The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman: Summary and Notes

five love languages summary

“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”

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Related: 5 Love Languages of Children, Models, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, The Game

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The Five Love Languages Short Summary

The Five Love Languages details the secret to better relationships. Everyone wants to be loved in a different way and learning how to meet those needs is key. A guide for all forms of relationships – for couples, for children, for friends, and for coworkers.

How To Communicate Love

Communication problems grow when you overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different love languages.

“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.”

To be an effective communicator of love, you must learn your spouse’s primary love language and speak it.

If you want your partner to feel the love you are trying to communicate, you must express it in his or her primary love language.

Keeping The Love Tank Full

How we act in a relationship has all to do with how we feel about the relationship. If your spouse feels safe and loved, she is more likely to give back.

The love tank is a metaphor for how secure you feel in a relationship.

Your love tank fills up when your partner nurtures your emotional needs. In contrast, your love tank starts to empty when your partner neglects your emotional needs.

When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and they feel secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach their highest potential in life.

However, how you fill your spouse’s love tank depends on the language of love she speaks.

For example:

Giving presents is one of the ways you can show love. But if your partner only cares about sharing quality time, no gift can substitute your presence.

Running a relationship on an empty love tank is a problem waiting to unfold.

Often, relationship problems like misbehaviors, withdrawals, harsh words, and critical spirit are just a symptom of an empty love tank.

The 5 Love Languages

Words Of Affirmation

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ― Mark Twain

The words of affirmation love language are all about expressing affection through spoken words, praise, or appreciation.

Encouraging words have the power to unlock your partner’s potential.

“All of us have areas in which we feel insecure. We lack courage, and that lack of courage often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things we would like to do. The latent potential may be awaiting your encouraging words.”

Give honest compliments without expecting anything in return. When we receive affirming words, we are more likely to return kind words of our own anyway.

If your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, the way you give your compliments also matters. Make those moments as special as you can.

Quality Time

five love languages summary - quality time

Togetherness has to do with focused attention.

Your partner doesn’t just want to be with you, she wants to be the center of your attention.

Tips for better quality time:

  1. Maintain eye contact when your partner is talking. It communicates that she has your full attention
  2. Don’t listen to your partner and do something else at the same time. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention
  3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?”
  4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement give you clues as to what the other is feeling
  5. Refuse to interrupt. Let your spouse communicate their feelings without interjecting

Individuals whose primary love language is quality time also emphasize doing activities together while giving each other undivided attention.

For example:

Playing a board game together after dinner. Or traveling alone with your partner.

The essential ingredients in a quality activity are:

  • At least one of you wants to do it
  • The other is willing to do it
  • Both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together

Receiving Gifts

Gifts are one of the simplest ways to express love.

Every culture in human history used gifts as a way to show love to one another.

This love language isn’t necessarily materialistic. It just means that a meaningful or thoughtful gift makes your partner feel loved and appreciated.

“A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought.”

If this is your partner’s love language, keep a list of all the gifts she has expressed excitement about receiving in the past.

On top of gifts, your physical presence in a time of crisis is also important. Your body becomes the symbol of your love. Remove the symbol, and the sense of love evaporates.

Acts Of Service

five love languages summary - Acts of service

Acts of service: things you know your spouse would like you to do

For people with this love language, making your partner’s life easier is the best way to show your love.

Examples of acts of service:

  • Cooking a meal
  • Setting a table
  • Washing dishes
  • Taking out the garbage
  • Walking the dog

They require thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. If you do them with a positive spirit, they are clear expressions of love.

Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.

“Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.”

Criticisms about behavior are the clearest clue to your partner’s primary love language.

Physical Touch

Physical touch is the first way a child learns about love. Physical contact has a big impact on how we develop in our infancy.

“Numerous research projects in the area of child development have made that conclusion: Babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.”

Physical touch brings security and connection to the relationship.

But physical touch can also break a relationship. It can communicate hate or love:

  • A slap in the face is devastating for someone whose primary love language is touch
  • Withdrawing from sex means your partner doesn’t love you like they used to

If your spouse’s primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her in a time of crisis.

Discovering Your Primary Love Language

3 questions to discover your 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 things you request are likely the things 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