Living Out The Five Love Languages

Many working components contribute to a healthy relationship, yet the emotional side of love can be confusing. In today's episode, Dr. Chris Grace and Dr. Tim Muehlhoff sit down with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the best-selling book, The Five Love Languages, and discuss practical ways to communicate love on an emotional level so our relationships can flourish.


Transcript

Chris Grace:

Let me welcome you to the Art of Relationships podcast. I'm Chris Grace.

Tim Muehlhoff:

I'm Tim Muehlhoff.

Chris Grace:

We are just so excited to have you back with us again today. We're talking about all things relationships, and one of the great things that we get to do is talk about not only do we get to speak with some amazing authors out there ... Today is, however, a big exception, in that we got not only an amazing author, but we have a researcher, someone who's been involved in the field of relationships for a long time. Joining us as an author, speaker, and counselor is Dr. Gary Chapman. Gary, so glad to have you here with us, today, joining us all the way from the state of North Carolina, is that right?

Gary Chapman:

That's correct, Chris. Good to be with you and Tim.

Chris Grace:

It's so good to have you here with us. One of the cool things, Gary, that we're looking forward to working with you is on an event coming up in February. In fact, February 25th of 2017 is a big event at EvFree Fullerton Church in Fullerton, co-sponsored by our CMR. You can find information on this event coming up on our website, cmr.biola.edu, but Gary, the cool thing is, is coming out and doing a talk for us. Tell us how that came about and what you're looking forward and what the listeners can see or hear from you when it comes to this event. You guys have done this throughout the country. Give us a little preview.

Gary Chapman:

Yeah, Chris. I do these Saturday seminars all over the country under the umbrella of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I was at the EvFree Church, oh, several years ago now. Looking forward to coming back to that area. It's for couples of all categories. It's for older couples, middle age couples, young couples, engaged couples. Sometimes singles actually come. They just want to learn about marriage. It's a presentation. They have a listening guide in which they take notes. I'm using a PowerPoint presentation throughout the day.

 

We deal with basically five basic topics. One is communication, and particularly how to solve conflicts without arguing, which is all of us need help on that.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, we do.

Tim Muehlhoff:

What time was that session, do you know, Gary, off hand?

Gary Chapman:

We actually start off with that in the morning, early morning. Yeah. Then we talk about love. You know I wouldn't have a seminar if I didn't talk about the five love languages.

Chris Grace:

There you go.

Gary Chapman:

We talk about meeting the emotional need for love. We deal with the whole issue of if you really wanted to have a better marriage, where would you start?

Tim Muehlhoff:

Right.

Gary Chapman:

What would you do first? I try to give a guideline on that as we begin to move down that road. Then we deal with the sexual area. How to make sex a mutual pleasure. A lot of couples, as you know, struggle in that part of the marriage. Then we conclude with the whole idea of how do you get your spouse to change those things that just bug you to death.

Chris Grace:

Yeah. Yeah.

Gary Chapman:

It's a fun day. We have lots of fun. In fact, people tell me, "I haven't laughed so much in a long, long time."

Chris Grace:

Oh, good.

Gary Chapman:

I have a lot of men who come who say, after it's over, "You know, Dr. Chapman, I didn't really want to come to this thing, but I'm glad I did. This was good."

Chris Grace:

Oh, good.

Tim Muehlhoff:

For our listeners who have most likely read your books, of course, The Five Love Languages, but have never heard you speak, I can testify to the fact that you're exactly what you said. Very energetic, very funny yet thoughtful, and so if people are expecting a day-long, one long lecture on relationships and communications and sex, your style is very engaging, very upbeat, and a lot of humor, which I think we need in marriage as we talk about potentially sensitive topics.

Gary Chapman:

Yeah, I think we can learn while we laugh. You know? Of course, I meet people who you talk about having fun and they say, "Oh, no, no, no. I'm a Christian." So Christians can't have fun?

