Monday, September 5, 2011

5 Love Languages

CHAPMAN, GARY. 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-8024-7315-8. Pp. 201. $14.99.

I was wrong. There really are only five love languages: Words of affirmation ("You look great in that stained wife-beater"); quality time ("Let's drink a handle of whiskey together tonight"); gifts ("Here's a bag of Cheetos, Merry Christmas!"); acts of service ("Could you clean up the cat vomit?"); and physical touch ("I'm bored. Sex?"). These are all valid expressions of post-nuptial love, I suppose, but according to Dr. Chapman, we each have our own special "love language," one that takes precedent over the other four. There's a poorly constructed survey at the end of the book for husbands and wives to take in order to figure out what one's love language is. Apparently, the most romantic day Koch and I could spend together would involve him cleaning the kitchen for me followed by some heavy Risk-playing.

I think I would have appreciated Dr. Chapman's book a bit more if he weren't so...old-fashioned. Granted, this book was first published almost twenty years ago, but apparently 1992 was actually 1952. Of course, how would I know? I was only five years old in 1992. All the real-life couples Chapman has helped over the years and have made their way into his book are uncompromisingly preachy and "gender-normative". The wives don't have jobs because they have to stay home and clean house, raise children, and cook. The men work hard, hunt, and do the yard work on the weekends. Sunday is for church. The perfect wife "would be a wife who would come home in the afternoon and fix dinner for me. I would be working in the yard, and she would call me in to eat. After dinner, she would wash the dishes. I would probably help her some, but she would take the responsibility. She would sew the buttons on my shirt when they fall off." Dream big. Women, naturally, are more interested in gifts and having their husbands' attention.

The fixity of gender roles pervades even the more abstract passages of the book. For example, "love touches may be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee." Notice that, in this hypothetical situation, it is the wife who is serving her husband coffee. On the following page Chapman suggests "Hugging your spouse before she goes shopping may not only express love, it may bring her home sooner". Again, Chapman automatically assigns the wife the task (or hobby) of shopping. And, when death comes to the family, "nothing is more important than holding her as she cries". Women, I should add, cry a lot in this book. The husbands keep it all inside. Tears, we all know, are unmanly and betray weakness.

Still, I was glad to learn, upon administering the survey to Koch while he was playing video games, that his primary love language is "Quality time" (a womanly love language, mind you). This requires of me quite a bit of effort, given that I'm a terrible conversationalist, and talking plays a large role in Chapman's definition of "Quality time". I, on the other hand, favor "Acts of service," (a more manly love language) which will be harder to wheedle out of Koch, since our respective chores have been rigidly established since we started living together two years ago. Still, yesterday he offered to make me lunch. (Unfortunately, I had leftovers to finish and had to turn down the offer.) Nevertheless, that's a nice little victory. Thank you, Dr. Chapman.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this sounds like the shittiest book so far. Do you actually read these books, as in, look at the words on each page and absorb what they're saying? Or do you read them, like have them open for a while in a way that you can see the words, but not read anything?