It’s rare that I’m moved by a book enough to write a review. That’s not to say that I don’t find inspiration from the books that I read (unless it’s The Goldfinch, a not-entirely-intolerable tome that still made me want to stab myself in the eyeballs repeatedly), but they just don’t always stick with me long after the last chapter has ended.
Recently I finished a book that I’ve not only recommended to a few friends, but it’s one I keep thinking about and relating back to my own life and, specifically, my relationship.
There are scientific claims that state there is a very real “honeymoon phase” in any relationship (if you’re interested, I found this nifty Huff Po article that explains the validity/research of one such study). But what happens after that phase has ended? When a few years have passed and shit gets real? How do you communicate effectively with your partner when the poop hits the fan and you find yourselves going round in circles to prove a point that falls on deaf ears?
Enter The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts, a #1 New York Times bestseller written by Gary Chapman (originally published in 1995). The premise of the book is that falling in love is easy, but staying in love is the real challenge.
Before I get started, I want to be frank: there’s some Jesus stuff in here. I actually didn’t know that going in and though I’m sure it’s fitting in some sections, there were references that seemed… somewhat out of place. Also I really DON’T mean this to offend anyone; I just wanted to put that out there because, again, I wasn’t aware when I started reading it and it’s something I also would have liked to know.
Chapman explains the existence of different “love languages” that we all use to express love, and how understanding our partner’s love language can give us a huge advantage in our relationship. The love languages he refers to in the book are Words of Affirmation (Bryan’s love language), Quality Time (my love language), Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
At first, I was appalled by the inclusion of “gifts,” but I found myself understanding a bit more about how this works when I read that chapter. Chapman isn’t necessarily talking about gifting jewelry or lavish presents—something as small as a flower on the way home from work or a pizza so your partner doesn’t have to cook both qualify and show your partner that you were thinking of them. Some people respond to this act of giving much more than they would if their partners were to suggest going away for a weekend.
I learned by reading this book that Quality Time is my love language. What this means is that it doesn’t matter what activity Bryan and I are doing, as long as we’re in it together. It’s the reason why I love it when Bryan and I take walks with Buster, go to our local farmer’s market, or jump in the car for a quick road trip. We are spending quality time together, and it’s the reason my heart skips a beat when he makes suggestions that speak to me in this language.
Bryan’s love language, on the other hand, is entirely different. He operates best with Words of Affirmation. For so long, I have been pushing my love language onto him but he responds differently when I speak to him calmly, rationally, and with positive words of affirmation. This has forced me to rethink everything I’ve learned about communicating, so that I can speak to him in a way he’ll naturally respond to.
I have to say, it’s really working. At roughly 200 pages, it’s an incredibly easy, quick read and one that shouldn’t take you longer than a weekend to get through. It’s also a book that I think couples should read together if only to better understand how to relate to one another when the reality of life sets in.
Have you read The 5 Love Languages? What did you think? Also, if you’re on Goodreads, connect with me here!