Episode 55 - The Five Love Languages - An Interview with Dr. Gary Chapman
Over the years, we have seen marriages break down for no apparent cause. One or both of the spouses simply said that they were no longer 'in love' with their other. Fortunately, this does not have to happen. There are things that you can do today that will insure a long and happy marriage. Dr. Gary Chapman had spent 30 years counseling couples when he saw a pattern emerge. He recognized 5 different Love Languages people used to express love. His book, The 5 Love Languages, has sold over 12 million copies and been translated into 50 different languages. He has authored over 40 books and his life has been dedicated to building healthy, happy marriages. In this show, Dr. Chapman shares his inspiration for the book, unpacks the 5 Love Languages, and discusses how to use them to take your marriage to the next level.
Todd Orston: Falling in love is easy. Staying in love, that can take some work. Research indicates that the head over heels, champagne in the veins feeling, lasts on average two years, and when that love, that in love feeling fades, suddenly disagreements surface and disappointment sets in. Till death do us part becomes a life sentence. For some, divorce becomes an option. As surprising as it may sound, we are not here today to discuss that option. Today, it's all about gaining tools to help make sure that you never have to hire any attorney, including our firm. Welcome, everyone, and before we get started, Leh, why don't you introduce us.
Leh Meriwether: Hey, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners of the law firm Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on The New Talk 106.7. Here you will learn about divorce, family law, tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis, and from time to time like today, even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level. If you wanna learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com. Well Todd, you're excited.
Todd Orston: I know, every show.
Leh Meriwether: But even this show, I mean more excited.
Todd Orston: I'm looking forward to the show where you're just like, "You know what, I'm not really looking forward to this one."
Leh Meriwether: Well, nearly a decade ago, I read a book that opened my eyes to some of the divorces I was seeing. Before reading this book, I would see one divorce after another that didn't make sense to me. I couldn't understand why these marriages did not last. Of course, I was not walking in the shoes of my clients, I had no idea what they were feeling and I definitely wasn't in the place to judge any decision they had made. But the decision ... if I can say decision-
Todd Orston: Keep going, you'll get it right.
Leh Meriwether: ... it still didn't make sense to me, until I read this book. And this book gave me a really clear understanding of what was going on in a vast majority situations.
Todd Orston: You've mentioned the book in previous shows.
Leh Meriwether: I have, and you know what, what's really amazing about this book, it was originally written in 1992. It has sold over 12 million copies, have been translated into 50 different languages and the author has over 300,000 people visiting his website every month. And the book has made The New York Times best seller list. It originally made it in 2008 and has remained there ever since. It ranks as the number one best selling self-help title in the United States. Of course the book I'm referring to is The Five Love Languages, the secret to love that lasts, but actually I'm not gonna talk about that book today.
Todd Orston: Really, wow, you got me excited.
Leh Meriwether: Oh, well did I mention that I wasn't gonna talk about 'cause we got the author on the line.
Todd Orston: Oh, now that makes sense.
Leh Meriwether: Well you would definitely won't wanna hear from me 'cause I'm not the expert. But who we have on the line is Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman thanks so much for coming on the show.
Dr. Chapman: Well thank you guys, I'm glad to be with you.
Leh Meriwether: Well Dr. Chapman, I understand that before you wrote this book, you were a counselor for about 30 years and then something happened that sort of got this whole thing started. Do you mind sharing that with us.
Dr. Chapman: You know the book did grow out of my counseling experience. It all started about ... I don't know, how many years ago. But a couple came in, they'd been married to each other for 30 years and they sat down and she said to me upfront, "Dr. Chapman let me just tell you, the problem is I don't feel any love coming from him. We're like two roommates living in the same house. He does his thing and I do my thing." And she said, "I'm just empty and I can't go on like this."
And I looked at him and he said, "I don't understand her. I do everything I can to show her that I love her and then she says she doesn't feel loved." I said, "Well, what do you do?" He said, "Well, I get home before she does, so I start the evening meal. And after dinner," he said, "I wash the dishes and on Thursday night, I vacuum the floor and every Saturday I wash the car and mow the grass and help her with the laundry." He went on, I was beginning to wonder, "What does this woman do?" It sounded to me like he was doing everything, and he said, "I do all this and she sits there and says she doesn't feel loved." He said, "Dr. Chapman, I don't know what else to do."
