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“The Five Languages of Love” by Gary Chapman

Introduction to Chapters 1, 2, 3

Many fiction works and films are built on the same plot: the heroes love each other but cannot show it. Based on misunderstanding, many stories unfold: sometimes funny, sometimes sad and tragic. Often, a couple’s life is full of misunderstandings and difficulties in developing a meaningful dialogue. Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Languages of Love. How to Express Love to Your Companion, believes that people speak different languages with their partners.

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He identifies five ways in which individuals express their love and calls them languages. The manner in which a person speaks their native language depends on the factors such as their upbringing, their families’ parenting approaches, and their character traits. People tend to “inherit” the language of love, grow accustomed to express themselves in it and expecting the same understandable love formulas in return. There are often situations when partners follow entirely different codes. Chapman puts it this way: “Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other “(p. 6). People can completely differ in expressions of attention and love.

For some, the actual manifestation of love is constant care and help; for others it can be signs of attention in the form of surprises, gifts, and flowers. To some, all this seems unnecessary if the partner is never around. It is useless to declare love to someone in one language if an interlocutor speaks another. Everyone has their own understanding of how they want to be treated. This is a kind of native language that does not always coincide with the partner’s mother tongue.

Description of the Language of Time

Chapman singles out the language of time as one of the languages of love. For someone who speaks it, the main value is to spend time with their partner. However, the concept of time as the central phenomenon in Chapman’s (2004) approach to mending relationship could be seen as slightly misleading. For example, the author mentions the concept of quality activities in tandem with the notion of quality time as the construct that must be introduced into the therapy to produce a tangible impact on the relationships. Chapman (2004) provides the following touching commentary offered by one of his patients: “I feel most loved by my wife when we do things together, things I like to do and things she likes to do. We talk more.” The latter statement plays a particularly crucial role in bringing the relationships together and promoting a better rapport between partners.

Remarkably, the conflict outlined above, as well as the inability to engage in a meaningful conversation, may be the product of incompatible personalities of the partners. As Chapman (2004) explains, the presence of emotional deafness, or, as he turns it, the “Dead Sea,” is quite common in relationships that are rapidly deteriorating due to the lack of communication. In case of the “Dead Sea” situation, one of the partners is incapable of or unwilling to making the emotional contribution of the same extent as the spouse: “he is content not to talk” (Chapman, 2004, p. 67).The outlined behavior signifies that the emotional feedback offered by one of the spouses cannot be reciprocated by the other. While the specified situation is rather complicated, it could be addressed by unpacking the sources of emotional numbness of the partner, which is typically rooted in stereotypes about masculinity.

Sometimes learning to listen is almost as difficult as learning a foreign language. Chapman proposes not to advise but to sympathize, try to understand rather than offer a solution, ask more questions, and focus on the person. Namely, the specified piece of advice can be interpreted as developing the ability of engaging emotionally with a participant of the communication as opposed to being a passive listener. Specifically, the use of focused attention and the role that it plays in understanding the needs of a partner, as well as responding to these needs accordingly, should be a crucial part of the conversation. In his book, Chapman (2004) explains the role of engaging actively with the participant of a conversation and responding accordingly to show the presence of engagement and attention. As the author states, “When a father is sitting on the floor, rolling a ball to his two-year-old, his attention is not focused on the ball but on his child” (Chapman, 2004, pp. 61-62). The descried scenario is a very accurate representation of using attention in a focused way and showing that the interactions with a partner and the outcome of the communication are the priority. Spending time with someone means giving them full attention. It is necessary to learn not to interrupt: instead, it is preferable to observe a partner, their facial expressions, intonations, and gestures, which will help feel and understand them better.

Furthermore, it is critical to ensure that the idea of time as a resource for creating a positive rapport and an emotional bond is perceived in the same way by both partners. According to Chapman, if there is an incongruence in the understanding of time and how it should be utilized to mend the relationships, healing will become impossible. Specifically, the example of Andrea and mark mentioned by Chapman (2004) indicates that both partners must have a similar perspective on the issue that they strive to address and the strategies that they use for this purpose. Specifically, Chapman (2004, p. 36) recalls that “In my advice to Andrea and Mark, I made a serious mistake. I assumed that words of affirmation would mean as much to her as they would to him.” Thus, the significance of using time productively and ensuring that both participants are on the same page about the counseling process, its goals, and the time spent together is essential. Namely, the couple needs to have a relatively similar idea and value of time and its meaning in relationships.

