The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman is a guide to understanding how to love your partner better and create a deeper emotional connection in your relationship. This book helps you learn to speak your partner’s love language, providing the tools to effect the right kind of change in your relationship that will allow it to last.
All relationships, even the best ones, will experience a decline in the euphoria of first falling in love. The period of being in love can last up to two years. The loss of that love high may leave some feeling like they’ve failed or the relationship was not meant to be. But maintaining a loving relationship is vastly different than falling in love.
We each have a love tank. Our love tanks are similar to gas tanks, in that, we operate best in a relationship when our love tanks are full.
When you are falling in love, the object of your affection is all consuming. You want to stay in that warm and exciting space with them, and you go out of your way to do things for them or support them. You do this so they know you are falling for them and want them to be in your life. When you are falling in love, everything the other person does feels magical and fills your tank.
When that initial burst of love begins to fade, you and your partner revert to the people you were before the relationship. Only now, you must find a way to be you within the long-term relationship. The focus tends to turn from their happiness to your own, and your measure for it stems from your expectations of what a loving relationship should look like. This reality can leave you and them feeling unloved when those expectations aren’t met, draining your tanks.
The problem lies in the way you each understand love. There are five languages of love each person speaks: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Each language corresponds to the types of actions or behaviors that make someone feel the most loved.
Likely, you speak a different language than your partner. Communicating love through different languages is like trying to have a conversation in English with someone who only speaks Italian. Once you learn which language your partner speaks, you can start to address them through that language and fill up their love tanks.
Words of Affirmation are words or phrases you say to your partner to make them feel good about who they are and what they do. These words can be compliments, words of encouragement, remarks that express kindness, or those that signify your faith in them.
Quality Time is time dedicated solely for the purpose of being with your partner without distractions. A person with this language wants to simply be with their loved one. The activity is secondary to the actual act of being together. Time may mean actively engaging in meaningful conversation, participating in an activity that they like, even if you don’t, or having dinner together without watching TV or using electronic devices.
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Society is built around the idea that marriage is the ultimate culmination of love. This type of committed relationship feels necessary, even required for a happy life. Although there are many ways to be happy, many agree that a loving relationship is advantageous.
Keeping love alive is the topic of seminars, books, television, movies, and conversations with friends and family. Yet, the divorce rate highlights the lack of success many couples have in maintaining love after marriage.
If a long-term loving relationship is desired, learning how your partner understands and receives love is necessary. But first, you must understand the difference between falling in love and maintaining love.
The problem with many relationships is not that love has dissolved, but rather that love is misunderstood. When we understand that each person speaks in their own love language, we can start to...
Now that you understand that different ways of communicating love exist, you can determine whether you are speaking the right language in your relationship.
Think about the last time you did something out of love for your partner that didn’t receive the desired outcome of appreciation. What was it?
Our love tanks are the parts of us that represent our emotional need for love. The desire for love stems from a primary urge within us to fill our tanks.
When our love tanks are full, everything seems possible. The world seems more open and beautiful.
When our love tanks are empty, our worldview can become narrow and pessimistic.
We are animals in nature. Just as the lion has a primal urge to hunt, humans have a primal need to experience intimacy and affection. Committed relationships are sought to address that urge and keep our love tanks full forever.
But being in love is not the same thing as living with love.
When we fall in love, we are experiencing a temporary filling of our love tanks because of the love high, regardless of how it is delivered. In this early state, we feel euphoric and understood. We feel powerful and confident.
But the in-love experience is short-lived. As the euphoria wanes, our...
Think of your love meter as the gas gauge on your car’s dashboard.
When you imagine your relationship, visualize your love meter. Where does it sit between full and empty?
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We all enter long-term relationships via the emotions created during the first few weeks or months or years of the union. When we meet someone we find attractive or mesh with, we feel a spark inside. Like lightning, that spark electrifies our dormant heart. We begin to take in every word, action, or look as fuel for our tanks.
When we find the person we feel is “meant to be,” we become preoccupied with the feeling of love. All we want to do is swim in the sea of that new love---hugging, kissing, doing everything together. When we are without them, our thoughts of that person distract us from the realities of life.
