“Can you recommend a book for…?”
“What are you reading right now?”
“What are your favorite books?”
I get asked those types of questions a lot and, as an avid reader and all-around bibliophile, I’m always happy to oblige.
I also like to encourage people to read as much as possible because knowledge benefits you much like compound interest. The more you learn, the more you know; the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.
So, if you’re a bookworm on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to get into the habit of reading, this is for you.
Okay, let’s get to the featured book: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
The premise of this book is simple: There are different ways of showing love, some people respond more positively to some than others, and relationships can only blossom when each person “speaks” the other’s primary “love languages” (i.e. loves the other the way they most enjoy being loved).
Specifically, the author posits five primary modes of expressing love:
- Acts of service (doing things for your partner)
- Gifts (giving things that symbolize thinking of or remembering the giftee)
- Physical touch (and not just sexually)
- Quality time (giving focused attention)
- Words of affirmation (giving compliments and words of encouragement)
While all of us can find enjoyment in being spoken to in each of these languages, one or two in particular probably make us feel especially loved—probably the one or two we tend to use to show love ourselves and request the most of our partners.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
My 5 Key Takeaways from The 5 Love Languages
“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 wife and I are wired differently in this way. My primary love languages are acts of service and physical touch. I most feel loved when my wife does things for me that save me time or trouble and when she touches me, not when she gives me gifts or compliments. My wife’s priorities are different, though. She’s biggest on quality time (and particularly quality conversation) and words of affirmation.
It has really helped us to understand these differences and consciously choose to show love in the ways most important to each of us, even if our natural inclinations are otherwise.
“Love is kind. If then we are to communicate love verbally, we must use kind words. That has to do with the way we speak.”
This is something I’ve had to work at because one of my biggest character flaws that I’m aware of is in certain situations, I’m quick to say rude and offensive things. And my wife really doesn’t like it when I say rude and offensive things. And so I’ve caused a lot of unnecessary upsets over the years.
I have improved in this regard, though, partly through a conscious effort to speak more kindly, and partly because I’ve resolved other things (work related, mostly) that were souring my mood.
“Quality activities may include anything in which one or both of you have an interest. The emphasis is not on what you are doing but on why you are doing it. The purpose is to experience something together, to walk away from it feeling like, ‘He cares about me. He was willing to do something with me that I enjoy, and he did it with a positive attitude.’”
This used to be a strength of my and Sarah’s relationship—we used to do lots of things together—but since having kids and starting a couple of businesses, quality activities have been pushed to the back burner, and much more because of me than her.
This happens naturally to everyone in similar circumstances to some degree (we only have so much time and energy), but if I’m being honest, I haven’t given enough importance to bringing this back to the front burner with easy wins like date nights, anything related to horses (which she loves), short trips (even if within-state), etc.
Although I could say I “haven’t had the time” and point to all of the things I’ve kept myself busy with instead (work, mostly), that’s like someone saying they don’t have the time to work out. Of course they do. It’s only a matter of priorities. I’ve chosen to give most of my time and energy to my work, and while this has paid off in many ways, it has also put strain on my marriage.
And so this is an area that I’m working to improve in—being more open to taking opportunities to spend quality time with my wife (and my kids) even if that means working a bit less now and then.
“I have suggested three ways to discover your own primary love language: 1. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language. 2. What have you most often requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved. 3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.”
And if you’re curious about your partner’s love language, simply reverse these questions. What do you do or fail to do that hurts them most deeply? What have they most often requested of you? In what way do they regularly express love to you?
“Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving.”
Give and take is the nucleus of any relationship, really, and when someone takes far more than they give, they have to pay what Adam Grant calls the “taker tax”—the gradual loss of respect and support caused by selfishness and disregard for others that can eventually cost people everything.