Chris Grace:

That's right.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Especially, Gary, when we're talking about the sexual issue, we just finished our last session with a couple, and they're getting married literally in a couple weeks, so we had the talk about, hey, the honeymoon night. One of the key things I said to the guy I was talking to is, "Hey, keep your sense of humor as you move into this area. You have a lot of life-long learning and you're going to make stumbles along the way, but boy, keep your sense of humor when it comes to these different kind of issues." I think that's important.

Gary Chapman:

I think it is important, and I think the whole sexual area, so many couples just assume that if we get married, this part of the marriage is just going to take care of itself. It's just going to be wonderful for both of us. There's a reason why God told ancient Israel, "Don't go to war for the first year of marriage."

Chris Grace:

That's right.

Gary Chapman:

Don't work the first year. Take a learn how to pleasure each other, and it takes a year to learn. It's a process. It doesn't just happen.

Chris Grace:

That's right.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Gary, let me jump in on that. Going back to this one couple, that's not their case. She's finishing school. He's starting grad school. What do you say to a couple who, unfortunately, unlike the armies of Israel, just couldn't take that year off, what do you say to a couple who's heading into it, they know this is going to be busy and it's going to be kind of crazy? What would be a nugget or two for hyper-stressed, super-busy people and yet they're starting off their marriage?

Gary Chapman:

To be realistic, I don't think anyone in our culture can take a whole year off without starving to death.

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's right.

Gary Chapman:

I would just say life is going to always be busy. You're busy now. It's going to be busy when you get out of graduate school. What I would say is, "Look, let's make time for each other." If you don't make time, it won't be there. There's always more to do than you can get done, if you're in grad school or if you're working or whatever you're doing, but if you make your relationship a priority, then you will carve out time to be with each other. Not just in a sexual part, but in sharing life together.

 

I believe that God designed us so that we can have enough time to have a good marriage and also have wonderful vocations, and for some, even to raise children. We've got time. It's just a matter of how we delegate the time.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Gary, I wonder if we can jump to one of your classics. We've already told our listeners a little bit about the amazing way that The Five Love Languages has ... In publishing, it's really unheard of how The Five Love Languages has been so lasting. I mentioned over 10 million copies sold, which I think is remarkable. I don't know if I've written 10 million words, let alone sold 10 million copies. What do you think it is about The Five Love Languages that has so resonated with people and continues to resonate with people of all different generations?

Gary Chapman:

You're right. That book next year will be the 25th Anniversary of writing that book, and every year for 25 years it sells more than the year before.

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's amazing.

Gary Chapman:

Which, as you know, is exactly the opposite of what normally happens.

Chris Grace:

Right.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah.

Gary Chapman:

It's been translated now into 50 languages around the world, which really, really surprised me. I think at the heart of it is it gives a practical way to communicate love on an emotional level. That is, to keep the emotional love alive in the marriage after you come down off a high of the in-love experience. I was never taught this. I just thought if you were in love, it was going to be wonderful forever. Nobody told me that you come down off the high after about two years.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah.

Gary Chapman:

Then you have to learn how to communicate love. The Five Love Languages helps you with the learning part, how to keep the emotional love alive by speaking the language of the other person, not your own language. Many couples have said to me, "We were just next door to divorce. We didn't have any hope, and somebody gave us The Five Love Languages, and the lights came on. We looked back over our lives and realized how we had missed each other. We were sincere, but we missed each other."

 

I think it's because it addresses the deepest emotional need we have, and that is the need to feel loved by the significant people in your life, and if you're married, that means your husband or your wife.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Gary, I think the greatest testament to the book is that it's just become part of our vernacular. My wife and I speak at family life marriage conferences, and so just to say to a person, "Hey, what's your love language," really does click with people. I love the idea that I take the time and effort to understand and see the world through your perspective that this is your love language, and then I think it's great even to go one step deeper with couples and say, "Why do you think that's your love language? How do you think that originated that this one really clicks with you in a deep, meaningful kind of way?"

 

How was it writing this book 25 years ago? What gave you the idea? What was it that clicked and said, "I think I'm onto something here"?

