Life Lessons and Love Languages: How My Writing Career Started
by Gary Chapman
While I never thought of myself as an author, writing has become a major part of my ministry over the last three decades. Almost all of my books have grown out of my counseling ministry. Earlier in my career, I discovered the five love languages and how they greatly impacted my own marriage. Of course, I wrote the book hoping that other couples would experience the transformed marriage that so many of my clients had experienced when they discovered and started speaking each other’s love language. I knew from experience how impactful the love language concept could be, but I never anticipated what would happen when the book was released in 1992.
Little did I know that for the next twenty-plus years, the book would sell more each year than the year before. At the time of this writing, it has sold over thirteen million copies in English and been translated and published in over fifty languages around the world. People have asked me, “How do you account for that?” I respond, “The short answer is God. And the long answer is God.” I think what has happened on the human level is that couples read it, and it changes their own marriage, and then they want their brothers, sisters, and friends to read it. From one person to another, it has spread around the world.
When I lead marriage seminars, couples often say, “The love language book saved our marriage. When we read it, the lights came on, and we realized how we had missed each other emotionally through the years. We took the love language profile and discovered each other’s love language and tried speaking it, and it literally saved our marriage.” It is that kind of response that motivates me to keep writing.
The greatest surprise was when the book began to cross cultural barriers. With my studies in cultural anthropology, I was sensitive to cultural differences. When the Spanish publisher wanted to secure the rights to publish the book in Spanish, I said to Moody Publishers, “I don’t know if this works in the Spanish culture. I discovered this in Middle America. What if it doesn’t work in Spanish?” They responded, “They have read the book, and they want to publish it.” It became a bestseller in the Spanish-speaking world. From there it went to German, French, and other languages.
The deepest emotional need we have on the human level is the need to feel loved by the significant people in our lives. Understanding the other person’s love language helps us meet that need more effectively. When parents discover and speak a child’s primary love language, they will likely see a positive change in the child’s behavior. I have often said to parents, “The question is not, ‘Do you love your children?’ The question is, ‘Do your children feel loved?’” The love language concept applies in all human relationships: family, friendships, and work relationships. Of course, love is not the only ingredient in healthy relationships, but from my perspective, it is the foundational stone.
I believe our desire for love and our desire to express love grows out of the reality that we are made in the image of God, who loves us unconditionally. I later wrote a book entitled God Speaks Your Love Language, in which I demonstrated that God speaks all five languages, and we tend to be drawn to His love when we see it expressed in our primary love language. Once we respond to His love as expressed in Christ, we tend to express our love to God in our own “primary” love language. It is a fascinating study of God’s love and our response.
Adapted from Life Lessons and Love Languages: What I’ve Learned on My Unexpected Journey by Gary Chapman (©2021 Northfield Publishing). Used with permission. All rights to this material are reserved.