Life Lessons and Love Languages • Gary Chapman

What I’ve Learned On My Unexpected Journey

April 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2398-6

Get to know the man behind the 5 Love Languages®. You just might discover yourself along the way.

Many people are familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages®. Millions have been transformed by this New York Times bestselling book. But as influential as Gary has been, the surprising thing is . . . he’s just a regular guy, not much different than you and me. And in the mirror of his life, you might discover your own story, too.

In Life Lessons and Love Languages, you’ll look behind the curtain for a glimpse of Gary’s life, from his upbringing in Small Town, USA to becoming a bestselling author and international speaker. What makes him tick may surprise you!

In Gary’s story, you’ll discover five great influences that shaped his, and most of our lives: home, education, marriage, children, and vocation. Even if you don’t experience each influence yourself, you’ll benefit from seeing how these pillars of human society work together to form productive individuals. Getting to know Gary will be a lot of fun. But getting to know yourself and how the world works is a gift that this small-town kid doesn’t want you to miss.


Married more than 45 years to Karolyn, Dr. Gary Chapman is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over forty years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The 5 Love Languages®: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Millions of readers credit this continual #1 New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate their love to their partner.

Since the success of his first book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his 5 Love Languages® series to specifically reach out to teens, singles, men, and children.

He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing, including Anger, The Family You’ve Always Wanted, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, Desperate Marriages, God Speaks Your Love Language, Parenting Your Adult Child, and Hope for the Separated. He coauthored The Five Languages of Apology with Dr. Jennifer Thomas.

Chapman speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 400 stations. Dr. Chapman also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Dr. Chapman and his wife have two adult children and two grandchildren, and currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Many of us are living so fast that we seldom stop to reflect on what we are doing, why we are doing it, and where it is leading. We are creatures of action, always doing something, but seldom taking time to talk to ourselves about the bigger issues of life. Entertainment, pleasure, and the pursuit of happiness have become the goals of many. Yet even when these goals are attained, the human spirit cries out for something more.

In the world of technology, humankind has reached heights never thought imaginable when I was a child. The accessibility of knowledge on any subject is at our fingertips. We are the most educated people in history, and yet we still fight each other like ancient tribal cultures. Why? What do we hope to accomplish? Where are we going? These are questions faced by the new generation. We can only hope that they find answers.

However, for those of us who are nearing the end of our journey, it is also time for reflection. Time to look back and ask, Where have we been? What have we accomplished? And what lies ahead? How did I get where I am? Or how did I become me?

Having entered the last quarter of my game, I am taking time to ask that question. I am looking back on a life that has been extremely satisfying. I have few regrets. I am greatly blessed and humbled when I take time to meditate on my journey.

I believe that too often one generation fails to share with the next the wisdom that has come through the joys and sorrows of life. And sometimes the rising generation has failed to ask questions and listen to older adults. In pursuit of the latest idol, they miss the wisdom right in front of them. It is my desire that my reflections will encourage other “older adults” to do likewise. Published or unpublished, the recording of your journey has the potential of greatly impacting your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It is also my prayer that younger adults who read these pages will be motivated to reach out to the older adults in their life and ask questions about their life’s journey. Their successes you may want to emulate, and their failures you may be able to avoid.

I could not have planned the life I have lived. Don’t get me wrong, I had plans, but most of them did not turn out the way I had imagined. I have become keenly aware of the reality of the ancient Hebrew proverb: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Prov. 16:9). By the age of seventeen, I did know that I wanted to invest my life in serving Christ by serving people. That plan came to fruition, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what that would look like.

In those early years, if someone had suggested that I would spend half of my life counseling couples, I probably would have asked, “What’s a counselor?” The very idea that I would become a writer and author of more than fifty books would have raised the question, “Why would I write a book and what in the world would I say?” Even when I became an author, if someone had predicted that my books would be translated and published in over fifty languages, I likely would have said, “You have got to be kidding!”

If someone had told me that I would earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in anthropology, I would have asked, “What’s anthropology?” If someone had told me that I would earn a PhD degree, I likely would have asked, “What does PhD mean?” I could see myself finishing high school and attending college, but after that, I was expecting to “go to work.”

I never dreamed that my life would take me to speak at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, or to a gathering of ambassadors to the US from thirty countries, or at a luncheon with Members of Parliament in London, discussing how the church and government could cooperate more fully in meeting human needs. Nor would I have imagined that I would lead marriage and family workshops in more than twenty countries around the world. And I certainly would never have expected to work on the same church staff for fifty years. No, I could not have planned the life I have lived. Yes, I made my plans, but the Lord determined my steps.


Gary Chapman’s new memoir reminds us how God uses every experience, every turn in life to refine and equip us for usefulness in the kingdom. Be encouraged in your own life by seeing what God has done in Gary’s.
Max Lucado
Pastor and New York Times bestselling author

I can think of few men who have had a greater impact on lives and families than Gary Chapman. Now we have the benefit of an in-depth glimpse into the major influences by which the Lord has shaped Gary into a servant-hearted leader who ministers to others so effectively and faithfully.
Jim Daly
President, Focus on the Family

Like a chat with an old friend, you will love this behind-the-scenes peek at the life and ministry of Dr. Gary Chapman. In Life Lessons and Love Languages, Dr. Chapman shares the remarkable journey on which God has led him over the years, eventually becoming one of the best-known figures in Christian ministry. I’ve known Dr. Chapman for a long time, and he is the real deal—a humble, caring, generous, and wise follower of Christ. This backstory is itself an inspiring lesson about what God can do with someone who says yes to His call.
Shaunti Feldhahn
Social researcher and internationally bestselling author of For Women Only, Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, and Thriving in Love and Money

Gary Chapman is like a brother to me, having known him for almost forty years. Yet it’s only after reading this book that I feel like I know “the rest of the story,” and more about this focused and flexible servant of God. We read in Psalm 71:17, “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds” (ESV). The unnamed writer of this psalm and Gary Chapman have much in common. Read this short, powerful book to be inspired. I was!
Greg Thornton
CFO, Moody Bible Institute