My Sunday school class recently started a new study– The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.
Some of you have probably heard of this book/study. It’s been around for awhile and has pretty much become a staple for anyone getting married or working to improve their marriage. (Aren’t we all?)
Although I’ve known about this book for years, I had never read it. So when my Sunday school teacher announced that this would be our study for the quarter, I was really excited.
I really wanted to get into the nitty gritty of what my love language is and what my husband’s is. And once we both took the quiz to discover that information, I was not at all surprised by the results. It pretty much pegged us.
We were discussing the results in class a few Sundays ago when our teacher recommended that we try to discover the love language of our children.
And I had an ah-ha! moment.
Why not use this material and apply it to my characters? I am a romance writer, after all.
A little light bulb turned on over my head.
I started thinking about my WIP and almost immediately I knew what love language each of my lead characters communicated in. Because of that, I knew how he and she should respond to each other–what needed to happen for them to “feel” loved and how they would communicate their love to one another.
In case you aren’t familiar with The 5 Love Languages, they are as follows:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
According to Dr. Chapman, each of us falls into one of these categories–this is what we need from our spouse or significant other in order to feel loved–this is also most likely how we communicate our love.
In order for a lasting relationship to happen, we need to understand what language our partner needs, learn to speak it, and have our partner return the favor.
I scored a perfect 100% for my primary Love Language to be acts of service. I wasn’t at all surprised by this. I don’t need diamonds or fancy dinners out or lavish vacations (although those things are nice!). What I need is for my hubby to occasionally fold the laundry, run errands for me, bathe our children, etc. Thankfully my husband speaks my Love Language pretty well. 🙂
My husband’s primary Love Language is physical touch. I wasn’t surprised by this, either. He likes to hold hands, hug a lot, put his arm around me. And he needs me to respond to that.
So, how can this information be applied to characters in a romance?
Think about your heroine. Among all the other things you consider about her at creation, how will she respond best and feel most loved and cherished when your hero comes a-callin’? Will it be the moment when he repairs the roof of her house? Will it be his silver tongue, laced with words of love that wins her? Or how about when his lips meet hers? Will she respond best to a box from Tiffany’s to know that she’s loved, or maybe just a walk on a beach at sunset?
What does she need to feel loved?
When considering my heroine, I knew right away that her love language was words of affirmation. She needs to hear them–she needs to be valued verbally. The more Hero praises her, builds her up, encourages her, the more she falls for him. Yeah, she likes the kisses. She likes the time they spend together, but she needs those words.
What does my hero need to feel loved?
For him it’s physical touch. He needs to feel her respond to him. He needs to know that when his fingers linger on her hand, sparks are flying. He needs her to want to be close to him.
Yeah, I can totally make that happen. 🙂
Let’s look at an example from pop culture. I give you the Love Languages of Bella and Edward.
It is possible for a person to have more than one love language. For Bella, I definitely think she’s a mixture of quality time and physical touch. I mean, for Pete’s sake, she nearly went nuts when Edward vanished in New Moon. In all the books, his proximity to her body is what she needs to feel like he loves her. The more he’s around, the more time they spend together, the more she feels loved. Yeah, this sounds like she’s needy, but it’s just her love language–it’s part of her makeup–what she needs to feel loved.
And Edward. His love language is words of affirmation. This should be glaringly obvious, I think. He needs to be told over and over and over and over and over that he’s not a horrible creature, that he’s not hurting Bella, that she truly does love him, that he’s a good person/vampire/humanesque creature. He needs to hear it–words that affirm.
Who agrees with my analysis of these two?
Focusing a little attention on your characters and their love language helps develop not only the backstory (why does she need words of affirmation?) but also helps you to create the romance.
Not every girl falls for the man who buys her fancy things. (Crazy, right?)
Not every guy needs to spend every waking moment with his girl to know that they are in love.
Develop your characters around this concept– that they each speak a Love Language, and you’ll develop a lasting romance.
Share with me: Can you think of characters in a novel that have easily identifiable Love Languages? What about your characters? Can you identify what Love Language they are speaking?
10 responses to “Are You Writing to Your Character’s Love Language?”
Awesome post today! I never thought about applying this to my characters, but this really enlightens me to a deeper understanding of their motivation, now that I am thinking about it. oh, and though I am not a Twilight junkie, I believe you have Edward and Bella spot on. 🙂
Awesome!!! Brilliant!! Fabulous!!! This book changed our marriage. I read it several years ago and was so glad I did!
Hhhhm … I am now mulling this over for my two main characters. Will get back to you on this. I'm also trying to figure this out for the ever popular Elizabeth and Mr.Darcy . . .
What a great application. Beth- you've got me mulling over the P&P page-dwellers. I'm thinking… Elizabeth=words of affirmation (as in the OPPOSITE of 'She is tolerable, I suppose'), or acts of service (as in, 'I, the gallant silent hero, shall now hunt down your rogue younger sister and the rakeish Wickham and force them to marry so as to salvage your honor.") Not so sure on Mr. Darcy– maybe words of affirmation ("one word on the subject will silence me forever…" and caring quite a bit what Elizabeth has to say about Pemberly)?
Thanks for the comments, y'all! Beth- can't wait to hear what you come up with!
Seems like such a simple thing to consider when forming our characters but this idea never occurred to me. Brilliant girl! It's funny. As I was reading, I immediately knew my characters. Thanks!!! 🙂
i believe you have wondered into my territory, dear friend! i LOVE this book. i use it in therapy all the time…and frequently do relationship groups with this material. it's fun to see the ah-ha moments it brings to couples and even singles. i hope that you and your husband really enjoy it.jeff gerke includes this in his character development book….and i loved that he did. it was just one of the many layers you put on your character, but it's so great to think about.great post!
Thanks, girls! Jeannie–this is probably the one and only time I'll wander into your territory. Ha! 🙂
it's quite the extensive territory, lady. feel free anytime. 🙂
So wise to apply this to characters. Hadn’t thought to do this before & that book changed our marriage.