Speaking Your Wife’s Love Language
About the Guest
Men--you fill up the car with gas, but have you checked the gauge of your wife's love tank lately? Pastor Gary Chapman encourages men to thoroughly love their wives by learning--and then speaking, their wife's unique love language.
Gary ChapmanHe has degrees from some of the most respected colleges and seminaries. He's written some of the best-selling books of the past decade and appeared on numerous radio and television programs across the country. But Dr. Gary Chapman knows more than just a lot of scholarly theories and practical advice—he knows people. He knows how to relate to people, how to have fun and how to make people laugh, all the while giving practical tools to help improve relationships.
Men–you fill up the car with gas, but have you checked the gauge of your wife’s love tank lately?
Speaking Your Wife’s Love Language
Bob: Many couples who are deeply in love with each other still experience problems in trying to communicate their love to each other. Here’s Dr. Gary Chapman.
Gary: I believe there are literally thousands of couples in this country, many of them Christians, who are as sincere as they can be. They are loving each other, but they’re not connecting. So, the husband says, “I don’t understand a woman. I get out there, and work all week long, and bring home the money. Every Saturday, I wash the car and I mow the grass. Most women would be glad to have a man like me.” (Laughter) The woman is dying for quality time. “Sit on the couch and talk to me!”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. Today, we’ll get helpful input from
Dr. Gary Chapman on how we can do a better job of saying, “I love you,” to our spouse in a way that he or she can understand what we’re trying to say. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.
Dennis: Well, did you get the chocolates for Mary Ann? Have you done it, Bob? I mean, tell the truth, now. Tell the truth.
Bob: The truth is that Mary Ann and I are not going to be together on Valentine’s Day.
Dennis: Oh, my goodness!
Bob: It’s a sad fact. Our schedule—It’s a busy year for us. Mary Ann has just gotten back from international travel, and I have just left for some international travel. In fact, this week, you and I both are on the FamilyLife “Love Like You Mean It” marriage cruise. You’re there with Barbara; I’m there alone. (Laughter)
Bob: It’s a miserable place to be alone.
Dennis: With a thousand couples!
Bob: It is.
Dennis: A thousand! Count them!
Bob: But I’m there to minister to them around marriage.
Dennis: Doing your duty. What a man you are, Bob!
Bob: I will be in regular touch with my wife. I’m sure we’ll be sending little messages back and forth to one another while I’m gone this week because it’s the “Week of Love” and you do those kinds of things; right?
Dennis: You do those kinds of things. Because it’s a “Week of Love”, we’re going to find out what real love is and what real love does.
Bob: In fact, I’m just wondering. Do you think there’s anybody on the planet who doesn’t know what the five love languages are?
Dennis: There might be a tribe somewhere in Antarctica—(Laughter)—but I doubt it!
Bob: Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages—and it has probably been translated into whatever they speak in Antarctica—it is a bestseller. It’s been a bestseller for years. I remember reading it, and I found it helpful because Mary Ann and I don’t naturally speak the same love language. My way of receiving love is—I like words of affirmation and I like physical touch. She likes acts of service. So, I can say all the words I want; but if I don’t pick up a rake and do something, I haven’t spoken love to her.
She can do all the nice things for me she wants; but if she doesn’t say, “You are such a stud!”, then she hasn’t spoken love to me; you know? (Laughter) I’m just being honest. That’s how we are. When I first heard Gary Chapman unpack this idea of love languages, it was very helpful for our marriage.
Dennis: Well, Gary Chapman is a pastor, speaker, and author (for those who have never heard of him—if you’re listening in Antarctica right now). He holds a PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has written a book that has sold more than 5 million copies. It’s called The Five Love Languages. It has been translated into 36 languages. He has written a number of other books.
Today, he’s the Senior Associate Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He and his wife Karolyn have two adult children and two grandchildren. Awhile back, he spoke at a FamilyLife event that had like—what was it?—like 18,000 people at this event?
Bob: There were multiple thousands of people. As our listeners are about to hear, Gary has a little bit—if you’ve never heard him speak before, he got a little bit of a—
Dennis: A Yankee accent.
Bob: A little bit of a drawl, as we like to say!
Gary: [Recorded message] I want to speak today on the two most difficult and misunderstood words in the English language. One is love. The other is anger. Now we all remember how it started; right? You guys remember the day when you walked down the hallway and she came out of class. You said to yourself, “Oooh!” I call that little experience the tingles. It’s the tingles that motivate us to ask someone out for a hamburger. It gets tinglier and tinglier. One night, when the moon is right, one of you will say, “You know, I think I could love you.”
It’s what you call, “Testing the waters.” You want to see if they are feeling what you are feeling. If they give you a positive response, the next time the moon is right, one of you will actually say the words, [whispered] “I love you.” You wait for them to say, [whispered] “I love you, too.” Wooo! Now, you know you’ve got it because you said it out loud! (Laughter)
From that point on, you literally get obsessed with each other. You can’t get them off your mind! I’m not putting down that experience that we commonly call “falling in love.” It’s a wonderful experience. I’m just saying it’s not the foundation for marriage because it’s temporary. I want to speak to you in the first part of my message on how to keep the emotional love alive. Then, I want to talk to you about how to resolve those conflicts that are a normal part of married life.
After almost 30 years now of marriage and family counseling, I am convinced there are only five basic languages of love. Only five ways to express love emotionally. Now, there are many dialects. I discuss those in my book, but only five languages. I want to share them with you and I want to show you how they work in a marriage.
Love language number one—words of affirmation—words that build up. First Corinthians, Chapter 8, in verse 1: “Love edifies. Love builds up.” We look for words that build up the other person. Now, ladies, I don’t want you to raise your hand; but I want to ask the question, “Has he said anything like this to you in the last week, ‘You look nice in that dress.’?”
Now, guys, I don’t want you to raise your hand; but I want to ask the question, “Has she said anything like this to you in the last week, ‘Ooh, do you ever look tough tonight!’?” (Laughter) I can tell that’s new for some of you ladies. Let’s try that out loud. All the ladies, here we go. “Ooh, do you ever look tough tonight!” Woo! Try that on some night! (Laughter) I can’t tell you how many men sit in my office and say to me, “Dr. Chapman, I don’t ever get any words of affirmation. I get out there and bust myself all day long. She never says a positive word to me.” I can’t tell you how many ladies say the same thing. “Dr. Chapman, I give it everything I’ve got; and he never says a positive word. All he does is criticize.” Do you understand why the Bible says, “Life and death are in the tongue”?—words of affirmation.
A second love language is gifts. It is universal to give gifts as an expression of love. The best-known verse in all the Bible is John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His uniquely begotten Son” and that through Him we might have another gift—the gift of eternal life. God is a gift-giver. If we love, we give gifts. They don’t have to be expensive gifts. Haven’t we always said, “It’s the thought that counts”? But I remind you, it is not the thought left in your head that counts. It’s the gift that came out of the thought in your head. (Laughter)
A third love language is acts of service. First John 3:18, “Love not in word only, but in deed.” Do something to show your love. Cooking a meal is an act of service. You remember the old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? There is some truth to that. The way to a woman’s heart is through the restaurant door. Yes! (Laughter) Washing dishes is an act of service. Who washes dishes at your house? Assuming someone cooks. (Laughter) Vacuuming floors is an act of service. Putting gas in the car they drive. Changing the baby’s diaper—Wooo, big act of service! Anything that you know they would like for you to do.
Number four is sharing quality time. Mark, Chapter 3, verse 14, says of Jesus, “He ordained twelve” (we call them the 12 disciples). He set them apart. Listen to this—“that He might be with them and then send them forth to preach.” Jesus preached to the multitudes, but He gave quality time to 12 men. By quality time, I mean giving the person your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch, watching television. I mean sitting on the couch with the TV off. Have you ever tried that? TV off—looking at each other and talking to each other—or taking a walk down the road, just the two of you.
Number five is physical touch. We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. Mark, Chapter 10, verses 13 through 16, “They brought the little children to Jesus.” You remember what the disciples said? “Get rid of these kids. Can’t you tell He’s too busy for kids?” What did Jesus say? “Bring the children to Me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” The next verse says, “He put his hands on them and blessed them.”
