The 5 Love Languages summary
The 5 Love Languages shows that most couples expect love to last forever. When it doesn’t, they don’t know what to do. Keeping love alive requires communicating in your partner’s primary love language, which fosters intimacy and feelings of well-being from which sex naturally arises.
The 5 Love Languages notes & quotes
Here are my notes and quotes on The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. My notes are casual and include what I believe are the essential concepts, ideas, and insights from the book, along with direct quotes from the author.
What Happens to Love After the Wedding?
- With all the resources available, why have so few couples figured out how to keep love alive?
- For those who don’t divorce, do they learn to live with emptiness, or does the love ever return?
- The idea of romantic love is deeply embedded in our psyche.
The problem is that couples speak a different language—they don’t know each other’s love language.
- What makes you feel loved may not be the same for your partner.
Keeping the Love Tank Full
- Love is perhaps our greatest need, yet few of us understand what it means and how to communicate it.
- A child needs love and affection for their well-being just as adults do.
“Isolation is devastating to the human psyche.”
- When a child is loved, they develop normally but misbehave if they don’t receive love. Sound familiar?
- “At the heart of humankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another.”
- Is it possible that humans have an invisible love tank that requires regular fill-ups?
Falling In Love
- When we get married, we tend to think: “We are going to make each other supremely happy. Other couples may argue and fight, but not us. We love each other.”
- Our culture leads us to believe that if we’re really in love, our love will last forever.
- Being “in-love” gives us the illusion that our relationship is intimate.
- But perhaps the in-love experience is more about serving the universe's needs than keeping couples together.
- When couples “fall out of love,” they tend to withdraw, separate, divorce, set off in search of a new in-love experience, or “begin the hard work of learning to love each other without the euphoria of the in-love obsession.”
- Many couples think there are only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery or leave and seek love elsewhere.
- There’s a third and better alternative: See the in-love experience for what it is—a temporary emotional high—and begin developing a relationship based on “real love,” a love that unites reason and emotion.
- “I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving.”
- True love can only begin once the in-love experience has run its course.
- Feeling secure in our relationship comes when our partner accepts us, wants us, and is committed to our well-being.
Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation
- Many couples are unaware of the power of verbally affirming one another.
- Words of appreciation communicate love powerfully.
- “They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as:”
- “You look sharp in that suit.”
- “Do you ever look hot in that dress! Wow!”
- “I love how you are so responsible. I feel like I can count on you.”
- Verbal compliments are motivating; nagging words are demotivating.
- The purpose of love is “doing something for the well-being of the one you love.”
- “Life’s deepest meaning is found not in accomplishments but in relationships.”
- Most of us have more potential than will be developed. Courage often holds us back. Love from a spouse can be the catalyst.
- Partners respond to tone more than words.
- “Forgiveness is the way of love.”
- If I demand behavior and love from my partner, I establish a parent-child relationship.
- Requesting something from your spouse affirms their worth and abilities.
William James believed appreciation is perhaps the most profound need of humans.
Love Language #2: Quality Time
- Spending time with our partner is a powerful way to communicate love.
- Focused attention without distraction is at the heart of quality time and is a powerful way to communicate love.
- What you do with your partner is incidental; the critical thing is that you are attentive to one another.
- One type of quality time is quality conversation.
- “Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying, whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.”
- A relationship is not a project or a problem to be solved. Instead, listen empathically to understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires.
- Five tips for effective communication:
- Maintain eye contact
- Don’t listen to your spouse and do something else simultaneously.
- Listen for feelings.
- Observe body language.
- Refuse to interrupt.
- By adulthood, many of us have lost touch with our feelings and emotional selves.
- To learn what you’re feeling, carry around a notebook and jot down what you are doing every few hours or so and what are the associated feelings. For example: “tailgater” > “angry.”
- Establish a daily sharing time in which you take turns sharing three things that happened that day and how you felt about it, what the author calls the “Minimum
- Daily Requirement” for a healthy marriage.
- Remember, emotions are neither good nor bad; they are.
- There seem to be two types of personalities: those who love to talk and those who don’t.
- The good news is that talkers can learn to listen, and listeners can learn to talk.
