How to Discover Your Family’s Love Language

Gary Chapman, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and counselor who has a passion for people, and for helping them form lasting relationships. Dr. Gary Chapman helps our community learn how to discover your family’s love language (and your spouse’s). Keep reading to learn more from Dr. Gary Chapman!

Dr. Chapman is a well-known marriage counselor and director of marriage seminars. The 5 Love Languages® is one of Chapman’s most popular titles, topping various bestseller charts for years, selling over twelve million copies and has been on the New York Times best-sellers list since 2007. Chapman has been directly involved in real-life family counseling since the beginning of his ministry years, and his nationally-syndicated radio programs air nationally on Moody Radio Network and over 400 affiliate stations.

We challenge you to watch this video without wanting to stop and go learn exactly what your family’s love language is because Dr. Chapman’s life-changing and timeless wisdom here is one to learn and use for stronger relationships.

“Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.” —Dr. Gary Chapman


Let’s talk about Relationships!

I believe the one essential key to having healthy family relationships is that you’re meeting each other’s needs for emotional love.

Almost everyone agrees that the deepest emotional need we have is the need to feel loved by the significant people in your life. —Dr Gary Chapman

I believe inside every child there’s an emotional love tank and if the love tank is full, the child genuinely feels loved by the parents.

The child grows up normally, but if the love tank is empty, the child will grow up with many internal struggles and in the teenage years they’ll go looking for love typically in all the wrong places.

I also believe that adults have an emotional love tank. And if you’re married, the person you would most like to love you is your spouse.

In fact, if you feel loved by your spouse, life is beautiful. However, if you feel like “they don’t love me, they wish they weren’t married to me”, life begins to look pretty dark.

Just as much of the misbehavior of children grow out of an empty love tank, much of the misbehavior of adults also grow out of an empty love tank.

Let’s talk about Love Tanks!

So I want to talk about how to keep the love tank full, especially in a marriage. When you come down off the high of the end love experience, how do you keep emotional love alive? The difficulty is that we’ve assumed in whatever makes us feel loved, will make them feel loved. And that’s a false assumption.

I discovered years ago that there are fundamentally five ways to express love emotionally. I call them the five love languages. Maybe you’ve read the book, The 5 Love Languages.

And what I’m trying to do is to help couples learn how to communicate love in a manner that the other person will feel loved.

Let’s talk about The 5 Love Languages!

Here’s a quick summary of The 5 Love Languages:

1. Words of Affirmation: 

This is when you use words to affirm the other person. Such as saying things like, “You look nice in that outfit” or something like “I really appreciate what you did.” These are words of affirmation.

There’s an ancient Hebrew proverb that says “life and death are in the power of the tongue”.

“You can kill your spouse or give them life by the way you talk to them.” —Dr. Gary Chapman

2. Acts of Service:

The acts of service is doing something for them that you know they would like for you to do such things as cooking meals, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, walking dogs, changing the baby’s diaper, or anything you know the other person would like for you to do.

You remember the old saying, actions speak louder than words. It’s true for these people. 

And then there are gifts…

3. Receiving Gifts

It’s universal to use gifts as an expression of love. The gift says, “they were thinking about me” or “look what they got for me”. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s the thought that counts. However, it’s not the thought left in your head that counts, it’s the gift that came out the thought in your head.

You can pick up a stone in a city parking lot and take it home and give it to an 8-year-old boy and say, “Hey man, I found this today and I thought about you. Look at the colors in this stone… I wanted you to have it”.

If gifts is his love language, you’ll find that stone in his dresser drawer when he’s 23 and he’ll remember the day you gave it to him.

4. Quality Time:

Then there’s quality time… which is giving the other person your undivided attention. I do not mean husband and wife sitting on the couch watching television. It’s when someone else has your attention.

I’m talking about sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and interfacing with each other. The same thing goes for doing something with the child… giving the child your undivided attention.

5. Physical Touch

The final love language is physical touch. We’ve long known the emotional power of physical touch. That’s why we pick up babies and hold them, kiss them and cuddle them. Long before the baby understands the meaning of the word love, the baby feels loved by this physical touch.

Let’s talk about the Primary Love Language!

The basic message is that out of those five love languages, each of us has a primary love language.

One speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other.

For now, we can receive love in all five, but if we had to give up one, we’d give up this one and then this one or this one, but not THIS one. This is the one that really makes you feel loved and appreciated.

It’s very similar to spoken language. Every one of us grows up speaking a language with a dialect and that’s the one we understand best. We call it our native tongue. I grew up speaking English Southern style, but every one of us grew up speaking a language with a dialect.

The same thing’s true with love.

Now, once in a while someone says to me, “I don’t know Gary, I think two of those are just about equal from me.” And my response is “fine, we’ll give you two love languages, we’ll call you bilingual”.

However, we all have a primary love language, a secondary love language, and the other three fall in line under that.

Seldom does a husband and wife have the same language. And even if they do, they’ll have different dialects within that language that they find most meaningful.

So the key is to discover the love language of the other person and learn how to speak that language.

Let’s talk about why the 5 Love Languages Matter!

I’ve had many, many couples say to me, “Gary, we were that close to divorce. Someone gave us a copy of your book on the five love languages and the lights came on and we look back over the years and realize we’d been missing each other. We’d been loving in our own minds… we’d been loving the other person, but we weren’t connecting with them and when we connected, it turned our whole marriage around.”

Now, if you have children in your family, the question is not that you love your children. The question is do your children feel loved?

“Every child has a primary love language and you can discover that language by the time they’re four years old.” —Dr. Gary Chapman

My son’s language is physical touch. For example, when he was four, I would come home in the afternoons and he would run to the door, grab my leg, and climb up on me -every time. This is him touching me because he wants to be touched.

Our daughter never did that. She would say at the age of four, “Daddy, come into my room. I want to show you something”. She wanted quality time… my undivided attention.

They’re grown now and it’s still their love language: physical touch and quality time.

Let’s talk about the Love Challenge (for you and your family)!

I want to challenge you to discover each other’s love language -with every member of your family.

You can do that by reading the book or there are The 5 Love Languages of Children, The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers, The 5 Love Languages of Singles, etc. 

Make sure you understand each other’s primary love language.

With children, give them heavy doses of the primary love language and sprinkle it in with the other 4 because we want them to learn how to receive all five love languages and how to give all five.

That’s the healthiest adult but most of us did not receive all five love languages. So, as adults, we have to learn some of these languages. But the good news is any one of these languages can be learned as an adult, even if you did not receive it as a child.

So I hope you’ll take this challenge and I hope you’ll learn how to communicate love to your spouse and to your children in a way that is meaningful to them.

If the love tank is full, I can tell you it’s much easier to process all the normal conflicts of life that we have in marriage and in family.

We hope today’s challenge empowers your family to be do and have.

What is your love language (and your spouse’s)?

Share in the comments!!


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