of Service, you make speak different “dialects” or value different types of support being rendered (e.g. she may prefer that you wash the dishes while you may prefer that she irons your clothes. Try asking your spouse to list down the tasks that he/she considers most important, and do them.
LOVE LANGUAGE #5: PHYSICAL TOUCH
Physical touch can bring a sense of security and connection to any relationship. If this is your primary love language, you crave shows of care and love through is thoughtful touches, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and/ or sexual intercourse. Neglect or abuse can cause serious damage and hurt to you emotionally.
Like other love languages, there are different dialects in physical touch, such as loving touches on the arm/ back/ shoulders, a back rub, sexual foreplay and intercourse, sitting closely on the couch, holding hands etc. Even if you share the same love language of physical touch, don’t assume he/she speaks the same dialect as you.
To discover your primary love language, ask yourself:
- What makes you feel most loved by your spouse? What do you desire the most from your spouse?
- What does your spouse fail to do or say that hurts you deeply or brings you deepest pain?
- What do you do to express love to your spouse? You tend to do what you wish he/ she would do for you
TANK CHECK GAME
If you wish to develop your understanding of and stimulate the love expressions in your relationship, this is a great game to try out with your spouse and watch your love deepen!
TURNING THINGS AROUND
Even if you and your spouse have had an empty love tank for a long time, it is still possible to turn things around. Find out how you can restart your love engine with Dr Chapman’s suggested approach.
FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES AND CHILDREN
Find out how to identify your children’s love languages and how to develop a strong and loving relationship with them.
Other Details in “The 5 Love Languages”
Chapman used many real-life examples from his own marriage, and of couples that he had counselled across the years, to illustrate the concepts in his book and how they can be applied to address different marriage/ relationship issues and circumstances. These are case studies help us to identify similarities and lessons for our own relationships.
In the book, he also offers 2 pages of additional ideas and suggestions for each of the five love languages, as well as separate love language profile surveys for husbands and wives (to identify your primary love language. If you enjoyed the ideas in this article, do get a copy of The 5 Love Languages book from Amazon now, or buy The 5 Love Languages summary bundle to get a detailed overview of these key ideas! More resources, including free online profiling surveys, are available at the 5 Love Languages website.
Are the 5 love languages applicable at the workplace? Read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace summary to find out!
Start transforming your relationships with the 5 love languages today!