Well I look back at her and she started crying and she said, "Dr. Chapman he's right, he's a hard working man, but we don't ever talk. He's always mowing the grass, washing the dishes, vacuuming the floors, keeps going, we never talk." And I realized, he was a sincere husband who was doing everything he knew to do to show his wife that he loved her, and she didn't get it. And after that, I kept hearing similar stories over and over in my office and I knew there had to be a pattern to what I was hearing.
So eventually I sat down and read several years of notes that I had made when I was counseling people and asked myself the question. "When someone sat in my office and said I feel like my spouse doesn't love me, what did they want? What were they complaining about?" And their answers fell into five categories and I later call them The Five Love Languages and I start using that idea in my counseling.
I said, "What makes you feel loved, doesn't necessarily make them feel loved. So if you want them to feel loved, you gotta speak love in their love language." And I would share that with couples and help them discover each other's love language and they would go home and try it. And many times come back in three weeks and say, "Gary, this is changing everything, the whole climate's different now." Then I started using in small groups, and the same thing would happen.
Probably five years later, I thought if I could put this concept in a book, write it in the language of the common person, maybe I could help a lot of couples I would never have time to see in office. That's how the book happened. And as you mentioned earlier, it sold over 12 million copies in English and been translated in 50 languages around the world. So, been very encouraging to see how many couples have been helped by this book.
Leh Meriwether: I know, I can say personally that I have handed this book out. When I'm talking to people on the phone and they're debating whether to come in, I'll email them a link to the book. And I've heard back from some people that I'll follow up with those people and they'll comeback to me and say, "Wow, it changed everything," and they didn't need to hire me. Which as odd as that sounds, we actually celebrate that.
Todd Orston: Yeah, we weren't unhappy you took business away from us.
Dr. Chapman: Absolutely, but you know there are a number of attorneys that I've talked with throughout the country who do give that book out and have the same attitude you have. That if there's an option between reconciliation and divorce, they're gonna encourage the couple to seek reconciliation. And so I deeply appreciate that coming from attorneys.
Todd Orston: So what do you say, let's dive in. Let's really start understanding and let's allow our listeners to truly understand what the book's about, what lessons can be learned from the book, so Leh take it away.
Leh Meriwether: All right, well you touched on it, what are those ... let's sort of take a 40,000 foot view at first, and then we'll dive a little bit deeper. But what are The Five Love Languages?
Dr. Chapman: One of them is words of affirmation, "You look nice in that outfit, really appreciate what you did. One of the things I like about you is," it's just giving words of affirmation. Look for something that you like about them and just give the words of affirmation.
The second love language is gifts. It's universal to give gifts as an expression of love. The gift says, "They were thinking about me. Look what they got for me." Doesn't have to be an expensive gift, it's the thought that counts. But I like to say to couples, "Remember, it's not the thought left in your head that counts. It's the gift that came out of the thoughts in your head." So gift.
Number three is acts of services, doing something for the other person that you know they would like for you to do. And it can be the kind of things this man was doing, you know, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, those kind of things. You remember the old saying, "Actions speak louder than words." If this is a person's love language, that statement's true. Actions will speak louder than words.
And then number four is quality time, giving the person your undivided attention. I do not mean sitting on the couch watching television together, because someone else has your attention. I'm talking about sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other, talking to each other or taking a walk down the road together and talking.
And then number five is physical touch. We've long known the emotional power of physical touch. That's why we pick up babies and hold them and kiss them and cuddle them and long before the baby understands the meaning of the word love, the baby feels love. A physical touch and the same thing is true of adults, a physical touch.
So those are the Five Love Languages and basic idea of course is that each of us, out of those five, we have a primary love language. One of the five means more to us than the other four, and if you don't speak their primary love language, they won't feel loved. I don't care how many other languages you're speaking. It's a simple concept but it radically changes the emotional climate between the couple.
Leh Meriwether: So have you found that couple and couples that a person has sort of one primary love language?
Dr. Chapman: Yeah one primary and they may have a secondary that will be rather close to the primary. I have had people say to me, "Dr. Chapman, I think two of those are just about equal for me." And my response is, "Fine, we'll give you two love languages. We'll call you bilingual." It means either one of those is gonna strike the code in their heart that they love. But most people have a primary and then a secondary that's a little less important, and then the other three fall in line under that.
