The myth of the 5 Love Languages has caused so much inauthenticity and hurt feelings in marriages, so I want you to know that they have already been debunked numerous times, and a better option has already been discovered.
In episode six of The Authentic Wife Show, I talk about how the 5 love languages model has been debunked with studies showing that it’s ineffective at improving relationships. But do you know what works? Self-Regulation! AND the female in the relationship has the most impact on changing it — meaning, our self-regulation as wives is the most impactful to the health of our marriage.
The idea that you do a quiz and figure out your love languages and ask your partner to speak your love language so you can be happy is flawed.
“You just change who you are and show up the way that I insist you show up or else I don’t feel loved. That’s a you problem.”
The first problem with this model is that the languages themselves are talking about acts of care. These aren’t ways that we love people, these are ways that we can care for them.
The difference between love and care
Love is an energy we align to, it’s this beautiful, joyful state of being. And we have infinite love for everybody, especially ourselves. This is the unconditional positive regard that the Bible speaks of, if you’re into that kind of thing.
When you listen to people talk about near death experiences, they say they got there and there was this beautiful feeling of love, this amazing feeling of love, and it felt warm and unconditional. That’s love.
Care can be an expression of love, but a lot of the time we do it out of a sense of obligation, or we do it to feel worthy. You don’t need to love someone to care for them. Look at nurses, nursing homes, doctors, etc. Lots of people are paid to care for others and they aren’t doing it as an expression of the energy of love.
In fact, self-care can be an expression of love for ourselves, but often we start out with self-care because we’re desperate and we’ve heard it’s a good thing. The self-love that is most important sometimes comes later.
Love is not the same as care.
Love is not transactional
If we say if I do this, you do this for me, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. We’re doomed.
When we’re children, we do depend on our parents to care for us. We’re helpless, vulnerable, and they have to care for us until we develop independence. We continue to grow, however. We individuate from our parents and know that we’re separate beings after that period of attachment is over.
As parents, we’re showing our kids how to love and care for themselves. If we’re not doing this, then we’re enmeshed and teaching them to depend on us to feel happy. And sometimes parents unfortunately depend on their children to feel happy, too. The ability to be self-regulated is often missed in the childhood journey because our parents weren’t self-regulated either. You have to grow yourself up to have a successful relationship.
The 5 Love Languages model has been debunked
In summary, this study makes a significant contribution toward investigating the empirically unfounded, yet highly popular, five love languages model. The model has been responsible for book sales of over 9 million and has been used extensively in couples counseling and was included as an available program in the recent $20 million Australian government‐subsidized Stronger Relationships initiative. The results of this study suggest that the effectiveness of Chapman’s model to improve relationship satisfaction resides not so much in whether couples have the same primary love language but in the ability to catalyze self‐regulated appropriate interactions.
– BUNT, S., & HAZELWOOD, Z. J. (2017). Walking the walk, talking the talk: Love languages, self-regulation, and relationship satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 24(2), 280–290. https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12182
Self-regulation allows us to give from an overflow
When we are taking care of ourselves and our energy tank is full, we feel really good inside and from that place of love we want to give and care for others. We help others feel good because we feel good.
If you get to a place of self-regulation, then you can create happy relationships.
Self-regulation means that each of us is able to control our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. It’s funny, when I was trying to find a self-regulation checklist I saw mentioned in the study, all I could find were checklists for elementary teachers. In fact, I started reading one thinking, yep, that’s about right, what a challenge before I realized it was for elementary students!!! There are soooo many dysregulated adults walking around today that those expectations of first graders blew my mind a bit.
I think the most important piece of self-regulation, which Gabor Maté explains very well in his book Scattered, is the ability to regulate our nervous system. Instead of that sympathetic nervous system activation of fight or flight, are we calm, grounded, and in rest and digest mode? This either fearful or calm energy affects our loved ones directly before we say or do anything. We pick up on it, just like a horse or bear can tell if you’re scared when you approach them. The energy of our bodies is critical to the security of our relationships.
Do you have people in your life who remind you how awesome you are?
Have you curated people in your life who get you on different levels? Do they remind you of the awesome work that you’re doing?
Remember that we’re all at different levels of evolution. Think of a big skyscraper. Maybe your home in that skyscraper is on the 20th floor, right? That’s where you are.
But you’ve got friends at all different levels. And they see you in different ways.
And maybe your husband sees you from the 5th floor, and that’s ok; that’s where he is right now.
But maybe you’ve got somebody else up there on 20. Make her an important part of your life. Don’t depend on your husband to see you in all the ways that you aremajecstic.
You’ve got to stop on each floor and find somebody and know that they’re going to meet you in different ways and you can engage with them in different ways.
Have you healed from your childhood?
The five love languages are really screaming, “My parents never did this for me, do it for me! I desperately need you to do it so I can feel safe!”
That kind of dependence on your spouse is absolutely a marriage killer. It may have worked when you first met like you serve my inner child and I’ll serve yours. But eventually, those inner child parts aren’t satisfied.
Because we’re so empty inside that it’s never enough. No amount of care from another is ever enough.
That healing has to come from you. You will never be happy until you learn how to self-regulate and be in a state of happiness already and share what with your family.
You’ve got to bring your adult self to the party. You’ve got to love yourself first.
The wife doing the work is enough to turn a marriage around
You have so much power and I think it’s because you lead your home. You set the tone. You bring in that connection at a deeper level, to your soul, to God/Source, whatever you want to call it.
If anybody’s ever told you to change who you are, that you should be speaking your husband’s love language, and you just hated that idea? Well, there you go. I’ve got your back. It’s been debunked, it doesn’t work, I want you to be your most authentic self and do what is real for you and get to the root of why you even want these things to begin with.
Because if you can’t give them to yourself, why would you expect someone else to give them to you? We show people how to love us.
Fill up your cup, and from an overflow, you can gladly give to others.
To understand what these “needs” may mean for you, you can read more about each of the 5 love languages and what they might mean for you on this article: 5 Love Languages Debunked
To start your journey to becoming a more authentic wife, you can read my book, The Authentic Wife: Uncaging Yourself Through Marriage. Download the first chapter free here, or click here to buy it on Amazon in Kindle or print.