Book Review: The Five Love Languages For Men

I had the wonderful opportunity to go on a mission trip to China a couple of summers ago. What a eye opening experience. First of all, it was designed to be a vision trip for pastoral staff so that we could evaluate future involvement on site there for our home church, and congregation. Because of this, I was only gone from my home in the U.S. for eight days, and only on the ground in the country of China for about four days. I know now that it wasn’t nearly enough time to take it all in. Although I have traveled elsewhere overseas on mission in the past, this was the most direct culture shock experiences I have ever lived through. The primary cause? The language barrier.

All of my senses seemed to be effected. I didn’t recognize the characters of the alphabet on street signs and airport directional maps, I wasn’t familiar with the smells permeating around me, I was surprised by the closeness of the people seemingly touching me in some way from every direction, and I wasn’t used to even the sound of  the words being spoken by cab drivers, let alone what they might be saying. Apart from my great friend traveling with me, I really had no idea how to communicate on my own. It was not a great feeling.

Miscommunication and relationship language barriers are the basis of the book The 5 Love Languages for Men by Gary Chapman. Chapman originally released this concept some twenty years ago introducing his readers to the languages of words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and physical touch in their relationships. The author suggests that it’s really not what you say; it’s the language that you use. “Everyone has a primary love language - a way of expressing devotion and affection that touches us deep inside, occasionally puts a goofy grin on our face, and leaves no doubt that we are truly and spectacularly loved.”

This particular read within his books in the series, hones in on men strengthening their marriage by learning their wife's primary love language. Good intentions won’t get the job done, unless the husband is willing to embrace the challenge of becoming bilingual. Why? The truth is that people rarely marry partners who share their primary love language. As the old adage goes, opposites attract. Appealing to the manliness of the reader, Chapman states “You don’t have to worry about conjugating verbs or using the proper tense. The challenge of becoming fluent in another love language might be better compared to perfecting a golf swing.” Using this great analogy, the author goes on to explain how a pro works with a golfer to unlearn all of his old bad habits developed over the years. Little by little, with methodical practice a new pattern can be formed, and with enough repetition, he will start to see results.

For myself, this concept of breaking away from old habits couldn’t have been evident then when I came to the section regarding defensiveness and anger management. Chapman’s six keys to anger management are tremendously simple and profoundly helpful. For instance, he suggests “the next time your convinced that your wife has done something to make you angry, ask yourself if you have ever been wrong before.” These words, and many more within this section hit me right between the eyes. I rarely take the time to think through the possibility that I could be misunderstanding the situation. I am often prideful enough to assume that in most reconciliation conversations between my wife and I that my own way will be reached as a result of the conversation. I generally walk away from these discussions with a different result. Perhaps if I took Chapman’s advice I would have a more humble heart in relation to disagreements that are certainly bound to come.

While reading this book, I maintained through the quick Love Languages Profile in the back that my primary love language is words of affirmation. When I receive a positive comment, it means a lot to me but when I receive a negative one it brings me down. When I shared with my wife that “the right words, spoken at the right time by the right person, can inspire people to do the unlikely, the improbable, and in some cases, the near impossible,” she has been a tremendous help to me in learning to speak my love language. Now, that’s because I have equally put in the sustained effort to becoming fluent in Quality Time. This book is a great resource for all couples wanting their relationship to thrive, mostly because it gives practical steps for how to get there.


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