A custom-written love song. A viral-ready video. This is the stuff of love in 2012, of marriage proposals and romantic professions, posted on the Web for all to see.
It also is how “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.
Chapman’s book has sold 7 million copies since 1992, making it a perennial New York Times bestseller, and helped countless couples communicate love more effectively. It also has spun off a number of resources, including “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” “The 5 Languages of Apology,” “God Speaks your Love Language” and “A Perfect Pet for Peyton,” a picture book that illustrates “The 5 Love Languages” for children.
The video, a trailer for the book, features the song and a demonstration of each of the five “love languages” the author, speaker, radio host and marriage counselor first documented in his book, the five ways people primarily give and receive love: through quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. And it stars Michael Watson of West Coast rock-pop band Above the Golden State and his real-life wife, Monica Watson, a model and actress and associate producer for Faceout Films, the Bend, Ore.-based production company behind the trailer.
“At Faceout, we produce probably 10 book trailers a year, but this one was a dream project. I am a huge fan of the book, and it was really hitting home because I was newly married,” Monica Watson said.
The Watsons recently spoke with Start Marriage Right writer Emily McFarlan Miller about making the video, the impact “The 5 Love Languages” has had on their relationship, an album fans of “Love You More” can look forward to and their most exciting project together to date — their first year of marriage.
Start Marriage Right: Where did the idea for a song about “The 5 Love Languages” come from?
Monica: We knew we wanted to showcase this relationship between, obviously, a man and a woman who are in love, who are struggling to kind of like work out the details of each of their love languages.
Michael: They contacted me and told me they were doing a song about love languages, which I’d heard about, and when we were thinking about concepts, we were going with the original cover (of the book) — just something sort of beachy feeling. And so then, on top of that, just the book itself — what it speaks for kind of paves the way for the lyrics really easily. There aren’t a lot of songs out there that sing about love near the depth Gary (Chapman) is describing in the book. So that really set the tone for the lyrics to the song, and it it was really easy to connect with what he’d written about and then kind of share from my own heart and my own experience and put that into the lyrics.
Monica: We wanted the video to be able to relate. We wanted to be able to connect with anyone who’s in a relationship, if they’re young or old. They can say, “OK, yeah, I’ve been there before in that situation.” We don’t reveal a bunch of details. You see the letter, and that’s the opening scene, but it’s kind of open there.
Monica, you said you’d heard about Dr. Chapman’s book before, and that made this a “dream project.” What was it that really resonated with you both about the book?
Monica: Michael and I just were actually just talking about this a couple nights ago. It’s such an easy read, but there’s so much in there. I personally remember just nodding my head the whole time. The first time I read it, it was before I was married or thinking of getting married. When I read it this time, Michael and I were just newly married. What Michael and I were talking about is it’s not so much about, “OK, this is my love language, and I need my partner to figure that out.” It’s more so learning your husband or wife’s love language and–
Michael: –how they’ll receive it.
Monica: –how they’ll receive it, yeah. You obviously know your own personal love language because it’s yours. For me, it’s words of affirmation, and that’s how I want to give love, too, because that’s how I receive it. But that might not be my partner’s love language, so I kind of have to learn how to love them in a way they’re going to receive it.
Michael: I think the book is the beginning of the conversation. I think it kind of sets a place to start for any relationship and probably rightly so. It’s probably genius that he (Chapman) did that because when those languages — when a couple starts talking, fleshing those things out, it’s going to look so drastically different, couple to couple. We’re all made so differently from each other, and our relationships therefore take on that same image. So, for Monica and I, it was just kind of fleshing out — like she said, it wasn’t so much about identifying our love languages, but recognizing the other person’s and then communicating a love that they’re going to be able to understand. She responds well to language or to words — words of affirmation. So I have to tell myself, “Michael, it’s my words that are going to get through to her heart.”
Monica: Yeah, and then vice versa, I don’t need to say anything to Michael. All he wants is like a hug from me or for me to hold his hand, and he knows — that says everything to him.
You’ve mentioned already what your own love languages are. I’m wondering, what are some ideas you’ve used to express those love languages to each other?
Michael: What Gary would point out is you don’t only communicate through that one language. I think it’s healthy to try to communicate in all languages. I’ll still bring flowers to my wife even though I know it means more to her if I write her a note. I think it’s really in a harder situation where you really need to focus in on the one language that’s going to get through to that person. Any couple, even couples that aren’t married, probably have repeated conversations where they’re stuck. Whatever they’re doing or trying to do, they’re well-meaning, but it’s still not getting across to the other person.
Monica: I think a big thing is just to maybe ask your spouse, “What are those things I can do?” It might feel a little bit weird. … Michael and I will have those conversations where Michael will say, “I would feel loved by you if you just show me by touching my hand or anything.” To him, all is well after that. To me, words mean so much. It might be a situation in which I say, “I just need you to say this in a different way.” Sometimes it just comes down to maybe tone, or sometimes just a couple sentences instead of just being silent. I think it’s just asking your partner, “How can I make you feel loved? What can I do?” I think that’s huge.
