Romantic fairytales tend to rely on the “happily ever after” clause, but most of us know real life doesn’t work that way.
Gary Chapman, Ph.D., learned that truth early in his long career as a marriage counselor. The couples who came to him for help might have run into obstacles a few months after their honeymoon – or a few decades. He channeled the patterns he observed with his clients into his 1992 book, “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.”
The book has been a New York Times bestseller for three decades and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, with sales increasing year after year. It led Chapman, a native of the small town of China Grove, North Carolina, to create an entire “Love Languages” series that reaches out to teens, singles, children, men, and people in the military and their spouses.
Chapman’s theory is that there are five “languages” people use to show love or feel love: words of affirmation; gifts; acts of service; quality time; and physical touch (both sexual and non-sexual). Other forms of love are “dialects” of the main five.
Octogenarian Chapman tours the United States and Canada sharing his wisdom. He will present a one-day conference Saturday, Jan. 20, at First Baptist Church of Knoxville, 510 W. Main St. Doors open at 8 a.m., with the programming running from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (including a lunch break).
While it is billed as a marriage conference, the day will offer concepts useful in all kinds of relationships, with practical information for individuals as well as couples. Chapman will discuss communication, expressing love, making changes, sex and intimacy, and dealing with criticism.
Chapman has been married to his wife, Karolyn, for more than 60 years, and some of his knowledge of marital strife comes from their experiences. (So do some of his jokes.)
According to a press release announcing the event, Chapman combines biblical advice and an ample serving of humor in sharing tips on how to break unhealthy patterns and choose to develop a God-honoring, happy marriage. But in interviews, even people who don’t agree with Chapman’s religious beliefs have said his books have helped them achieve happy relationships.
“The truth is, falling in love is easy, but maintaining healthy relationships is a daily, lifelong pursuit,” says Chapman. “I’ve often said that marriages are either getting better or worse – they never stand still, and I’m passionate about bringing couples into that ‘better’ place – of renewed closeness, more intimate communication, of a deeper understanding of each other’s needs.”
Registration for the conference is $39 for individuals, $59 for couples at www.5lovelanguages.com (click on Events to select Knoxville).
Betsy Pickle is a veteran local reporter and a member of First Baptist Church.