Book Review: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman (Northfield Publishing, 1995)

I was familiar with the concept of the Five Love Languages and what they were long before I ever read this book but when I saw Chapman’s book in a thrift store thought it might still be interesting to see what his ideas were in more detail.

Basically, Chapman proposes that humans each have a unique way of loving and being loved – our own “love language” – and if we aren’t loved in our own language as we need to be, we start to feel unloved. Therefore, learning what your partner’s love language is will enable you to make sure they know you love them. The five love languages are: Acts of Service, Quality Time, Gift Giving, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch.

Having heard the list of languages before, I had already mostly decided what my own (and my husband’s) was. However, reading about them in more detail actually made me think that my initial guess was wrong and that I might have decided what Peter’s was based more on my own language than on his. While this really doesn’t change anything about our marriage or interactions, it’s still helpful for the bigger picture.

I skimmed through The Five Love Languages in about a day. It’s full of anecdotes and it’s certainly not a difficult read. Chapman does focus almost entirely on marriage but I think there’s lots that could be relevant to anyone in a relationship. He has a chapter at the end on children and love languages that I found interesting, though I think it’s too early to say for Pearl at two years old. Chapman does come at marriage from a Christian perspective and there are Biblical references that may turn some readers off but I wouldn’t describe the book as Christian.

Not life changing but not bad for a quick day’s read.

 

Five Years

0663-August 21, 2010-16_09_42Today it’s been five years since Peter and I got married. Today is the first wedding anniversary where I’ve looked back at pictures of that day and thought, “We look young.”

This past year of marriage has been a big one. We had a baby. We bought our first house. I mean, I know that’s not a long list but those are fairly big, life-changing, time-consuming, wonderful, sometimes stressful events.

There is no one I would rather share this life with. It’s not perfect, it has its hard times but it is full of jokes and laughs and adventures and love. Oh, our little house is full of love. It has been a year full of delight as we get to parent our girl together. There is so much to be thankful for now and there is so much to look forward to in our future together.

P.S. Wish us luck tonight as we go out for dinner and leave our baby for the first time!

Four

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Today marks four years since the bright, sunny day on which Peter and I got married.

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While four years is not a monumental anniversary, it is one that deserves to be celebrated. Because I think our marriage deserves to be celebrated. It has been four good years. Four years of getting to know each other better. Four years of laughter, adventure, frustration, tears (happy and sad ones). Four years of shared life. Shared bed. Shared food. He is my partner in every sense of the word and I’m thankful every single day (even the frustrating and maddening ones!) that I get to share this life with him.

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He’s my favourite.

This year has held some lovely highs and some deep lows. There were valleys that I don’t know I could have walked through without Peter. Sometimes it is in those dark times that you realize how strong a relationship is and you come out better, together, on the other side.

Now greater adventures await us.

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We still haven’t quite mastered our selfies.

Three

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Today marks three years since our wedding day.

Let’s be real – three years is not that many to be married. It’s long enough that 99% of the time I think of myself by my married name now (Although, apparently, not quite long enough that I’ve changed all my documentation over to it. Oops.) But, we hope, it is a tiny dent in the years we have together. We think it’s longer because we’re young and because we live in this society where marriage is often considered a strange thing. Where, when I tell people how long I’ve been married, they sometimes blink and ask, “How old are you?” As if I were some kind of child bride and maybe they should call social services.

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Often I’ll say I love being married but the truth is, I love being married to Peter. We are good together in so many ways. I don’t believe in soulmates. I don’t believe that God created either myself or Peter to be together. I believe that we were each, individually, created to worship God. I also believe that we have been able to do this better together than apart. Being Peter’s wife is a blessing to me every day – even when we’re lost in the streets of Paris and I’m attempting to bite my tongue from telling him it’s his fault. In my experience, marriage is the ultimate lesson in love, in humility, in learning to forgive. It’s also the ultimate in laughter, in long conversations over bottles of wine, in support, and in cuddles.