Gary Chapman:

It grew out of my counseling. I had been counseling probably 15 years before I wrote that book, and I kept encountering in my office very similar situations where one of them would say, "I just feel like he doesn't love me." The husband would say, "Why? I don't understand that. I do this and this and this and you don't feel loved?" You had a sincere husband and a wife who didn't get it, or it may have been the other way around. I knew there was a pattern to what I was hearing, but I didn't know what it was.

 

Eventually I took time to read about 12 years of notes that I made when I was counseling, and asked myself the question, "When someone sat in my office and said, 'I feel like my spouse doesn't love me,' what do they want? What are they complaining about?" Their answers fell into five categories, and I later called them the five love languages, and so I started using it in my counseling, and couples would come back sometimes in three weeks and say, "Gary, this has just changed everything."

 

Then I started using it in small groups. Then I thought, maybe if I put this concept in a book and wrote it in the language of the common person, maybe I could help a lot of people I would never have time to see in my office. That's what motivated me to write the book.

Chris Grace:

That's great. Really great story. Tell us, Gary, then, what's your love language? I'm sure you get asked that a lot.

Gary Chapman:

Words of affirmation.

Tim Muehlhoff:

There you go.

Chris Grace:

Amen, brother.

Gary Chapman:

My wife's language, acts of service.

Tim Muehlhoff:

You just described my marriage.

Gary Chapman:

I took out the garbage this morning before I left the house.

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's hilarious, Gary.

Gary Chapman:

That's why I will wash the dishes tonight after dinner.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Okay, enough, enough, we don't need any more examples of acts of service. You just described, Gary, my marriage, is I'm words of affirmation, and Noreen is acts of service, and so there are times when Noreen is doing stuff for me, thinking that I'm just filling his love tank, which is another thing that has crept into our vernacular, and I'm thinking, "Man, she doesn't compliment me." It's so fascinating, and I love what you said, a sincere husband, a sincere wife, but they are literally talking past each other, and that's what I think is so transformative about your book. I step back and go, "I didn't know that about you, and now that makes total sense, so let's make sure we're speaking each other's love languages."

Gary Chapman:

Yeah. I think it helps couples what they're often trying to do anyway. They're expressing love to each other. It's just that they're using their own language or their own idea of what would make the other person feel loved, rather than having the truth about what would make the other person feel loved.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, that's right. Gary, Tim, I think you're doing a great job on this talk and this podcast. Both of you are awesome. I respect both of you tremendously.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Thanks, Chris.

Chris Grace:

Let me give you a hug.

Tim Muehlhoff:

All right.

Chris Grace:

Thanks for the hug, Tim. Now go back away. Gary, do love languages change over time? Have you ever found that one comes up a little bit stronger for you at different seasons in life or that you have to really pay attention. One thing I just don't to do is take for granted that my wife is this way. Have you ever noticed or talked to people about how they can morph over time or change depending upon seasons?

Gary Chapman:

I think the love language is similar to personality traits. They tend to stay with us for a lifetime. However, having said that, I think what you just said is true, that in certain seasons of life or certain circumstances, another language might jump to the top. For example, a mother who has three preschool children. Acts of service may not be her primary language. I can tell you during those years, her husband pitches in and helps her, it's going to speak loudly to her.

Chris Grace:

That's right.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah.

Gary Chapman:

Let's say there's a death in the family. Your wife gets word that her brother or her mother has died. Physical touch might not be her language, but I can tell you, at that moment, holding her in your arms or letting her cry on your shoulder will likely speak volumes to her. I think certain circumstances and seasons, the language may appear to change for awhile, but I think if you don't get enough of your primary love language, the tank's going to begin to get empty.

Chris Grace:

Gary, if you have to rewrite this or give it an additional new edition, would you add a sixth love language, and what would it be?

Gary Chapman:

I've had people come to me and say, "Dr. Chapman, there's a sixth love language." I'll say, "What?" "It's chocolate." I'll say, "Well, if they bought it, it's a gift. If they made it, it's an act of service."

Tim Muehlhoff:

There you go.

