I wanted to share some of the books I’m reading to start discussion on what I’m learning. I read Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages: The Secrets to Love That Lasts.” The book is highly recommended for relationships so I figured I would give it a try. Chapman discusses how relationships can be improved through communicating with our partners in a way that suits them.
I feel the premise is valid—communication is about creating mutual understanding and the easiest way to do that is to communicate in a way a person understands and is familiar with. It makes them feel heard, understood, and validated.
As much as I agree with that statement, I find myself annoyed that the book sets the expectation that you have to know how to talk to everyone. There is no personal accountability for other people’s expectations—only that we will behave and speak in a way that makes sense to them. Now, to be fair, the book doesn’t overtly suggest that, but some of the stories shared are fairly archaic. Like a couple from a small mill town where the husband wants to work and hunt and he expects his wife to have dinner ready when he gets home and a clean house and a perfectly clean child.
I don’t feel like anyone should ever have to meet the demands of their partner—helping to meet needs is a different story. Relationships need to be about give and take and sharing the load whether it is emotional or physical. Sometimes I get overwhelmed mentally so I need my husband to help me take care of our son or he needs to cook dinner. But to demand that someone change or do a certain thing to show love is unrealistic. Sometimes I think we have to learn to accept that people show love in a different way—not that we need to adapt every time they have a feeling.
Relationships are about understanding—and this book is great at setting that foundation—but I feel it should be more about understanding where we and our partners are coming from. Level set early on and then you can decide what your relationship looks like and how you will make it work. A relationship isn’t about deciding how you want your partner to behave—it’s about how you behave together and what you are working toward. It’s always a mutual thing.
I recommend the book for a deeper look at communication in general because the theory/process really applies to more than just romantic relationships. I took a lot of it at face value (which is probably the intent with this type of work) because, as I mentioned above, some of the stories can be outright infuriating with their implied oppression of “how things should be.” If anything, read the book because we all need a little improvement with communication—you can’t go wrong there.