Why I’ve never been a fan of “The Five Love Languages”

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I’ve sat on the post for years now. Trying to figure out what it is exactly I don’t like about this book, what bothered me so much about the concept behind this idea. And if I could sum up my thoughts into one sentence it would be this:

I think it’s a cheat book that doesn’t actually allow you to experience the full intimacy of real love.

Now that’s a pretty bold statement for a book with the tagline “The secret to love that lasts.” I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. I wanted to like the book, especially as a relationship blogger, especially as a Christian. I kept reading and reading and couldn’t help but feel something was missing, something was just off.

You can’t work your way to love. Actions are the result of love, not the other way around. Sure, you can choose to do nice things for someone but we can’t assume the root is always love.

Actions are a choice. Love is not.

As I read the book, I started to notice a common theme of doing all things mentioned with whoever I was dating at the time. I was excited to. I looked for opportunities to do each one.

Words of affirmation.
Gifts.
Physical touch.
Quality time.
Acts of service.

I did these because I love. I watch and observe. I notice little things. And I started to pick up on what he liked best. I think that’s what made it more special, honestly. Not that he had to tell me but that I cared to notice. You see, love and hurry don’t mix. Yet, this is what we’ve become accustomed to knowing, to doing.

When the Bible speaks of love, patient is the first attribute mentioned.

However, we live in a world of hurry. Efficiency. How can we get there quicker, faster, sooner.

We hurry with God.
We hurry with our spouse.
We hurry in our relationships.

The result is lost intimacy and counterfeit love.

I don’t want a cheat book. I want to figure it out on my own. I want to figure you out on my own. Isn’t that part of the fun?! I want someone to intentionally get to know me because they love me and want to know everything about me.

Not she told me she likes gifts so I will give her gifts. Or I will make time for him because that’s his love language. It’s not the gifts we are after, the time, the acts, the touch, the words… No, it’s the heart. A heart that’s full of love. That manifests itself through these common avenues. We chase these areas because they give us some glimmer of hope, perhaps a spark of love that satisfies us for a moment. But true love, real love is so much more, something so much deeper.

When real love hits, it’s not as complicated as we make it out to be. We won’t be chasing bandaid approaches that have a way of masking what is otherwise a loveless relationship, hanging by a thread. No, when you find love from the Creator of love, you won’t be able to help but love. Something changes. Your default changes. And all these tools and assessments will simply fall short when compared it.

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Real love doesn’t let go

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“If you love somebody, let them go.” Isn’t that how the saying goes? It’s this nonchalant, somewhat lazy attitude that drives people down a loveless path, a life seeking to justify selfish acts. I can’t stress this enough- true love never gives up. It can’t. It’s impossible.

I’m probably one of Nicholas Sparks’ biggest fans. I’ve seen most, if not all of his movies. A tradition I started long ago with my mom. One of my favorite movies he wrote was The Choice. Life is full of little choices that lead us down the lives we live. Every little thing making more of an impact than we realize. Some choices end in benefits lasting a lifetime, others end with consequences hopefully only lasting but a moment. But it’s foolish to believe these simple choices don’t have the potential to reap some of the most life-changing results.

So what is love? 1 Corinthians shows us a snippet of what it is: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…”

I bolded what I hope to focus on here. The movie The Choice was full of so many truths, little acts revealing how real love reacts, how true love responds. Gabby and Ryan were by the world’s standards the ideal couple. Ryan, a successful, good looking doctor; Gabby, a beautiful woman in medical school. They appear to be in love. They appear perfect for each other. Travis comes into the picture and his feisty, no nonsense demeanor creates tension between Gabby and him like no other. Gabby is conflicted, unsure of who she is meant to be with, who her soul desires. Through a whirlwind of choices, Travis ends up stealing her heart. Who knows if she made the right decision? The choices we are faced with- how do we know who truly loves us and who simply desires us and what we have to offer?

Gabby ends up getting into an accident and is put on life support. What are the chances that Ryan would be the doctor in charge? After months on life support, Ryan presents Travis with Gabby’s odds of surviving. They aren’t good and suggests pulling the plug. I wonder how many times we look for a reason to justify not really loving. Because that’s what it comes down to. At what percentage is it appropriate to give up? Maybe it has nothing to do with being appropriate but everything to do with the amount of love we have for that person.

Ryan presenting logical reasoning of odds to justify a finite decision, Travis looking at his love to say he can’t do it. He can’t pull the plug. And he can’t give up. Love endures. Love hopes. Love never ends. She made the right choice. She woke up. But even if she didn’t, I think this is something we should think about. Maybe this is the question we should all be asking ourselves- How far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

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photo credit: Riccardo Palazzani – Italy Valentine’s day via photopin (license)