Gary Chapman:

One guy said the sixth love language is going shopping with his wife. I think that's a dialect of quality time. She wants you to be with her, have an experience with her. To be honest, I've never personally come up with what I think is a sixth love language. They all, to me, seem to fit as dialects within the five languages, but maybe there is. I was never dogmatic to say that there's only five. I'm just saying these are the five I found, and they seem to be pretty common in human nature.

Tim Muehlhoff:

One thing that was really helpful, we went to a family camp, and we sat down with our kids and did the five love languages for children, and it was fascinating when the kids self-selected their love languages. Just having a great conversation with them afterwards I think was just giving them a little peak into the soul of our kids, and very helpful. For kids, I imagine there could be some movement, depending on when you did it with your kids, like pre-teens as opposed to teen years and things like that. Any suggestions?

Gary Chapman:

I think ...

Tim Muehlhoff:

Go ahead.

Gary Chapman:

I think you can determine a child's love language by the time they're 4-years-old, if you just observe their behavior. My son's language is physical touch. When he was four, when I came home from work, he would run to the door, grab my leg, climb up on me. If I sat down, he was all over me. He's touching me because he wants to be touched. My daughter never did that. At that age, she would say, "Daddy, come to my room. I want to show you something." She wanted my undivided attention. She wanted quality time. I think you can figure it out pretty early. What I say to parents is this. Once you discover the child's primary language, give them heavy doses of that language, but sprinkle in the other four because we want the child to know how to give and receive love in all five languages. That's the healthiest adult. Most of us didn't receive all five of them growing up.

 

I think the other question ... You mentioned teenagers. The reason I wrote the book Five Love Languages of Teenagers for parents is because so many parents said to me, "We read your book on the five love languages of children. Really, really helped us, but now they've become teenagers, and we're doing the same thing we used to do and it doesn't seem to be working." They asked, "Does their love language change when they get to be teenagers?"

 

My short answer is, I don't think so, but you have to speak different dialects of their language, because whatever you've been doing they consider childish. If physical touch is their language, and as a child you've been hugging them and kissing them, now they're teenagers and they push you away and say, "Don't do that," I think they still need touch if that's their language, but it's different kinds of touch. Hit them on the shoulder. High fives. Trip them. Wrestle with them. I think that's the key issue with teenagers, is to realize that it's going to take different dialects of their primary language.

Tim Muehlhoff:

I don't have daughters. I have three sons. I think with daughters even through the turbulent teenage times, that physical touch from the dad is very meaningful and really does counteract a lot of negative social images that they're receiving, and messages, so that physical touch, even if you're getting pushed away, and part of parenting is you just fight through it, and you appropriately give them what you know they need even if they're sending every signal that I don't need this or don't want this anymore.

Gary Chapman:

I think you're exactly right, and I think even if physical touch is not the love language of your daughter or your son, they still need physical touch.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah, yeah.

Gary Chapman:

I say sometimes to parents, to guys, to the dads, "If you don't give your daughter physical touch, give her hugs, kiss on the cheek, if you don't do that, she'll find a boy three years older than her who will."

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah. That's true.

Gary Chapman:

"You keep tugging that gal. You keep touching her appropriately and let her know that you love her."

Chris Grace:

Gary, as you think about this, there's so many applications to relationships, children. Let me just talk about a special group of young people, especially in dating relationships. Talk a little bit about how you see this applying for somebody ... We have a lot of listeners out there, college students, those who are still single, and what we want to do is encourage them in the area of relationships. What are some things that you have seen change in that area when it comes to dating and young people, maybe in a relationship to even love languages? Do you have any advice that you would say this is one thing that you have seen in all your experience that could be very helpful for somebody who is now starting or wanting to do good, casual healthy dating? What advice would you give?

Gary Chapman:

I wrote an edition of The Five Love Languages, especially for singles. This is called The Five Love Languages Singles Edition.

Chris Grace:

Right.

