Much like my first top read, this one might come as a bit of a surprise. Yes, I write fiction. Yes, I read fiction. But The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is not a work of fiction. And yes, it really is one of my all-time top reads.
Mister Chapman's book is something of a self-help book and has helped me tremendously. The book discusses the different way people, primarily people in relationships, communicate. Communication is not always verbal but just like with spoken languages, people communicate with each other through different unspoken languages and this book breaks those languages down into 5 simple categories.
I decided to pick this book up while in my 30's after hearing someone else talk about it and was amazed by its contents. I had never considered the unspoken cues that others had given me but I had ignored or not recognized while at the same time I had never put 2 and 2 together on why certain actions I had taken had not been reciprocated in a similar fashion.
Those disconnects had admittedly caused much strife and stress and strain on a number of my relationships over the years. While reading Gary's work (Gary Chapman, not me Gary) and thinking about my experiences in past relationships a lot of things started to click. All the attempts of others to show me affection through their languages that had gone unappreciated at the time and the different language I had used in those same relationships to express my love that had gone unrecognized.
Basically, I was speaking one language and they were speaking another. When two people speak different languages but cannot understand any language but their own it is bound to cause frustration and anger and all kinds of other problems. It all began to make sense thanks to this book.
Not only did Gary's book help me to realize what my love languages were, apparently we typically speak 2 (1 primary and 1 secondary) languages each, but it also helped me to recognize the language my wife spoke. Knowing what languages we both spoke allowed me to better understand her signs of affection while better tailoring mine to include a language that she could understand it for what it was.
This book is not the end-all-be-all of marital strife but it can go a long ways toward creating a happier balance between two people. My wife and I still fight but now we know how to communicate with one another better so that our frustrations aren't compounded by our actions and emotions that are lost in translation.
But best of all, these love languages don't only apply to marriages or romantic relationships. These methods and details can be applied to relationships with practically anyone.
Applying the information from this book may not save your marriage or repair that frayed relationship with a family member or friend but, if nothing else, you can learn something about yourself that may help out in the future. I don't care if you are in a relationship today or not, I think everyone should read this book so that they at least know more about themselves and can have a better idea of what to look for in dealing with others.