Now in a marriage, seldom does a husband and wife have the same love language, and there in lies the problem because we tend to speak our own language.
Leh Meriwether: Dr. Chapman, can I get you to hold on for just a minute.
Todd Orston: We have to speak a different language.
Leh Meriwether: Right, and when we come right back, I definitely want people to hear this powerful information.
Welcome back everyone. I'm Lee Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. And you're listening to Meriwether and Thorpe Radio on The New Talk 106.7. If you wanna learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com, but today you definitely don't wanna visit us online. You wanna visit Dr. Gary Chapman's website because today we have him on the line talking about his amazing book, The Five Love Languages.
You know I just realized I didn't ask you this earlier Dr. Chapman, what is the place that people can go and learn more about this if they don't immediately buy the book, if they wanna read out more on The Five Love Languages?
Dr. Chapman: It would be 5lovelanguages.com, the number 5. 5lovelanguages.com.
Leh Meriwether: Okay, great. Of course, I know the website doesn't cover everything, that's why I would still recommend everybody to read the book. But how is it that someone ... we left off, you're talking about that usually people have a primary love language. I guess before we get into which ones they are, go a little deeper, how do you find out what your primary love language is?
Dr. Chapman: Well you can go online at that same website and take a profile, it's a free profile in which you answer thirty questions and you make choices between two things. For example, "I feel loved when we take a walk together, or I feel love when you give me a back rub?" But if you could only have one of those, which one would you choose? So you make 30 choices and it tells you your love language.
But I'll give you three practical ways apart from that. One is to ask yourself, "How do I specifically express appreciation to other people?" For example, if you're always patting people on the back or giving them high fives, then physical touch is probably your language. You're touching others because it's meaningful to you, or if you're always giving people words of affirmation, you know encouraging words. Then that's probably your love language. And if you wanna know the other person's language, you do the same thing. You observe their behavior, how do they respond to other people? If you hear them on the telephone encouraging someone, then you can assume that words of affirmation is their love language.
A second way is to ask, "What do I complain about most often?" If you are regularly saying to your spouse, "We just don't have any time together anymore. I mean, we used to spend time together. I just feel like we're ships passing in the night." So your complaint is revealing that your love language is quality time. Or if you say, "I don't think you would ever touch me, if I didn't initiate it." You're telling them that physical touch is your love language. Or if they go on a business trip and they come home and you say, "You didn't bring me anything? I'm telling you, "Gifts is my love language." You know we tend to get defensive when someone complains, but really the complaint is giving you valuable information in telling you what would make them feel loved.
And then a third is to say, "What do I request most often or what do they request most often?" If for example you're saying rather regularly, Honey, can we take a walk after dinner? It's so nice out there, I'd just love to take a walk with you." We're asking for quality time. Or if you are getting ready to go on a business trip and they say, "Be sure and bring me a surprise." They're telling you, the request tells you their love language is gifts. So you put those three together. How has the person typically respond to other people, what do they complain about most often, and what do they request most often?
You put three together, you can figure out your love language and you can figure out your spouse's love language.
Leh Meriwether: So it sounds like it could be helpful to sort of rephrase in your mind when someone ... you say, "Well they're just complaining." They're not really complaining, they're just not they are just saying, "Hey this is how I'd like to be loved." They're trying to share information with you.
Dr. Chapman: Absolutely. We get defensive. You know if a wife says to her husband, "I just feel like we don't have any time together anymore." He may likely say, "What do you mean no time together, we went out to dinner Thursday night."
Todd Orston: I can tell you right now, both my kids, it's definitely gifts. They ask for it, they are unhappy if they don't get them, so I'm just gonna make some notes. I'm pretty sure that's gifts for both of them.
Dr. Chapman: But just keep in mind now, the gifts don't have to be expensive, okay?
Todd Orston: Well again-
Dr. Chapman: You don't have to give them everything they ask for.
Todd Orston: You haven't met my children so they have expensive tastes.
Dr. Chapman: Oh.
Leh Meriwether: Maybe we need to work on kid.
Dr. Chapman: I think we do. They'll be on the next show.