Gary Chapman:

In which I apply the concept to their parents, relationship with their parents, their siblings, their college roommates, their coworkers if they're working, and they're dating partners. I think it does have application in all the relationships of single adults, but when it comes to the dating relationship, one application it has is this. Most singles don't know this. The average life span of the in-love experience is two years. What happens in a dating relationship, if you date two years, you've got the in-love feelings, you date two years, you come down off the high, and now you begin to see the differences in each other, and you begin to think, well, maybe that we're not meant for each other, and that's the juncture at which many dating couples break up with each other.

 

Maybe that's a good thing, but what I say is this. If you've learned the love language concept, learned to speak each other's love language, when you come down off the high, you can still keep the emotional love alive in the relationship. Then you can look at all the other aspects of life and make a wise decision about whether we are compatible, whether we have enough in common that we can walk through life together.

 

I think that's one application. I think the other thing I would say in terms of dating and today's culture that probably the most common mistake that most young people make is they let the physical part of the relationship become the predominant part of the relationship, very early in the dating process. They never get around to discovering intellectual ideas, emotional, spiritual. Never get around to discussing the really important things in life because the dating relationship just becomes a fun time for us physically. That's tragic, because it not only short circuits building a relationship, but it sets you up for failure later on no matter who you marry.

Tim Muehlhoff:

There's that clouding effect. At a time when couples are moving towards, let's say, engagement, this is when they need to be the most objective and honestly evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, core compatibility, but this physical intimacy tends to cloud and give them a more positive feeling towards their relationship than if you were to strip out the physical. Then they would have to see other aspects of the relationship and they might not be as strong.

Gary Chapman:

Absolutely, and that's why I say this is the most common mistake that couples make. I understand it. We're sexual creatures and we're pulled to each other and it feels good, so I understand how it happens, but as you know, all the research indicates that if you get sexually active with each other before you get married, first of all, you're less likely to marry and secondly, when you do marry, there's going to be a higher divorce rate. If you have multiple partners before you get married, then you're very likely to have multiple partners after you get married.

 

The whole biblical thing that sexual intercourse is for married couples, all research indicates that this is absolutely true, but it's not popular in our culture, as you well notice.

Chris Grace:

Yeah. It's a struggle. I think the common thing we deal with in some of our conversations, especially with singles, is the idea of what marriage really means anymore. Is there a true purpose to it? Is there an ultimate purpose to it that would compel me to want to save or to be or to look forward to something like that, and I think that's maybe why, as that's gone down, an overall purpose for marriage. Cohabitation rates have gone up so much and we're beginning to find problems and struggles with just the institution of marriage. What are some ways that you're trying to deal with that in helping couples understand, and especially singles, dating as a reason to really have this notion of a purpose for marriage already thought through and to be thinking about that ahead of time, that really can establish some good foundations? What do you think?

Gary Chapman:

I think so. When God made the analysis of Adam and said it's not good for a man to be alone, he identified a fundamental emotional need that we have as individuals. Living in isolation for long periods of time tends to lead us to depression. We were not made to live in isolation, and when God instituted marriage, created Eve and instituted marriage, he instituted what is designed of God to be the most intimate of all human relationships. We share life, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically. We share life on every degree, and marriage is designed to be that deep sharing of the soul with each other. My observation is when couples have that kind of relationship, marriage is very satisfying.

 

If you don't have that kind of relationship and you don't build intimacy in all those areas, then you're falling short of what God intended marriage to be.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Gary, one last thing. We'd be remiss if we didn't bring up what I think is just a great concept. We already mentioned it, but I think the love tank is such ... I think what has really struck a chord with people, Gary, from your book, Five Love Languages, and all the counterparts to it, is that people, they got it, and that's such a compliment to you as a writer.

Gary Chapman:

I use the emotional love tank as a picture. A car has a gasoline tank. If it's full, you can go a long ways. If the tank gets empty, you're not going very far, and we have an emotional love tank. When you speak your spouse's primary love language, you're filling up the emotional love tank, and when you don't speak it for long periods of time, or when you take their love language and you turn it around and do that in a negative way, for example, if words of affirmation is their language, and you give them critical and harsh words, it's like, shooting a hole in the tank. It's a picture that I think people can get a hold of, and it's been very helpful to a lot of people

Chris Grace:

Yeah, it sure has. Gary, we're so excited to have you come out and join us here in Southern California at your event that's coming up in February. Is there anything you would want to tell the listeners that they can look forward to and why should they come and why should they bring their friends? I'll just tell you where I'm going with this. I want to bring and encourage not only believers to come, but to bring their unchurched friends. Tell us why this is so important to you and what you're thinking about when it comes to this conference.

