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The 5 Love Languages(2)

By:Gary Chapman



In the area of linguistics, there are major language groups: Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Greek, German, French, and so on. Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and siblings, which becomes our primary or native tongue. Later, we may learn additional languages but usually with much more effort. These become our secondary languages. We speak and understand best our native language. We feel most comfortable speaking that language. The more we use a secondary language, the more comfortable we become conversing in it. If we speak only our primary language and encounter someone else who speaks only his or her primary language, which is different from ours, our communication will be limited. We must rely on pointing, grunting, drawing pictures, or acting out our ideas. We can communicate, but it is awkward. Language differences are part and parcel of human culture. If we are to communicate effectively across cultural lines, we must learn the language of those with whom we wish to communicate.

In the area of love, it is similar. Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other. My friend on the plane was speaking the language of “Affirming Words” to his third wife when he said, “I told her how beautiful she was. I told her I loved her. I told her how proud I was to be her husband.” He was speaking love, and he was sincere, but she did not understand his language. Perhaps she was looking for love in his behavior and didn’t see it. Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.





My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects. That accounts for the magazine articles titled “10 Ways to Let Your Spouse Know You Love Her,” “20 Ways to Keep Your Man at Home,” or “365 Expressions of Marital Love.” There are not 10, 20, or 365 basic love languages. In my opinion, there are only five. However, there may be numerous dialects. The number of ways to express love within a love language is limited only by one’s imagination. The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.

We have long known that in early childhood development each child develops unique emotional patterns. Some children, for example, develop a pattern of low self-esteem whereas others have healthy self-esteem. Some develop emotional patterns of insecurity whereas others grow up feeling secure. Some children grow up feeling loved, wanted, and appreciated, yet others grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and unappreciated.

The children who feel loved by their parents and peers will develop a primary emotional love language based on their unique psychological makeup and the way their parents and other significant persons expressed love to them. They will speak and understand one primary love language. They may later learn a secondary love language, but they will always feel most comfortable with their primary language. Children who do not feel loved by their parents and peers will also develop a primary love language. However, it will be somewhat distorted in much the same way as some children may learn poor grammar and have an underdeveloped vocabulary. That poor programming does not mean they cannot become good communicators. But it does mean they will have to work at it more diligently than those who had a more positive model. Likewise, children who grow up with an underdeveloped sense of emotional love can also come to feel loved and to communicate love, but they will have to work at it more diligently than those who grew up in a healthy, loving atmosphere.

Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language. Therein lies the fundamental problem, and it is the purpose of this book to offer a solution. That is why I dare to write another book on love. Once we discover the five basic love languages and understand our own primary love language, as well as the primary love language of our spouse, we will then have the needed information to apply the ideas in the books and articles.





Once you identify and learn to speak your spouse’s primary love language, I believe that you will have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving marriage. Love need not evaporate after the wedding, but in order to keep it alive most of us will have to put forth the effort to learn a secondary love language. We cannot rely on our native tongue if our spouse does not understand it. If we want him/her to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love language.





chapter two





KEEPING THE LOVE TANK FULL





Love is the most important word in the English language—and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. We are told that “love is a many-splendored thing” and that “love makes the world go round.” Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are peppered with the word. Numerous philosophical and theological systems have made a prominent place for love. And the founder of the Christian faith wanted love to be the distinguishing characteristic of His followers.1

Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our plight in life. The Christian apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, exalted love when he indicated that all human accomplishments that are not motivated by love are, in the end, empty. He concluded that in the last scene of the human drama, only three characters will remain: “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”2

If we can agree that the word love permeates human society, both historically and in the present, we must also agree that it is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. We say, “I love hot dogs,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother.” We speak of loving activities: swimming, skiing, hunting. We love objects: food, cars, houses. We love animals: dogs, cats, even pet snails. We love nature: trees, grass, flowers, and weather. We love people: mother, father, son, daughter, parents, wives, husbands, friends. We even fall in love with love.

      

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