I have a lot to learn yet. I’m thankful to be in this with a man who is patient with me and who acknowledges where he has room to grow too.

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This has been a fun year of marriage. Lots more to come, I know.

Book Review – The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

I feel prepared to make the argument that The Fault in Our Stars is not a young adult book. It’s a book about young adults. I think there are books, written for a young adult audience, or any particular audience, that are well-written enough and important enough that they become greater than their intended audience. So let’s say, this is a good book, with young adult characters.

I brought The Fault in Our Stars home from the library. I sat down on the couch to read. I didn’t get up until I finished reading it. And that isn’t because it’s an easy read or I’m a good reader or blah blah blah. It’s simply because this is an engaging and powerful story. I cared about the characters and I wanted to know what would happen.

The story is told from the perspective of Hazel, a 16-year-old girl whose cancer has been stopped but not cured. She meets a boy named Augustus Waters. I really don’t want to tell you anything else about the plot. The story is told as a retrospective but has a sort of immediacy that feels like Hazel is telling you about her life almost as she is living it.

The Fault in Our Stars is funnier than you’d think a book about teenagers with cancer could be. It’s sad too but it’s not a sad book. It’s a hopeful book rather than a tragedy, yet an entirely realistic one too. Green clearly takes this story, the lives of his characters, seriously. There is little attempt to romanticize cancer or those who suffer from it. One of the overarching messages of the novel (and there are a few, I think) is that cancer does not make saints. Dying of cancer (or, arguably, any disease) can be a long, lingering, painful, horrifying experience. And while death is something that each of us will face, not many of us have to face it at such a young age.

Really though, this is a love story. Not in a cheesy, Harlequin way or in an eye-rolling teen romance kind of way but in a “this is what falling in love is like” way. So often in books or movies where teenagers fall in love I am screaming in my head at them that love isn’t like that, that their expectations and relationships are totally unrealistic. The Fault in Our Stars knows that falling in love is really, truly amazing and terrifying, all mixed together. It’s the best thing that will ever happen to you and yet the moment you fall in love you are giving someone the power to hurt you, or you will be the one to hurt them. Hazel struggles with this in a way that I thought was really honest and realistic. I thought this little exchange between Hazel and a friend was perfect:

“Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,” I said.

Isaac shot me a look. “Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.”

I read that and thought, “That’s precisely what I think my marriage vows are.”

I’m impressed with John Green’s writing, which is deceptively simple. I’m equally impressed with the fact that he writes convincingly from the perspective of a teenage girl something, I’m assuming, he has never been. There is an element of Hazel and Augustus being just a little wittier, a little quicker with the smart responses than real people but, after all, the story is told from Hazel’s perspective. And isn’t that what we all sound like in our own heads?

Find out more about John Green at his website: johngreenbooks.com There’s a really interesting FAQ section where Green answers questions about the book. I would strongly recommend not reading these questions until you’ve read the book because they are full of spoilers.

Also, Green and his brother have a youtube channel where they are funny and nerdy.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

An Orchard and a Wedding

Peter and I were fortunate to be guests this weekend at the wedding of our friends Chris and Laura. It was a fabulous time of celebrating these two special people, as well as getting to see a lot of dear friends that we haven’t seen much since we left Victoria a year ago.

On the ferry Friday evening….

I’m missing Victoria like crazy today. It was a great visit but far too rushed and I wish I could spend more time in that lovely city. And, more importantly, more time to visit with friends there.

I like weddings but I LOVE my friends’ weddings. I love being present to share such a big step in life. Laura and I were roommates in a house full of girls for two years and we shared countless meals, movie nights, and conversations late into the night. We talked about the boys we liked, our plans for the future, our stresses about school. She sat on the floor with me and listened while I cried over a break-up. She cleaned out our kitchen cupboards and fed Peter and I dinner on our last night in Victoria. We didn’t live together when she started dating Chris but I got to hear her stories about him and watch their relationship develop. (All while comparing notes with mutual friends and deciding if this guy was worthy of our Laura!)

