Over 25 years ago, a book called "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" made its debut. It sold about 8,000 copies that first year. Today, the book has sold more than 11 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages.

Through experiences in his own marriage and years of counseling others, author and Winston-Salem-based pastor Gary Chapman discovered that there are five ways that people receive love.

WFDD's Bethany Chafin spoke with Chapman about why his ideas continue to resonate with so many people. 

Interview Highlights

On the five love languages:

One of them is words of affirmation, using words to affirm the other person. 'You look nice in that outfit. Really appreciate what you did. One of the things I really like about you is...'

A second love language is gifts. It's universal to give gifts, and the gift says 'they were thinking about me.' It doesn't have to be an expensive gift. We've always said it's the thought that counts.

Third one would be quality time - giving the person your undivided attention...I'm talking about sitting on the couch looking at each other talking and carrying on a conversation or taking a walk down the road and talking or going out to eat, assuming that you talk.

And then there's acts of service - doing something for the other person that you know they would like for you to do. In a marriage that would be such things as cooking meals, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, washing cars, walking dogs, you know, cleaning the toilet - anything that you know the other person would like for you to do. I remember the old saying, 'actions speak louder than words.'

And number five is physical touch. We've long known the emotional power of physical touch in a marriage. This would be such things as holding hands, kissing, embracing, the whole sexual part of marriage. The basic concept is that we all have a primary love language. One of the five speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other four we can receive love in all five languages.

On whether we speak the same love language as the one we wish to receive:

For about 75 percent of people, the language they speak most often is the one they want to receive.

On how love languages work in relationships outside of marriage:

Well, I think they work in all human relationships. I think most of us agree that the most fundamental emotional need we have as humans is the need to feel loved by the significant people in our lives. So whoever those people are, whether it's a parent-child relationship, marriage relationship or a friendship, when we feel loved by the other individual then we process life together. We are drawn together. We we have a sense of friendship or a bond to that person. But when we don't feel loved then our differences will get bigger. Our conflicts will get more harsh and before long we kind of drop that relationship. So yeah, I think it applies in all human relationships.

Some people might describe love as a messy, complicated thing. Do you ever get individuals who say to you, 'there's no way that we can distill this down into five of anything, no matter how nuanced'? 

I've never heard anybody say that directly to me. I'm sure people have thought that. I am fully willing to admit that this is not the complete answer to a long-term healthy marriage. This is one aspect, but I do believe it's fundamental. I typically say there are two essentials, I think, to long-term healthy marriage relationships or any relationship. One is that the individuals feel loved by each other and that's what the love language addresses. The other is we have to deal effectively with our failures, and that means learning how to apologize and how to forgive.

Love is essentially a choice. It's a choice to look out for the other person's interest, and when you find out what makes them feel loved, you choose to do it. And what the love language does, it gives you information on how best to express love If you choose to do so.

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.