Want a Great Marriage? – A Book Review
Reference: The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
Ever thought of how to improve your marriage? Well, want more? Sure! You have to speak the right “love language”.
Gary Chapman started as an anthropologist studying different cultures. With that take on the world, he came to marital counseling looking at patterns of behavior. What he found was that many married couples started to lose the luster of their romance after a couple of years, and floundered until they learned how to speak the right messages that their partner could hear, or experience. Each of us has, by Gary Chapman’s reckoning, a primary “love language” in which we hear love messages. We don’t feel loved unless we get the message in the right language. If I was sending this email to you in Polish, you might not understand it. Or French, or German, or Hindi. The same way with our most tender and private feelings. Here is his list of languages: Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation.
If two of you are living together and speaking different languages, your relationship might be fine, but it might sputter along. Some of the time you hit the right combination of words and actions, but you might often miss. For example, if you are a person who likes to do tasks and errands, what you might call “Acts of Service”, you will clean the sink, mow the lawn, fold the laundry and take out the garbage. Your spouse will feel some gratitude, if his/her primary language is Quality Time those acts might go unrecognized as expressions of love. You feel frustrated. If your spouse needs Quality Time, he or she will feel more deeply loved if you make a point of sitting down, make eye to eye contact and share words and thoughts about your feelings and your relationship. That’s real “Quality Time”. It communicates the message, “You are important enough to me to cordon off this time and focus completely on you, and you alone.”
See where this is going? It’s a bit hard to learn a new language, but not daunting. Gary Chapman has an ending to each chapter with ideas and suggestions about how to learn a language that’s not your “native tongue”. For a person used to “Service”, learning “Quality Time” may be a challenge for a couple of months, but the rewards are wonderful. If you need “Gift Receiving”, and your spouse speaks “Physical Touch” you might communicate your love better with a reassuring hand on the shoulder, a touch of feet under the table at the restaurant than giving a small present or gift. With just five or six “phrases” in your new language, you can start and develop your own dialect, your own special phrases.
When you look back on what you find out about yourself, you will be delighted and nourished. Often you will see that what you complained about or got into loggerheads over with each other was simply two languages being spoken, and not heard. Once you learn the right language, a whole new world of relationship opens up.
WWW. What Will Work for Me. “It’s been right in front of me for how many years? And I just learned it now?!!!” I’m such a busybody, I do things. I tidy up. I mow. I make beds. Those are all “acts of service”. Now I’m learning to speak new languages to a very willing audience, who is delighted to hear the music of clear “love language”. Folks who stay married in healthy marriages have much lower rates of dementia when they get older. It’s good for your marriage, and that’s good for your happiness, your stress level, and your brain. And your spouse is bathed in the love he/she deserves.
Written by John E Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160, Brookfield, WI 53045 262-784-5300
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