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The 5 Love Languages has sold millions of copies, still makes the New York Times bestseller list and has helped countless couples connect and find each other in love. Now, the author is headed to Edmonton to talk about his famous book and a more recent topic he’s tackled, workplace appreciation language.
Dr. Gary Chapman will be speaking at the Citadel Theater as part of the Edmonton Public Library’s Forward Thinking Speaker Series. He wrote The 5 Love Languages three decades ago based on his work by him as a couple’s counselor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC
“Through the years couples would sit in my office and one of them would say, ‘He doesn’t love me, she doesn’t love me.’ The other person would say, ‘I do this and this and this and why don’t you feel loved?’ I knew individuals were sincere in their expression of love, but missing the other person,” says Chapman.
What they were missing was how the other person needed to be recognized, and what made them feel appreciated and loved in the relationship. Through years of counseling and seeing the same issues come up time and again, Chapman found five broad categories everyone falls into, the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.
His book focuses on how to connect with your partner, how understanding their love language and engaging with them through it can help them feel appreciated. They will in turn learn your love language, with the end goal of a more tailored display of love, meeting your partner where they need and want you.
The book has seen so deep into North American culture that references are made to pillory the love languages, people tweeting about how their love language is “fried chicken sandwiches” or “a 12-pack of beer on a hot night.”
“I understand where it’s coming from. It moves beyond self-centered to being selfish. The opposite of love is selfishness,” says Chapman.
The popularity of The 5 Love Languages has led to a series of related books published since the original, including titles dedicated to children, apologies, as well as the workplace. Chapman worked with leadership trainer and psychologist Paul White to develop The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, published in 2006.
White brought forward research that showed 70 per cent of people in the United States felt they have little to no appreciation from their employer for the work they do. Of those who leave their jobs, 64 per cent cited a lack of appreciation as their reason for leaving.
“When he shared that with me, I thought, if we could bring that love language to the workplace, I was all in,” says Chapman. “There is a difference between work and family relationships, but the needs are the same. We want to feel valued as a person, not just a cog in the machine.”
Earlier in the day, Chapman will talk about workplace appreciation while in Edmonton, on May 18 the first of two events at the Stanley A. Milner library.
Chapman retired from his position at the church in North Carolina after nearly 50 years, but he continues to tour, talking about communication and how couples can find one another.
“I think the fundamental problems have really not changed that much. I think the things that stimulate those problems are different,” says Chapman. “When people get married, they want to have an intimate relationship, they want to share life together. If they learn how to do that, marriage is tremendously satisfying.”
Technology has changed some of the issues between individuals, adding distractions through screens and games, which draw attention away from partners. But getting back to one another, the solution of the five love languages has remained the same.
That isn’t to say Chapman hasn’t remained open to new discoveries, even adding a sixth love language, but none have come up through the years.
“One person said it was chocolate. Well, if they bought it, it’s a gift, if they made it, it’s an act of service.”
Whatever their love language, Chapman says he’s constantly approached at conferences and sessions by couples who say his book has helped to bring them closer together, to help save their marriage. But the most important question for the man who has helped so many in with their relationships: what is his wife’s love language?
“My wife’s is act of service. She tells me I’m the greatest when I take the garbage out,” says Chapman with a laugh.
For more information about Chapman’s two talks, or to buy tickets, visit epl.ca.
Dr. Gary Chapman: The 5 Love Languages
Where: Citadel Theater
When: May 18 at 7 pm
Tickets: $10at epl.ca/speaker-series
Dr. Gary Chapman: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace
Where: Stanley A. Milner Library
When: May 18 at 1 pm
Tickets: $10at epl.ca/speaker-series