June 18, 2015
In all of my counseling, I have never met a perfect husband or a perfect wife. Yet, when there is a problem, we tend to blame the other person. I have often given individuals a sheet of paper and asked them to list the faults of their spouse. They make long and impressive lists. Then I ask them to list their own faults. Seldom has anyone come back with more than four. What does this tell us? That the spouse really is the problem? Hardly, for each spouse has a grand list of the other’s faults. It tells us that we have become accustomed to our faults, and they don’t seem so big.
Remember the words of Jesus, before you try to get the speck out of your mate’s eye—behold the beam in your own eye. Personal confession is the first step in improving a marriage.
June 16, 2015
Bob and Janice have been separated for three months. The only contact they have had is when they met briefly with a lawyer to discuss the terms of legal separation. Is there hope for their marriage? Not until someone seeks to penetrate the silence. But let me remind you that one person can break the silence. It takes both to communicate, but only one to initiate the process.
Have you been standing off, refusing to give in and call, waiting for your spouse to make the first move? