Tope Pearson meets the man who has helped thousands of couples discover each other’s ‘love language’ and rescue their marriages

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Gary Chapman, bestselling author of ‘The 5 Love Languages®’, during a recent visit to Britain.

Gary and Carolyn Chapman
Bestselling bliss: After 62 years, Gary and Karolyn Chapman are fluent in each other’s love language

Now 85, Dr Chapman says his work is an overflow of his life as a husband for 62 years and pastor for 50 years. Married to his wife, Karolyn, for 62 years, they have a son Derek and a daughter Shelley, and two grandchildren.

He still travels the world presenting seminars, though, and was in London for just a week this May, speaking about ‘The 5 Love Languages®’ in churches, including London’s Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), which uses his materials in their pre-marriage and parenting courses.

Over 20 million copies of ‘The 5 Love Languages®’ have sold over the past two decades and Dr Chapman’s radio programmes air on more than 350 stations.

Nonetheless, Dr Chapman is a humble man, who clearly loves his call and purpose, which is to help married couples simply fall in love with each other afresh every day.

Based on the simple concept that each of us has a primary love language, which when ‘spoken’ – or, more often, acted upon – fills up our emotional “love tanks,” in his book Dr Chapman helps couples identify, understand, and speak their spouse’s primary love language:

  • quality time
  • words of affirmation
  • gifts
  • acts of service
  • physical touch

Written to address the complexities of relationships in today’s world, ‘The 5 Love Languages®’ book and website provide a love language quiz for a couple that pinpoints their primary love language, what it means, and how it can be used to connect with their spouse to bring intimacy and fulfilment.

While serving with his wife as Associate Pastor in Calvary Baptist Church over five decades, Dr Chapman counselled married couples and produced small booklets with ideas which came from the difficulties these couple underwent in their relationship. This is how Dr Chapman discovered the five ‘love languages’.

The entire human race speaks these five love languages

He believes that we develop our primary and secondary love language very early in life, and you can tell a child’s primary love language by the time they are four by just observing their behaviour. However, Dr Chapman is unsure what part is nature and what part is nurture, because parental responses can influence a child.

Our primary and secondary love languages typically remain constant over a lifetime, but there are seasons and circumstances in life where another love language may become more important.

“In every child and adult, there is an emotional love tank, and when the love tank is full, life is beautiful but when empty, life looks pretty dark”, says Dr Chapman, who suggests a game for married couples. On a scale of one to ten, how full is your love tank? If they say a low number, the partner asks, “What can I do to help to fill it?”

The chances are the partner will give away their primary love language throughout this game. If your partner will not play, you can observe their behaviour to discover his or her primary love language on your own, or you can listen to what they complain about or request most of the time.

Although couples may apologise to each other, some spouses do not believe they are truly sorry

Dr Chapman admitted he was surprised at requests to print the book in over 50 different languages, because his study of anthropology had shown him a myriad of social and cultural differences. As they all went on to become bestsellers in those countries, it confirmed to him that the entire human race speaks these five love languages, for what is appropriate for them in their respective dialects.

When Dr Chapman wrote his bestselling book, it was specifically to attract non-Christians.

“Moody Publishing, being a Christian publishing house, did not mention God on purpose, knowing Christians already knew God is love and were aware about where the proverbs mentioned in the book came from the Bible.”

He went on to write a book called, ‘God Speaks your Love Language’ which he ends with, “I have given you how to love, but I can’t give you motivation.” Then he reveals how the love of God motivated him to love others, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I was amazed and very moved at how creative Dr Chapman is and the extra miles he still goes to help married couples in every situation. For a husband and wife separated by work, Dr Chapman helps them put physical touch into practice by asking them to draw around their hand on a piece of paper, send it with a note to their spouse, saying, “put your hand on my mine, I want to hold your hand.”

A soldier serving away from home did just this and told Dr Chapman that he felt his wife’s hand (emotionally). Also, it is much easier today to watch the same film with your spouse over face-time.

Many young people struggle in the area of love and most do not want to get married these days, as they may have grown up feeling unloved; not necessarily because their parents did not love them, but they did not communicate their love language to them. Also, many have experienced the pain of divorce either observing their parents or someone else’s. Dr Chapman said, “Loneliness is a huge factor in our culture today.”

His latest book, ‘The Five Apology Languages’, was first titled, ‘When Sorry isn’t Enough,’ but they later changed it to complement ‘The Five Love Languages’. It was inspired by a female counsellor, who suggested that although couples may apologise to each other, some spouses do not believe they are truly sorry.

Tope Pearson with Gary Chapman and husband Tim
Tope Pearson with Gary Chapman and husband Tim

Dr Chapman and his team worked with married couples to ask what the spouse actually wanted to hear their spouse say when they apologise and broke it down into five segments. Typically, we learn to apologise through our parents, so we grow up with what we have learnt. In the US, about 90% do not apologise and most were men and they learnt it through their fathers, who told them, “Real men do not apologise”. Dr Chapman went on to state, “Real men DO apologise.”

Tope Pearson is an author and speaker who has ministered at various churches internationally and co-founded Equipping the Saints Ministries alongside her husband, Tim.

Tope’s ministry is to “save the lost, heal the broken and empower the Body of Christ”. She has written seven books, available from and online bookstores worldwide. Her most widely sold book in the area of relationships is ‘The Wedding Dress’, (£12.95 inc p&p). To order direct, send cheques payable to: ‘You Fit Perfectly’, c/o ETS Ministries, Allia Business Centre, London Road, Peterborough PE2 8AN

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