What Research Says About the Five Love Languages

Even Gary Chapman clarifies it’s not about picking just one.

When Katie Frugé and her husband, Lafayette, decided to get married in 2007, they were 21 and did not know what they did not know.

“We were too young to get married and too young really to care,” said Frugé, who is now director of the Center for Cultural Engagement for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

For guidance, the young couple turned to The Five Love Languages, a popular book by North Carolina author and pastor Gary Chapman. First published in 1992, the book explores different ways people express love—words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and giving gifts—in hopes of helping couples find happiness.

The book claims understanding each other’s love language can help create healthy marriages. Frugé recalls thinking the book held the key to a bright future.

“We thought, we’ll just learn each other’s love languages and everything’s going be hunky-dory,” she said. “We’re not going to ever have any fights and we’re both going to feel fully satisfied all the time.”

Married life proved more complicated.

Frugé said she and her husband are still happily married 17 years later but there were a lot of bumps, including several health crises—“We had the sickness and health part,” she said. And they needed more love along the way than a formula could provide.

“When I’m diagnosed with cancer, I don’t need my husband to go out and buy me a gift at that moment,” she said.

Once popular mostly in evangelical Christian circles, the Five Love Languages have exploded into a pop culture phenomenon. The dating app Bumble offers a Five Love Languages quiz, the concept …

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