In 2011 my wife, Leanne, and I began marriage counselling and this book was recommended to us as something we should read. I had thought it was going to be like the standard relationship books that tell you about what you’ve been doing wrong and how to be more attentive to your partner’s needs, but I was wrong. Every chapter contained an “Aha!” moment showing me that many of the things I’d ever expected in relationships, married or otherwise, had been incorrect.
The book in question is Dr Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages: How To Express Heartfelt Commitment To Your Mate, and it is truly remarkable. Not only is it an easy read, it also includes real examples of people and their relationships, which makes it relevant and relatable.
To be completely frank, I was left feeling angry upon reading it because I felt that all couples should have this kind of information from the start. That’s what led me to begin buying it for engaged couples and for those who’d marked many a wedding anniversary. I’ve even recommended, given away and purchased it for single people.
The five “love languages” are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and receiving gifts. The basic premise of the book is that people are inclined to give love in the way that they prefer to receive love, and that better communication between couples can happen when each person gives love to the other person in the love language the other “understands”.
One of the quotes from the book that really resonates with me is:
“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”
At times I felt that my wife knew what I needed, but was willingly withholding it from me in some weird controlling way. However, in reality she simply had no idea I felt that way, nor I her.
I gave a copy of this book to the last couple I married and they told me that they read it together on their honeymoon! They say it helped them understand much about each other and even about relationships they’d had in the past that hadn’t gone too well.
Editor’s note: If you would like to share with other readers what faith-related book, including those with theological, spiritual, ministry, Church history or justice themes, you have given away (or referred) the most and why, please email the Editor, Michelle McDonald, and she will let you know what is needed.