SPP: Dr. Chapman for those people who have somehow missed your book, which has done incredibly well, I know you’ve sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. I was hoping you could give us and our listeners just a very brief overview of your book “The 5 Love Languages” and how it came to be.
Dr. Chapman: Well the basic idea of the book is that what makes one person feel loved doesn’t necessarily make another person feel loved doesn’t necessarily make another person feel loved. So we’re talking about how do you affectively love someone on an emotional level? What I discovered was that fundamentally there’s five ways that we express love. So I call them the 5 Love Languages and the idea is that everybody has a primary love language.
One of them speaks more deeply than the other four and if you don’t speak the person’s primary language they likely will not feel loved, even though you’re speaking some of the other languages. The way I came up with the five I’ve been counseling probably for 15 years before I wrote this book I realized I was sharing the stories over and over and over in my counseling office. One of them would say “I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me.” The other spouse would say “I don’t know what. I don’t understand. I do this and this and they don’t feel loved.”
So I knew there was a pattern but I didn’t’ know what it was. So what I did I went through about 12 years of the notes I had made when I was counseling and asked myself, when someone said to me I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me, what did they want? What were they complaining about? What was lacking? The answers fell into five categories and I later called them The 5 Love Languages. So that’s where I came up with the five.
I was not dogmatic that there was only five but now that the book has been out for a number of years and sold so many copies and I’ve had a lot of feedback, I’m more confident that these are five fundamental languages. Somebody did tell me well I think there’s a six language. And I said “What is that?” They said “Chocolate.” I said “Well that could either be a gift or it could be an active service, depending on whether you bought it or made it.” So at any rate, the concept has been helpful to a lot of people in really stimulating emotional love in the relationship.
SPP: Right. As I mentioned given the success, obviously people have really felt that this book has resonated with them. I kind of wanted to follow-up to that and say obviously there’s been a lot of books written about relationships and love over the years and your book have enjoyed the success. What do you think kind of differentiated it from previous ideas that have been out there.
Dr. Chapman: I think there’s a couple of things. One I think because it specifically addresses the issue of emotional love and we all desire to be loved. If you’re married you would most like to be loved by your spouse. In fact, if you feel loved then the world looks bright if you don’t feel loved the world looks dark. So I think it speaks to that fundamental human need. I think that’s one reason.
I think the second reason is the book is practical. I purposely left out the jargon of psychology and just tried to speak in the language of the common person. So I have many people say to me, especially men, “I don’t read books but I read your book and it helped my marriage.” I said “Well good I’m glad. So I think because it’s a simple concept you read it, you get it, you try it, it makes a difference in your relationship, and then you share it with your friends.
I think the success of the book has really been word-of-mouth. One friend shares it with another friend. What’s interesting is that every year since this book was published it sells more than it did the year before, and this has been going on for all these years. So I think it’s the fact that it’s practical, it’s easy to understand, easy to apply, and it speaks to that deep human need that all of us have to be loved.
SPP: Dr. Chapman, can you talk about the in love experience and how it affects people?
Dr. Chapman: Well you know it’s a very exciting experience and I describe it in the book I think it’s where most of us start in our relationships. We have these warm bubbly tingly feelings. I call it the Tingles. It’s really the tingles that motivate people to go out together. They go out and either on the first date they either lose the tingles or it gets tinglier. If they lose the tingles the next time they call for a hamburger they’re not hungry, so that relationship doesn’t get off the ground. But if everything is positive then every time you go out together it feels tinglier and tinglier.
What happens in a moment and after some time is that we begin to think I’ve never felt this way before, this is different. We say to the person “I think I could love you.” We’re kind of testing the waters to see how they’re going to respond. If they give you a positive response such as, “What would be so bad about that?” Then you have a tender evening and it really becomes an obsession. That’s the best way I know to describe it you get obsessed with each other. You can’t get that person off your mind, go to bed thinking about them, wake up thinking about them, all day long you think about them. You want to be with them as much as you can. They are an incredibly wonderful person. In your mind they’re just next to perfect.
