What Happens to Love After the
By Gary Chapman
Excerpted from "The Five Love Languages"
a recent trip to visit my future in-laws, my soon-to-be mother-in-law
suggested we pick up a copy of The
Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. Being an avid reader, I found
the book and quickly devoured the realistic and honest information portrayed.
Chapman categorizes five ways in which we show and recieve love, and
explains how each individual speaks one primary love language. He also
gives insight on how to speak each language if you and your spouse don't
share the same language.
Chapter 1: What Happens to Love After the Wedding?
A t 30,000 feet, somewhere between Buffalo and Dallas , he put his magazine
in his seat pocket, turned in my direction, and asked, “What kind
of work do you do?”
“I do marriage counseling and lead marriage enrichment seminars,” I
“I’ve been wanting to ask someone this for a long time,” he
said. “What happens to the love after you get married?”
Relinquishing my hopes of getting a nap, I asked, “What do you
“Well,” he said, “I’ve been married three times,
and each time, it was wonderful before we got married, but somehow after
the wedding it all fell apart. All the love I thought I had for her and
the love she seemed to have for me evaporated. I am a fairly intelligent
person. I operate a successful business, but I don’t understand
“How long were you married?” I asked.
“The first one lasted about ten years. The second time, we were
married three years, and the last one, almost six years.”
“Did your love evaporate immediately after the wedding, or was
it a gradual loss?” I inquired.
“Well, the second one went wrong from the very beginning. I don’t
know what happened. I really thought we loved each other, but the honeymoon
was a disaster, and we never recovered. We only dated six months. It
was a whirlwind romance. It was really exciting! But after the marriage,
it was a battle from the beginning.
“In my first marriage, we had three or four good years before
the baby came. After the baby was born, I felt like she gave her attention
to the baby and I no longer mattered. It was as if her one goal in life
was to have a baby, and after the baby, she no longer needed me.”
“Did you tell her that?” I asked.
“Oh, yes, I told her. She said I was crazy. She said I did not
understand the stress of being a twenty-four-hour nurse. She said I should
be more understanding and help her more. I really tried, but it didn’t
seem to make any difference. After that, we just grew further apart.
After a while, there was no love left, just deadness. Both of us agreed
that the marriage was over.
“My last marriage? I really thought that one would be different.
I had been divorced for three years. We dated each other for two years.
I really thought we knew what we were doing, and I thought that perhaps
for the first time I really knew what it meant to love someone. I genuinely
felt that she loved me.
“After the wedding, I don’t think I changed. I continued
to express love to her as I had before marriage. I told her how beautiful
she was. I told her how much I loved her. I told her how proud I was
to be her husband. But a few months after marriage, she started complaining;
about petty things at first—like my not taking the garbage out
or not hanging up my clothes. Later, she went to attacking my character,
telling me she didn’t feel she could trust me, accusing me of not
being faithful to her. She became a totally negative person. Before marriage,
she was never negative. She was one of the most positive people I have
ever met. That is one of the things that attracted me to her. She never
complained about anything. Everything I did was wonderful, but once we
were married, it seemed I could do nothing right. I honestly don’t
know what happened. Eventually, I lost my love for her and began to resent
her. She obviously had no love for me. We agreed there was no benefit
to our living together any longer, so we split.
“That was a year ago. So my question is, What happens to love
after the wedding? Is my experience common? Is that why we have so many
divorces in our country? I can’t believe that it happened to me
three times. And those who don’t divorce, do they learn to live
with the emptiness, or does love really stay alive in some marriages?
If so, how?”
The questions my friend seated in 5A was asking are the questions that
thousands of married and divorced persons are asking today. Some are
asking friends, some are asking counselors and clergy, and some are asking
themselves. Sometimes the answers are couched in psychological research
jargon that is almost incomprehensible. Sometimes they are couched in
humor and folklore. Most of the jokes and pithy sayings contain some
truth, but they are like offering an aspirin to a person with cancer.
The desire for romantic love in marriage is deeply rooted in our psychological
makeup. Almost every popular magazine has at least one article each issue
on keeping love alive in a marriage. Books abound on the subject. Television
and radio talk shows deal with it. Keeping love alive in our marriages
is serious business.
