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The Five Love Languages: Applications to Counseling and Life

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES The Five Love Languages: Applications to Counseling and Life Communication has a major impact on all aspects of a relationship. Without such, a relationship has no chance of lasting past its prime. Talking things over with ones spouse is the easiest and most efficient way to keep a long lasting, healthy relationship. However, even though communication is the foundation, unless it is

effective and reciprocal, it is pointless. That being said, imagine the impact that speaking different languages would have on a relationship. What would it be based on, if basic words could not be exchanged? This is precisely what Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages suggests is the current issue plaguing most intimate relationships today. Suggested Benefits Chapmans The Five Love Languages (2004) is a book that attempts to classify and explore what makes up effective expressions of love in intimate relationships. These expressions are referred to as love languages, and it is through the identification and understanding of not only your partners, but also your own personal love language that true intimacy and connectivity are possible. According to Trommsdorff and John (1992), The process and quality of interpersonal communication depends, among other factors, on the mutual and accurate understanding of the partners intended message (p. 41). Similarly, Chapman, an experienced marriage and family counselor, continuously witnessed, in his practice, this yearning among couples to better understand their partners. For it is only through this understanding, he explains, that couples will be able to attain the greatest degree of intimacy. Chapman further takes these expressions of love and affection and attempts to

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES categorize them into specific acts or characteristics that encompass the different ways in which one might show their feelings for another. This can be through such things as words, gestures, a touch, or an intention. Chapman organizes these specific actions into

five groups, which he labels the five love languages, and it is through these avenues of communication, he explains, that a solid intimate relationship is built. The counseling profession can also benefit from the information presented in this book. According to a survey conducted by Bor, Mallandain, and Vetere in 1997, some of the most common issues causing individuals to seek therapy are those involving relationships (2002). As such, theories posed at resolving some of the problems faced by relationships could prove to be an effective tool in the counseling setting. Overview This book attempts to enlighten individuals on the proper expression of love, depending on who you are as an individual, and your needs, as well as your partner, and their needs. According to Chapman (2004), acts of love can be expressed in five different ways, or languages. Every individual is unique in his or her preferred language. Going back the metaphor of linguistics, as with verbal language, each person has his or her acquired love language, which has been formed through past experiences and the like. This particular love language comes most naturally and is easiest to understand, for that particular individual. However, the person that they come to love may speak a different language, which comes just as naturally to them. Now, in order for the intimate needs of both individuals to be satisfied, one must learn to speak the others love language, just as one would have to do in the case of verbal language. The problem is this; learning to speak a second language is difficult. It requires a lot of effort, and can often feel forced

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES and unnatural. However, the more one practices, the more fluent they become, and before you know it, this language begins to slip out without even trying. This is challenge for relationships. Both individuals involved must learn to speak the language of the other, and those who are willing to put in this time and effort will thus reap the benefits of having a truly mutually satisfying relationship.

Chapman (2004) outlines the five love languages as being Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving of Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. The most peculiar social self which one is apt to have is in the mind of the person one is in love with. The good or bad fortunes of this self cause the most intense elation and dejection . . . To his own consciousness he is not, so long as this particular social self fails to get recognition, and when it is recognized his contentment passes all bounds. (1892, p. 294) This quote from James The Principles of Psychology epitomizes to power behind Chapmans Words of Affirmation. Individuals often do not realize how important their views or opinions regarding their partner are to them. As such, one way to express love is to use words to build the other up. Solomon, author of the ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, wrote, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21). Many couples have never learned this tremendous power of how to verbally affirm one another. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation or admiration, are powerful communicators of love, which are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation. Like Words of Affirmation, the language of Quality Time has many dialects. Chapman explains that a central aspect of this particular love language is togetherness,

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES and it does not mean proximity. Togetherness has to do with focused and undivided