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Like all languages, the language of time has many dialects. One of them is a quality conversation, that is, a quality dialogue, during which two people share their feelings, experiences, thoughts, and desires in a friendly way and without interrupting each other. The importance of increasing the quality of time is illustrated brilliantly in Chapman’s (2004) example of an emotional bond that is created even during incidental activities. Using an example of a husband and a wife running together as the time spent together, Chapman (2004) explains that, unless the couple focuses specifically on running, opportunities for increasing the quality of the described time lapse increase. Namely, it is advised that the couple should prioritize viewing the process of running as something that they do as a team and consider the emotional impact that the presence of each other makes them experience: “What happens on the emotional level is what matters” (Chapman, 2004, p. 60). Thus, even mundane and routine activities can be turned into quality time.

Time is the most valuable resource for creating a positive rapport and the connection that will last for years. Namely, time will allow participants to develop the rapport that would become the platform for building mutual trust. Remarkably, the idea of undivided attention should not be taken literally; as Chapman (2004) explains, active listening and emotional responsiveness should become the core for using time properly as a crucial resource in reinforcing relationships and creating a bond. By mentioning the interaction between a father and a child, Chapman (2004) provides a very peculiar example of the communication process performed in a healthy manner, with both participants being active listeners and contributing to the emotional experience of each other.

Therefore, if an individual sacrifices their time for a person’s sake and is ready to take a break from everything for a couple of hours to be around, they really love them. This is how the one who speaks the language of time thinks. Moreover, only the time is considered when a person is concentrated exclusively on a partner. Thus, watching TV together, as Chapman argues, does not count. Walking together, dinner without a TV in the background, notifications on the phone, and other things that distract – that is what a person who speaks the language of time needs.

Conclusion to Chapters 10, 11, 12, 13

Chapman distinguishes the concepts of falling in love and love. Falling in love is a temporary emotional outburst that unexpectedly comes into life and also unexpectedly leaves it. Love is a choice, an act of will that recognizes the need for growth and requires discipline. The importance for introducing discipline into the management of relationships has been exemplified by Chapman (2004) quite vividly in his book with the help of multiple cases. For example, when considering the issue of managing relationships responsibly, Chapman (2004) addresses the scenarios in which the act of communication is not reciprocated, explaining the necessity for both parties to be interested in furthering the dialogue. Namely, Chapman (2004) mentions the situation in which a cold and distanced husband fails to address the emotional needs of his wife, creating an obstacle to effective communication (Chapman, 2004). As a result, a conflict occurs, thus leading to a further rift between the couple.

According to Chapman (2004), the unwillingness of a partner to share his or her emotions and become proactive in managing relationships will ultimately lead to a failure and the disruption of relationships, redesign them dysfunctional and impossible to mend. Specifically, Chapman (2004, p. 64) notes the following: “In order for her to feel loved, he must learn to reveal himself. If her primary love language is quality time and her dialect is quality conversation, her emotional love tank will never be filled until he tells her his thoughts and feelings.” Thus, emotional coldness serves as the foundational obstacle in communicating one’s needs and working on a compromise in relationships, distancing partners from each other and causing the relationships to dissipate. However, the specified issue suggests dealing with significant changes in behaviors, which may be extraordinarily difficult to implement due to the presence of rigid stereotypes. Namely, the stereotypical perception of masculinity may prevent a male partner from engaging in the communication process with the needed extent of sincerity and vulnerability. Therefore, further counseling and therapy will be needed to ensure that a husband is capable of sharing his emotions and reciprocate those of his wife. Therefore, Chapman (2004) illustrates the significance of bringing discipline and responsibility into relationships by outlining the significance of a conscious effort made by an individual to sustain the relationships with a loved one, while simultaneously pointing to the detrimental effects of the other party failing to respond in kind. A person tries for another person, and if they succeed, then they are glad they really love. Conscious choice is contrasted with the euphoria of falling in love. It is possible to love each other even after the feelings are gone. The question is to make the right choice in favor of love and respect for the partner’s interests. In this case, the main point is to speak with one’s companion in their language.

It is crucial to try seeing the world through the eyes of another person in any relationship. All people have different needs, and that is normal. Sometimes, in order to save a relationship, it is enough to understand in time what is important for a partner, and not just for the individual. Besides, marriage is a big and laborious job: if suddenly it seems that love is gone, a divorce should not be the first conclusion, it is better to start working on oneself and the relationship. Expressing love to an unloved spouse, although difficult, is possible. The converse is also true: the ability to love, especially when your spouse does not love you, may seem impossible for some people. Such love may require the involvement of all of our spiritual resources. However, there are always ways to improve and reinvigorate love and mutual understanding in marriage.


Chapman, G. D. (2004). The five love languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate. Northfield Pub.

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