Book Review: “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (1995)

“The Secret to Love that Lasts”

When I was in the military, I read this book after having been apart from my wife for nearly a year. She had picked it up when she was alone and had recommended it to me over the phone. While I saw it as a potentially useful marriage tool (my Chaplain had actually been recommending it to married soldiers of all religions), I did not get as much out of it as I should have, because my wife and I were not together and I read the book alone. Several years later, however, we did go through the book together, and I found it to be a very useful guide in helping us figure each other out. Because my wife is Chinese and I am American, it did not hurt Dr. Chapman’s chances with us when he explained that by not speaking each other’s love languages, it is as if one spouse is speaking English to his spouse who only understands Chinese. This helped put the concept of love languages into perspective, and it helped us get into the mood of the book.

My wife and I have found that our respective love languages are, indeed, different. In the order of importance for me (with my wife’s order in parentheses), these five love languages  are the following:

1) Quality Time (3)
2) Words of Affirmation (4)
3) Acts of Service (1)
4) Physical Touch (2)
5) Receiving Gifts (5)

It seems that the only thing my wife and I could agree on in this regard is that we don’t really care too much about receiving gifts. And that is quite all right with me.

Dr. Chapman writes from 30 years of experience, though I found this book surprisingly similar to another, yet older, best seller, His Needs Her Needs by Willard F. Harley Jr. These two books are so similar, in fact, that Languages seems simply to be an updated summary of Needs. Whereas Needs lists ten specific needs that each person faces in a relationship (the top five being the most important), Languages lists five methods for how a person can fulfill these needs in his spouse. And whereas Harley writes of the importance of depositing “love units” into a spouse’s “love bank,” Chapman writes of the importance of filling one’s “love tank” with loving words and actions. Other similarities abound, though each author writes as though his ideas are unique and revolutionary.

Love Languages is certainly an interesting read and one that must be completed together with one’s spouse. I would encourage any married couple to read through this book, if not to solve major marital problems, then at least to help learn more about each other through the process.

©2012 E.T.

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5 Responses to Book Review: “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (1995)

  1. Pingback: I Give Up: “Couples Who Pray” by Squire Rushnell and Louise DuArt | Elliot's Blog

  2. Pingback: Book Review: “Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda” by Henry and Richard Blackaby (2001) | Elliot's Blog

  3. Pingback: I Give Up: “Couples Who Pray” by Squire Rushnell and Louise DuArt (2008) | Elliot's Blog

  4. anastasia says:

    Thank you for your great book review. I really love the way you write.After i found your review i started searching and found the book on . Not sure if i can to paste a link(sorry if not) . Now i almost finished the book and i I must say The 5 Love Languages is a great book and i recommend everyone to read it. Anyway i stopped by just to say that the book is great and also your book review.

    • thelittleman says:

      Thanks much! I just watched a very interesting episode of “Adam Ruins Everything” where he states that categorizing people in ways such as this only perpetuates stereotypes—and I suppose that’s true! Nevertheless, getting an inkling of your spouses predispositions is a great way to start loving him/her better. And who can argue with that?

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