As a marriage coach and mentor, couples ask me what one book I would recommend that would help them have a strong and lasting marriage. Without a doubt, my answer is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. From my perspective, this book is a must-read for any couple who is seriously dating, engaged, or even married. People who are single and will begin dating or are dating can also greatly benefit by investing the time to understand the key principles that satisfy their needs and build love in connection.
The concept of the love languages is incredibly powerful in its simplicity. What are these 5 love languages? Chapman (2015) lists them as (1) quality time, (2) acts of service, (3) words of affirmation, (4) gifts, and (5) physical touch. He proposes that everyone needs to receive a least a little of each language but that one has at least one or two primary languages. When people do not receive the bulk of their love through their primary love languages, they will not feel truly loved or connected with their partner.
Without understanding the concept of these five love languages, people love others in the languages that predominately speak to them. For example, if a man has the primary love languages of quality time and physical touch, he will feel love and connection by holding hands, hugging, and kissing while enjoying a festival without the distraction of phones and social media. If his partner feels love primarily through gifts and acts of service, she will likely enjoy spending time with him but will feel more loved by receiving a bouquet of flowers while he offers to take out her trash before they head out on their date.
There is no better or worse love language, and none of the love languages have a gender bias. Communicating your primary languages and purposefully acting in ways that align with his or hers will grow and deepen the relationship. Love is not necessarily a feeling but a verb, the act of loving your partner in the ways that speak love to him or her.
Some couples ask me whether you should partner with someone who has the same primary love languages. The truth? Plenty of people, who do not have the same primary love languages, have wildly successful marriages. For those who overlap in their top languages, loving each other is easy as love is given and received in the same way. Naturally effortless! If your primary love languages are different, it will likely take more conscious thought, energy, and effort, but hopefully after practice, it becomes second nature. I encourage you to buy the book, take the quiz at the end, tell your partner of your primary languages, and start loving your partner in their desired love languages.
Chapman, G. (2015). The five love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.793.3741.