When Laura and I lived together, along with our four other roommates, there was a running joke in our house. We called it “the curse of the basement”. Basically, anyone who lived in the basement would end up moving out because they were getting married, even if they’d been single when they moved out. Of course, we teased each other endlessly about this so-called curse. Now that many of my former roommates, as well as myself, are married, we perhaps view it a little differently!

All in all it was a beautiful weekend (the weather was perfect!) and a lovely occasion. And today I’m a little jealous of the happy couple as they head off to their tropical honeymoon!

The newly-married couple steal a moment alone in the orchard:

The pastor who performed Laura and Chris’ ceremony this Saturday was the same pastor who married Peter and I. It was lovely to be reminded of our own special day.

A Trip to the City

It looks something like this:

…and this

We ate an amazing restaurant at a restaurant called Fable. It’s located on W. 4th Avenue. The service was awesome; the food was incredible. When it comes to appetizers – try the Canned Tuna. Trust me.

We also ate poutine at a literal hole-in-the-wall called Mean Poutine. I love poutine – french fries, gravy, and cheese curd, what’s not to love? And when you think of Canadian cuisine, what else do you think of?

We found a random place to sit in the middle of the street.

I always enjoy re-visiting my hometown and exploring new corners or old favourites.

I’ve been to a number of beautiful and interesting cities in the world, but Vancouver will always be the most beautiful and interesting to me.

And then I get to come home to this:

Two Years

Two years ago today I woke up early in the morning and rushed to the window to check the weather. It was my wedding day and all week there had been warnings of rain. Our reception was outdoors; we had no back-up plan. The sky was clear and calm and a beautiful blue.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years already since that day. At my brother-in-law’s wedding, just a few months before ours, lots of people had advice for Peter and I. A few couples – couples who had been married for years – told us that it only gets better. Admittedly, I found that hard to believe. How could it get better when it was so good already?

But it does.

Or maybe it’s that it gets deeper. In two years, Peter and I know each other more than we ever did before. We know each other’s quirks and insecurities and strengths. When we say, “I love you” now, it includes all of those things. All of the goodness and weirdness and difficulty of the past two years. It’s amazing to be loved by someone who knows me this well. It has given me a glimpse of how God loves me. And loving my husband has taught me a lot too. I am hugely blessed.

Looking through wedding photos this morning I noticed for the first time that Peter is giving a thumbs up in this picture, taken shortly after I came up the aisle.

Celebrations

This weekend my in-laws celebrated their retirement and their 35th wedding anniversary. Friends and family from near and far gathered to celebrate together on Saturday night. My own parents celebrated 37 years of marriage this year. I am constantly thankful that Peter and I both have parents with strong, long-lasting marriages. Our parents have shown us what a strong marriage and partnership looks like.

This weekend was the first time that Peter and his siblings have all been together since our wedding two years ago. Somehow, getting all of us “kids” together turns into this:

Friday night. Ostensibly, we were practicing our dance moves before Saturday. Peter is eating ice cream.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky.

There are moments in life where time seems to stop. The seconds tick by a little more slowly and you can’t help but think, “I’ll remember this moment forever.” There were a couple of good moments Saturday night.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the party, as friends greeted each other and strangers met over a table laden with yummy food, Peter and I lay down on the grassy hill and watched for shooting stars. We celebrated our wedding reception in this same location on a similar August night. That night there wasn’t much opportunity to sneak away for a quiet moment together so we enjoyed Saturday night, side by side in the grass, Peter’s arm behind my head, a meteor shower above us.

As the party faded to a close, with just a few friends and family left, the music still going, those who remained kept dancing. “One more song”, we said and Peter started “Man on Fire” and we had one last dance to end the night. It was slow and happy and as Peter and I danced I thought, “I can’t wait to celebrate my own 35th anniversary.”

Pete and I, Saturday night. I didn’t realize until the next day that my camera lens had a smudge on it, unfortunately.

