I don’t even know where to start. This book managed to irritate me and upset me in ways I’ve never experience before.
“Five Love Languages” is a love manual by Gary Chapman. The author is a marriage counselor with an experience of 30 years as he says starting his egotistic book. He claims to know his s**t and comes up with a theory of humans communicating in five different love languages: words of kindness, physical touch, acts of service, gifts and quality time. The key to a successful marriage according to our marriage saving hero is to speak the same love language as our partner.
For instance, if our partner often complains about not being praised it means his love language is words of appreciation. Right? WRONG. If a partner complains about something it just means that he’s not getting the particular thing. There’s no mystical 5 love languages but quite down to earth 5 important elements of a relationship… In other words, to have a healthy relationship you should try to provide it all (plus other things that Dr Chapman doesn’t mention in his book because of his simplistic vision of what relationships are based on). And yes, in this first paragraph I basically stated that his whole theory is BS.
Apart from the fault in the assumption which is the core of the author’s theory there’s a lot more to complain about. For starters the author doesn’t discuss the compatibility of partners AT ALL. Marriage is to him something that must be saved and regardless of whether you entered it as an 18 year old not knowing anything about your preferences or as an effect of an arranged marriage, you just should make it work and there’s a lot of judgment from his side if you don’t. Of course, he has a point when he says that people these days want to move on to the next relationship if the current one experiences problems. Nevertheless, it’s not everyone. Some people really try to make things work but they just married someone they should have never married at the first place. Older and more mature they can enter a successful marriage instead of forcing themselves to save something that at best can make them not entirely unhappy at all times. Working on relationships is important but a relationship can’t be saved at all costs, whether it’s a marriage or not.
Another problem that I have with the book is the whole idea of glorifying work on the relationship. I agree that being in love changes into a deeper and less nauseating feeling after a while. Of course, that the period when you obsessively think about your partner ends at some point. Nevertheless, compatibility is a big issue and the better you choose your partner the less work you have to put into a relationship. The rule is of course: the less work, the better. Dr Chapman seems to entirely disregard that. According to him loving someone is an effort and this is just the way it is. The Christian ideology of finding excessive value in suffering is quite obvious here especially that the author openly draws inspiration from the Bible (the only source referenced in the book).
“Oh, Dr Chapman” (as the people he helps refer to him) claims that if you share household chores, say nice things, touch your partner, give them a gift or spend some time with them, depending on what their love language is, you’ll “fill their love tank” and live happily ever after. It’s all so simple in his world based on love satisfaction focused on domesticity, which is, of course, a very important but not sole element of a relationship. He doesn’t even consider the question of what to do if your husband is into anal and you’re not! (jokes)
Last but not least, the author shares a very dangerous idea that you can love someone enough to make them love you back and respect you. His advice to an emotionally and psychologically abused wife is to just keep loving her husband as her love will improve his behavior and make him reciprocate the feelings. Clearly, it’s not the husband’s fault that he’s being a horrible person, it’s his wife who just doesn’t love him enough. Of course, in his story this method inspired by the life of Jesus works. To teach that is simply wrong. Victims of abuse often feel that they don’t love someone enough and the abuse is their fault. There’s a lot of people who’d teach them that and make them feel guilty because of it. Yet another person dubbed as a specialist in love and an acclaimed author is not needed. Such preaching has a harmful impact on people who need help with getting away from the perpetrator.
Relationships aren’t always easy and they do require work. Helping at home, touching, being nice to each other, giving gifts and spending time together are necessary elements of a good relationship but also quite basic ones. If there’s no substance in the relation all these things won’t help. It’s important to teach people how to enter marriages wisely and not how to stay in them just because they’re married.