Sunday, July 15, 2012

Five Love Languages: Series Introduction

Self assessment of the Five Love Languages (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch), can improve our relationships and communication skills: this is a thesis statement I have used in a presentation on Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages.

If you haven’t heard of this book, it is an excellent read. He has editions devoted to how you communicate with your teens, children, spouse, friends….but, really, if you are able to read one copy and think of how to translate that information into all of your relationships, then you don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the amount of reading that seems to lie ahead in order to help you say “I love you” the way the people you love need to hear it.

If you’ve ever felt as though you were pouring a lot of energy in a relationship but getting nothing in return, it is possible one or both of you have different love languages—that you express love and need it expressed to you in different ways. For some reason, I’ve noticed that our dearest friends often have our same love languages while our spouses have different ones. (Do we want to be forever encouraged by our friends and frustrated by our lover? Do we think the “two becoming one” reference to in Genesis 2:24 means our trying to marry two differing personalities in an effort to make one complete person?)

As I mentioned in the first sentence, self assessment is the first step. No matter your marital relationship status, knowing your love language can help you better understand yourself: why you react the way you do to others. I use this evaluation in several of my classes as self-discovery, right alongside Myers Briggs personality tests and Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences quizzes. Dr. Gary Chapman has its own website with easy quizzes. If you never have, I encourage you to go here to take at least one quiz. Since I am married, I took the one for wives, but, for curiosity’s sake, I also took the one for singles. (I wondered if I showed or desired love any differently with my friends. I’ll share more about those slightly differing results throughout the series.)

In the quiz, you are asked to pick between a pair of two phrases that most describes you: you may feel the two phrases (such as you being asked to pick whether “sweet notes from my husband make me feel good” or “I love my husband’s hugs”) are impossible to chose from. I usually want to say, “I need both, please, thank you” to every question. Laughingly (yet somewhat truthfully), I say that I am all five love languages.

“Well, doesn’t that make things easy for your husband?” I’ve been asked.

“Not really—it means I need all the languages spoken.”

The second step—after taking the quiz, perhaps reading the book, and then coercing your spouse and best friends to study up with you as well—is to spend time in pondering and practice in becoming more fluent in the language of those dear to you. The next five blog posts that I will share over the next two weeks will look at each language, incorporating stories from my journey with questions and challenges you can use.

There is no Rosetta Stone, just a mix of trial, error, and effort. But if you want to get to the core of “I love you,” it’s worth the work.

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.

“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012.

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