- The purpose of quality time is to share an experience and walk away feeling that
- “He cares about me. He was willing to do something with me that I enjoy, and he did it with a positive attitude.”
- Essential ingredients of quality time:
- At least one of you wants to do it
- The other is willing to do it
- Both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together
- One of the additional benefits of quality time is that they create a memory bank from which to draw for years to come.
Love Language #3: Receiving Gifts
- Every culture across the globe shares gift-giving.
- “Gifts are visual symbols of love.”
- “A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or “She remembered me.”
- Cost doesn’t matter; what matters is that you thought of him.
- Gifts can be bought, found, or made.
- There are two kinds of people: Those who feel good when they’re saving money and those who feel good when they’re spending money.
- The gift of self, or presence, is perhaps the best.
- For those whose primary, love language is receiving gifts, being there in a time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give
- If the physical presence of your partner is essential to you, be sure to tell your partner. Don’t expect him to read your mind.
- Giving is at the heart of love.
Love Language #4: Acts of Service
- Acts of service means “doing things you know your spouse would like you to do.”
- Activity: write down three things you would want your partner to do for you and share them with your partner. At the end of two months, feel free to add additional requests, but no more than once per month.
- "What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage.”
- "Love is a choice.”
- We tend to criticize our partner most in the area where we have the most profound emotional need. Our criticism is an ineffective way of getting our emotional needs met.
- Allowing ourselves to be manipulated is not love but teaches the other person inhumane habits.
- "Learning the primary love language of your spouse and choosing to speak it makes a tremendous difference in the emotional climate of a marriage.”
Love Language #5: Physical Touch
- Physical touch [the right kind] communicates emotional love.
- Examples of emotional love communicated through touch: holding hands, kissing, embracing, sexual intercourse, running the hand through the hair, and giving a back rub.
- Ask her if you don't know where your partner likes to be touched.
In a time of crisis, we tend to hug one another instinctively.
- What matters is not how fast you learn your partner’s love language but how well you learn it.
Discovering Your Primary Love Language
- Discovering your partner's love language is vital for keeping love alive in your relationship.
- Men make a common mistake: thinking physical touch is their primary language since they love sex so much.
- For men, sexual desire comes from a buildup of sperm cells and seminal fluid in the seminal vesicles. For women, sexual desire is far more influenced by their emotions.
- When a woman feels loved, admired, and appreciated, she's more likely to want sex.
- When each person regularly speaks their partner’s primary love language, sex takes care of itself.
- Answering the following questions can help you uncover your primary love language:
- “What does your spouse do or say or fail to do or say that hurts you deeply?”
- For example, “If your deepest hurt is that your spouse seldom gives your quality time, then that is your primary love language.”
- “What do I most often request of my spouse?”
- Whatever you request most from your partner may indicate what you long for yourself.
- “What way do you regularly express love to your spouse?”
- Practice: Take turns writing down what you think your spouse’s primary and secondary love languages are and then sharing them.
- Practice: Ask your partner, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how full is your love tank?” Then ask, "What can I do to help fill it?”
Love Is a Choice
- When we express love in our partner’s primary love language, we create an emotional climate that makes it easier to deal with past conflicts and failures.
- Emotional contentment lets us give our creative energies to wholesome projects outside the relationship while keeping our partnership exciting and growing.
- Men rarely leave a relationship until they’ve found someone outside the relationship to fulfill their emotional needs.
- "Our actions precede our emotions.”
- In addition to love, psychologists note that we also need security, self-worth, and significance.
- "The need for significance is the emotional force behind much of our behavior.”
- When our emotional needs are met, we are freed to develop our potential and turn our efforts outward instead of being obsessed with our own needs.
Loving the Unlovely
- Anger held inside becomes hate.
- Lack of love is perhaps our deepest emotional pain.
- When our partner is difficult, try this practice and say: “I've been thinking about us, and I've decided I would like to be a better partner to you. So if you have any suggestions as to how I could be a better partner, I want you to know I am open to them. You can tell me now or think about it and let me know, but I would really like to work on being a better partner.”
- Whatever the response, negative or positive, accept it as information.
A Personal Word
- “I am convinced that no single area of marriage affects the rest of marriage as much as meeting the emotional need for love.”
What are love languages?