Leh Meriwether: I keep saying let's dive deeper, but there's one thing that I did want you to touch on Dr. Chapman because I love how you begin that book talking about the in love feeling. Do you mind going into that a little bit, because we've seen people that are on the verge of an adulterous affair because they have this in love feeling. They may not have jumped to it but they think that this person, they're in love with them. And I think if the listeners understand what that is, they may put a pause on that and turn back to their marriage?
Dr. Chapman: Yeah. You know, we have exalted this in love experience in our culture, as being the foundation for marriage and that's a false judgment, primarily because it only last two years. Dorothy [Tenard 00:17:11] Bridgeport, Connecticut, did a long-term study on the in love experience and found out that the average lifespan is two years, some a little longer, some a little less. We do come down off the high.
The in love experience, when you see certain people, there's something about the way they look, the way they talk, the way they emote. They will give you what I call an emotional tingle, it's just something inside of you that's kind of drawn to them. And it's the tingles that will lead you to go out to diner together. Sometimes you lose the tingles on the first night, you find out something about them that you can't tolerate. And the next time they call you for a hamburger, you're not hungry. So that relationship never gets off the ground, but others every time you're together, it's gets more exciting, more exciting and one night one of you will say, "You know, I think I could love you." We're testing the waters to see if they feel what we feel.
And if they give you a positive response such as, "What would be so bad about that?" You have [crosstalk 00:18:22] and the next time the moment is right, you will say the words, "I love you." And you wait for them to say, "I love you too." Wow, now it becomes an emotional obsession, you literally get obsessed with them, can't get them off your mind, go to bed thinking about them, wake up thinking about them. All day long you think about them, they are the most wonderful person in your life.
Now your mother can see their flaws, but you can't. Your mother will say, "Well honey have you considered they haven't had a steady job in five years." And you will say, "Mama give them a break, they're just waiting for the right opportunity." This in love thing, our music, our movies give the idea that if you've got the real thing it will last forever. You'll have those high emotional feelings forever and you'll be supremely happy for ever.
Reality, in two years, you will come down off the high and that's when the differences emerge, and that's when we begun to disagree and end up arguing. And before long, we're saying hateful things to each other. And a little further down the road, we're saying, "You know, I don't even like them anymore." Then before long we're saying, "We're just too different. It's just not gonna work." This is the pattern, this is the way it goes.
The reality is, they I came down off the high, a very normal thing, they did not know how to keep emotional love alive in the relationship. So their differences led to arguments, their arguments led to hurt feelings, their hurt feeling led into withdrawal from each other. Then one of them gets a tingle for somebody else outside the marriage and they say, "Oh, I just love them." And so now the whole cycle starts over again, they leave their spouse, they go off with a new person and then they get married and two years later they come down off the high.
That's why as you know the divorce rate in second marriages is higher than the divorce rate in first marriages. And yeah, we think, "Well, we've learned," no we haven't learned, we just go and do a new high. So that's why this is so important for couples to understand that the in love experience is temporary. And you're gonna have to learn how to intentionally love each other if you're gonna keep emotional love alive in the relationship.
Leh Meriwether: Dr. Chapman, one of my first experiences with this was years ago, gosh it was probably almost 10 years ago now it was within a year of reading your book and I had someone who was living in another state and he was with another woman. And his wife had filed for divorce and he had hired me and we were talking and I kept getting a strange feeling for him. And I said, "Look, you know your wife doesn't really want the divorce, I talked to her divorce lawyer, she doesn't really want the divorce and maybe you should work on it."
He said something along the lines, "Well, you know what, I feel like I need to give this girl a chance, I think I'm in love with her." And so I mentioned that part of your book, I said, "That's just a biochemical response and if you were to learn her love language and she learned your love language, that loving feeling would come back." And he was like, "What?" So I sent him a copy of the book, she actually read a copy of the book and they both dismissed their divorce.
So that knowledge is so powerful and up next, I promise we're really gonna go deeper into love languages so people can understand just what it means when you say, "Words of affirmation." We're gonna go deeper so that people understand even when they're having trouble giving words of affirmation. I know Dr. Chapman, you've got some very special tips for them.
