From the archive: 5 things you can do with The 5 Love Languages

What’s the enduring appeal of the international bestseller on relationships?

** This article was first published in 2017. It is republished from our archives.

The popular book The Five Love Languages, written by Gary Chapman, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. Amazingly, the book was a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller for eight years in a row. It’s sold more than 11 million copies and has been translated into over 36 languages.

The original version was crafted for married couples, but Dr Chapman’s “love languages” theory on relationships has proven to be universal. So much so that adaptations have been produced in more recent years, for specific categories: The Five Love Languages of Children, The Five Love Languages for Men, The Five Love Languages of teenagers, The Five Love Languages Singles Edition. There’s even one called God Speaks Your Love Language.

Love is a verb. It’s deliberate, it’s practical…

Such amazing success begs for an obvious question, right? What is so spot on about The 5 Love Languages? Overall, I think this book is a great reminder to us that love is a verb. It’s deliberate, it’s practical, and since God created us all so differently, we owe it to our relationships to learn to speak each others’ love language.

If we truly love each other, there should be some sort of action to show for it. I think of the words of Jesus, “if you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15) On another occasion, Jesus asked his close follower Peter, “do you love me?” Peter responded, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17) – a reference to the expectation that Peter’s love for Jesus would inspire him to share that same godly love with other believers in Jesus.

Both examples teach us that love is accompanied by a deed of some sort.

In order to give and receive love most effectively, we need to learn to speak the right “language.”

On this 25th anniversary year of the love languages, let’s take a brief look at the model that has helped people all over the world to love better.

The premise of the “love languages” is: because we all have such different personalities, we express love in different ways. In order to give and receive love most effectively, we need to learn to speak the right “language.”

Dr. Gary Chapman identified five ways we tend to express or receive love: quality time; words of affirmation; gifts; acts of service; and touch. He says, “If we learn to meet each other’s deep emotional need to feel loved, and choose to do it, the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we’ve ever felt.” He says that a challenge arises in our relationships when we’re speaking different languages, yet we’re not aware of it.

It was a great time connecting with others and deepening our understanding of each other.

When I was working at Koorong bookstore a few years ago, The Five Love Languages sold like hot cakes. Customers would regularly come in asking for the book based on the recommendation of a friend, or advocates of the book would come in and purchase multiple copies to give to loved ones. The feedback was always positive, so of course I had to read it for myself.

I read the Singles Edition, and couldn’t put it down! It made so much sense to me, and answered questions I had about certain friendships and relationships. I was converted and became an advocate for the book, starting my own “small group” for singles to get together in my lounge room and discuss the book chapter by chapter. It was a great time connecting with others and deepening our understanding of each other.

If you want to love your spouse, friends or family more successfully, or have felt frustrated in your relationships – grab a copy of the book and start reading.

5 things you can do with The 5 Love Languages

1. Identify your main love language

I’m 90% certain that each edition of the book contains a quiz that you can fill out to determine your primary love language.

Also, an online quiz and other resources are available here.

The quiz is fun, quick and easy to do, and you will probably learn a lot about yourself.

2. Encourage your friends and family to identify their love language

Once you’ve identified your primary love language/s, encourage your family and friends to do the same thing. If they’re hesitant, perhaps buy them the book as a gift.

3. Discuss with each other

How great would it be if you and all your friends and family were aware of each others’ primary love languages? Well, what’s stopping you? Ask them what their love language is, and tell them yours. It’s a fun discussion that I’ve had with many of my good friends.

Often, I’ll write down their love language in my phone under their contact information, so it’s always there for me to remember.

4. Start applying it

You can make it a fun challenge for yourself to think of creative ways to express love to the people you care about in their primary love language.

It can be hardest to come up with ideas when their language isn’t one you really relate to. But this just means you’ve got to think outside the box and be intentional in your behaviour.

5. Don’t give up

The love languages won’t fix all your relationship problems of course, but implementing them can go a long way to improving communication, and we all know how important communication is to a healthy relationship.