- Love languages are how we receive the love that makes us feel most loved. Each of us tends to have a primary and secondary love language. If words of affirmation is my primary love language, then I feel loved most strongly when my partner shares what she appreciates about my actions or who I am. If she says, “I appreciate you driving the kids to school today, so I could go to my dentist appointment,” I feel seen and acknowledged.
What are the five love languages?
- Love language #1: Words of Affirmation
- Love Language #2: Quality Time
- Love Language #3: Receiving Gifts
- Love Language #4: Acts of Service
- Love Language #5: Physical Touch
1. What if I cannot discover my primary love language?
- Notice how you most often express love to others.
- What do you complain about most often?
- What do you request most often from your partner?
2. What if I cannot discover my spouse's love language?
- How does he most often express love to others?
- What does he complain about most often?
- What does he request most often?
3. Does your love language change as you get older?
- Our primary love language tends to stay steady over our lifetime. However, certain circumstances may trigger our need for other forms of love. For example, if a parent passes away, it can be significant to be held at that moment, even if physical touch is not our primary love language.
4. Does the five love language concept work with children?
- Children have love tanks just like adults. When their tank is regularly filled, they grow up with internal well-being. But if their love tank is empty and they don't feel loved, they will grow up with internal struggles. Learning all five love languages is vital for children. Resource: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
5. Do children's love languages change when they get to be teenagers?
- A child's primary love language doesn't necessarily change. However, how you communicate their primary love language can change, so learning how to express love to teens can be helpful. The Five Love Languages of Teenagers may be a valuable resource.
6. What is the primary love language of your spouse is difficult for you?
- If you’re having difficulty with your partner's love language, don't worry, all five love languages can be learned with practice. The most important thing is that you take action and do your best. As with all learning, small steps make for significant gains.
7. Are some of the love languages found more among women and others with men?
- “It may be true that more men have physical touch and words of affirmation as their love language and more women have quality time and gifts. But I don't know if that is true.”
8. How did you discover the five love languages?
- As I counseled couples, I kept detailed notes. A pattern emerged that suggested different people receive love in different ways. So I started experimenting, and it worked. So I began prescribing practicing the love languages to my patients, and the love languages worked for them too.
9. Do the love languages work in other cultures?
- Absolutely. The book has become a bestseller for the publisher in almost every culture. However, the dialects may change from one culture to the next. For example, the kind of touch that may be appropriate in one culture may not be right in another.
10. Why do you think The 5 Love Languages has been so successful?
- “I believe that our deepest emotional need is the need to feel loved.” When we feel loved by our partner, we feel fantastic, and life is beautiful. But if we’re ignored, we feel rejected, hurt, and our mood darkens. The five love languages help us cultivate love for the life of our relationship.
11. What if I speak my spouse’s love language and they don't respond?
- Most likely, you are speaking the wrong love language—review question two. However your spouse responds, if you love them in their language, you will be satisfied knowing you did everything possible to restore your relationship.
12. Love you be born after sexual infidelity?
- Sexual unfaithfulness devastates marital intimacy more than anything else. However, that doesn't mean the relationship is over. Many couples have healed after sexual infidelity. First, the unfaithful partner must be willing to explore themselves to understand what led to the affair. Second, a couple must be ready to look honestly at their relationship and be open to changing destructive patterns. Third, individual and couples therapy will likely be helpful.
13. What do you do when a spouse refuses to speak your love language even when they know it?
- Love is a choice that cannot be demanded. It can only be requested. Our partner may not have learned your love language in their family of origin. The second reason is that they may think giving your words of affirmation, for example, will make you complacent.
14. Can emotional love return when it has been gone for 30 years?
- Many couples have rekindled their love for one another simply by learning their partner's love language and committing to practicing it.
15. I'm single. How does the love language concept apply to me?
- The love languages don't apply only to intimate relationships. Many people have said how much the book has helped with their relationships. For additional learning, see The Five Love Languages Singles Edition.
Here is a list of resources, including authors, books, websites, podcasts, and concepts mentioned in The 5 Love Languages, which might be helpful for further learning.
- Ross Campbell, psychiatrist
- Judson Swihart, psychiatrist
- William James
Books and Publications
The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman
The Five Love Languages Singles Edition by Gary Chapman