Four books come to mind when anyone talks about love, marriage or personal relationships: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley and The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner. Each author approaches relationships from a Gospel perspective, i.e., men and women are created in the image of God, expected to build relationships with each other, and are different from birth . . . and ‘vive la différence!’
The best life, they claim, is to follow God’s pattern established in Adam and Eve and explained by Jesus and the Apostles. It is not a restrictive, “Don’t do that” theology, but a liberating, expansive and freeing philosophy which looks for the best in every individual. Remember, in the Garden of Eden, Adam’s and Eve’s sin was to eat from a forbidden tree. BUT that was the ONLY tree forbidden! Genesis 3:2-3 has Eve telling the Serpent that they could eat from ANY tree in the Garden except ONE. That left a lot of trees open for consumption.
And for those who think the nakedness was somehow sinful and Adam and Eve were just too stupid to realize it, read again. They were as God created them, and had nothing to hide until they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the forbidden tree. When a child has done nothing wrong and a parent asks, “What are you doing?” he will simply answer, “I’m just . . .,” no big deal. But if he has done something he knows the parent disapproves of, his response will be to cover up his tracks. “Nothing!” . . . with eyes averted, hastily looking right and left, up and down for any excuse, hoping that his action will not be discovered. That was the nakedness Adam and Eve were trying to hide.
That is the nakedness we now hide as well. None of us is without sin, none has lived fully as God intended us to live, and the result is we need clothes to hide who we are. All of us are afraid, at some level, of exposing ourselves fully, even to someone who loves us, just as Adam and Eve were afraid to expose themselves to their Father, who they knew loved them. The nudist and the communist make the same mistake of trying to live free from guilt and selfishness before we are fully redeemed in the New Jerusalem (coming soon).
The Five Love Languages presents the idea that each of us is wired to give and receive love in different ways, and that by recognizing the “language” in which you and your significant others express and accept love will help to identify the roots of conflicts, connect more deeply, and begin to grow closer together The five languages Chapman describes in detail are Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch.
Everyone’s personality determines how we understand love. We see love expressed in that language which is most natural to each of us and we usually attempt to show it in the same way. However, if the person we love “speaks” a different love language, the communication breaks down and the loved one “feels” unloved; their “emotional love tank” becomes emptier without refilling and misunderstanding and conflicts emerge.
Chapman’s website has a Quiz that one can take to help identify your particular love language. For a starter enticement to purchase one of his books, he provides a seven-day devotional, one for “him” and one for “her” that, even without purchasing a text, can go a long way into improving any relationship, especially a marriage (but not restricted to that). There are several free downloads for anyone just wanting to learn if one of his books is worth buying.
In Dr. Chapman’s Gateway to the The Five Love Languages he summarizes each of the languages as this:
“Words of Affirmation — Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important — hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
“Quality Time — In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there — with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby — makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
“Receiving Gifts — Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous — so would the absence of everyday gestures.
“Acts of Service — Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an Acts of Service person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear are, “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them, tell those with this language their feelings don’t matter.
“Physical Touch — This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face — they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.”
One of the best features of Dr. Chapman’s practice is that The 5 Love Languages is not just for married people. The 5 Love Languages of Children is available for parents; a Singles Edition for the unmarried; a special edition For Men (probably for those of us who have a hard time getting it! 😏); a special one for Teenagers and another for Military Personnel.
Whether you are in a special relationship or just wanting to develop personal awareness of those around you; children, colleagues, friends; take a look at The 5 Love Languages and see if there may be insights that will help you communicate more clearly to those for whom you care.