ONE ON ONE
Is your love language words
of affirmation? Quality time?
Giving and receiving gifts, acts
of service or physical touch? It’s
been 25 years since the release
of Gary Chapman’s enormously
best-selling book The Five Love
Languages. Chapman had several
Canadian speaking engagements
this year to mark the milestone.
He spoke with Faith Today editor
Karen Stiller about the book, its
legacy and the new challenge to
Faith Today: As you celebrate
this publishing anniversary,
has anything changed in your
approach? Would you write the
book differently today?
Gary Chapman: Not really. I think
the basic need to feel loved is
universal, and it transcends
generations. Everyone needs
to feel loved by the significant
people in their lives. When I first
discovered the five love languages
in my counselling, I used it for
several years in my practice. I
knew it would help people. The
basic message has been the same
all through the 25 years.
F T: One of the premises of the
book is that we express love in the
way we best receive it, but if your
spouse’s love language is different,
then we have some learning to do.
GC: That’s true for at least 75 per
cent of the people. There are some
people whose language they want
to receive is the one they typically
give to people. It’s a learned
phenomenon. Let’s say a husband
freely gives gifts to his wife, but
it’s not what he wants. He was
taught that as a child. That’s not
his language, but for most of us
the one we speak most often is
the one we want to receive.
F T: Are there any less popular
gifts? For example, we’ve heard
some people gently mock the love
language of receiving gifts.
GC: We’re not adverse to receiving
them. We’re not turned off by a
gift. It’s just a gift. A gift alone is
not going to communicate love to
us emotionally. We appreciate the
gift, but if words of affirmation is
my love language, and you don’t
give them to me, I won’t feel loved
even if you give me gifts.
If gifts, for example, is not your
love language, but it’s number
five on your list, and you find out
it’s your spouse’s number one
love language, it will be a learning
curve. But the good news is you
can learn it. You can learn to speak
any of these languages even if you
didn’t receive them as a child. Your
number five will be the steepest
learning curve if that’s your
With gifts, because the
Christian faith has always frowned
on materialism, there are some
people who think that should not
be their gift, but it’s the thought
that counts, and so it can be a
little thing. My wife, I happen to
know she likes butternut candy
bars, and so periodically I’ll be
somewhere and see one and pick
it up and bring it to her. It can be
little things that you know are
meaningful to them, and you
drop them in on times other than
birthdays or Christmas.
I think there’s nothing wrong
with having the language of gifts.
It’s not that you are materialistic
and want to gather up all these
things and find security in them.
It’s the fact that the other person
knows you well enough and when
they are away from you, they are
thinking of you.
FT: This book has struck a chord
with people who aren’t Christians as
well as in the Christian community.
Why do you think that is?
GC: That was one of the purposes
I had when I wrote the book, to
write it in such a way that it would
appeal to non-Christians as well
as Christians. I don’t quote a lot
of Scripture in the book. I could
give scores of Scripture for each of
these. In the end of the book I talk
about how I’ve given information,
but I can’t give motivation, and
then I tell [readers] where my
motivation came from. It’s a
pre-evangelism book that paves
the way, and it has opened many
doors for me. This week I leave
to speak at a medical convention.
Recently I spoke in Edmonton
to public school teachers and
principals. It has opened doors to
get in the mainstream of society.
Christians and non-Christians have
the need to feel loved. It’s because
we’re made in God’s image and
God is love.
FT: Have the challenges to
marriage changed since the book
first came out?
GC: I think technology has been
both a blessing and curse to
relationships. There are a lot of
positive things – when we’re apart
we can call each other, Facetime
and talk. All that is very good. On
the other hand technology can
pull us apart. It’s a matter of Are
we going to control technology or
will technology control us? All of
us have been out at a restaurant
and seen a couple sitting there
and they are both on their phones,
looking at the screens. And we’ve
seen that with kids [at home]. So,
I think we have to be wise about
technology. That’s probably the
one thing that is different now
than 25 years ago – the pervasive
dependence, the addiction really,
that we feel we have to respond to
it, rather than Let’s use the technology and let it go to voicemail.
FT: There is also the reality of
never being able to be alone. Even
time away from a spouse without
always texting can be healthy.
GC: I think that’s true. We all
need time alone and some people
need more than others. Whether
it’s travelling or the daily flow of
life, we all need time to reflect
and think, and talk to God about
our relationship and everything
else in life. /FT
The Five Love Languages turns 25: Our mini-interview with author Gary Chapman
WWW.FAITHTODAY.CA / MAY / JUNE 2017 37