With all the books, magazines, and practical help available, why is
it that so few couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love
alive after the wedding? Why is it that a couple can attend a communication
workshop, hear wonderful ideas on how to enhance communication, return
home, and find themselves totally unable to implement the communication
patterns demonstrated? How is it that we read a magazine article on “101
Ways to Express Love to Your Spouse,” select two or three ways
that seem especially good to us, try them, and our spouse doesn’t
even acknowledge our effort? We give up on the other 98 ways and go back
to life as usual.
We must be willing to learn our spouse’s
Primary love language if we are to be
Effective communicators of love.
The answer to those questions is the purpose of this book. It is not
that the books and articles already published are not helpful. The problem
is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different
In the area of linguistics, there are major language groups: Japanese,
Chinese, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Greek, German, French, and so
on. Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and siblings,
which becomes our primary or native tongue. Later, we may learn additional
languages but usually with much more effort. These become our secondary
languages. We speak and understand best our native language. We feel
most comfortable speaking that language. The more we use a secondary
language, the more comfortable we become conversing in it. If we speak
only our primary language and encounter someone else who speaks only
his or her primary language, which is different from ours, our communication
will be limited. We must rely on pointing, grunting, drawing pictures,
or acting out our ideas. We can communicate, but it is awkward. Language
differences are part and parcel of human culture. If we are to communicate
effectively across cultural lines, we must learn the language of those
with whom we wish to communicate.
In the area of love, it is similar. Your emotional love language and
the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English.
No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse
understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each
other. My friend on the plane was speaking the language of “Affirming
Words” to his third wife when he said, “I told her how beautiful
she was. I told her I loved her. I told her how proud I was to be her
husband.” He was speaking love, and he was sincere, but she did
not understand his language. Perhaps she was looking for love in his
behavior and didn’t see it. Being sincere is not enough. We must
be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are
to be effective communicators of love.
My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there
are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people
speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language
may have numerous dialects or varia-tions. Similarly, within the five
basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects. That accounts
for the magazine articles titled “10 Ways to Let Your Spouse Know
You Love Her,” “20 Ways to Keep Your Man at Home,” or “365
Expressions of Marital Love.” There are not 10, 20, or 365 basic
love languages. In my opinion, there are only five. However, there may
be numerous dialects. The number of ways to express love within a love
language is limited only by one’s imagination. The important thing
is to speak the love language of your spouse.
We have long known that in early childhood development each child develops
unique emotional patterns. Some children, for example, develop a pattern
of low self-esteem whereas others have healthy self-esteem. Some develop
emotional patterns of insecurity whereas others grow up feeling secure.
Some children grow up feeling loved, wanted, and appreciated, yet others
grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and unappreciated.
The children who feel loved by their parents and peers will develop
a primary emotional love language based on their unique psychological
makeup and the way their parents and other significant persons expressed
love to them. They will speak and understand one primary love language.
They may later learn a secondary love language, but they will always
feel most comfortable with their primary language. Children who do not
feel loved by their parents and peers will also develop a primary love
language. However, it will be somewhat distorted in much the same way
as some children may learn poor grammar and have an underdeveloped vocabulary.
That poor programming does not mean they cannot become good communicators.
But it does mean they will have to work at it more diligently than those
who had a more positive model. Likewise, children who grow up with an
underdeveloped sense of emotional love can also come to feel loved and
to communicate love, but they will have to work at it more diligently
than those who grew up in a healthy, loving atmosphere.
Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language.
We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when
our spouse does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing
our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking
what, to them, is a foreign language. Therein lies the fundamental problem,
and it is the purpose of this book to offer a solution. That is why I
dare to write another book on love. Once we discover the five basic love
languages and understand our own primary love language, as well as the
primary love language of our spouse, we will then have the needed information
to apply the ideas in the books and articles.
Once you identify and learn to speak your spouse’s primary love
language, I believe that you will have discovered the key to a long-lasting,
loving marriage. Love need not evaporate after the wedding, but in order
to keep it alive most of us will have to put forth the effort to learn
a secondary love language. We cannot rely on our native tongue if our
spouse does not understand it. If we want him/her to feel the love we
are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love
The Five Love Languages, Northfield Publishing, copyright © 1992,
1995, 2004 by Gary D. Chapman. Used with permission.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.