Now your mother can see their flaws but you can’t. Your mother will say “Well honey have you considered they haven’t had a steady job in five years.” And you will say “Momma give them a break they’re just waiting for the right opportunity.” But really you get obsessed with they appear to be perfect in your mind and consequently it’s this state, this emotional state that we call falling in love or being in love, that leads people to the point of being willing to make a commitment to each other for a lifetime. The difficulty with it of course is that it’s temporary. Long term study Dorothy Tenant Bridgeport, Connecticut discovered that the average lifespan of the obsession is two years. So most people come down off the high rather soon after they get married, and sometimes people blame marriage. They say “Well you know marriage just kills love.” Well if you would have come down off the high if you hadn’t gotten married. So the reality is while it’s a wonderful experience it is not the foundation for marriage because it’s temporary.
SPP: I really like that explanation because I’ve mentioned this in previous podcasts but I’m kind of a skeptic when it comes to being able to be with the same person for 50 plus years and all that. Even though my parents have been together for over 30 years and I’ve seen how it works, I just can’t believe how unbelievably difficult it must be. I like your approach because you don’t really say you just fall in love and it’s this magical thing that works forever. It’s something that you have to work at and you speak on you have to speak the same languages. What do you think the key is to the long lasting relationships after those tingles that you mentioned go away?
Dr. Chapman: Well I think it is learning how to stimulate love, how to communicate love in the right language so that you continue to have warm feelings for each other. It’s not the euphoric state but there is a deep love for each other, a deep emotional feeling for each other. And that comes by choosing to speak that language. It’s not enough simply to understand the concept that this makes my spouse feel loved you have to choose to do that. This is where some people fail.
In fact a man said to me, he said “I read your book. I found out my wife’s love language is acts of service and that she wants me to do the laundry, she wants me to vacuum flours”, and he mentioned a couple of other things. He said “I’ll just tell you right now if it’s going to take that for her to feel loved you can forget it.” I said to him “That’s your choice. If you want to live with an unhappy wife then that’s your choice. Me, if its laundry that’s going to make her feel loved I say, bring on the laundry.” I mean it’s a small price to pay for a happy woman.
So to me that’s the key it’s understanding what makes my spouse feel loved, it’s the willingness to do that. When you do that over the long haul you keep love alive, you process live together, you become encouraging and supportive of each other. And marriage is what I think it was designed to be a loving, caring, supportive relationship.
SPP: I really like how you say each of us has a primary love language. Because I read through your book and one of the things that I noticed was man I feel like I have a couple of different languages, or at different times I might need different things. But you talk about how there’s a primary one that will kind of be guided by at all times. How can we identify the primary one, the biggest one that’s important to u?
Dr. Chapman: Well I think that is important and it’s very similar to spoken language. Everyone grows up speaking a language with a dialect. I grew up speaking English southern style, but everyone grows up speaking a language with a dialect and that’s the one you understand best. The same thing is true with love. So the way you discover it, of course we have a quiz at the back of the book you can take or you can go online at www.5lovelanguages.com and take a quiz that will help you with the process. But here are three clues.
1. Observe how you treat other people in general
For example, if you’re the kind of person that’s always patting people on the back, giving high fives, or hugging people, chances are physical touch is your language. You’re doing for others what you really want people to do for you. If you’re always giving encouraging words to people, you’re just looking for ways to encourage people, and then words of affirmation is probably your language. If you’re always giving gifts to people it’s just every occasion and you’re thinking all the time oh this will be nice for her or him and you give gifts, probably receiving gifts is your love language. If you’re the kind of person that likes to have lunch with people and have extended conversation, quality time is probably your language. So you look at what you do in your relationship with other people. Even nonromantic relationships that’s a clue.
2. What do you complain about most often?
If you’re saying to your spouse, for example, we don’t ever spend any time together we’re like two ships passing in the night. You’re telling them that quality time is your love language and you’re not getting it. Or if they come home on a business trip and you say “You didn’t bring me anything”, you’re telling them that gifts is your love language. So listen to what you complain about. If you say for example, “I don’t ever do anything right.” You’re saying that words of affirmation is your love language and you’re not hearing words of affirmation. So what do you complain about?