And at the end of the weekend, a beautiful sunset and a fire on the beach.

Book Review – Real Marriage by Mark & Grace Driscoll

“Our goal cannot be to fix our husbands or even to save our marriages, but rather to glorify God by submitting to our husbands, trusting that His commands are those of a loving Father who not only wants our lives to work but to be ones of worship.”

The above quote, from Real Marriage by Mark & Grace Driscoll, sums up the right approach to reading marriage books. This isn’t self-help, it isn’t a cure-all, it’s an expansion of knowledge. God gave us minds to think and learn and reading books about marriage can be really helpful. But, bottom line, your spouse belongs to God, and so do you.

As I’ve previously shared, I’ve been listening to Mark Driscoll’s sermon series “Real Marriage”. Mark Driscoll is the pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle and he’s pretty prolific. I enjoyed the sermons and got quite a bit out of a few of them and so was curious to read the book, “Real Marriage” that Driscoll and his wife, Grace, wrote. I’m glad I did but my general impression is that it wasn’t necessary to listen to the sermons and read the book. The material is pretty similar in each and so you could really pick one or the other. The book is perhaps a bit more detailed, as well as providing more perspective from Grace, so if you had to pick one, I’d recommend the book. (Plus, I like books.)

One of the things that made this book stand out from others I’ve read is that half of it is devoted to sex. I’ve read Christian books that talk about sex and I’ve read Christian marriage books that talk about sex but Real Marriage devotes a lot of space to the topic. I’ve heard that it’s been criticized for this but I thought it was bold of the Driscolls to do so. One chapter in particular was well-laid out, I thought. In it, the authors list various sexual practices and habits and then discuss them in three different ways. 1) Is it lawful (according to both our society and the Bible)? 2) Is it helpful? 3) Is it enslaving? This was a great way to look at sexual behaviour, particularly the distinction that something that may be lawful is not always helpful. Or that an act that may be helpful can also become enslaving. This idea really comes from God, as expressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23. “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.”

The Driscolls approach the topic of sex boldly, with none of the shame or shyness that is unfortunately so often found among Christians. They celebrate sex as a gift from God, when used appropriately. Having both the husband and wife perspective also added a lot to it. The following quote summed up some of the male/female differences nicely when it comes to sex, “For a wife, sex comes out of a healthy relationship, whereas, for a husband it leads to one.”

Which isn’t to say that the whole book is about sex. The Driscolls also stress friendship as the basis of a marriage in the chapter “Friends with Benefits”. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Although friendships outside of your marriage are very important, I think you should have a best friend type of relationship with your spouse. The Driscolls describe this as a face-to-face relationship, one where you discuss issues and spend time together. (As oppose to a back-to-back relationship or a shoulder-t0-shoulder relationship.)

The sermon and chapter that I personally found the most helpful from Real Marriage was titled “The Respectful Wife”. I wrote about listening to that sermon in more detail in this post, so all I’ll say here is that if you’re a woman wondering how to be a Christian wife, it’s a great listen/read. I found it very helpful. Here’s a quote from that chapter:

“The culture’s lie is that a woman’s worth decreases when she submits to her husband. The truth of the Bible is that a woman’s value does not increase or decrease if she submits, because her value comes from being created in God’s image”

(And something I wrote about singleness, which although it comes from a different book, I think it relates to this too.)

In the end, Real Marriage had a lot in it that was helpful and interesting and made it a worthwhile read for a Christian couple. I’d say, If you’re going to read one book about marriage, make it The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller. (I reviewed it here) The Kellers book has many of the same ideas but, I think, a broader scope and is better written. (The switches in Real Marriage between Mark’s perspective and Grace’s were not always smooth for me.) But if you’re interested in a wide perspective on Christian marriage, add Real Marriage to your list.

A favourite quote:

“It is the Holy Spirit who gives us desires that are deeper and stronger than sinful desires. Thus, a holy life is the most passionate life, that does not settle for petty things like sexual sin but rather passionately pursues the glory of God in all things.”