Gary Chapman:

I really believe that wherever you are in the journey, and let's face it, couples have different quality of marriages. Some people have good marriages. Some people have great marriages. Some people are struggling in their marriage. This is not just a conference for people that are struggling. This is for people who have various kinds of marriages at the present time. Marriages are either growing or they are regressing. They never stand still. This conference is designed to stimulate growth in the marriage, and engaged couples, I really encourage engaged couples to come, because it'll give you a good perspective on getting started in the marriage.

 

What's been very interesting to me is that when I do these conferences, we have all ages there. We have couples that have been married for 40 years and 50 years, and we have couples that have been married for three weeks. As I said earlier, sometimes single adults choose to come because they just want to learn about marriage. It's not a seminar that's designed specifically for people that are struggling, though, people that are struggling will find help. In fact, many times people come up to me and said, "We came to your seminar five years ago, and to be honest, it was a last ditch effort, and it really was the turning point that got us moving in a positive direction."

 

I'm excited about being there. We've seen a lot of positive results from these seminars, and looking forward to being in Southern California again.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Let me mention one other group, Gary, that I think really should go there, and that would be singles. I think it's good for singles to get a little bit of a preview of what's coming later in their life, although the stuff that you're going to share about conflict resolution, some of that stuff is such common principles that can be used in almost any context. We encourage our students to go to these conferences, just so that they can start to understand the complexity of marriage, the joy of marriage, the challenges of marriage, and no doubt, some of the great principles you're going to share can be used in roommate relationships and family relationships and things like that. To our listeners, we would really encourage singles to go to it.

Gary Chapman:

I would encourage that also. I sometimes say when I speak on college campuses, the time to prepare for marriage is not after you get engaged. The time to prepare for marriage is now. You may not even be dating, but if you ever plan to get married, there are some things you ought to be learning now. I wrote a book few years ago called Things I Wish I Had Known Before We Got Married. It's 12 things I know now, had I known then, would've made marriage much easier for me. That's designed for single adults, that book, but everything we do at the conference, singles will find profit from.

Chris Grace:

Gary, thank you so much for joining us. An amazing impact. Transformative ministry you've had in so many people's lives, and we're just honored to be able to speak with you today on this podcast, The Art of Relationships. Thank you so much for joining us and for all of your work in ministry and time. What a blessing to have you there, and it has been great visiting for you.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah, thank you, Gary, for taking time to be with us.

Gary Chapman:

Thank you, Chris and Tim. It's good to be with you. You guys keep up the good work.

Tim Muehlhoff:

All right.

Chris Grace:

Thank you. Thank you, buddy. See you later. For any of our listeners that are interested in attending this event on February 25th, 2017, simply go to the website of evfreefullerton.com. That's E-V-Free-Fullerton-dot-com. You can register for the event, or go to cmr.biola.edu to our event webpage so you can sign up on either of those. We look forward to having you join us on February 25th with Dr. Gary Chapman talking about all things relationships, and specifically The Five Love Languages, his other book on how to do marriage that you've always wanted. What a great opportunity. Go to our website, and we'll see you then.


The Art of Relationships Podcast

The Art of Relationships podcast, hosted by Dr. Chris Grace and Dr. Tim Muehlhoff, is centered on helping you build healthy relationships and marriages. In this podcast, Chris (director of Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and professor of psychology at Biola University) and Tim (professor of communication at Biola University and author of I Beg to Differ), weigh in on how to navigate the complexities of relationships in our culture with biblical wisdom and scholarly research. Listen to get practical insights on relationships, dating and marriage that can be applied to all relationships  — family, friends, co-workers and others.

 

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