We put on rose-colored glasses when we find love, and the world appears in that perfect hue until we are unable to remember what the world really looks like.
We assume this is how the world will look from now on with this person by our side. If we are old enough or experienced enough, we understand that love requires compromise and arguments will happen. But the person who is in love...
You now know that losing the high of falling in love is universal and nothing to be ashamed of. From this position, you can examine the ways in which love has been created or lost in your relationship.
Think about falling in love with your partner. Name one feeling or action by your partner you recognize as causing that sensation to dwindle?
For people whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation, supportive and complementary words make them feel the most loved. Actions and physical intimacy are not as important as affirming words. Speaking this language to your partner means finding small or large ways of expressing approval and gratitude for who they are and what they do.
Affirming words are immensely useful when trying to express love.
Within the language of Words of Affirmation are varied dialects, meaning there are different categories of affirming words. Certain types of affirming words will strike different chords depending on the dialect your partner speaks. All Words of Affirmation are beneficial to one who speaks this language, but learning which particular dialect they speak will make the effort more fruitful.
**Complimentary affirmations can be simple expressions of...
You know how it feels to receive a compliment or receive kindness from your partner. If you know your partner speaks the language of Words of Affirmation, imagine what it would feel like to them if you reversed the direction of those words.
What is one thing you would love for your partner to say to you?
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People with the love language of Quality Time require moments of undivided attention from their partners. Spending time together is good. But more than just physical proximity, this language thrives on intentional and focused communication without outside distractions. When you spend quality time with your partner, you are telling them they are important.
Everyone is busy. There is a limited amount of time in every day. You may work during the day and have children to look after in the evenings. You may be pulled in ten different directions daily. You may feel too tired at night to do anything but watch TV.
When time is set aside for the one you love, it may feel like a sacrifice. To the person with this love language, that sacrifice speaks volumes. You are giving your partner a dedicated part of yourself, which is a powerful symbol of love.
When a person with this love language does not receive dedicated time, the love tank begins to drain. Even if you say nice things or do nice things for your partner, they will never feel satisfied or truly loved.
If you don’t share quality time with your partner, **they may come to...
It can be hard for couples to find time to be together. But if this aspect of the relationship is important to one or both of you, learning to find that time is essential.
What was the last activity you and your partner did that was solely geared toward quality time together?
You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts.” For the person with the love language of receiving gifts, that thought means more than anything else in the relationship.
A gift is a representation of thought. When you choose a gift for someone, you consider who they are and what they like. When you receive a gift, you know that person was thinking about you.
The act of obtaining and giving a gift symbolizes effort. The receiver of the gift feels love because that effort was made for them. It is not the size of the gift that matters. The gesture is everything.
Think about gifts you gave your parents as a child. Or, if you are a parent, think about how you feel when your child draws you a picture or makes you breakfast in bed. It warms the heart to feel that kind of love from them. It makes you feel special. You know their love is real and deep.
A gift can be considered a tangible symbol of love. The person with this language cherishes that symbol. Seeing it and feeling it reminds them of your love. If there is no tangible evidence of your love, your partner may have a hard time feeling it or believing in it.
**The type of gift holds little...
The language of Acts of Service encompasses the act of one partner doing things for the other person. These actions are made without prompting and with the sole intention of pleasing the other. Whether an act of service makes life easier for your partner or simply fulfills a known desire, your partner’s tank will fill with love.
Acts of service may be large or small.
The main message of an act of service is forethought and consideration. The thought and action together, when done without resentment, signifies love to your partner.
Speaking the language of Acts of Service means performing the right acts for your partner. Not every act will be taken as an act of love. Discovering what your partner’s particular desires are will ensure the maximum benefit of your actions.
If the actions performed do not match the...
It can be hard to know how to help you partner in a way they will appreciate. Learning what is important to them requires thought and understanding.
What is one thing your partner frequently complains about having to do around the house?