Dr. Chapman: Look forward to it.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone, I'm Leh Meriwether with me is Todd Orston, Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on The New Talk 106.7. Here you're gonna learn all about ... today, you're actually gonna learn all about marriage. You're gonna learn about The Five Love Languages and the ways you can actually take your marriage to the next level. Yet today we are not talking about divorce, we're talking about ways to avoid ... I mean to put you in a position where you never have to hire a divorce law firm.
On the phone we have Dr. Gary Chapman the author of The Five Love Languages with us to give us that information. Dr. Chapman thanks so much for coming on the show.
Dr. Chapman: Well thank you, I'm glad to be with you guys.
Leh Meriwether: And I was teasing at the last segment, I kept getting sidetracked with stuff, so let's dive deep into ... well as deep as we can in 11 minutes. But go into a little bit deeper on the different love languages and just start with words of affirmation. You explained what that was earlier, but what do you do with someone who's struggling giving words of affirmation that's not their love language?
Dr. Chapman: Yeah. Well if they didn't grow up receiving words of affirmation, it can be difficult for them to learn how to speak words of affirmation. I've had husbands say to me, "I just can't say those things to my wife, it just seems unnatural to me," and it is unnatural to them. But if you want her to feel loved, you've gotta learn how to speak it.
So the good news is you can learn to speak any of these languages. So I would say to that husband, "Okay, get your notebook, write down sentences that you hear other husbands say to their wives or maybe something you read in a magazine or in a book. Write them down, stand in front of the mirror, say them out loud, read them out loud to yourself until you begin feel a little more comfortable. Then pick out one, walk in the room where your wife is, when she's looking in the other direction and say it and then run, then you've broke the silence. The second time is easier, the third time is easier, the fourth time is easier." You can learn to speak these languages even if you didn't receive them as a child and even if they feel unnatural to you.
Todd Orston: All right. Next one, let's talk about quality time, what Dr. Chapman adds the quote, "Quality time spent together." I mean how do you define time as being quality time?
Dr. Chapman: It's when you give the other person your undivided attention. It can be a 5 minute conversation or a 35 minute conversation, but they have full attention. The TV's off, the computer screen is down, you're looking at each other and talking. Or you're talking a walk down the road and talking and going out to eat, assuming that you talk while you're eating, which many couples don't of course. But it's not only conversation, each of the languages has what I call dialects and one of the dialects is conversation.
But it may also be doing something with them that they enjoy doing, maybe it's planting a flower garden together. But the important thing is not the flower garden, the important thing is we're doing this together, it's that desire to share and experience together, that can be a quality time. So the main thing is that you're giving your full attention to them, either talking with them or doing something with them that you know they enjoy doing.
Todd Orston: And that resonates with me, because my wife, she likes going for walks and it's not ... I know this, it's not all about exercise. She'll look at me and she'll say, "Do you wanna take a walk with me?" And even if we don't say two or three words during the walk, we usually say many more than that. But the point is just the fact that we took that walk together means a lot to her.
Dr. Chapman: Because you have her undivided attention, you're walking down together, exploring the sights and sounds around you and then that's a dialect, the quality time.
Leh Meriwether: Now do you have a recommended minimum recommended sort of minimum daily requirement of talk in a healthy marriage?
Dr. Chapman: I do. My minimum requirement is this. Tell me three things that happen in your life today and how you feel about them? It's simple. You know, "I had lunch today with John, we had a conversation about dah, dah, dah." "How'd you feel about it?" "Ah, a little disappointed. I hoped it would go a different direction, but it was okay." Just something that happened today, "I stopped by the station and put gas in my car." "How'd you feel about it?" "I felt good because it was cheaper than it was yesterday, I feel like I waited and got it on the right day."
So it's just sharing three things that happened today and how you feel about it. I call it the daily minimum requirement, just like Vitamin C. You do that, then there will probably be other conversation that will flow along throughout the day. But many couples, they don't reach the minimum, they don't share with each other three things that happen. Your wife says, "How did it go today?" And he says, "Fine, yeah everything is fine, yeah, good day." That's it.
Todd Orston: That sounds like my conversation with my kids every day after school.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah, right, "What happened at school?" "Not much."
Todd Orston: "Nothing."
Leh Meriwether: Well you should try this on and on.
Todd Orston: I am.