attention, something that in this fast-paced, technologically advanced world of Facebook and iPhones there is far too little of. In addition to the basic love language of Quality Time, or giving your spouse your undivided attention, is another dialect called quality conversation. Quality conversation is extremely important to a strong relationship. It encompasses the sharing of events, feelings, opinions and needs in an affable, continuous context. One should not only listen, but also offer suggestion and show proper response to let their partner know that they are really listening. Most people dont expect a problem-solver, rather an empathic shoulder instead. Self-awareness is another important aspect of healthy conversation, for it is only when you truly understand your emotions and thoughts that you will able to have quality conversation, and share quality time with your partner. Some individuals respond particularly well to visual symbols of love. Gifts are tangible symbols of love. According to Chapman, if your spouse's primary love language is in receiving gifts, then you should become a proficient gift giver. In fact, it is one of the easiest love languages to learn. There is also an intangible gift that sometimes speaks more loudly than a gift that can be held in one's hand. It's what Chapman refers to as the gift of self or the gift of presence. Being there when your spouse needs you can mean everything to the one whose primary love language is receiving gifts. Learning the love language of Acts of Service may require some of us to reexamine our stereotypes of the roles of husband and wives. This love language is commonly misunderstood, and is simply the act of doing things for one another. Washing dishes, cooking, mowing the lawn, or taking out the trash are all simple acts,


that if done by the one who doesnt normally do it, can brighten the other persons entire day. We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating love. Physical touch, according to Chapman, has the power to make or break a relationship. It can communicate love or hate. Sexual intercourse causes many couples to feel secure and loved in a relationship. However, sex is only one expression of physical touch. Numerous parts of the human body are exceedingly sensitive to touch. It is vital to learn how your partner both physically and psychologically responds to touches. Similarly, if your spouse's primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding them when they cry. Knowing things such as this can completely turn around a bad situation. A simple hug or kiss on their cheek could mean everything or nothing. Chapman explains that each individual has a "primary love language" that they respond greater to than any other love language. One individual might feel more loved by their partner when they are bought a present than when they compliment on looking nice or doing something well, while another might feel love more from being showered with compliments than by being cuddled in the bed. According to Chapman, once an individual has recognized, along with their partner, what love language they react strongest to, it then becomes much easier for them to express love in a way that the other will most easily understand. What Was Learned In his book, Chapman equates the area of love to that of linguistics, in that, 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 (p. 15). This idea, as simple

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES as it may sound, offers profound insight into the psychology of relationships. For if one individual sees love as more of a physical connection, while their partner views love as an emotional one, unless those two people understand that about one another, they will never truly make each other happy. The downfall to this is that, as human beings, we tend to generalize our own thoughts and feelings onto those around us. Making it difficult for us to understand why someone else may have enjoyed a movie that we thought was absolutely horrendous. The same holds true in the expression of love and

affection. Therefore, it is necessary that individuals in a relationship be shown that there are other ways to say, I love you, I need you, or I appreciate you, besides using those specific words or sharing an intimate kiss. Communication is the process of gathering meaning from the world around us, and using verbal and non-verbal messages to share this meaning with others. (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2005) More specifically, interpersonal communication can be defined as; a distinctive, transactual form of human communication involving mutual influence, usually for the purpose of managing relationships (Beebe et al., 2005, p. 6). Interpersonal communication is extremely complex and encompasses different themes and issues that affect many aspects of our daily lives. Of all these aspects, however, the area that is impacted the most is relationships, and more specifically, intimate relationships. This information, though not always applied, is, in fact well known. What Chapman has so cleverly done is taken common knowledge and applied it in a way that it takes on new meaning. By taking the basic rules of language and communication, and applying it to the complex construct of love, he has opened up a whole new compendium of resources through which individuals and counselors alike are able to draw from when

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES working toward interpersonal relationship improvement. Review In this book, Chapman separates the concept of love from the intellectual designations one is so accustomed to. He speaks instead of emotional love, which encompasses the affectionate and romantic kind frequently depicted in books, movies, and dreams. He also coins the term love tank which he explains everyone has. How full ones love tank is, is directly proportionate to how loved that person feels, which, in turn, instills a sense of meaning, self-esteem and wellbeing. Chapman proposes that many relationships that are in trouble could be strengthened if only the individuals in the relationship would recognize and learn to speak their significant others love language. This book is a welcomed relief from the all-to-often pessimistic views on relationships. It offers deep insight to individual needs for love and tips on how one might best meet them, and its individual as well as clinical application is not only worth while, but recommended.


THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES Beebe S.A., Beebe S.J., Redmond M.V. (2005). Interpersonal Communication Relating to Others (4th ed.) Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Bor, R., Mallandain, I., & Vetere A. (1998). What we say we do: results of the 1997 UK association of family therapy members survey. Journal of Family Therapy, 20, 333-351. Chapman, G. (2004). The Five Love Languages. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing. James, W. (1892). The Principles of Psychology, Volume 1. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Trommsdorff, G. & John H. (1992). Decoding affective communication in intimate relationships. European Journal of Social Psychology, 22, 41-54.