Main The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate
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07 April 2017 (11:36)
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29 January 2020 (21:30)
I've had the opportunity to read this book and it's so amazing. The book teaches not only how to live and love your beloved but how to love people: siblings, friends, workers, etc by speaking their natural love language. you wanna take a look.
06 March 2020 (01:37)
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22 December 2020 (11:20)
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25 December 2020 (21:17)
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26 December 2020 (12:50)
I recommend this book to all. It's succinctly written. The messages are clear with easy steps of implementation.
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05 January 2021 (12:53)
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10 February 2021 (13:06)
Never too early to know something. Event I am not married yet, I feel lucky to know this book early. Such a very good book. Thank you Dr. Chapman.
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09 March 2021 (23:09)
This Book caused my wife to seek and get a divorce while I was away. No kidding, I am not trying to be a trouble maker or anything. It really happened, we read the book together and she divorced me because of this book. We were married over 2 decades. She cheated on me and then divorced me. Personally I would not recommend this book. And I did do everything it said and more. Also had a evil mother in law who wanted me out and her in, so she could retire in style with her daughter the medical doctor.
15 March 2021 (12:15)
This Book caused my wife to seek and get a divorce while I was away. No kidding, I am not trying to be a trouble maker or anything. It really happened, we read the book together and she divorced me because of this book. We were married over 2 decades. She cheated on me and then divorced me. Personally I would not recommend this book
This Book caused my wife to seek and get a divorce while I was away. No kidding, I am not trying to be a trouble maker or anything. It really happened, we read the book together and she divorced me because of this book. We were married over 2 decades. She cheated on me and then divorced me. Personally I would not recommend this book
14 April 2021 (23:38)
It was very useful & amazing book, I also think it can be for friends, family, etc. ... and not only for married couples, however thank you!!
02 May 2021 (22:36)
I cannot wait to read!
25 June 2021 (13:57)
I can't wait to read too, omg!
27 July 2021 (14:24)
I am T-Pin BILLY . I am so happy to have discovered this book that talks about the 5 love languages. I want to thank Dr. Garry for having written this rare master piece for people all over the world to read. This book is soooo good for anyone who thinks about getting married and any married couple. I recommend reading the book if anyone is facing up to some hardships in their couple . I really love the respectful assertive approach of the Dr. Many thanks .
The world needs those types of real individuals to help others save lives and marriages.
I am T-Pin BILLY . I am so happy to have discovered this book that talks about the 5 love languages. I want to thank Dr. Garry for having written this rare master piece for people all over the world to read. This book is soooo good for anyone who thinks about getting married and any married couple. I recommend reading the book if anyone is facing up to some hardships in their couple . I really love the respectful assertive approach of the Dr. Many thanks .
The world needs those types of real individuals to help others save lives and marriages.
11 August 2021 (07:24)
05 October 2021 (00:34)
He gave a speech at my campus
06 October 2021 (22:44)
09 October 2021 (03:14)
this book just gives me a brand-new perspective about love. big CHERISHment to the author
10 October 2021 (00:42)
I want to read and see what it entails
19 October 2021 (18:39)
A very good book that has given me a whole new perspective not only towards my relationship but in life as well. Huge thanks to the author for bringing to my understanding various teaching in the book
22 October 2021 (16:26)
I first read this book over a decade ago and have consistently been referring to it since. The information has never become outdated and can be used to achieve closeness not just in relationships but in friendships, work relations etc.
27 October 2021 (23:31)
This book is amazing. It gave me a whole new perspective on certain things. Would most def recommend it.
02 November 2021 (13:38)
i ve just read the introduction,and its really inviting for more and more....
23 December 2021 (17:31)
highly recommending to everyone who values love and relationships! how to love and how to be loved correctly... i am impressed by every chapter. absolutely the knowledge i needed!
26 December 2021 (09:17)
T HE Five L OVE L ANGUAGES THE Five LOVE LANGUAGES How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate GARY CHAPMAN NORTHFIELD PUBLISHING CHICAGO © 1992, 1995, 2004 by Gary D. Chapman All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. The use of selected references from various versions of the Bible in this publication does not necessarily imply publisher endorsement of the versions in their entirety. ISBN: 978-1-881273-15-6 To Karolyn, Shelley, and Derek Other Great Books by Gary Chapman The Five Love Languages Men’s Edition The Five Love Languages Gift Edition The Five Love Languages of Children The Five Love Languages of Teenagers The Five Love Languages for Singles Your Gift of Love Parenting Your Adult Child The Other Side of Love Loving Solutions Five Signs of a Loving Family Toward a Growing Marriage Hope for the Separated Covenant Marriage CONTENTS Acknowledgments 1. What Happens to Love After the Wedding? 2. Keeping the Love Tank Full 3. Falling in Love 4. Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation 5. Love Language #2: Quality Time 6. Love Language #3: Receiving Gifts 7. Love Language #4: Acts of Service 8. Love Language #5: Physical Touch 9. Discovering Your Primary Love Language 10. Love Is a Choice 11. Love Makes the Difference 12. Loving the Unlovely 13. Children and Love Languages 14. A Personal Word The Five Love Languages Profile for Husbands The Five Love Languages Profile for Wives ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Love begins, or should begin, at home. For me that means Sam and Grace, Dad and Mom, who have loved me for more than fifty years. Without ; them I would still be seeking love instead of writing about it. Home also means Karolyn, to whom I have been married for more than forty years. If all wives loved as she does, fewer men would be looking over the fence. Shelley and Derek are now out of the nest, exploring new worlds, but I feel secure in the warmth of their love. I am blessed and grateful. I am indebted to a host of professionals who have influenced my concepts of love. Among them are psychiatrists Ross Campbell, Judson Swihart, and Scott Peck. For editorial assistance, I am indebted to Debbie Barr and Cathy Peterson. The technical expertise of Tricia Kube and Don Schmidt made it possible to meet publication deadlines. Last, and most important, I want to express my gratitude to the hundreds of couples who, over the past thirty years, have shared the intimate side of their lives with me. This book is a tribute to their honesty. chapter one WHAT HAPPENS TO LOVE AFTER THE WEDDING? At 30,000 feet, somewhere between Buffalo and Dallas, he put his magazine in his seat pocket, turned in my direction, and asked, “What kind of work do you do?” “I do marriage counseling and lead marriage enrichment seminars,” I said matter-of-factly. “I’ve been wanting to ask someone this for a long time,” he said. “What happens to the love after you get married?” Relinquishing my hopes of getting a nap, I asked, “What do you mean?” “Well,” he said, “I’ve been married three times, and each time, it was wonderful before we got married, but somehow after the wedding it all fell apart. All the love I thought I had for her and the love she seemed to have for me evaporated. I am a fairly intelligent person. I operate a successful business, but I don’t understand it.” “How long were you married?” I asked. “The first one lasted about ten years. The second time, we were married three years, and the last one, almost six years.” “Did your love evaporate immediately after the wedding, or was it a gradual loss?” I inquired. “Well, the second one went wrong from the very beginning. I don’t know what happened. I really thought we loved each other, but the honeymoon was a disaster, and we never recovered. We only dated six months. It was a whirlwind romance. It was really exciting! But after the marriage, it was a battle from the beginning. “In my first marriage, we had three or four good years before the baby came. After the baby was born, I felt like she gave her attention to the baby and I no longer mattered. It was as if her one goal in life was to have a baby, and after the baby, she no longer needed me.” “Did you tell her that?” I asked. “Oh, yes, I told her. She said I was crazy. She said I did not understand the stress of being a twenty-four-hour nurse. She said I should be more understanding and help her more. I really tried, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. After that, we just grew further apart. After a while, there was no love left, just deadness. Both of us agreed that the marriage was over. “My last marriage? I really thought that one would be different. I had been divorced for three years. We dated each other for two years. I really thought we knew what we were doing, and I thought that perhaps for the first time I really knew what it meant to love someone. I genuinely felt that she loved me. “After the wedding, I don’t think I changed. I continued to express love to her as I had before marriage. I told her how beautiful she was. I told her how much I loved her. I told her how proud I was to be her husband. But a few months after marriage, she started complaining; about petty things at first—like my not taking the garbage out or not hanging up my clothes. Later, she went to attacking my character, telling me she didn’t feel she could trust me, accusing me of not being faithful to her. She became a totally negative person. Before marriage, she was never negative. She was one of the most positive people I have ever met. That is one of the things that attracted me to her. She never complained about anything. Everything I did was wonderful, but once we were married, it seemed I could do nothing right. I honestly don’t know what happened. Eventually, I lost my love for her and began to resent her. She obviously had no love for me. We agreed there was no benefit to our living together any longer, so we split. “That was a year ago. So my question is, What happens to love after the wedding? Is my experience common? Is that why we have so many divorces in our country? I can’t believe that it happened to me three times. And those who don’t divorce, do they learn to live with the emptiness, or does love really stay alive in some marriages? If so, how?” The questions my friend seated in 5A was asking are the questions that thousands of married and divorced persons are asking today. Some are asking friends, some are asking counselors and clergy, and some are asking themselves. Sometimes the answers are couched in psychological research jargon that is almost incomprehensible. Sometimes they are couched in humor and folklore. Most of the jokes and pithy sayings contain some truth, but they are like offering an aspirin to a person with cancer. The desire for romantic love in marriage is deeply rooted in our psychological makeup. Almost every popular magazine has at least one article each issue on keeping love alive in a marriage. Books abound on the subject. Television and radio talk shows deal with it. Keeping love alive in our marriages is serious business. With all the books, magazines, and practical help available, why is it that so few couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love alive after the wedding? Why is it that a couple can attend a communication workshop, hear wonderful ideas on how to enhance communication, return home, and find themselves totally unable to implement the communication patterns demonstrated? How is it that we read a magazine article on “101 Ways to Express Love to Your Spouse,” select two or three ways that seem especially good to us, try them, and our spouse doesn’t even acknowledge our effort? We give up on the other 98 ways and go back to life as usual. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love. The answer to those questions is the purpose of this book. It is not that the books and articles already published are not helpful. The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different love languages. In the area of linguistics, there are major language groups: Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Greek, German, French, and so on. Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and siblings, which becomes our primary or native tongue. Later, we may learn additional languages but usually with much more effort. These become our secondary languages. We speak and understand best our native language. We feel most comfortable speaking that language. The more we use a secondary language, the more comfortable we become conversing in it. If we speak only our primary language and encounter someone else who speaks only his or her primary language, which is different from ours, our communication will be limited. We must rely on pointing, grunting, drawing pictures, or acting out our ideas. We can communicate, but it is awkward. Language differences are part and parcel of human culture. If we are to communicate effectively across cultural lines, we must learn the language of those with whom we wish to communicate. In the area of love, it is similar. Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. 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. My friend on the plane was speaking the language of “Affirming Words” to his third wife when he said, “I told her how beautiful she was. I told her I loved her. I told her how proud I was to be her husband.” He was speaking love, and he was sincere, but she did not understand his language. Perhaps she was looking for love in his behavior and didn’t see it. Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love. My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects. That accounts for the magazine articles titled “10 Ways to Let Your Spouse Know You Love Her,” “20 Ways to Keep Your Man at Home,” or “365 Expressions of Marital Love.” There are not 10, 20, or 365 basic love languages. In my opinion, there are only five. However, there may be numerous dialects. The number of ways to express love within a love language is limited only by one’s imagination. The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse. We have long known that in early childhood development each child develops unique emotional patterns. Some children, for example, develop a pattern of low self-esteem whereas others have healthy self-esteem. Some develop emotional patterns of insecurity whereas others grow up feeling secure. Some children grow up feeling loved, wanted, and appreciated, yet others grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and unappreciated. The children who feel loved by their parents and peers will develop a primary emotional love language based on their unique psychological makeup and the way their parents and other significant persons expressed love to them. They will speak and understand one primary love language. They may later learn a secondary love language, but they will always feel most comfortable with their primary language. Children who do not feel loved by their parents and peers will also develop a primary love language. However, it will be somewhat distorted in much the same way as some children may learn poor grammar and have an underdeveloped vocabulary. That poor programming does not mean they cannot become good communicators. But it does mean they will have to work at it more diligently than those who had a more positive model. Likewise, children who grow up with an underdeveloped sense of emotional love can also come to feel loved and to communicate love, but they will have to work at it more diligently than those who grew up in a healthy, loving atmosphere. Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language. Therein lies the fundamental problem, and it is the purpose of this book to offer a solution. That is why I dare to write another book on love. Once we discover the five basic love languages and understand our own primary love language, as well as the primary love language of our spouse, we will then have the needed information to apply the ideas in the books and articles. Once you identify and learn to speak your spouse’s primary love language, I believe that you will have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving marriage. Love need not evaporate after the wedding, but in order to keep it alive most of us will have to put forth the effort to learn a secondary love language. We cannot rely on our native tongue if our spouse does not understand it. If we want him/her to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love language. chapter two KEEPING THE LOVE TANK FULL Love is the most important word in the English language—and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. We are told that “love is a many-splendored thing” and that “love makes the world go round.” Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are peppered with the word. Numerous philosophical and theological systems have made a prominent place for love. And the founder of the Christian faith wanted love to be the distinguishing characteristic of His followers.1 Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our plight in life. The Christian apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, exalted love when he indicated that all human accomplishments that are not motivated by love are, in the end, empty. He concluded that in the last scene of the human drama, only three characters will remain: “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”2 If we can agree that the word love permeates human society, both historically and in the present, we must also agree that it is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. We say, “I love hot dogs,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother.” We speak of loving activities: swimming, skiing, hunting. We love objects: food, cars, houses. We love animals: dogs, cats, even pet snails. We love nature: trees, grass, flowers, and weather. We love people: mother, father, son, daughter, parents, wives, husbands, friends. We even fall in love with love. If all that is not confusing enough, we also use the word love to explain behavior. “I did it because I love her.” That explanation is given for all kinds of actions. A man is involved in an adulterous relationship, and he calls it love. The preacher, on the other hand, calls it sin. The wife of an alcoholic picks up the pieces after her husband’s latest episode. She calls it love, but the psychologist calls it codependency. The parent indulges all the child’s wishes, calling it love. The family therapist would call it irresponsible parenting. What is loving behavior? The purpose of this book is not to eliminate all confusion surrounding the word love, but to focus on that kind of love that is essential to our emotional health. Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted. With an adequate supply of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult. Without that love, he or she will be emotionally and socially retarded. I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it: “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’” I was listening to Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents. As I listened, I thought of the hundreds of parents who had paraded the misdeeds of their children through my office. I had never visualized an empty love tank inside those children, but I had certainly seen the results of it. Their misbehavior was a misguided search for the love they did not feel. They were seeking love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. I remember Ashley, who at thirteen years of age was being treated for a sexually transmitted disease. Her parents were crushed. They were angry with Ashley. They were upset with the school, which they blamed for teaching her about sex. “Why would she do this?” they asked. At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love. In my conversation with Ashley, she told me of her parents’ divorce when she was six years old. “I thought my father left because he didn’t love me,” she said. “When my mother remarried when I was ten, I felt she now had someone to love her, but I still had no one to love me. I wanted so much to be loved. I met this boy at school. He was older than me, but he liked me. I couldn’t believe it. He was kind to me, and in a while I really felt he loved me. I didn’t want to have sex, but I wanted to be loved.” Ashley’s “love tank” had been empty for many years. Her mother and stepfather had provided for her physical needs but had not realized the deep emotional struggle raging inside her. They certainly loved Ashley, and they thought that she felt their love. Not until it was almost too late did they discover that they were not speaking Ashley’s primary love language. The emotional need for love, however, is not simply a childhood phenomenon. That need follows us into adulthood and into marriage. The “in love” experience temporarily meets that need, but it is inevitably a “quick fix” and, as we shall learn later, has a limited and predictable life span. After we come down from the high of the “in love” obsession, the emotional need for love resurfaces because it is fundamental to our nature. It is at the center of our emotional desires. We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live. The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires. A man said to me recently, “What good is the house, the cars, the place at the beach, or any of the rest of it if your wife doesn’t love you?” Do you understand what he was really saying? “More than anything, I want to be loved by my wife.” Material things are no replacement for human, emotional love. A wife says, “He ignores me all day long and then wants to jump in bed with me. I hate it.” She is not a wife who hates sex; she is a wife desperately pleading for emotional love. Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments. At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love. That is why the ancient biblical writings spoke of the husband and wife becoming “one flesh.” That did not mean that individuals would lose their identity; it meant that they would enter into each other’s lives in a deep and intimate way. The New Testament writers challenged both the husband and the wife to love each other. From Plato to Peck, writers have emphasized the importance of love in marriage. But, if love is important, it is also elusive. I have listened to many married couples share their secret pain. Some came to me because the inner ache had become unbearable. Others came because they realized that their behavior patterns or the misbehavior of their spouse was destroying the marriage. Some came simply to inform me that they no longer wanted to be married. Their dreams of “living happily ever after” had been dashed against the hard walls of reality. Again and again I have heard the words “Our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Their stories bear testimony that adults as well as children have “love tanks.” Could it be that deep inside hurting couples exists an invisible “emotional love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of that empty tank? If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that makes marriage work? Those questions sent me on a long journey. Along the way, I discovered the simple yet powerful insights contained in this book. The journey has taken me not only through thirty years of marriage counseling but into the hearts and minds of hundreds of couples throughout America. From Seattle to Miami, couples have invited me into the inner chamber of their marriages, and we have talked openly. The illustrations included in this book are cut from the fabric of real life. Only names and places are changed to protect the privacy of the individuals who have spoken so freely. I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile. Running your marriage on an empty “love tank” may cost you even more than trying to drive your car without oil. What you are about to read has the potential of saving thousands of marriages and can even enhance the emotional climate of a good marriage. Whatever the quality of your marriage now, it can always be better. WARNING: 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. Before we examine the five love languages, however, we must address one other important but confusing phenomenon: the euphoric experience of “falling in love.” NOTES 1. John 13:35. 2. 1 Corinthians 13:13. chapter three FALLING IN LOVE She showed up at my office without an appointment and asked my secretary if she could see me for five minutes. I had known Janice for eighteen years. She was thirty-six and had never married. She had dated several men through the years, one for six years, another for three years, and several others for shorter periods of time. From time to time, she had made appointments with me to discuss a particular difficulty in one of her relationships. She was by nature a disciplined, conscientious, organized, thoughtful, and caring person. It was completely out of character for her to show up at my office unannounced. I thought, There must be some terrible crisis for Janice to show up without an appointment. I told my secretary to show her in, and I fully expected to see her burst into tears and tell me some tragic story as soon as the door was closed. Instead, she virtually skipped into my office, beaming with excitement. “How are you today, Janice?” I asked. “Great!” she said. “I’ve never been better in my life. I’m getting married!” “You are?” I said, revealing my shock. “To whom and when?” “To David Gallespie,” she exclaimed, “in September.” “That’s exciting. How long have you been dating?” “Three weeks. I know it’s crazy, Dr. Chapman, after all the people I have dated and the number of times I came so close to getting married. I can’t believe it myself, but I know David is the one for me. From the first date, we both knew it. Of course, we didn’t talk about it on the first night, but one week later, he asked me to marry him. I knew he was going to ask me, and I knew I was going to say yes. I have never felt this way before, Dr. Chapman. You know about the relationships that I have had through the years and the struggles I have had. In every relationship, something was not right. I never felt at peace about marrying any of them, but I know that David is the right one.” By this time, Janice was rocking back and forth in her chair, giggling and saying, “I know it’s crazy, but I am so happy. I have never been this happy in my life.” What has happened to Janice? She has fallen in love. In her mind, David is the most wonderful man she has ever met. He is perfect in every way. He will make the ideal husband. She thinks about him day and night. The facts that David has been married twice before, has three children, and has had three jobs in the past year are trivial to Janice. She’s happy, and she is convinced that she is going to be happy forever with David. She is in love. Most of us enter marriage by way of the “in love” experience. We meet someone whose physical characteristics and personality traits create enough electrical shock to trigger our “love alert” system. The bells go off, and we set in motion the process of getting to know the person. The first step may be sharing a hamburger or steak, depending on our budget, but our real interest is not in the food. We are on a quest to discover love. “Could this warm, tingly feeling I have inside be the ‘real’ thing?” Sometimes we lose the tingles on the first date. We find out that she dips snuff, and the tingles run right out our toes; we want no more hamburgers with her. Other times, however, the tingles are stronger after the hamburger than before. We arrange for a few more “together” experiences, and before long the level of intensity has increased to the point where we find ourselves saying, “I think I’m falling in love.” Eventually we are convinced that it is the “real thing,” and we tell the other person, hoping the feeling is reciprocal. If it isn’t, things cool off a bit or we redouble our efforts to impress, and eventually win the love of, our beloved. When it is reciprocal, we start talking about marriage because everyone agrees that being “in love” is the necessary foundation for a good marriage. Our dreams before marriage are of marital bliss…. It’s hard to believe anything else when you are in love. At its peak, the “in love” experience is euphoric. We are emotionally obsessed with each other. We go to sleep thinking of one another. When we rise that person is the first thought on our minds. We long to be together. Spending time together is like playing in the anteroom of heaven. When we hold hands, it seems as if our blood flows together. We could kiss forever if we didn’t have to go to school or work. Embracing stimulates dreams of marriage and ecstasy. The person who is “in love” has the illusion that his beloved is perfect. His mother can see the flaws but he can’t. His mother says, “Darling, have you considered she has been under psychiatric care for five years?” But he replies, “Oh, Mother, give me a break. She’s been out for three months now.” His friends also can see the flaws but are not likely to tell him unless he asks, and chances are he won’t because in his mind she is perfect and what others think doesn’t matter. Our dreams before marriage are of marital bliss: “We are going to make each other supremely happy. Other couples may argue and fight, but not us. We love each other.” Of course, we are not totally naive. We know intellectually that we will eventually have differences. But we are certain that we will discuss those differences openly; one of us will always be willing to make concessions, and we will reach agreement. It’s hard to believe anything else when you are in love. We have been led to believe that if we are really in love, it will last forever. We will always have the wonderful feelings that we have at this moment. Nothing could ever come between us. Nothing will ever overcome our love for each other. We are enamored and caught up in the beauty and charm of the other’s personality. Our love is the most wonderful thing we have ever experienced. We observe that some married couples seem to have lost that feeling, but it will never happen to us. “Maybe they did not have the real thing,” we reason. Unfortunately, the eternality of the “in love” experience is fiction, not fact. Dr. Dorothy Tennov, a psychologist, has done long-range studies on the in-love phenomenon. After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years. If it is a secretive love affair, it may last a little longer. Eventually, however, we all descend from the clouds and plant our feet on earth again. Our eyes are opened, and we see the warts of the other person. We recognize that some of his/her personality traits are actually irritating. Her behavior patterns are annoying. He has the capacity for hurt and anger, perhaps even harsh words and critical judgments. Those little traits that we overlooked when we were in love now become huge mountains. We remember Mother’s words and ask ourselves, How could I have been so foolish? Welcome to the real world of marriage, where hairs are always on the sink and little white spots cover the mirror, where arguments center on which way the toilet paper comes off and whether the lid should be up or down. It is a world where shoes do not walk to the closet and drawers do not close themselves, where coats do not like hangers and socks go AWOL during laundry. In this world, a look can hurt and a word can crush. Intimate lovers can become enemies, and marriage a battlefield. What happened to the “in love” experience? Alas, it was but an illusion by which we were tricked into signing our names on the dotted line, for better or for worse. No wonder so many have come to curse marriage and the partner whom they once loved. After all, if we were deceived, we have a right to be angry. Did we really have the “real” thing? I think so. The problem was faulty information. The bad information was the idea that the “in love” obsession would last forever. We should have known better. A casual observation should have taught us that if people remained obsessed, we would all be in serious trouble. The shock waves would rumble through business, industry, church, education, and the rest of society. Why? Because people who are “in love” lose interest in other pursuits. That is why we call it “obsession.” The college student who falls head over heels in love sees his grades tumbling. It is difficult to study when you are in love. Tomorrow you have a test on the War of 1812, but who cares about the War of 1812? When you’re in love, everything else seems irrelevant. A man said to me, “Dr. Chapman, my job is disintegrating.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “I met this girl, fell in love, and I can’t get a thing done. I can’t keep my mind on my job. I spend my day dreaming about her.” The euphoria of the “in love” state gives us the illusion that we have an intimate relationship. We feel that we belong to each other. We believe we can conquer all problems. We feel altruistic toward each other. As one young man said about his fiancée, “I can’t conceive of doing anything to hurt her. My only desire is to make her happy. I would do anything to make her happy.” Such obsession gives us the false sense that our egocentric attitudes have been eradicated and we have become sort of a Mother Teresa, willing to give anything for the benefit of our lover. The reason we can do that so freely is that we sincerely believe that our lover feels the same way toward us. We believe that she is committed to meeting our needs, that he loves us as much as we love him and would never do anything to hurt us. That thinking is always fanciful. Not that we are insincere in what we think and feel, but we are unrealistic. We fail to reckon with the reality of human nature. By nature, we are egocentric. Our world revolves around us. None of us is totally altruistic. The euphoria of the “in love” experience only gives us that illusion. Once the experience of falling in love has run its natural course (remember, the average in-love experience lasts two years), we will return to the world of reality and begin to assert ourselves. He will express his desires, but his desires will be different from hers. He desires sex, but she is too tired. He wants to buy a new car, but she says, “That’s absurd!” She wants to visit her parents, but he says, “I don’t like spending so much time with your family.” He wants to play in the softball tournament, and she says, “You love softball more than you love me.” Little by little, the illusion of intimacy evaporates, and the individual desires, emotions, thoughts, and behavior patterns exert themselves. They are two individuals. Their minds have not melded together, and their emotions mingled only briefly in the ocean of love. Now the waves of reality begin to separate them. They fall out of love, and at that point either they withdraw, separate, divorce, and set off in search of a new in-love experience, or they begin the hard work of learning to love each other without the euphoria of the in-love obsession. The in-love experience does not focus on our own growth nor on the growth and development of the other person. Rather, it gives us the sense that we have arrived. Some researchers, among them psychiatrist M. Scott Peck and psychologist Dorothy Tennov, have concluded that the in-love experience should not be called “love” at all. Dr. Tennov coined the word limerance for the in-love experience in order to distinguish that experience from what she considers real love. Dr. Peck concludes that the falling-in-love experience is not real love for three reasons. First, falling in love is not an act of the will or a conscious choice. No matter how much we may want to fall in love, we cannot make it happen. On the other hand, we may not be seeking the experience when it overtakes us. Often, we fall in love at inopportune times and with unlikely people. Second, falling in love is not real love because it is effortless. Whatever we do in the in-love state requires little discipline or conscious effort on our part. The long, expensive phone calls we make to each other, the money we spend traveling to see each other, the gifts we give, the work projects we do are as nothing to us. As the instinctual nature of the bird dictates the building of a nest, so the instinctual nature of the in-love experience pushes us to do outlandish and unnatural things for each other. Third, one who is “in love” is not genuinely interested in fostering the personal growth of the other person. “If we have any purpose in mind when we fall in love it is to terminate our own loneliness and perhaps ensure this result through marriage.”1 The in-love experience does not focus on our own growth nor on the growth and development of the other person. Rather, it gives us the sense that we have arrived and that we do not need further growth. We are at the apex of life’s happiness, and our only desire is to stay there. Certainly our beloved does not need to grow because she is perfect. We simply hope she will remain perfect. If falling in love is not real love, what is it? Dr. Peck concludes that it “is a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behavior. In other words, the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species.”2 Whether or not we agree with that conclusion, those of us who have fallen in love and out of love will likely agree that the experience does catapult us into emotional orbit unlike anything else we have experienced. It tends to disengage our reasoning abilities, and we often find ourselves doing and saying things that we would never have done in more sober moments. In fact, when we come down from the emotional obsession we often wonder why we did those things. When the wave of emotions subsides and we come back to the real world where our differences are illuminated, how many of us have asked, “Why did we get married? We don’t agree on anything.” Yet, at the height of the in-loveness, we thought we agreed on everything—at least everything that was important. Rational, volitional love…is the kind of love to which the sages have always called us. Does that mean that having been tricked into marriage by the illusion of being in love, we are now faced with two options: (1) we are destined to a life of misery with our spouse, or (2) we must jump ship and try again? Our generation has opted for the latter, whereas an earlier generation often chose the former. Before we automatically conclude that we have made the better choice, perhaps we should examine the data. Presently 40 percent of first marriages in this country end in divorce. Sixty percent of second marriages and 75 percent of third marriages end the same way. Apparently the prospect of a happier marriage the second and third time around is not substantial. Research seems to indicate that there is a third and better alternative: We can recognize the in-love experience for what it was—a temporary emotional high—and now pursue “real love” with our spouse. That kind of love is emotional in nature but not obsessional. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it recognizes the need for personal growth. Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving. That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely loved another. It does not require the euphoria of the “in love” experience. In fact, true love cannot begin until the “in love” experience has run its course. We cannot take credit for the kind and generous things we do while under the influence of “the obsession.” We are pushed and carried along by an instinctual force that goes beyond our normal behavior patterns. But if, once we return to the real world of human choice, we choose to be kind and generous, that is real love. The emotional need for love must be met if we are to have emotional health. Married adults long to feel affection and love from their spouses. We feel secure when we are assured that our mate accepts us, wants us, and is committed to our well-being. During the in-love stage, we felt all of those emotions. It was heavenly while it lasted. Our mistake was in thinking it would last forever. But that obsession was not meant to last forever. In the textbook of marriage, it is but the introduction. The heart of the book is rational, volitional love. That is the kind of love to which the sages have always called us. It is intentional. That is good news to the married couple who have lost all of their “in love” feelings. If love is a choice, then they have the capacity to love after the “in love” obsession has died and they have returned to the real world. That kind of love begins with an attitude—a way of thinking. Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.” Then the one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision. “But it seems so sterile,” some may contend. “Love as an attitude with appropriate behavior? Where are the shooting stars, the balloons, the deep emotions? What about the spirit of anticipation, the twinkle of the eye, the electricity of a kiss, the excitement of sex? What about the emotional security of knowing that I am number one in his/her mind?” That is what this book is all about. How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated. For many years now, I have discussed the five emotional love languages in my marriage seminars and in private counseling sessions. Thousands of couples will attest to the validity of what you are about to read. My files are filled with letters from people whom I have never met, saying, “A friend loaned me one of your tapes on love languages, and it has revolutionized our marriage. We had struggled for years trying to love each other, but our efforts had missed each other emotionally. Now that we are speaking the appropriate love languages, the emotional climate of our marriage has radically improved.” When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and he feels secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach his highest potential in life. But when the love tank is empty and he feels used but not loved, the whole world looks dark and he will likely never reach his potential for good in the world. In the next five chapters, I will explain the five emotional love languages and then, in chapter 9, illustrate how discovering your spouse’s primary love language can make your efforts at love most productive. NOTES 1. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978), pp. 89–90. 2. Ibid., p. 90. chapter four Love Language #1 WORDS OF AFFIRMATION Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” If we take Twain literally, six compliments a year would have kept his emotional love tank at the operational level. Your spouse will probably need more. One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up. Solomon, author of the ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death.”1 Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other. Solomon further noted, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”2 Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as: “You look sharp in that suit.” “Do you ever look nice in that dress! Wow!” “You must be the best potato cook in the world. I love these potatoes.” “I really appreciate your washing the dishes tonight.” “Thanks for getting the baby-sitter lined up tonight. I want you to know I don’t take that for granted.” “I really appreciate your taking the garbage out.” What would happen to the emotional climate of a marriage if the husband and wife heard such words of affirmation regularly? Several years ago, I was sitting in my office with my door open. A lady walking down the hall said, “Have you got a minute?” “Sure, come in.” She sat down and said, “Dr. Chapman, I’ve got a problem. I can’t get my husband to paint our bedroom. I have been after him for nine months. I have tried everything I know, and I can’t get him to paint it.” My first thought was, Lady, you are at the wrong place. I am not a paint contractor. But I said, “Tell me about it.” She said, “Well, last Saturday was a good example. You remember how pretty it was? Do you know what my husband did all day long? He washed and waxed the car.” “So what did you do?” “I went out there and said, ‘Bob, I don’t understand you. Today would have been a perfect day to paint the bedroom, and here you are washing and waxing the car.’” “So did he paint the bedroom?” I inquired. “No. It’s still not painted. I don’t know what to do.” “Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Are you opposed to clean, waxed cars?” “No, but I want the bedroom painted.” “Are you certain that your husband knows that you want the bedroom painted?” “I know he does,” she said. “I have been after him for nine months.” “Let me ask you one more question. Does your husband ever do anything good?” “Like what?” “Oh, like taking the garbage out, or getting bugs off the windshield of the car you drive, or putting gas in the car, or paying the electric bill, or hanging up his coat?” “Yes,” she said, “he does some of those things.” “Then I have two suggestions. One, don’t ever mention painting the bedroom again.” I repeated, “Don’t ever mention it again.” “I don’t see how that’s going to help,” she said. The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate. “Look, you just told me that he knows that you want the bedroom painted. You don’t have to tell him anymore. He already knows. The second suggestion I have is that the next time your husband does anything good, give him a verbal compliment. If he takes the garbage out, say, ‘Bob, I want you to know that I really appreciate your taking the garbage out.’ Don’t say, ‘About time you took the garbage out. The flies were going to carry it out for you.’ If you see him paying the electric bill, put your hand on his shoulder and say, ‘Bob, I really appreciate your paying the electric bill. I hear there are husbands who don’t do that, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.’ Every time he does anything good, give him a verbal compliment.” “I don’t see how that’s going to get the bedroom painted.” I said, “You asked for my advice. You have it. It’s free.” She wasn’t very happy with me when she left. Three weeks later, however, she came back to my office and said, “It worked!” She had learned that verbal compliments are far greater motivators than nagging words. I am not suggesting verbal flattery in order to get your spouse to do something you want. The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires. ENCOURAGING WORDS Giving verbal compliments is only one way to express words of affirmation to your spouse. Another dialect is encouraging words. The word encourage means “to inspire courage.” 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 that we would like to do. The latent potential within your spouse in his or her areas of insecurity may await your encouraging words. Allison had always liked to write. Late in her college career, she took a few courses in journalism. She quickly realized that her excitement about writing exceeded her interest in history, which had been her academic major. It was too late to change majors, but after college and especially before the first baby, she wrote several articles. She submitted one article to a magazine, but when she received a rejection slip, she never had the courage to submit another. Now that the children were older and she had more time to contemplate, Allison was again writing. Keith, Allison’s husband, had paid little attention to Allison’s writing in the early days of their marriage. He was busy with his own vocation and caught up in the pressure of climbing the corporate ladder. In time, however, Keith had realized that life’s deepest meaning is not found in accomplishments but in relationships. He had learned to give more attention to Allison and her interests. So it was quite natural one night for him to pick up one of Allison’s articles and read it. When he finished, he went into the den where Allison was reading a book. With great enthusiasm, he said, “I hate to interrupt your reading, but I have to tell you this. I just finished reading your article on ‘Making the Most of the Holidays.’ Allison, you are an excellent writer. This stuff ought to be published! You write clearly. Your words paint pictures that I can visualize. You have a fascinating style. You have to submit this stuff to some magazines.” “Do you really think so?” Allison asked hesitantly. “I know so,” Keith said. “I’m telling you, this is good.” When Keith left the room, Allison did not resume her reading. With the closed book in her lap, she dreamed for thirty minutes about what Keith had said. She wondered if others would view her writing the same way he did. She remembered the rejection slip she had received years ago, but she reasoned that she was a different person now. Her writing was better. She had had more experiences. Before she left the chair to get a drink of water, Allison had made a decision. She would submit her articles to some magazines. She would see if they could be published. Keith’s encouraging words were spoken fourteen years ago. Allison has had numerous articles published since then and now has a book contract. She is an excellent writer, but it took the encouraging words from her husband to inspire her to take the first step in the arduous process of getting an article published. Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words. Perhaps she needs to enroll in a course to develop that potential. Maybe he needs to meet some people who have succeeded in that area, who can give him insight on the next step he needs to take. Your words may give your spouse the courage necessary to take that first step. Please note that I am not talking about pressuring your spouse to do something that you want. I am talking about encouraging him to develop an interest that he already has. For example, some husbands pressure their wives to lose weight. The husband says, “I am encouraging her,” but to the wife it sounds like condemnation. Only when a person wants to lose weight can you give her encouragement. Until she has the desire, your words will fall into the category of preaching. Such words seldom encourage. They are almost always heard as words of judgment, designed to stimulate guilt. They express not love but rejection. Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. If, however, your spouse says, “I think I would like to enroll in a weight-loss program this fall,” then you have opportunity to give words of encouragement. Encouraging words would sound like this. “If you decide to do that, I can tell you one thing. You will be a success. That’s one of the things I like about you. When you set your mind to something, you do it. If that’s what you want to do, I will certainly do everything I can to help you. And don’t worry about the cost of the program. If it’s what you want to do, we’ll find the money.” Such words may give your spouse the courage to phone the weight-loss center. Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” We are trying to show that we believe in him and in his abilities. We are giving credit and praise. Most of us have more potential than we will ever develop. What holds us back is often courage. A loving spouse can supply that all-important catalyst. Of course, encouraging words may be difficult for you to speak. It may not be your primary love language. It may take great effort for you to learn this second language. That will be especially true if you have a pattern of critical and condemning words, but I can assure you that it will be worth the effort. KIND WORDS Love is kind. If then we are to communicate love verbally, we must use kind words. That has to do with the way we speak. The same sentence can have two different meanings, depending on how you say it. The statement “I love you,” when said with kindness and tenderness, can be a genuine expression of love. But what about the statement “I love you?” The question mark changes the whole meaning of those three words. Sometimes our words are saying one thing, but our tone of voice is saying another. We are sending double messages. Our spouse will usually interpret our message based on our tone of voice, not the words we use. “I would be delighted to wash dishes tonight,” said in a snarling tone will not be received as an expression of love. On the other hand, we can share hurt, pain, and even anger in a kind manner, and that will be an expression of love. “I felt disappointed and hurt that you didn’t offer to help me this evening,” said in an honest, kind manner can be an expression of love. The person speaking wants to be known by her spouse. She is taking steps to build intimacy by sharing her feelings. She is asking for an opportunity to discuss a hurt in order to find healing. The same words expressed with a loud, harsh voice will be not an expression of love but an expression of condemnation and judgment. The manner in which we speak is exceedingly important. An ancient sage once said, “A soft answer turns away anger.” When your spouse is angry and upset and lashing out words of heat, if you choose to be loving you will not reciprocate with additional heat but with a soft voice. You will receive what he is saying as information about his emotional feelings. You will let him tell you of his hurt, anger, and perception of events. You will seek to put yourself in his shoes and see the event through his eyes and then express softly and kindly your understanding of why he feels that way. If you have wronged him, you will be willing to confess the wrong and ask forgiveness. If your motivation is different from what he is reading, you will be able to explain your motivation kindly. You will seek understanding and reconciliation, and not to prove your own perception as the only logical way to interpret what has happened. That is mature love—love to which we aspire if we seek a growing marriage. Love doesn’t keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up past failures. None of us is perfect. In marriage we do not always do the best or right thing. We have sometimes done and said hurtful things to our spouses. We cannot erase the past. We can only confess it and agree that it was wrong. We can ask for forgiveness and try to act differently in the future. Having confessed my failure and asked forgiveness, I can do nothing more to mitigate the hurt it may have caused my spouse. When I have been wronged by my spouse and she has painfully confessed it and requested forgiveness, I have the option of justice or forgiveness. If I choose justice and seek to pay her back or make her pay for her wrongdoing, I am making myself the judge and her the felon. Intimacy becomes impossible. If, however, I choose to forgive, intimacy can be restored. Forgiveness is the way of love. I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in so doing, they pollute a potentially wonderful day. “I can’t believe you did it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. You can’t possibly know how much you hurt me. I don’t know how you can sit there so smugly after you treated me that way. You ought to be crawling on your knees, begging me for forgiveness. I don’t know if I can ever forgive you.” Those are not the words of love but of bitterness and resentment and revenge. If we are to develop an intimate relationship, we need to know each other’s desires. If we wish to love each other, we need to know what the other person wants. The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history. Yes, it happened. Certainly it hurt. And it may still hurt, but he has acknowledged his failure and asked your forgiveness. We cannot erase the past, but we can accept it as history. We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love. “I love you. I care about you, and I choose to forgive you. Even though my feelings of hurt may linger, I will not allow what has happened to come between us. I hope that we can learn from this experience. You are not a failure because you have failed. You are my spouse, and together we will go on from here.” Those are the words of affirmation expressed in the dialect of kind words. HUMBLE WORDS Love makes requests, not demands. When I demand things from my spouse, I become a parent and she the child. It is the parent who tells the three-year-old what he ought to do and, in fact, what he must do. That is necessary because the three-year-old does not yet know how to navigate in the treacherous waters of life. In marriage, however, we are equal, adult partners. We are not perfect to be sure, but we are adults and we are partners. If we are to develop an intimate relationship, we need to know each other’s desires. If we wish to love each other, we need to know what the other person wants. The way we express those desires, however, is all-important. If they come across as demands, we have erased the possibility of intimacy and will drive our spouse away. If, however, we make known our needs and desires as requests, we are giving guidance, not ultimatums. The husband who says, “You know those apple pies you make? Would it be possible for you to make one this week? I love those apple pies,” is giving his wife guidance on how to love him and thus build intimacy. On the other hand, the husband who says, “Haven’t had an apple pie since the baby was born. Don’t guess I’ll get any more apple pies for eighteen years,” has ceased being an adult and has reverted to adolescent behavior. Such demands do not build intimacy. The wife who says, “Do you think it will be possible for you to clean the gutters this weekend?” is expressing love by making a request. But the wife who says, “If you don’t get those gutters cleaned out soon, they are going to fall off the house. They already have trees growing out of them!” has ceased to love and has become a domineering spouse. When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities. You are in essence indicating that she has something or can do something that is meaningful and worthwhile to you. When, however, you make demands, you have become not a lover but a tyrant. Your spouse will feel not affirmed but belittled. A request introduces the element of choice. Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because love is always a choice. That’s what makes it meaningful. To know that my spouse loves me enough to respond to one of my requests communicates emotionally that she cares about me, respects me, admires me, and wants to do something to please me. We cannot get emotional love by way of demand. My spouse may in fact comply with my demands, but it is not an expression of love. It is an act of fear or guilt or some other emotion, but not love. Thus, a request creates the possibility for an expression of love, whereas a demand suffocates that possibility. VARIOUS DIALECTS Words of affirmation are one of the five basic love languages. Within that language, however, there are many dialects. We have discussed a few already, and there are many more. Entire volumes and numerous articles have been written on these dialects. All of the dialects have in common the use of words to affirm one’s spouse. Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals. If you are not a man or woman of words, if it is not your primary love language but you think it may be the love language of your spouse, let me suggest that you keep a notebook titled “Words of Affirmation.” When you read an article or book on love, record the words of affirmation you find. When you hear a lecture on love or you overhear a friend saying something positive about another person, write it down. In time, you will collect quite a list of words to use in communicating love to your spouse. You may also want to try giving indirect words of affirmation, that is, saying positive things about your spouse when he or she is not present. Eventually, someone will tell your spouse, and you will get full credit for love. Tell your wife’s mother how great your wife is. When her mother tells her what you said, it will be amplified, and you will get even more credit. Also affirm your spouse in front of others when he or she is present. When you are given public honor for an accomplishment, be sure to share the credit with your spouse. You may also try your hand at writing words of affirmation. Written words have the benefit of being read over and over again. I learned an important lesson about words of affirmation and love languages in Little Rock, Arkansas. My visit with Bill and Betty Jo was on a beautiful spring day. They lived in a cluster home with white picket fence, green grass, and spring flowers in full bloom. It was idyllic. Once inside, however, I discovered that the idealism ended. Their marriage was in shambles. Twelve years and two children after the wedding day, they wondered why they had married in the first place. They seemed to disagree on everything. The only thing they really agreed on was that they both loved the children. As the story unraveled, my observation was that Bill was a workaholic who had little time left over for Betty Jo. Betty Jo worked part-time, mainly to get out of the house. Their method of coping was withdrawal. They tried to put distance between themselves so that their conflicts would not seem as large. But the gauge on both love tanks read “empty.” They told me that they had been going for marriage counseling but didn’t seem to be making much progress. They were attending my marriage seminar, and I was leaving town the next day. This would likely be my only encounter with Bill and Betty Jo. I decided to put all my eggs in one basket. I spent an hour with each of them separately. I listened intently to both stories. I discovered that in spite of the emptiness of their relationship and their many disagreements, they appreciated certain things about each other. Bill acknowledged, “She is a good mother. She also is a good housekeeper and an excellent cook when she chooses to cook. But,” he continued, “there is simply no affection coming from her. I work my butt off and there is simply no appreciation.” In my conversation with Betty Jo, she agreed that Bill was an excellent provider. “But,” she complained, “he does nothing around the house to help me, and he never has time for me. What’s the use of having the house, the recreational vehicle, and all the other things if you don’t ever get to enjoy them together?” With that information, I decided to focus my advice by making only one suggestion to each of them. I told Bill and Betty Jo separately that each one held the key to changing the emotional climate of the marriage. “That key,” I said, “is to express verbal appreciation for the things you like about the other person and, for the moment, suspending your complaints about the things you do not like.” We reviewed the positive comments they had already made about each other and helped each of them write a list of those positive traits. Bill’s list focused on Betty Jo’s activities as a mother, housekeeper, and cook. Betty Jo’s list focused on Bill’s hard work and financial provision of the family. We made the lists as specific as possible. Betty Jo’s list looked like this: He hasn’t missed a day of work in twelve years. He is aggressive in his work. He has received several promotions through the years. He is always thinking of ways to improve his productivity. He makes the house payment each month. He also pays the electrical bill, the gas bill, the water bill. He bought us a recreational vehicle three years ago. He mows the grass or hires someone to do it each week in the spring and summer. He rakes the leaves or hires someone to do it in the fall. He provides plenty of money for food and clothing for the family. He carries the garbage out about once a month. He provides money for me to buy Christmas presents for the family. He agrees that I can use the money I make at my part-time job any way I desire. Bill’s list looked like this: She makes the beds every day. She vacuums the house every week. She gets the kids off to school every morning with a good breakfast. She cooks dinner about three days a week. She buys the groceries. She helps the children with their homework. She transports the children to school and church activities. She teaches first grade Sunday school. She takes my clothes to the cleaners. She does the washing and some ironing. I suggested that they add to the lists things they noticed in the weeks ahead. I also suggested that twice a week, they select one positive trait and express verbal appreciation for it to the spouse. I gave one further guideline. I told Betty Jo that if Bill happened to give her a compliment, she was not to give him a compliment at the same time but rather, she should simply receive it and say, “Thank you for saying that.” I told Bill the same thing. I encouraged them to do that every week for two months, and if they found it helpful, they could continue. If the experiment did not help the emotional climate of the marriage, then they could write it off as another failed attempt. The next day, I got on the plane and returned home. I made a note to call Bill and Betty Jo two months later to see what had happened. When I called them in mid-summer, I asked to speak to each of them individually. I was amazed to find that Bill’s attitude had taken a giant step forward. He had guessed that I had given Betty Jo the same advice I had given him, but that was all right. He loved it. She was expressing appreciation for his hard work and his provision for the family. “She has actually made me feel like a man again. We’ve got a ways to go, Dr. Chapman, but I really believe we are on the road.” When I talked to Betty Jo, however, I found that she had only taken a baby step forward. She said, “It has improved some, Dr. Chapman. Bill is giving me verbal compliments as you suggested, and I guess he is sincere. But, Dr. Chapman, he’s still not spending any time with me. He is still so busy at work that we never have time together.” As I listened to Betty Jo, the lights came on. I knew that I had made a significant discovery. The love language of one person is not necessarily the love language of another. It was obvious that Bill’s primary love language was Words of Affirmation. He was a hard worker, and he enjoyed his work, but what he wanted most from his wife was expressions of appreciation for his work. That pattern was probably set in childhood, and the need for verbal affirmation was no less important in his adult life. Betty Jo, on the other hand, was emotionally crying out for something else. Positive words were fine, but her deep emotional longing is for something else. That brings us to love language number two. NOTES 1. Proverbs 18:21. 2. Proverbs 12:25. If your spouse’s love language is Words of Affirmation: 1. To remind yourself that “Words of Affirmation” is your spouse’s primary love language, print the following on a 3x5 card and put it on a mirror or other place where you will see it daily: Words are important! Words are important! Words are important! 2. For one week, keep a written record of all the words of affirmation you give your spouse each day. At the end of the week, sit down with your spouse and review your record. On Monday, I said: “You did a great job on this meal.” “You really look nice in that outfit.” “I really appreciate your picking up the laundry.” On Tuesday, I said: etc. You might be surprised how well (or how poorly) you are speaking words of affirmation. 1. Set a goal to give your spouse a different compliment each day for one month. If “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” maybe a compliment a day will keep the counselor away. (You may want to record these compliments also, so you will not duplicate the statements.) 2. As you read the newspaper, magazines, and books, or watch TV or listen to radio, look for words of affirmation which people use. Observe people in conversation. Write those affirming statements in a notebook. (If they are cartoons, clip and paste them in your notebook.) Read through these periodically and select those you could use with your spouse. When you use one, note the date on which you used it. Your notebook may become your love book. Remember, words are important! 3. Write a love letter, a love paragraph, or a love sentence to your spouse, and give it quietly or with fanfare! (Chances are, when he dies, you will find your love letter tucked away in some special place.) Words are important! 4. Compliment your spouse in the presence of his parents or friends. You will get double credit: Your spouse will feel loved and the parents will feel lucky to have such a great son-in-law or daughter-in-law. 5. Look for your spouse’s strengths and tell her how much you appreciate those strengths. Chances are she will work hard to live up to her reputation. 6. Tell your children how great their mother or father is. Do this behind your spouse’s back and in her presence. 7. Write a poem describing how you feel about your spouse. If you are not a poet, choose a card that expresses how you feel. Underline special words and add a few of your own at the end. 8. If you find speaking “Words of Affirmation” is difficult for you, practice in front of a mirror. Use a cue card if you must, and remember, words are important. chapter five Love Language #2 QUALITY TIME I should have picked up on Betty Jo’s primary love language from the beginning. What was she saying on that spring night when I visited her and Bill in Little Rock? “Bill is a good provider, but he doesn’t spend any time with me. What good is the house and the recreational vehicle and all the other things if we don’t ever enjoy them together?” What was her desire? Quality time with Bill. She wanted his attention. She wanted him to focus on her, to give her time, to do things with her. By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. When you spend time that way, ABC or NBC has your attention—not your spouse. What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking. Have you ever noticed that in a restaurant, you can almost always tell the difference between a dating couple and a married couple? Dating couples look at each other and talk. Married couples sit there and gaze around the restaurant. You’d think they went there to eat! When I sit on the couch with my wife and give her twenty minutes of my undivided attention and she does the same for me, we are giving each other twenty minutes of life. We will never have those twenty minutes again; we are giving our lives to each other. It is a powerful emotional communicator of love. One medicine cannot cure all diseases. In my advice to Bill and Betty Jo, I made a serious mistake. I assumed that words of affirmation would mean as much to Betty Jo as they would to Bill. I had hoped that if each of them would give adequate verbal affirmation, the emotional climate would change, and both of them would begin to feel loved. It worked for Bill. He began to feel more positive about Betty Jo. He began to sense genuine appreciation for his hard work, but it had not worked as well for Betty Jo, for words of affirmation were not her primary love language. Her language was quality time. I got back on the phone and thanked Bill for his efforts in the past two months. I told him that he had done a good job of verbally affirming Betty Jo and that she had heard his affirmations. “But, Dr. Chapman,” he said, “she is still not very happy. I don’t think things are much better for her.” “You are right,” I said, “and I think I know why. The problem is that I suggested the wrong love language.” Bill hadn’t the foggiest idea what I meant. I explained that what makes one person feel loved emotionally is not always the thing that makes another person feel loved emotionally. He agreed that his language was words of affirmation. He told me how much that had meant to him as a boy and how good he felt when Betty Jo expressed appreciation for the things he did. I explained that Betty Jo’s language was not words of affirmation but quality time. I explained the concept of giving someone your undivided attention, not talking to her while you read the newspaper or watch television but looking into her eyes, giving her your full attention, doing something with her that she enjoys doing and doing it wholeheartedly. “Like going to the symphony with her,” he said. I could tell the lights were coming on in Little Rock. “Dr. Chapman, that is what she has always complained about. I didn’t do things with her, I didn’t spend any time with her. ‘We used to go places and do things before we were married,’ she said, ‘but now, you’re too busy.’ That’s her love language all right; no question about it. But, Dr. Chapman, what am I gonna do? My job is so demanding.” “Tell me about it,” I said. For the next ten minutes, he gave me the history of his climb up the organizational ladder, of how hard he had worked, and how proud he was of his accomplishments. He told me of his dreams for the future and that he knew that within the next five years, he would be where he wanted to be. “Do you want to be there alone, or do you want to be there with Betty Jo and the children?” I asked. “I want her to be with me, Dr. Chapman. I want her to enjoy it with me. That’s why it always hurts so much when she criticizes me for spending time on the job. I am doing it for us. I wanted her to be a part of it, but she is always so negative.” “Are you beginning to see why she was so negative, Bill?” I asked. “Her love language is quality time. You have given her so little time that her love tank is empty. She doesn’t feel secure in your love. Therefore she has lashed out at what was taking your time in her mind—your job. She doesn’t really hate your job. She hates the fact that she feels so little love coming from you. There’s only one answer, Bill, and it’s costly. You have to make time for Betty Jo. You have to love her in the right love language.” “I know you are right, Dr. Chapman. Where do I begin?” “Do you have your legal pad handy? The one on which we made the list of the positive things about Betty Jo?” “It’s right here.” “Good. We’re going to make another list. What are some things that you know Betty Jo would like you to do with her? Things she has mentioned through the years.” Here is Bill’s list: Take our RV and spend a weekend in the mountains (sometimes with the children and sometimes just the two of us). Meet her for lunch (at a nice restaurant or sometimes even at McDonald’s). Get a baby-sitter and take her out to dinner, just the two of us. When I come home at night, sit down and talk with her about my day and listen as she tells me about her day. (She doesn’t want me to watch TV while we are trying to talk.) Spend time talking with the children about their school experiences. Spend time playing games with the children. Go on a picnic with her and the children on Saturday and don’t complain about the ants and the flies. Take a vacation with the family at least once a year. Go walking with her and talk as we walk. (Don’t walk ahead of her.) “Those are the things she has talked about through the years,” he said. “You know what I am going to suggest, don’t you, Bill?” “Do them,” he said. “That’s right, one a week for the next two months. Where will you find the time? You will make it. You are a wise man,” I continued. “You would not be where you are if you were not a good decision maker. You have the ability to plan your life and to include Betty Jo in your plans.” “I know,” he said, “I can do it.” “And, Bill, this does not have to diminish your vocational goals. It just means that when you get to the top, Betty Jo and the children will be with you.” A central aspect of quality time is togetherness. I do not mean proximity…. Togetherness has to do with focused attention. “That’s what I want more than anything. Whether I am at the top or not, I want her to be happy, and I want to enjoy life with her and the children.” The years have come and gone. Bill and Betty Jo have gone to the top and back, but the important thing is that they have done it together. The children have left the nest, and Bill and Betty Jo agree that these are their best years ever. Bill has become an avid symphony fan, and Betty Jo has made an unending list in her legal pad of things she appreciates about Bill. He never tires of hearing them. He has now started his own company and is near the top again. His job is no longer a threat to Betty Jo. She is excited about it and encourages him. She knows that she is number one in his life. Her love tank is full, and if it begins to get empty, she knows that a simple request on her part will get her Bill’s undivided attention. TOGETHERNESS A central aspect of quality time is togetherness. I do not mean proximity. Two people sitting in the same room are in close proximity, but they are not necessarily together. Togetherness has to do with focused attention. When a father is sitting on the floor, rolling a ball to his two-year-old, his attention is not focused on the ball but on his child. For that brief moment, however long it lasts, they are together. If, however, the father is talking on the phone while he rolls the ball, his attention is diluted. Some husbands and wives think they are spending time together when, in reality, they are only living in close proximity. They are in the same house at the same time, but they are not together. A husband who is watching sports on television while he talks to his wife is not giving her quality time, because she does not have his full attention. Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person. The activity in which we are both engaged is incidental. The important thing emotionally is that we are spending focused time with each other. The activity is a vehicle that creates the sense of togetherness. The important thing about the father rolling the ball to the two-year-old is not the activity itself, but the emotions that are created between the father and his child. Similarly, a husband and wife playing tennis together, if it is genuine quality time, will focus not on the game but on the fact that they are spending time together. What happens on the emotional level is what matters. Our spending time together in a common pursuit communicates that we care about each other, that we enjoy being with each other, that we like to do things together. QUALITY CONVERSATION Like words of affirmation, the language of quality time also has many dialects. One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, I mean sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. Most individuals who complain that their spouse does not talk do not mean literally that he or she never says a word. They mean that he or she seldom takes part in sympathetic dialogue. If your spouse’s primary love language is quality time, such dialogue is crucial to his or her emotional sense of being loved. Quality conversation is quite different from the first love language. Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying, whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing. If I am sharing my love for you by means of quality time and we are going to spend that time in conversation, it means I will focus on drawing you out, listening sympathetically to what you have to say. I will ask questions, not in a badgering manner but with a genuine desire to understand your thoughts, feelings, and desires. I met Patrick when he was forty-three and had been married for seventeen years. I remember him because his first words were so dramatic. He sat in the leather chair in my office and after briefly introducing himself, he leaned forward and said with great emotion, “Dr. Chapman, I have been a fool, a real fool.” “What has led you to that conclusion?” I asked. “I’ve been married for seventeen years,” he said, “and my wife has left me. Now I realize what a fool I’ve been.” I repeated my original question, “In what way have you been a fool?” “My wife would come home from work and tell me about the problems in her office. I would listen to her and then tell her what I thought she should do. I always gave her advice. I told her she had to confront the problem. ‘Problems don’t go away. You have to talk with the people involved or your supervisor. You have to deal with problems.’ The next day she would come home from work and tell me about the same problems. I would ask her if she did what I had suggested the day before. She would shake her head and say no. So I’d repeat my advice. I told her that was the way to deal with the situation. She would come home the next day and tell me about the same problems. Again I would ask her if she had done what I had suggested. She would shake her head and say no. “After three or four nights of that, I would get angry. I would tell her not to expect any sympathy from me if she wasn’t willing to take the advice I was giving her. She didn’t have to live under that kind of stress and pressure. She could solve the problem if she would simply do what I told her. It hurt me to see her living under such stress because I knew she didn’t have to. The next time she’d bring up the problem, I would say, ‘I don’t want to hear about it. I’ve told you what you need to do. If you’re not going to listen to my advice, I don’t want to hear it.’ Many of us…are trained to analyze problems and create solutions. We forget that marriage is a relationship, not a project to be completed or a problem to solve. “I would withdraw and go about my business. What a fool I was,” he said, “what a fool! Now I realize that she didn’t want advice when she told me about her struggles at work. She wanted sympathy. She wanted me to listen, to give her attention, to let her know that I could understand the hurt, the stress, the pressure. She wanted to know that I loved her and that I was with her. She didn’t want advice; she just wanted to know that I understood. But I never tried to understand. I was too busy giving advice. What a fool. And now she is gone. Why can’t you see these things when you are going through them?” he asked. “I was blind to what was going on. Only now do I understand how I failed her.” Patrick’s wife had been pleading for quality conversation. Emotionally, she longed for him to focus attention on her by listening to her pain and frustration. Patrick was not focusing on listening but on speaking. He listened only long enough to hear the problem and formulate a solution. He didn’t listen long enough or well enough to hear her cry for support and understanding. Many of us are like Patrick. We are trained to analyze problems and create solutions. We forget that marriage is a relationship, not a project to be completed or a problem to solve. A relationship calls for sympathetic listening with a view to understanding the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. We must be willing to give advice but only when it is requested and never in a condescending manner. Most of us have little training in listening. We are far more efficient in thinking and speaking. Learning to listen may be as difficult as learning a foreign language, but learn we must, if we want to communicate love. That is especially true if your spouse’s primary love language is quality time and his or her dialect is quality conversation. Fortunately, numerous books and articles have been written on developing the art of listening. I will not seek to repeat what is written elsewhere but suggest the following summary of practical tips. 1. Maintain eye contact when your spouse is talking. That keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that he/she has your full attention. 2. Don’t listen to your spouse and do something else at the same time. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention. If you are watching, reading, or doing something else in which you are keenly interested and cannot turn from immediately, tell your spouse the truth. A positive approach might be, “I know you are trying to talk to me and I’m interested, but I want to give you my full attention. I can’t do that right now, but if you will give me ten minutes to finish this, I’ll sit down and listen to you.” Most spouses will respect such a request. 3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, “It sounds to me like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot __________.” That gives him the chance to clarify his feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what he is saying. 4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement may give you clues as to what the other is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what she is really thinking and feeling. 5. Refuse to interrupt. Recent research has indicated that the average individual listens for only seventeen seconds before interrupting and interjecting his own ideas. If I give you my undivided attention while you are talking, I will refrain from defending myself or hurling accusations at you or dogmatically stating my position. My goal is to discover your thoughts and feelings. My objective is not to defend myself or to set you straight. It is to understand you. LEARNING TO TALK Quality conversation requires not only sympathetic listening but also self-revelation. When a wife says, “I wish my husband would talk. I never know what he’s thinking or feeling,” she is pleading for intimacy. She wants to feel close to her husband, but how can she feel close to someone whom she doesn’t know? In order for her to feel loved, he must learn to reveal himself. If her primary love language is quality time and her dialect is quality conversation, her emotional love tank will never be filled until he tells her his thoughts and feelings. If you need to learn the language of quality conversation, begin by noting the emotions you feel away from home. Self-revelation does not come easy for some of us. Many adults grew up in homes where the expression of thoughts and feelings was not encouraged but condemned. To request a toy was to receive a lecture on the sad state of family finances. The child went away feeling guilty for having the desire, and he quickly learned not to express his desires. When he expressed anger, the parents responded with harsh and condemning words. Thus, the child learned that expressing angry feelings is not appropriate. If the child was made to feel guilty for expressing disappointment at not being able to go to the store with his father, he learned to hold his disappointment inside. By the time we reach adulthood, many of us have learned to deny our feelings. We are no longer in touch with our emotional selves. A wife says to her husband, “How did you feel about what Don did?” And the husband responds, “I think he was wrong. He should have—” but he is not telling her his feelings. He is voicing his thoughts. Perhaps he has reason to feel angry, hurt, or disappointed, but he has lived so long in the world of thought that he does not acknowledge his feelings. When he decides to learn the language of quality conversation, it will be like learning a foreign language. The place to begin is by getting in touch with his feelings, becoming aware that he is an emotional creature in spite of the fact that he has denied that part of his life. If you need to learn the language of quality conversation, begin by noting the emotions you feel away from home. Carry a small notepad and keep it with you daily. Three times each day, ask yourself, “What emotions have I felt in the last three hours? What did I feel on the way to work when the driver behind me was riding my bumper? What did I feel when I stopped at the gas station and the automatic pump did not shut off and the side of the car was covered with gas? What did I feel when I got to the office and found that my secretary had been assigned to a special work project for the morning? What did I feel when my supervisor told me that the project I was working on had to be completed in three days when I thought I had another two weeks?” Write down your feelings in the notepad and a word or two to help you remember the event corresponding to the feeling. Your list may look like this: EVENT FEELINGS • tailgater • angry • gas station • very upset • no secretary • disappointed • work project due in three days • frustrated and anxious Do that exercise three times a day, and you will develop an awareness of your emotional nature. Using your notepad, communicate your emotions and the events briefly with your spouse as many days as possible. In a few weeks, you will become comfortable expressing your emotions with him or her. And eventually you will feel comfortable discussing your emotions toward your spouse, the children, and events that occur within the home. Remember, emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. They are simply our psychological responses to the events of life. Based on our thoughts and emotions, we eventually make decisions. When the tailgater was following you on the highway and you felt angry, perhaps you had these thoughts: I wish he would lay off; I wish he would pass me; if I thought I wouldn’t get caught, I’d press the accelerator and leave him in the twilight; I should slam on my brakes and let his insurance company buy me a new car; maybe I’ll pull off the road and let him pass. Eventually, you made some decision or the other driver backed off, turned, or passed you, and you arrived safely at work. In each of life’s events, we have emotions, thoughts, desires, and eventually actions. It is the expression of that process that we call self-revelation. If you choose to learn the love dialect of quality conversation, that is the learning road you must follow. PERSONALITY TYPES Not all of us are out of touch with our emotions, but when it comes to talking, all of us are affected by our personality. I have observed two basic personality types. The first I call the “Dead Sea.” In the little nation of Israel, the Sea of Galilee flows south by way of the Jordan River into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea goes nowhere. It receives but it does not give. This personality type receives many experiences, emotions, and thoughts throughout the day. They have a large reservoir where they store that information, and they are perfectly happy not to talk. If you say to a Dead Sea personality, “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you talking tonight?” he will probably answer, “Nothing’s wrong. What makes you think something’s wrong?” And that response is perfectly honest. He is content not to talk. He could drive from Chicago to Detroit and never say a word and be perfectly happy. On the other extreme is the “Babbling Brook.” For this personality, whatever enters into the eye gate or the ear gate comes out the mouth gate and there are seldom sixty seconds between the two. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. In fact if no one is at home to talk to, they will call someone else. “Do you know what I saw? Do you know what I heard?” If they can’t get someone on the telephone, they may talk to themselves because they have no reservoir. Many times a Dead Sea marries a Babbling Brook. That happens because when they are dating, it is a very attractive match. One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them. If you are a Dead Sea and you date a Babbling Brook, you will have a wonderful evening. You don’t have to think, “How will I get the conversation started tonight? How will I keep the conversation flowing?” In fact, you don’t have to think at all. All you have to do is nod your head and say, “Uh-huh,” and she will fill up the whole evening and you will go home saying, “What a wonderful person.” On the other hand, if you are a Babbling Brook and you date a Dead Sea, you will have an equally wonderful evening because Dead Seas are the world’s best listeners. You will babble for three hours. He will listen intently to you, and you will go home saying, “What a wonderful person.” You attract each other. But five years after marriage, the Babbling Brook wakes up one morning and says, “We’ve been married five years, and I don’t know him.” The Dead Sea is saying, “I know her too well. I wish she would stop the flow and give me a break.” The good news is that Dead Seas can learn to talk and Babbling Brooks can learn to listen. We are influenced by our personality but not controlled by it. One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them. I call that the “Minimum Daily Requirement” for a healthy marriage. If you will start with the daily minimum, in a few weeks or months you may find quality conversation flowing more freely between you. QUALITY ACTIVITIES In addition to the basic love language of quality time, or giving your spouse your undivided attention, is another dialect called quality activities. At a recent marriage seminar, I asked couples to complete the following sentence: “I feel most loved by my husband/ wife when _______.” Here is the response of a twenty-nine-year-old husband who has been married for eight years: “I feel most loved by my wife when we do things together, things I like to do and things she likes to do. We talk more. It sorta feels like we are dating again.” That is a typical response of individuals whose primary love language is quality time. The emphasis is on being together, doing things together, giving each other undivided attention. Quality activities may include anything in which one or both of you have an interest. The emphasis is not on what you are doing but on why you are doing it. The purpose is to experience something together, to walk away from it feeling “He cares about me. He was willing to do something with me that I enjoy, and he did it with a positive attitude.” That is love, and for some people it is love’s loudest voice. Tracie grew up with the symphony. Throughout her childhood, the house was filled with classical music. At least once a year, she accompanied her parents to the symphony. Larry, on the other hand, grew up on country and western music. He never actually attended a concert, but the radio was always on, tuned to the country station. The symphony he called elevator music. Had he not married Tracie, he could have lived his life without ever attending the symphony. Before they were married, while he was still in the obsessed state of being in love, he went to the symphony. But even in his euphoric emotional state, his attitude was, “You call this stuff music?” After marriage, that was one experience he never expected to repeat. When, however, he discovered several years later that quality time was Tracie’s primary love language and that she especially liked the dialect of quality activities and that attending the symphony was one of those activities, he chose to go with an enthusiastic spirit. His purpose was clear. It was not to attend the symphony but to love Tracie and to speak her language loudly. In time, he did come to appreciate the symphony and even occasionally to enjoy a movement or two. He may never become a symphony lover, but he has become proficient at loving Tracie. Quality activities may include such activities as putting in a garden, visiting flea markets, shopping for antiques, listening to music, picnicking together, taking long walks, or washing the car together on a hot summer day. The activities are limited only by your interest and willingness to try new experiences. The essential ingredients in a quality activity are: (1) at least one of you wants to do it, (2) the other is willing to do it, (3) both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together. One of the by-products of quality activities is that they provide a memory bank from which to draw in the years ahead. Fortunate is the couple who remembers an early morning stroll along the coast, the spring they planted the flower garden, the time they got poison ivy chasing the rabbit through the woods, the night they attended their first major league baseball game together, the one and only time they went skiing together and he broke his leg, the amusement parks, the concerts, the cathedrals, and oh, yes, the awe of standing beneath the waterfall after the two-mile hike. They can almost feel the mist as they remember. Those are memories of love, especially for the person whose primary love language is quality time. And where do we find time for such activities, especially if both of us have vocations outside the home? We make time just as we make time for lunch and dinner. Why? Because it is just as essential to our marriage as meals are to our health. Is it difficult? Does it take careful planning? Yes. Does it mean we have to give up some individual activities? Perhaps. Does it mean we do some things we don’t particularly enjoy? Certainly. Is it worth it? Without a doubt. What’s in it for me? The pleasure of living with a spouse who feels loved and knowing that I have learned to speak his or her love language fluently. A personal word of thanks to Bill and Betty Jo in Little Rock, who taught me the value of love language number one, Words of Affirmation, and love language number two, Quality Time. Now, it’s on to Chicago and love language number three. If your spouse’s love language is Quality Time: 1. Take a walk together through the old neighborhood where one of you grew up. Ask questions about your spouse’s childhood. Ask, “What are the fun memories of your childhood?” Then, “What was most painful about your childhood?” 2. Go to the city park and rent bicycles. Ride until you are tired, then sit and watch the ducks. When you get tired of the quacks, roll on to the rose garden. Learn each other’s favorite color of rose and why. (If the bikes are too much, take turns pulling each other in a little red wagon.) 3. In the spring or summer make a luncheon appointment with your spouse. Meet him and drive to the local cemetery. Spread your tablecloth and eat your sandwiches and thank God that you are still alive. Share with each other one thing you would like to do before you die. 4. Ask your spouse for a list of five activities that he would enjoy doing with you. Make plans to do one of them each month for the next five months. If money is a problem, space the freebies between the “we can’t afford this” events. 5. Ask your spouse where she most enjoys sitting when talking with you. The next week, call her one afternoon and say, “I want to make a date with you one evening this week to sit on the yellow sofa and talk. Which night and what time would be best for you?” (Don’t say “yellow sofa” if her favorite place is in the Jacuzzi!) 6. Think of an activity your spouse enjoys, but which brings little pleasure to you: football, symphony, jazz concert, or TV sleeping. Tell your spouse that you are trying to broaden your horizons and would like to join her in this activity sometime this month. Set a date and give it your best effort. Ask questions about the activity at break times. 7. Plan a weekend getaway just for the two of you sometime within the next six months. Be sure it is a weekend when you won’t have to call the office or turn on th