Leh Meriwether: You had say this, that ... I went to your recent Marriage Conference and it was fantastic and you had said that actually one of the struggles I had my wife on the way home was ... and I'm using your terms now, "I would sometimes be on my drive home the babbling brook. You know not always as babbling brook, but on the way home I would be that and she would become the Dead Sea." So when I call now she's like, "Hey can I tell you my three things that happened to me today?" And I'm like please 'cause I think I became the babbling brook 'cause she wasn't ... I would ask, "How was your day?" She's like, "Fine." So we learned a lot.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah that's natural, some people lean towards being Dead Seas, which means they receive but they don't give much verbally in talking. And then there are those that just whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell, they talk, they talk and these two are married to each other. And so consequently the talker wishes the other one would talk more and the Dead Sea wishes they would slow down and give them a little break. But the reality is we can live in the middle and any couple can have a good marriage and good communication.
Todd Orston: All right, let's move on to the next one. Let's talk about like I said before my children's favorite, gifts, all right. What is the language of receiving gifts?
Dr. Chapman: You know it's universal to give gifts. I studied Anthropology before I started counseling, which is a study of cultures around the world. We've never discovered a culture where gift giving is not an expression of love and as I said earlier, it doesn't have to be an expensive gift. But when you give something to someone, if this is their love language, it's gonna communicate to them that you were thinking about them while you were walking down the road. You picked up a feather, you picked up a leaf with a special color, and say, "I saw this and I thought about you." It communicates to them that you are thinking about them.
That's the issue, it's not how much it cost. Now obviously if you've got plenty of money, and you got to the dollar store and by all of your gifts, then that's different.
Todd Orston: You're speaking different languages if that happens.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah, that's right. But if you don't have much money, you don't have to have much money. They know you don't have money, so you look for things that you can give them. And if gifts is their language, it will be meaningful to them emotionally.
Leh Meriwether: So you hear that Todd, so get some leaves.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah, what I heard is, yeah, I'm gonna go get my wife a leaf today. And say, "Honey, this means I love you."
Leh Meriwether: Although that won't work 'cause she knows how much money you make.
Todd Orston: Yeah, it's tricky. I am fairly certain sure. My wife, she's not one of those that needs the big gift, as a matter of fact she's the opposite. But more than just a fallen leaf, probably. But your point is well taken, you have to understand your spouse.
Dr. Chapman: Absolutely, when I got married, I gave my wife gifts. I thought that's what you're supposed to do, "Give her gifts, give her gifts." Every gift I gave her, she would take it back to the store and exchange it. But that was her.
Todd Orston: Are we married to the same person because I almost gave up.
Dr. Chapman: And eventually I said, "Honey, let's just cut out the middle person, why don't you just take the money and buy your own gift."
Todd Orston: That's right.
Dr. Chapman: Gifts was her number five. I mean really, it didn't mean that much to her, gifts. I thought I was doing great, but what she really wanted was for me to help her around the house, do the dishes, vacuum the floors. "Do something to help me," that's what she wanted that made her feel loved.
Leh Meriwether: All right. Well, speaking of that, that's acts of service, right?
Dr. Chapman: Acts of service.
Leh Meriwether: So are there situations where you could do household chores though, but still not feel the spouse's love tank?
Dr. Chapman: Well, yes if acts of service is not their love language, then you can be washing dishes every night, and vacuuming the floors every other night, and they still won't feel loved. If for example their language is words of affirmation and you don't give them any words of affirmation, you're loving them in your mind, but they're not getting it because it's not their language.
And if it is their language, if acts of service is their language, what you wanna know is, "What are the things I could do that would be most meaningful to you?" Because maybe you think it would be washing dishes or vacuuming floors. But maybe in their mind, it would be taking out the trash, it would be washing their car and vacuuming the inside of the car. But they have an idea of which dialects would be most important for them.
And once you discover each other's language, then what you wanna know is, "Okay, in that language, what are some of the things that will be most important to you?" And you spend your time and energy doing the things that are most important. And you get the most emotional credit when you do that.
Leh Meriwether: Ah, very smart. So we don't waste our energy.
Dr. Chapman: Right.
Leh Meriwether: Well, I do have a question. How can we act? Let's say someone's love language is acts of service. And you know what I probably need you to do, I'm gonna ask the question and then let's save the answer for the next, for when we come right back. So here's the question, how can you ask for acts of service? So let's say that's your love language without sounding like you're being manipulative. So when we come right back Dr. Chapman is gonna answer that question and we are gonna wrap up that The Five Love Languages. We'll be right back.
