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Friday, February 3, 2012

The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman

I read the above-referenced book eons ago but was reminded of it this week, so looked up my typewritten notes on it.  First, I love taking quizzes to find out more about myself and, second, what a great tool to utilize in my novels on relationships and love.  Oh, yeah, and let's not forget its intended purpose--to be useful in real life.

To summarize the five love languages, per Dr. Gary Chapman, we have our first and primary language.  If our spouse has another way that is primary for him, maybe it isn't being received or seen as love in action.  Sadly, we may actually be loved but just not in the way that counts most for us.

Plus we have secondary love languages to consider.

Here's the choices:  (1) words of affirmation, (2) quality time, (3) receiving gifts, (4) acts of service and (5) physical touch.  The quiz consists of thirty pairings, where you have to choose one of the two.

I wonder if it is normal to have a zero score on one element of the above listing?  I did on gifts.  I've never been a fan of presents on that set, preplanned annual occurrence.  I would much rather a friend or family member help out when there is a need.  Plus, I'm probably hard to buy for.  I'd prefer to receive cash to pay bills (I know, boring--but practical) or one of the books off my Wish List at Amazon.

I love buying used paperbacks at Half-Price Books from my Also Want list to complete my J.D. Robb series, my Janet Evanovich series, or some of Nora Roberts's many novels that I don't yet have.  So I guess in a way, I'm actually easy to buy for.  Give me a gift certificate to a book store (or a monthly supply of Starbucks beans) and I'm good to go.

My primary love language was evident, scoring a ten.  My secondary love language actually was tied with another, but yet I can see one hedging out in front.  Still both earned a score of eight.  My last love language rated a four, with gifts getting a big fat goose egg.  So those three at the top of my list are pretty closely situated.

Think about your story characters.  What if we had a man that brought fancy gifts, daily, to a practical yet mortified woman (much like me) who just wants her bills paid timely and not some expensive tchotchke to gather dust on a shelf?  You can see where that relationship is doomed.  His natural inclination to show his love is wasted on our particular female.

Or you could have a woman who loves to do things for others, her man included, and his language may be quality time.  She's off flitting around washing his clothes, detailing his vehicle, picking up his dry cleaning, cooking meals, sewing on missing buttons and what-have-you.

Or worse yet--in his eyes anyway--spending all her time volunteering on committees, taking her away from home most nights when he's finally off from work and all that he wants is for her to sit next to him while he watches the game or maybe a movie they both choose.

Could be his need to feel loved is satisfied merely by her sitting outside with him after having eaten dinner together and now sharing a coffee or one glass of wine.  That would be one miserable couple.  Or rather one miserable husband and one surprised wife if he complained to her, trying to communicate what he sought from the relationship.

I can see lots of uses for these love languages by putting some relationships to the test in many a novel.

Like I mentioned earlier, it has been a long while since I read the book.  I wonder what Dr. Chapman has to say about the chances for changing one's foremost love language to suit a lover, a spouse?  It probably doesn't work that way.  I somehow feel that we are predestined to seek and show love the way we do.  Each of us are "as is" in that department, IMO.

Still, it would make for a fun research project and a great reason for me to read Dr. Chapman's book again.

However, I could see where if lovers or spouses had their first and second love languages swapped, in reverse order, that particular situation should be successful, right?  For example, let's create a man and woman who have yet to meet, but set them up to fall in love and get that happily ever after.

For the man, his first love language could be physical touch followed by words of affirmation.  Hers would be flip-flopped, with words of affirmation first, physical touch second.  I could see where that would work both in reality and in fiction.

Conversely, try to mate an acts-of-service person with a receiving-gifts individual and I see a big mess.  Here's a guy or gal wanting a real present, fancy bow, beautiful gift wrap paper, something probably costly inside the big or little box and instead you have their spouse into fixing the broken garage door, cleaning out the dryer before the backed-up lint catches fire, taking down the Christmas tree and boxing up the ornaments to return to the attic all by January 5 each year.  Sounds wonderful (to me), but not that other person.  What a shame.

Being an author, a logophile, which love language do you think was my number one?

Read the book, take the quiz, have your spouse do the same.  Compare notes.  Understand your mate, communicate better.

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