Physical touch—a powerful, powerful communicator. That’s why we pick up the babies, and hold the babies, and cuddle the babies, and say all those silly words—physical touch. I n marriage, I’m talking about holding hands. I’m talking about kissing. I’m talking about embracing. I’m taking about sexual intercourse. I’m talking about a hand on their leg as you drive down the road. I’m talking about tripping them as they walk by. (Laughter) I’m talking about physical touch! I can demonstrate the power of physical touch right now. Would you just reach out and touch your spouse? Anywhere. Just touch. Now, I didn’t say, “Poke”! I said, “Touch.”
Okay, break it up! Now, listen to me carefully. Out of those five love languages, every one of us, young or old, has what I call a primary love language. One of those five is more important to you than all the others. Now, you like all of them; but if you had to give up one—you would give up this one, or this one; but not this one! This is the one that really makes you feel loved. When your spouse does that, you feel loved—that is your primary love language.
Now, once in a while, someone says to me, “I don’t know, Gary. I think two of those are just about equal for me.” My answer is, “Fine. We’ll give you two love languages. We’ll call you bilingual!” (Laughter) But most of us have a primary love language, a secondary love language. The other three fall in line under that. Please listen to me carefully. Almost never do a husband and wife have the same love language. By nature, we speak our language. Whatever makes us feel loved, we tend to do that for our spouse. But if that is not his or her primary language, it will not mean to them what it would mean to us.
Let me illustrate. I had a pastor who called me some time ago. He said, “Dr. Chapman, my wife and I have been married 17 years. I’ve been in the ministry 17 years. I have read lots of books, trying to help other people with their marriages. I’ve never read a book that changed my own life the way your book, The Five Love Languages, did. My wife and I read that book and immediately realized that for 17 years, we had not spoken each other’s primary language. My wife’s language is gifts. My language is words of affirmation.” He said, “For 17 years, my wife has been giving me gifts. You should see my closet. It’s filled with stuff I’ve never opened. I’ve said to her along the way, ‘Why do you keep bringing home all this stuff? I don’t need this stuff’.”
And he said, “For 17 years, I have been giving her words of affirmation. I would tell her how good-looking she is. I tell her what a good mother she is. In fact, sometimes I have poured it on so strongly that my wife has said to me, ‘Would you please knock it off?’ You understand what she’s been feeling for 17 years, ‘Cut the talk! Where are the gifts? Talk is cheap! “I love you. I love you.” Where are the gifts?’” (Laughter)
He said, “Dr. Chapman, I’m ashamed to tell you this, but I’m going to tell you because it might help somebody. In 17 years of marriage, the only gift I ever remember giving my wife after the ring—one year, early on, I did buy her a lemon squeezer. Other than that, I’ve never bought the woman a gift. My philosophy has been, ‘Let her buy her own gifts and she’ll like them.’ I thought that was fine!”
Don’t misunderstand me. Some wives prefer to buy their own gifts. They get tired taking his back and exchanging them, but not if her love language is gifts. If her primary language is gifts, it really doesn’t matter what he gives. It’s the fact that he did it! So, he said, “I called my sister. My sister has been going with me, teaching me to buy gifts.” He said, “I’ve given my wife a gift every week for the last 13 weeks. Dr. Chapman, you wouldn’t believe the woman. She is smiling again. I’ve never seen the woman this happy. She is now giving me words of affirmation. She tells me how good-looking I am. She tells me what a good speaker I am.” He said, “I haven’t felt this good in 17 years!”
You understand what happened? They finally connected. You know what I believe? I believe there are literally thousands of couples in this country, many of them Christians, who are as sincere as they can be, at least in the early years of marriage. They are loving each other, but they are not connecting. So, the husband says, “I don’t understand a woman. I get out there, and work all week long, and bring home the money. Every Saturday, I wash the car and I mow the grass. Most women would be glad to have a man like me.” (Laughter) The woman is dying for quality time. “Sit on the couch and talk to me!” He is sincere, but he is missing her.