Welcome back everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are talking not about divorce today. We're actually talking about how to take your marriage to the next level. But truthfully, we're not talking, we're actually asking questions of doctor Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages, which has sold over 12 million copies.
Dr. Chapman thanks for staying on the line for this last segment. And we had ended the previous one with a question. And the question was, if your love language is acts of service and you're trying to get someone to do those things. How can you ask for acts of service without sounding or the other person thinking you're trying to be manipulative or something?
Dr. Chapman: Well, if the other person doesn't understand the concept that we have different love languages, they may take it as manipulation. But what you can do, is make it very clear, "You know honey, I'm not demanding this of you, I just wanna share with you. If you want to express love for me, here are three ways you could do it. This would be very meaningful to me." Up to you because love is always a choice, but you don't make demands, you make requests.
Leh Meriwether: Nice. Okay. Oh no, the last one?
Todd Orston: Yeah. Let's talk very quickly about this 'cause there's so much we wanna get into in this last segment. Physical touch, I mean I think you went into it already and on a very basic, very basic level. Obviously, I understand the need to receive affirmation in the form of some level of physical contact. But in terms of the love languages, why don't you give a little more information and explain why that is one of the love languages?
Dr. Chapman: Well, a lot of men will hear physical touch, and they think, "Sex, that's my love language, that you got it man." Well, it's more than sex. Sex is a dialect of physical touch. But if this is your love language, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss, holding hands as you walk into the store. These kind of non sexual touches, that is touches that aren't necessarily gonna lead to sexual intercourse, these kind of touches will be meaningful to you if this is your love language. So don't equate physical touch with sexual intercourse, far more than that. Though that is obviously an important dialect of physical touch.
Leh Meriwether: Now I got a tough question for you because I have heard people say this before. How do you touch someone that you've grown to hate? The relation is broken down and you're saying, "Dr. Chapman, well I gotta touch him? I don't love him anymore, I hate him now."
Dr. Chapman: When we have negative feelings, obviously there's a history as to why we have negative feelings. "They haven't spoken our love language," and maybe, "They've been very destructive to ward us." But we don't have to be controlled by our feelings, we don't deny our feelings.
But if you want to have an influence on your spouse, you can speak their love language even though you don't have the emotions that are pushing you to do that. And when you do and you're consistent over a period of time, you are touching them at a rather deep level and you're influencing them. We can't control our spouse, but we can influence our spouse. And speaking their love language over an extended period of time is the most powerful way to influence your spouse in a positive direction.
Leh Meriwether: Here is a different one, I know the last one on the love languages, but if you're not a touchy feely person, how do you try to speak physical touch?
Todd Orston: Without it seeming weird.
Dr. Chapman: It will seem weird when you first start. But if you say to them, "You know I read this book." Or, "We read this book together, we took the quiz together, I know your love language is physical touch. You know that I'm not a toucher by nature, but I'm gonna learn how to touch." And so you start with little things, little pat on the back.
Todd Orston: High five.
Dr. Chapman: They know. They know it's intentional, they know it's intentional. And then maybe you're driving down the road one day and you just put your hand over on their leg, never done that before. Woo, they might even slow down, if that's their love language. So the good news is, it will seem unnatural to you the first few times you speak it, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you become doing it. So the good news is you can learn to speak any of these languages even if they don't come comfortable for you or natural to you.
Leh Meriwether: So I'm gonna ask you some questions about perhaps someone that's just now hearing this and going, "Man, well, if I'm the only one who reads the book in a relationship, how can I use this if the other one doesn't seem willing to fix the relationship?"
Dr. Chapman: Well, if they're not willing to read the book, I'd first ask them to read the book. What I say to wives who ... because women read more books on marriage than men. I say, "You read it, you think it's meaningful, just say to him, I read this book the other day. And it sold 12 million copies and I found it's fascinating. Would you be willing to read chapter one and tell me what you think?" Don't ask him to read the whole book, just chapter one. If he reads chapter one, he'll probably read the whole book, so that's one approach I would like.