3. What do you request most often?
If you’re saying several times a month “Could we take a walk after dinner?” You’re asking for quality time and that’s probably your language. If you say “Would you give me a backrub” and you ask for that a few times over the month, you’re asking for physical touch. So what you request most often typically is your love language.
SPP: I wanted to follow up to Chris’ question and more importantly for the husbands and boyfriends who are out there, how do we figure out what our partner’s love language is?
Dr. Chapman: Yeah very similarly. You can just turn those things around and ask. As I observe them what are they doing for other people? Am I seeing them always hugging people when they encounter their friends, if so physical touch is their language? So you go right through the same scenario you just turn it around. What do they complain about most often? Now sometimes in the dating relationship, especially if you’re in love they’re not complaining because you’re the happiest you’re ever going to be when you’re in love you’re not complaining much. But what do they request most often, that is a clue?
The easiest thing would be to each of you go online, take the quiz, which gives you choices between two things that’s the format of the quiz. For example, I feel loved when we take a walk together. Or I feel love when we sit down and have an extended conversation. But if you can only have one of those, the walk together or extended conversations, which one are you going to choose? So if you take the choices it’s 30 different choices, it helps you discover what your primary language is and what the language of the other person is. Then the two of you can discuss the quiz after you’ve taken it.
SPP: Dr. Chapman I wanted to ask you, you talk about the feeling of the love and the tingles at the very beginning. Are there warning signs that you talk about when those start to go away for people to know that they’re no longer in love? Do you speak on warning signs in the book too that maybe you might not be in the love that you thought you were?
Dr. Chapman: Well I think most people sense that on their own that they don’t feel like they used to feel toward the other person. The problem that’s really disturbing is if you don’t know this is going to happen. I mean that was true of me in my marriage, I didn’t realize this was going to happen. I thought that the feelings I had for her in the beginning were going to follow me for a lifetime. When I came down off that high what happens is you begin to recognize things about the other person that annoy you or irate you and so you bring them up. They get offended and then they start bringing up things that you do that annoys them and you get offended. You end up arguing about things and before long you don’t have warm feelings towards each other?
In fact, you’re asking why did we get married, or if you’re not married you’re saying “I don’t think we should get married because I don’t like this. I don’t feel what I used to feel.” So I think we discover it just by experience, but if we know that this is the pattern this is going to happen then we’re not quite as devastated when it happens. And we’re far more likely to be able to build a marriage if we understand that we’re going to have to learn now how to listen to each other, how to respect each other, how to work through our differences and treat each other with dignity and respect, find answers to those things and learn how to work together as a team.
Because that’s what marriage is it’s a team, it’s a husband and wife, different people, different thoughts, opinions, different abilities, learning to work together as a team. That takes effort, and especially it takes the ability to listen, empathetically to the other person and work together for a mutually satisfying solution on those conflicts, but if you’re not prepared for that and you don’t anticipate conflicts, and this is what’s often true when you’re in love, you don’t think you’re going to have any conflicts because it seems like you agree on everything. The reality is all of us have conflicts because we’re human and we think differently, we feel differently, we have different ideas, but you can learn to work together as a team if you learn how to speak the love language of the other person it creates a positive, emotional climate in which to do that.
SPP: I really like that last thing you were saying because you’re not necessarily claiming that just by knowing and speaking your partner’s love language that everything is going to be great, it’s just that this provides a solid foundation for you guys to continue to grow and work on things.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah that’s exactly right. The reality is that conflicts are a part of life. Some couples learn how to solve conflicts and then move on down the road. Other couples simple argue, someone gets angry, slams the door, walks out, we don’t talk about that for two weeks or three weeks, we talk about it again, we get angry, we slam the door, and we don’t get it resolved. Now you get a whole string of unresolved conflicts and then you get the thought we shouldn’t have gotten married. We’re not compatible. I mean we’re just never going to make it. We don’t agree on anything. Then people tend to move on and you move away from the relationship.
