Religion

Learning the five love languages

  • Understanding marriage: Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, was in Bermuda last week for a seminar hosted by Heart 2 Heart Ministries

Gary Chapman is a world-renowned author, speaker and counsellor, with a passion for helping people create and maintain lasting relationships.

His most popular title, The Five Love Languages, has topped many bestseller lists since it was first published in 1992.

The 82-year-old spoke at a seminar in Bermuda hosted by Heart 2 Heart Ministries last week.

“At the very root of all human relationships that are fractured is selfishness,” he told a packed audience at the Fairmont Southampton. “We all, by nature, are self-centred.

“And there is a good part to that — it means we feed ourselves, we get sleep, we get exercise, we take care of ourselves,” he said. “But when self-centredness become selfishness and we view all of life in terms of ‘what I am getting out of it?’, we lose love.

“Love is the opposite of selfishness. It’s viewing all of life in terms of, ‘how can I enrich the other person’s life?

“‘What can I do or say to help them become the person that they really want to become?’ The more we have an attitude of love and express it in meaningful ways, the more we enhance each other’s lives.”

Dr Chapman developed the concept of “five love languages” after years of counselling couples through marital challenges.

“Couples would sit in my office and one of them would say, ‘I feel like he doesn’t love me’ and the other would say, ‘I don’t understand, I do this, and this, and this. How could they not feel loved?’

“So I knew people were missing each other. They were sincere, but they were missing each other.

“Finally, I sat down and read several years of notes that I had made when I was counselling and asked myself, ‘When someone said they felt their spouse doesn’t love them, what did they want?’.”

He said the answers fell into five categories — Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time and Receiving Gifts — which he labelled “the five love languages”.

Dr Chapman believes each person has a primary language and that discovering it and your partners’ language and speaking them intentionally, helps keep love alive in a marriage.

“I started using the love languages in my counselling. I would help couples discover each other’s love languages and then challenge them to go home and try it.

“Sometimes they would come back within three weeks and share how it had changed everything.

“About five years later, I thought ‘if I could put this concept in a book and write it in the language people could understand, I could help so many more couples that would never make it into my office’. That’s what motivated me to write the book.

“Little did I know that it would sell over 13 million copies and be translated in over fifty languages.

“That was not on my mind when I wrote it.”

Since publishing The Five Love Languages, he has applied the theory to singles, children and teenagers, work and other relationships. God Speaks Your Love Language, is one of his books.

“I went through and just looked for how God expressed his love and realised he speaks all five languages fluently.

“What I discovered is that people tend to be drawn to God when they feel his love in their language.

“Also, when we become followers of Christ we tend, by nature, to express our love to God in our love language.

“So, if Acts of Service is our love language, we are the one to volunteer first.

“Other people, by nature will express their love to God in words, whether in song or in prayer. That is Words of Affirmation.”

Heart 2 Heart Ministries founders, Alan and Mildred Hunt, brought Dr Chapman in, certain that many people could benefit by applying his principles to their lives.

“Each person gives and receives love differently, but with a little insight into these differences, we can confidently be equipped to communicate love well,” the couple stated. “This is true for all forms of relationships — for singles, for married or dating couples, for children and teenagers, for friends and co-workers, for long-distance relationships, for those brand-new romances and for seasoned lovers.”

For more information on Gary Chapman visit www.5lovelanguages.com