Love plays a central role in our culture and in our lives. The apostle John tells us that love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, for God is love (1John 4:7-8). Psychologists tell us that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. It is no wonder that God’s primary commandments to mankind are to love God and to love one another (Matt. 22:34-40).
With over 35 years of experience as a pastor and marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, describes what he calls an “emotional love tank” inside every person. He proposes that an empty love tank saps the emotional energy we need when dealing with life’s stresses, fueling misbehavior, harsh words, withdrawal and a critical spirit (Chapman, 23).
There are many ways in which humans convey love to one another. Dr. Chapman has identified five major “love languages” that people use to express love. He observes that our emotional love tank is best filled when we receive love communicated in our primary love language.
Misunderstandings often occur in marriage when husband and wife have differing primary love languages. Because our primary love language comes most naturally, we use it to express love and don’t understand why our spouse doesn’t respond in kind. However, when a couple learns to speak their spouse’s primary love language, love is truly communicated.
Dr. Chapman states, “Understanding the five love languages and learning to speak the primary love language of your spouse may radically affect his or her behavior. People behave differently when their emotional love tanks are full.” (24) Chapman’s book provides tools that can help make that transformation a reality.
Although originally written with the marriage relationship in mind, the principle of love languages can be applied in any relationship to express love and care more effectively. I would recommend this or another book in Dr. Chapman’s love languages series for anyone desiring to improve the quality of the close relationships in their lives.
About the author: Dr. Gary Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University. He also holds Master of Religious Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC, has authored numerous books, and travels worldwide to present seminars on marriage and family relations.