But if you understand that conflicts are a part of every relationship and that we’re going to learn how to resolve these conflicts, and because we have different abilities and different opinions learning how to resolve conflicts is a part of life. Listen this is true not only in marriage this is true everywhere. It’s true in work relationships we have to learn to listen to each other, respect each other’s thoughts and opinions and then find a solution that’s workable for us. When you do that every time you resolve a conflict you feel closer together.
So you’re exactly right the love languages will not solve all the conflicts for you, but if you communicate love in the right language you create that climate that’s positive, caring, and chances are you’re going to be better able to resolve those conflicts.
SPP: This is a great point then for me to ask. It’s kind of a personal question I figured hey, I’m sure a lot of people deal with this. But in speaking about conflict I know that in my relationship both me and my girlfriend are kind of fairly stubborn, so if we disagree on something oftentimes we’ll both hold onto our own stance a little too long and it’ll cause tension and we might kind of go our separate ways for a little bit, and not really talk about it. What is the best way to kind of work through a conflict in your opinion when you both have a strong believe in something, but you know you have to figure it out?
Dr. Chapman: Well I think first of all we have to recognize the fact that whatever the opinion, whatever the idea, by nature I know that I’m right. Let’s face it I’m right. Why would I be holding this opinion if it weren’t right.
Dr. Chapman: But the reality is the other person feels the same way about their opinion that their opinion is right. So we have to recognize that as strong as I feel in one direction they feel in the other direction. Now the second issue then once you accept that reality is to recognize that we are humans and we are going to have differences. The question is are we going to treat each other with respect? Are we going to respect their ideas, even if we disagree with them, going to respect their freedom to hold that idea?
So we’re trying to convince them that they’re wrong and we’re right, which is what an argument is. We’re trying to present our case and then they try to present their case. One of us is going to win and one of us is going to lose or it’s going to be a draw and we’re going to not resolve it. Rather than going that route we listen to the other person, we ask questions, we try to understand more clearly what they are saying, because sometimes we didn’t even get it, and then we want to understand how strongly they feel about that and why they feel that way. Where did that opinion arrive from? Where did it come from and how strongly do you feel about it? Then we cited them after we listened. And t hat’s the key factor we have to listen.
Then we say “You know I think I hear what you’re saying, I think I understand why you would feel that way, and it makes a lot of sense.” That’s always a true statement because in their mind, given their personality, given their process of thinking it’s always right it always makes sense in their mind. When you say to them “That makes a lot of sense now let me share my perspective.” Because you have listened to them and affirmed them they will likely listen to you and affirm your idea. Then you can say “Okay, we still differ on this so how can we solve the problem.”
You see you respect each other’s ideas and you’re looking now for a solution not to win an argument. When you’re looking for a solution chances are, especially if you feel loved by the other person, you’re going to be willing to move from your original position, something in the middle. Or maybe one of you will even say “You know I think in this situation, even though I feel strongly about it, I think it’s more important that we go with your idea. And so you go all the way over to their idea or you find a meeting place in the middle. But when you focus on solution two adults looking for a solution will find one, but two adults who are trying to win an argument will likely lose the relationship.
SPP: Now it sounds like in Chris’ example the love language that’s being spoken by somebody who is stubborn and strong in their opinion really falls into the words of affirmation. Is that one of the hardest love languages to learn, and if not which would be?
Dr. Chapman: Well I don’t think there is one that’s hardest for everybody. The one that’s hardest for an individual is what is their Number 5? That is the one that’s least important to them will likely be the hardest for them to speak. Often I find this in married couples that, for example, the husband’s Number 1 might be words of affirmation and words of affirmation might be Number 5 for the wife, that it’s least important to her. So she is going to have a learning curve to try to learn to speak words of affirmation. Because she probably did not get words of affirmation growing up she’s never learned to speak that language very well, she finds it difficult. So she’s going to have to work harder. So for her that’s going to be the hardest of the five. But it’s different for each individual
If gifts is not your language, for example, you just never thought much of gifts, never gave many gifts, didn’t receive a lot of gifts, gifts are not important to you, and then you find out that receiving gifts is your wife’s primary language, you’re going to have to work at it. It’s going to take some effort. I suggest maybe you talk to her sister get her sister to help you pick out gifts for her. You’re going to have to learn how to buy gifts for her. But the good news is you can learn any one of these languages. It does take effort, it does take a willingness to do it, but you can learn to speak these languages. And that’s what gives hope to people they can be learned.