You both work in entertainment, which is an industry many perceive as hostile to Christianity. Has that been something you’ve experienced? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a Christian?
Monica: I’d say that the short answer is yes. I’m really fortunate my day job is working for the film company that I do. My producer is a believer. … That’s awesome, and there’s never any doubt in my mind when I step into the office every day what we stand for or what’s going on. … Outside of my day job, I do some acting and modeling, and Michael can tell you half the projects I’m asked to do are “no’s.” Some of them probably could be “yes-es” and no one would think anything of it. … And it’s frustrating sometimes to always have to be turning projects down. But I so strongly believe in being a light even in the film and modeling industry. I just believe there’s a real big need there. That’s why just personally I’ve chosen just to take on certain projects. I’ve chosen to really take that really strong stance to not have any gray area in a role that I take, and that is really hard. … But I would say in light of all that, God has brought me the coolest, greatest, positive projects to work on. I’m really grateful for that.
Michael: The music industry? I would say it’s tough. Most of the entertainment I’ve worked in has kind of been in a Christian subculture, and Christianity struggles with the love of God. They want to understand how God would allow bad things to happen, and so a lot of what I sing and purpose to talk about is why God allows bad things to happen — why that’s still a part of his love.
So how do you decide what to take and what not to take, and how do you stay true to those boundaries you’ve set or that mission you’ve purposed in that environment?
Monica: I think a lot of it is kind of what Michael and I have decided as a married couple what we stand for and what we want our mission to be. When we talk about projects that come in, when we’re trying to decide whether we say yes or no to them, or whether to take a gig or not take a gig, I think it all comes down to, “Does this line up with the mission God has for us?” I think that knowing that mission is really huge, so you can reflect that off the project: “Should I take this role or not?” “Should I take this gig or not?” There isn’t really an easy answer.
That’s a really great idea to come up with a mission together, to discuss what it is as a couple you want to reflect to the world and what you feel like God is leading you to reflect to the world. I think that’s a fantastic idea.
Michael: I mean, I hate to get philosophical or theological, but that is faith. Faith is not the easy times. It is the difficult things. It’s the hard things, the hard questions, where you look at who God is and who you are and who God wants to be through you. It makes those decisions a lot easier. It’s not to say what will come from that decision is easy, but as far as having that faith in God, He will see you through because He’s already proved that to you. That makes it a lot easier. I don’t know that this whole project was difficult. If anything, the whole thing was like a portrayal of our lives. That’s exactly a common day. We’re lucky we enjoy probably seven good days to that one bad day. I’m not even necessarily sure that’s a bad day. I think God would look at that day where we had to work harder to communicate better as the most important day of the week. He’d say that’s where we grew in love for one another.
That was going to be my next question: What was it like to work with your spouse on the video?
Monica: It was a dream come true. It was so much fun. … I think acting was the easy part because we’re married, and it was like a day in the life. Although, he did not forget our anniversary, for the record,.
Michael: I’ll share a quick little story: There was a difficulty when we were filming. The last scene was on the rooftop of a building. Everything else looks like it’s late spring or early fall. But here in Bend, it is freezing at night. It was below 30 or around there–
Monica: –the second day of shooting, 14 hour days —
Michael: –and we spent the entire day on the roof, freezing. I’m sure if Monica and I had not been involved in this kind of stuff before in our lives, it would have been difficult, but we just had the mindset, along with the production team, we have to get this done. It was cold and freezing and frustrating, but we just kind of got through it because we’re used to that. We got to hug at the end. That was the best part. We were hugging, like, “Thank goodness, it’s over!”
Do you have any other projects coming up — not necessarily together, but separately — we can be looking for?
Monica: We (Faceout) just today wrapped a book trailer for (author) Beverly Lewis, which is really fun. We have some other projects coming up I’m not allowed to talk about yet. … That’s on a professional level. On a personal level, I’m just enjoying the summer with my husband. We like to paddleboard and surf. We just got road bikes. So we’ve become full-on hipster Oregonians, riding our bikes and paddling on the river. That’s what’s exciting to me in life — just the day to day.
Michael: The band that I was in (Above the Golden State) — we put the band on hold, touring and all that stuff, to finish our degrees and go back to college, and then I got married. So that changed things. But moving forward, I’m just finishing up a new record. We just put out an acoustic EP (“Words Don’t Act”). The new album I’m working on right now — we’re really, really excited about it. It will definitely be Christian — a worship album. There’s that, and if people like the song in the video (“Love You More”), we’ll probably do an entire album that is love songs and ukelele songs that I’ve written for my wife.