But if he's not even willing to do that, you start speaking his language. I say take six month, speak his language on a regular basis and you see what happens. He's firstly gonna ask you probably a month down the road, "What are doing, what's going on with you, what's going here?" And you can say, "Well I read a book about love languages and I think I know your love language and I'm trying to speak it." Wow, you just shocked him. And then a little later on the road, he's gonna say, "Well, what can I do for you, I like what you do, what can I do for you?" See again, you're influencing him by speaking his love language. That's the approach I would take.
Leh Meriwether: So just patience and just speaking the love language. And hopefully ... well usually from my experience and from what you've said, the other person just starts to come around.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah, absolutely not in three weeks, more likely in three months or six months, so don't think short-term, think long-term.
Leh Meriwether: All right, you know I know this isn't the only book you've written. Actually how many books have you written.
Dr. Chapman: To be honest I don't know, but it's over 40. I used to keep count.
Leh Meriwether: I know when I was I on Amazon the other day, I put your name in and I was like, "Whoa," just kept scrolling down.
Todd Orston: Broke the computer.
Leh Meriwether: Broke the computer. Hey there's-
Dr. Chapman: But of course we have a whole series of course on the love languages. As you know The Couple's Book was first, then 5 Languages of Children Written to Parents, 5 Love Languages of Teenagers Written to the Parents, The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition, single adults, Military Edition ... let's see, what are the others. The most recent one is Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer's Journey, that one I'm really excited about. It's for care givers, typically spouses of someone who has Alzheimer's or some other dementia. We think that book's gonna help care givers a lot.
Leh Meriwether: Well that's amazing because I made some jokes about my kids but I know how difficulty, we all know how difficult it is sometimes breaking through to your children, understanding what makes them tick, why they're dealing with problems the way that they're dealing with them and struggling the way they might be struggling. And it's wonderful to see that it's not one size fits all kind of fix here. This is something where it's like, "Look, it resonates with people, it makes sense and by the way, here's how it applies in different situations," that's wonderful.
Dr. Chapman: I'm saying to parents, the question is not, "Do you love your children?" The question is, "Do your children feel loved, does your teenager feel loved?"
Leh Meriwether: And that's powerful.
Dr. Chapman: The Love Languages helps you do that effectively.
Leh Meriwether: I want to share a quick story. I know we're almost out of time but I think this is really powerful. So this is a story about how you're 5 Love Languages of Children really helped a difficult situation. Basically we have a mom and a dad, they're divorced. The reason for the divorce was the husband's, the dad's bad physical violence against mom. And mom just go to the point, she tried everything she could, she really did. But she just didn't want the girls growing up seeing that this was an acceptable way for a man to treat a woman, so that they got into a similar abusive relationship.
Years later, he's gotten to a new relationship and he starts that same physical activity in front of the other woman. But they get into another custody battle at this point and one of the children is nearing a certain age. In Georgia, when you elect, there's a presumption that's in the child's best interest to live with that parent. Well, at this point in time, the dad was actually speaking this girl's love language and she was wanting to go live with her father even though she was witnessing her father beat up his girl friend. I mean there was Facebook posts, it was not pretty. There was no shadow of a doubt what was goin on.
So she was like, "I don't know what to do." And I told her about your book, and she read it and she learned her daughter's love language and begun speaking it. Rather saying anything bad about her father, she didn't say, "Your dad's a bad father," or anything like that. She started speaking her child's love language and her eyes were opened. She created healthy boundaries between her father and her, so that she'd have a relationship with him but not witness that bad conduct. So I wanted to thank you personally for writing that book too 'cause I know it really helped that mom and her daughter.
Dr. Chapman: Yeah, that book has been extremely helpful to parents. I wrote that with Dr. Ross Campbell who was psychiatrist who spent 30 years working with children. He actually died two or three years ago. But that book has helped a lot of parents love children effectively so that the child's love tank ... I like to think of the love tank. The love tank is full when you speak their love language on a regular basis.
Leh Meriwether: Well Dr. Chapman thanks again for coming on the show, we really, really appreciate it and folks, if you wanna read more about him and all the books he's written, definitely check out 5lovelanguages.com.
Dr. Chapman: Well Leh, thank you and Todd, enjoyed chatting with you today.
Todd Orston: Thank you Dr. Chapman.
Speaker 4: This Audio program does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Meriwether & Tharp.