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Risk Return (Return on Investment Book 2)
Aleksandr Voinov
Paul Markun
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace
Patrizia Collard

I thought the author was rather full of himself

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate - Gary Chapman

I won't go into the circumstances which lead to this bizarre buddy read that took place at Disneyland. Sometimes life can be stranger than fiction. I will say that this book has some reasonably helpful thoughts and ideas, but... it is way too simplified and way too heteronormative and way too traditional Christian-value based to speak to me in any meaningful way.

Every single example featured a husband/breadwinner and wife/homemaker (who sometimes worked outside the home) couple. In one example, when the wife was asked to describe something positive about her husband, she says: "he let's me keep any money I earn in my part time job". Another example included a young wife who wished her husband would change the baby's diaper when he got home from work because she was busy cooking dinner (HIM: I would like her to cook dinner for when I get home from work).... WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?!?!

The author didn't overtly advocate for traditional gender roles in the home, but I couldn't help but think there was a subliminal message indicating his preference for this. In the one example where the husband seemed to take on a fair share of the cooking, cleaning and other assorted domestic chores, the wife complained. She wanted him to spend more time with her. As it turned out, the wife really wanted to cook and clean, but the husband was too efficient and didn't give her a chance to do so. Oh, happy ending. Needless to say, I'm crying feminist tears at this point.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for good communication, respect and understanding how to make your spouse feel loved. But when this misogynist flavored relationship guru doled out advice to a woman in a 'horrible' marriage, I took issue. The details of horror of the marriage were largely unsaid, other than it was given that the husband cursed and said he hated his wife. This woman was very religious and clearly the idea of leaving her husband was at odds with her beliefs. Since the husband had no interest in seeking marriage counseling, the author/marriage counselor devised a unilateral plan he admitted didn't know would work. The crux of the plan was for the wife to speak to her husband in his love language, and hopefully he would eventually he would reciprocate and the love tanks would start to refill. This plan basically suggested, among other things, that the wife initiate sex with her husband (as his love language was physical touch) even though this idea did not appeal to the wife. Kind of a 'take one for the team' approach. The author clearly said that this was her decision to do so. Ok, so all this has the appearance of consenting adults and informed decisions, so where's the problem Katie? Oh, I don't know, how about emotional manipulation of the vulnerable? Call me cynical, but I picture an abused spouse

emotional or physical, it makes no difference to me

(show spoiler)

reading this and thinking that I just need to have sex with my husband and maybe things will work out.

And that leads me to the other big issue I had with this book. All the case studies were simple and tidy and all had happily ever afters. Not very realistic. This author only cited success stories and provided no useful examples of how this love language thing can go wrong.

Overall, I think the idea of love languages seems reasonable, but I was sorely disappointed in the examples and approaches suggested by the author. At best, he gave an overly optimistic view of how implementing his ideas would work. (and if they don't work the first time, perhaps you could try one of his marriage $eminars or buy more of his book$) At worst, they pander to the emotionally vulnerable in abusive relationships, giving them specious relationship advice.