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addabook - The 5 Love Languages
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The 5 Love Languages
The Secret to Love that Lasts
Gary Chapman
read on December 1, 2012

Getting married soon, so I checked this out on a recommendation. There's plenty to like, but I don't think I found it particularly useful.

To start, I really liked the characterization of love as a choice. The author doesn't spend too much time on this, and I think he could have expanded much more on it, but he frames love as a thoughtful decision that you make, as a way you decide to feel towards another person. Certainly I don't think his intention here is that anyone can just decide to love anyone else... I would say that there are some behavior incompatibilities that might be too overwhelming... but I appreciated the characterization of love as a behavior choice because that implicitly defines the success of a relationship as the result of the cognizant effort that both partners put into it - not just as some magical chemistry between them that either happens or not.

Unfortunately, towards the end things start going off the rails a bit. He breaks out a few anecdotes where he "helped" women that sounded like they were in pretty horrible, borderline abusive relationships, and he pretty much framed things to be their fault - they weren't speaking their husband's love language, so the guy's love tank was empty, so that's why he was such a dick. That seems like pretty shitty advice. If love is a choice, it seems fair to me to advise someone to end a relationship when one of the partners is no longer making an effort. If one of them wants to throw good money after bad and try to coax the other one into loving them again, that's fine I guess, but that should also be a choice, not a responsibility.

As for the actual five languages, I thought the discussion was interesting, but not terribly insightful or enlightening. He spends a lot of time talking about 'the first two years' of a relationship, when everything clicks and couples feel swept away with love/limerence, and how that always seems to disappear right after couples get married. The unspoken elephant in the room, for me, was the glaringly obvious advice to not marry someone after just two years (or christ, six months), but that of course was never mentioned.

Also I'm very embarrassed to have read two books now this year with numbers in the titles.

Author Bio:

He is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute and holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in anthropology from Wheaton College and from Wake Forest University. He also received Master of Religious Education (M.R.E.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He joined the staff in 1971 and shares the responsibilities of teaching and family care. He is perhaps best known for his concept of "Five Love Languages", helping people express and receive love as expressed through one of five languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.