21 March 2011

Thoughts on The Five Love Languages

I've had a lot of free time lately while recovering, and therefore have spent a ridiculous amount of quality time with my television, laptop, and Nook. I have been meaning to read Dr. Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages for a long time. It has been recommended to me by various friends, but I always forget about it. As it turns out, post-surgery was my time to enter the world of relationship self-help, which, I'll be the first to admit, is a bit daunting. I have found that most self-help books can be rather scary, mostly, because I can be quite cynical.

I'm going to randomly discuss some of my thoughts about The Five Love Languages. I decided to read this book due to curiosity more than a desire to change my marriage. This isn't a book review or anything close to scholarly.

I read the book in two days, and took major breaks in between. Basically, it took me a few sittings. I'm not saying that to brag, but, actually as a warning that you probably shouldn't race through it as quickly as I did. I plan to go back and read it again, because I know there are probably some salient points I missed. My reading comprehension was only good when I was prepping for my SAT's, and even then it wasn't great. Must re-read this book.

As I was galloping through the first half, I was pretty close-minded. I found Dr. Chapman's queries over if your spouse's "love tank" was full or not to be hokey. I couldn't imagine L and I sitting on our couch together mulling over where our love had gone. Also, the constant anecdotes about the marital problems between Janie and Jeff or Barbara and Bob or Fern and Frank didn't seem to help me envision my own marriage and its flaws. I understand why self-help books feel the need to present evidence to make their case, but unless you closely identify with the problems or lifestyles of the hypothetical couples, it's just a waste of time. Those were some of the things that kept me distracted and bored with sections of the book.

Now here is what I liked. I got what Dr. Chapman was saying about how we all give and receive love differently. He categorizes the five ways of giving and receiving love, and calls them languages. If you and your spouse speak different love languages, you may find your relationship unfulfilled. I found myself nodding along with Dr. Chapman in his descriptions of how we interpret love. For example, how our parents presented love to us, as children, has a lot to do with how we perceive love in our relationships as adults. Was it through hugs? Was it through gifts? Was it through home cooked meals? L and I were raised in households where love and affection were viewed differently. That has impacted how we interpret and express love in our current lives.

You don't always love your spouse in the ways they need to be loved, and vice versa. It takes good communication, care for your spouse, an open heart, and an open mind. Sometimes these basic elements get lost along the way, especially as the years wear on, and we move away from the "honeymoon phase."

By the end of the book, I think I discovered its purpose in my life. It wasn't that I agreed with everything Dr. Chapman wrote, because I didn't. It isn't that my marriage is perfect, because it is not. I think everyone needs a dose of self-awareness every once and awhile. For me, that meant that I needed to open my mind. I needed to examine the fact that I am mostly fulfilled in my marriage. However, sometimes, I don't know if my husband is fulfilled. It's not about effort. I put forth a lot of effort. But, am I speaking his love language? I don't know. I haven't spoken a word about this to him. With all of my health issues and fertility issues, I do not always check in with L and make sure that we are on the same page. This makes me feel perpetually guilty. Yet, I don't think I am much good to my husband as a guilt-ridden, emotional wreck. He needs a wife.

I also want him to read the book. I want to talk with him about it, or at least introduce him to the love languages. I may not have always loved him the way he needs to be loved, but maybe I can now.

There is SO much more about this book that I did not touch on. Again, this isn't a book report, but just some of my random observations. Have you read this book? How do you feel about marriage counseling and/or marriage self-help? How do you maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse?

7 comments:

  1. Hope you are recouping well from surgery!

    Hubs and I read this book as part of our pre-marital counseling and I walked away with the same sentiments as you. I didn't agree with everything the book had to say, but did take away a lot of valuable points.

    Not to be redundant, but I agree with you wholeheartedly that a husband and wife need to be open for all of life's events and its affects on our love and its strength. Openness, communication is the foundation to be able to take all aspects of life, not just the newlywed honeymoon phase fuzzies ;)

    We are looking to find other books that we can read together as we change and grow in our relationship, that we can change and grow together! :)

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  2. I really like this book! My mom gave it to me during our engagement. Yes, some of it is just stupid and hokey, but like you, I really loved the parts about the specific "love languages". Very insightful!

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  3. Counseling with the right therapist is a good thing, even for healthy loving couples. External validation feels great if you're doing well, and suggestions on how to better speak to each other can be helpful if you're not talking.

    After following your blog for a while, here's what I'd sugget:

    Make 1 doable change/commitment to yourself to improve your marriage. Something YOU can do.

    Maybe it's "Kiss for at least 5 seconds before parting ways for the day."

    Or "Ask him everyday how he's feeling."

    If he'd read the book, it's always good for discussion. But if he's not interested, I wouldn't push it.

    Yes, it takes 2 to make an amazing marriage. If you're happy/fulfilled, than it sounds like he's doing his job. If you don't feel that you're doing yours (not in the babymaking category, but in the loving-the-husband category), that's something you can control.

    I've always thought you can tell his love language by trying them all out and seeing which he responds most positively to. Then get creative and keep doing "that".

    I think languages change over time too. Sometimes, I need quality time. Sometimes I need a love letter. For me, it's all about variety, because variety shows thought.

    WOW! I've practically blogged on your comments!

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  4. I read The 5 Love Languages before we got married. Hubby looked the book over too and it's pretty clear what our languages are. We spend a lot of time talking and making sure what each is getting what they need. Plus we have our own hobbies and spend time apart. It takes time and there's no easy way but I'm glad we can talk stuff out.

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  5. Hope you're recovering well and thanks for the book review. I haven't read the book, but think that my husband and I have actually learned each other's languages quite well the last few years. We try to communicate openly and our means of expression seem to be becoming more similar.

    Thanks for your comment on my post - it was a little terrifying but I thought it only worked if I posted the whole outfit you know? I'm giving away anything from their site in a few hours too so come on by if you're interested!

    xoxo,
    Chic 'n Cheap Living

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  6. Communication! Sometimes we forget to do that and that's when issues come up. So... we talk it out. It works for us. :) Happy to hear you are recovering! If you get a minute...

    Come check out my rope bracelet GIVEAWAY and enter!

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  7. My husband and I both read this book. And then i got very obsessed with it to the point of unhealthy. Basically when he wasn't "speaking" my love language i was getting upset and thinking "you know what speaks to me, why do you continue to speak to me in your language"... and i had a slap in the face. While, i think the book is good in breaking it down that we don't always express or receive love the same, it is not the only way to define or express love. My husband will always still speak his love language to me, and me knowing this should accept it with love and understanding and also be appreciative when he attempts to speak my love language. It won't happen over night, but i think effort speaks volumes. The book is great, but for me, stepping away from the book and only using it as part of our expression was key :)

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