Physical touch is recognized by everyone for its bonding effects, but for the person with this love language, physical touch is the supreme representation of love. With consistent physical contact, this person’s love tank is full. Without touch, this person feels unloved, and the love tank begins to drain.
The act of touching is a surefire way of expressing emotional connection. You hug your friends when they are upset. You hug and kiss your children to show you love them. You cuddle and are physically intimate with your partner.
The stimulating effect of touch has a wide scope. The body holds tactile receptors throughout, which send signals to the brain through the nerves when activated. The brain transforms these signals into sensations.
If you or your partner speak this love language, the act of touching will communicate emotions more than mere words could do.
Even if you or your partner does not speak the primary love language of Physical Touch, all relationships involve tactile intimacy. Now that you are thinking about the nature of touch, you can see how it plays a role in your relationship.
Beyond sexual intimacy, what is one way you recognize that your partner likes to be touched?
Understanding what love language you speak is just as important as knowing your partner’s language for the relationship to remain loving and happy. Even if your partner’s love tank is full, if yours is not, a happy relationship will be hard to maintain.
You may find it easy to identify your language and that of your partner. Or, you may feel you speak more than one, and narrowing it down to a primary language may be hard.
For instance, many people use the gauge of sexual desire to determine their primary language. For men, sexual desire is more biological. For women, sexual desire tends toward a more emotional sensation. Either origin may cause a person to assume their love language is or is not physical touch.
However, a strong libido does not necessarily indicate a preference for touch. If you or your partner is very sexually active but can take or leave other forms of touch, Physical Touch is not the primary love language. Likewise, if you or your spouse is not overly interested in sexual intimacy but feels love most through subtle touches, Physical Touch may be the primary language.
When you determine the correct love language and adjust behavior to speak...
Now that you know a few ways to determine your language, let’s see if you can narrow it down to one or two.
What is something your partner did recently that made you feel loved more than usual? Which language does that action fall into?
At the basis of all other emotions within a relationship is the sensation of love. When you feel loved, you feel less pressure, less alone, less anxiety, more secure, more confident, and more important.
Self-worth is tied into feeling loved.
Deep love gives you poise and strength.
Love can ease anxiety about the future.
If you’ve read this far, you probably believe it is important for your partner to feel loved. You probably want to be able to show them love in a significant way.
What do you assume your partner’s love language is?
Learning to speak each other’s love languages can have staggering effects on any relationship, even those on the brink of death.
Most relationships end because of negative patterns. Past hurts or resentments cloud our ability to love or feel loved.
Whatever the issues or patterns are, immediately learning and communicating through each other’s love languages can go a long way to rebuilding love in your relationship.
Love is a process. Even if you make the choice to speak your partner’s love language, they may not respond positively right away. The choice is yours to continue loving them and filling their tanks. As their tanks begin to...
Feeling the ending of a relationship approaching can be devastating and debilitating. Now that you understand the love languages, is there a way the negative patterns in your relationship can be improved?
What is a complaint your partner always brings up about you?
You and your partner are different, even if you have been together for a long time. As individuals, you bring your histories and baggage into your relationship. You have expectations for what you want or should receive from your partner. You have different ways of coping with anger and pain. You have different priorities.
When your love tank is full, you can meet your partner in a positive place to deal with your differences. With a full love...
1. What if I can’t figure out my love language or my partner’s?
If the information in Chapter 9 doesn’t help you understand your language or your partner’s, consider the 5-week experiment. Monday through Friday, try speaking one of the languages consistently with your partner. Take Saturday and Sunday off.
Try a different language in each week. You may notice a stronger reaction in your partner one week than another. Whichever week they seem to respond more strongly may indicate which language they speak.
The week you were most comfortable speaking one of the languages or found the most joy in performing the specific acts can also speak to your preferred language.
2. Will my love language change over time?
Like any inherent part of our personalities, our preferred love language tends to be developed when we’re young and stays with us. However, changes could occur if your priorities change.
With the knowledge you’ve gained from this summary, let’s see how it might apply to your current circumstances.
Which love language do you believe best represents you and why?