SPP: One last question for you that I think will help out a lot of our male listeners. I might be stereotyping a little and so I’m kind of interested in your experiences, but I find that oftentimes the men in relationships are the ones who they don’t understand the quality time aspect, because it’s just less of a love language I think. I don’t know. It’s tough because it causes conflict because we might want to go play sports or watch TV or do all these things. It doesn’t mean we care any less it’s just its how I feel like we are. Do you find that to be the case quite often? If so, is your recommendation just to recognize it and try to provide that quality time?
Dr. Chapman: Well I think you are right and probably men have more difficulty with quality time than women do because women tend to be more relational, men tend to be more active. In fact most men don’t have a whole lot of close friends. In fact I meet a lot of men who could not list two people that they would consider really friends, that they really spend time with and share with deeply.
Dr. Chapman: But on the other hand there are men for whom quality time is relatively easy and they really like quality time and quality time is really their language. But I think you’re right that the predominate pattern would be that men would find this more difficult.
What I would say is if you realize that your wife’s language is quality time, sit down time in which you’re looking at each, talking to each other, interacting, sharing life with each other, if you realize that then you’re going to have to work hard at it, you’re going to have to probably put it on your schedule to have lunch with her periodically. You’re probably going to have to say to her “Honey could we start out with just 10 minutes? I mean I really want to speak your love language, but could we just start out with 10 minutes each evening. After dinner get everything done we’ll sit down for 10 minutes and we’ll kind of work our way up to where you feel comfortable. Okay.” Most wives are willing to do that because they know that they’re going to get 10 minutes tonight and 10 minutes tomorrow night and 10 minutes the next night and that’s a whole lot more than they’ve been getting.
So she’s willing to work with you. You see men sometimes say to me “Dr. Chapman the reason I don’t want to start talking to her is it’s going to be all evening. If I start getting into a conversation it’s going to take all evening. I got things to do.” So that’s one of their honest fears. So I just say “If you set a time, 10 minutes or whatever you decide to do, then regularly giving her that time is going to meet her need. It’s also going to give you freedom after it’s over to go do whatever else you need to do. So yeah mean can learn how to speak the language of quality time.
SPP: Dr. Chapman we’re right about at 25 minutes and we had told you that’s what we wanted to have you on for. We know you’re a very busy man so we’ll stick to that schedule. I wanted to thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It was extremely insightful. I know our listeners are going to enjoy it and love listening to this conversation we had. But I wanted to ask you are there any Web sites or other books out there besides “The 5 Love Languages” that you wanted to point our listeners in the direction of?
Dr. Chapman: Yeah I think the Web site would be www.5lovelanguages.com you can spell out the number five or you can put in the number 5, www.5lovelanguages.com. There you’ll discover other books that I’ve written. One I would just mention that I think is exceedingly important and somewhat parallels “The 5 Love Languages” is my book the “The 5 Languages of Apology”. Because what we discovered, and I say we because I wrote that book with Dr. Jennifer Thomas another counselor, what we discovered is that people also have different apology languages. That is what one person considers to be an apology is not what another person considers to be an apology.
So for example, he will say to her “I’m sorry” and he thinks he’s apologized, but in her mind he hasn’t apologized because she has a different language. She wants to hear him say “I was wrong I should not have done that.” Well he doesn’t say that because he didn’t learn that. His mother taught him to say “I’m sorry” and that’s all he knows to do and he doesn’t understand why she want forgive him. Well the reason is she doesn’t think he’s apologized. So that book can be very, very helpful “The 5 Languages of Apology”.
SPP: Sounds great. Thank you so much. And again we appreciate it.
Dr. Chapman: Well thank you Chris and Jon. Good to be with both of you guys. Keep up the good work.
SPP: All right thank you very much.