Do you understand what I am saying? Do you understand why I would say that what I have just shared with you could literally save thousands of marriages? Literally, thousands of marriages could be revolutionized overnight! It doesn’t take long to do it. We choose to love in the power of the Holy Spirit, about which we’ve heard all morning. Then, we apply this principle and we spend our energy in the way that is most meaningful to our spouse. The love tank fills up. The emotional warmth comes back to the marriage. Then, we can process our conflicts.
Bob: [Studio] Well, we have been listening to the first part of a message from Dr. Gary Chapman. Again, for some of our listeners—these concepts—they are going to go, “I’ve heard it; I’ve read the book. I’ve heard Dr. Chapman speak on this before.” But, you know what? It doesn’t hurt to hear it again. I mean, even for me, just to have a reminder of what makes sense to my wife. If I want to say to her, “Honey, I love you,” I want to make sure I’m saying that in her language.
Dennis: For some of us, the old saying, “You have less need of being taught than you do of being reminded.”
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: We need to be reminded from time to time and do a little study. So, we’re going to put these five principles on our website—if you don’t get them all right now. Here’s the assignment for all the men and women, who are married, who are listening—and the singles who are, maybe, in a serious dating relationship. There are a few of these that you can appropriately use as love languages.
Take these five and ask your spouse to rank them: number one; number two; number three; and beyond that doesn’t really count. If you’ve got three of them, that’s plenty of homework for you right there. Then, what I want you to do is—after they’ve ranked them—figure out one thing—one application of how you can meet your wife’s, or your husband’s, need to be communicated with, in his or her love language, in a way that truly affirms and encourages them.
Bob: And all five of those, as you said, are on the website. In fact, the transcript of this message is on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com as well. If you want to review what Dr. Chapman talked about and see the list of five, you can do that by going to FamilyLifeToday.com. The assignment that Dennis has given us is also available there.
Of course, we’ve got copies of Dr. Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. I can’t imagine that anybody doesn’t have a copy of the book; but if you haven’t read the book, it’s worth reading. It’s very practical in how we can express our love to one another. I’ll also mention Dr. Chapman’s got a new book called Happily Ever After: Six Secrets to a Successful Marriage. We’ve got that in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, as well.
Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about these resources. There’s also information online about our upcoming season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, where you can hear practical, biblical counsel for how to build a stronger marriage relationship. We have thousands of couples who’ll be joining us this spring in cities all across the country. Find out when the Weekend to Remember is going to be in a city near where you live by going to FamilyLIfeToday.com. Click on the link for the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
If there’s not a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway happening near you, why don’t you host your own Art of Marriage® video event? It’s a Friday night/Saturday event. You can host it at your local church or in another setting, if you’d like. Invite friends over and spend a weekend focusing on marriage. The video event has already happened in thousands of locations across the country. We’re getting great feedback from those who have done an Art of Marriage event (either attended one or hosted one). Find out more about The Art of Marriage on our website as well—FamilyLifeToday.com is the website. Or call toll-free, 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Now, we always like to take just a minute to say, “Thanks,” to the folks who make our daily program possible (those of you who, from time to time or on a regular basis, help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today). Your financial support is what makes this program possible. We are very grateful for your partnership with us.
Today, if you can help with a donation, we’d like to send you a thank-you gift of a couple of books that we’ve put together—one for husbands, one for wives—both of them offering suggestions on how you can express your love for one another more effectively. It ties in with what we were hearing about from Dr. Chapman today. Along with the books, we’ve got some prayer cards we’ll send you—one for a husband and one for a wife—so you can more effectively pray for one another. Again, these resources are just our way of saying, “Thanks for joining us, here, in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.”
If you make your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, all you have to do is click the button that says, “I Care”. Fill out the online donation form, and we’ll be sure to get these resources out to you; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make a donation over the phone, and just ask for the resources on romance. We’ll know what you’re talking about and we’ll be happy to send them out to you. Again, we appreciate you. It’s always great to hear from you!
We hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to talk about some of the wrong ways to try to resolve conflict in marriage. We’ll hear Part Two of Gary Chapman’s message on building a stronger marriage. That’s tomorrow. Hope you can be back with us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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