Thank you for sharing such an intricate perspective, James Flanagan. I would highly encourage you to post this in-depth response as its own story so more people can read it.

A few thoughts.

It’s the American Catholics-gone-Evangelical that I can’t wrap my mind around. I come from Kennedy Catholics and am dismayed by how far we’ve drifted from the teachings of the Gospels and liberation theology leanings to a hyper-protective us v. them fundamentalism.

That being said, utopianism is not the answer nor the goal — not in society and not in our intimate relationships. I agree that we are “chronically dissatisfied and therefore lacking in generosity”. And I think we have come to expect too much from our romantic relationships. “You are my everything” and “I married my best friend” are the kinds of proclamations I hear from (in my opinion) an unduly idealized perspective.

I don’t think that any one person should be all things to their partner. That is why we also have families, a best friend, close friends and neighbors, etc. Cultivating a strong social network is just as important as building a beautiful and complex marriage or whatever intimate relationship people choose.

But I maintain my original point. Gary Chapman implying that just one “love language” is the key to happiness in relationships is insufficient. I maintain that romantic relationships will be strongest when we interact in all the ways we are capable of as humans — physically, emotionally, sexually, mentally and spiritually — all with honesty and generosity. And to your point — without prioritizing some love languages while shame-suppressing others.

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