Dr. Gary Chapman's "The Five Love Languages," remains one of the most popular marriage books nearly ten years after its release, having sold an upwards of ten million copies and the no. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list.
The book has been praised by Christians and non-Christians alike for its thoughtful, unique approach to marriage and "remarkably intuitive sense of human feeling." Since its 1995 release, "The Five Love Languages" has sold an upwards of seven million copies and landed the no. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list multiple times.
But for Dr. Chapman, radio host and pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the book is the heartfelt "result of successes and failures" he and his wife, Karolyn, experienced throughout their marriage, combined with lessons he'd learned as marriage counselor.
"During my early years of counseling it was obvious to me that couples were missing each other when one would say, 'I feel like he/she doesn't love me.' And the other would say, I don't know what else to do, I try to show her that I love her'" Dr. Chapman explained. "I heard this pattern over and over again. So, I went through 12 years of notes that I had made when counseling couples and asked the question: When someone said, I feel like my spouse doesn't love me, what did they want? What were they complaining about? Their answers fell into 5 categories. I later called them the 5 love languages."
These categories, Dr. Chapman asserts, are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.
Understanding your spouse's love language, the book argues, is the first step to connecting. "Seldom do a husband and wife speak the same love language," Dr. Chapman says. "We naturally speak our own love language. But if your love language is different from your spouse's love language, you're missing them. You may be sincere, but you're not really touching their heart."
After learning your spouse's love language, the next step is to begin using it--which, he acknowledges, may be difficult at first.
"If you grew up in a home where affirming words were seldom spoken, it may be hard to speak words of affirmation," Dr. Chapman says. The same principle applies to the language of physical touch if you grew up without a lot of hugs and hand-holding or to the language of receiving gifts if you're especially frugal."
The more these tools are practiced, the more natural they become. Although ideally both partners will work to understand each other's love languages, Dr. Chapman emphasizes that may not always be in the case. However, he argues that it is still important to speak your spouse's language--even if it isn't reciprocated.
"Love is the choice to reach out to the other person no matter how they reciprocate," he says. "You may even want to ask your spouse, 'On a scale of one to 10, how much love do you feel from me?' Then ask, 'What can I do to make it a 10?' Before long they may ask you the same question," Chapman says. "Love is a way of life. Love is a part of who you are so that when a person encounters you, they're going to feel love. The reality is many times people may reciprocate, but that is not the objective. The objective is to enhance others' lives."
Since the massive success of his first marriage book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his "Five Love Language" series with special editions that reach out specifically to singles, men and parents of young teens and children. He has also released a special, new-and-improved edition of his original bestseller to better reflect the particular challenges couples face in today's world.
"I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday," Dr. Chapman encourages couples.
"Don't let your past take your future captive. Let it go and make this new year . . . a new year!"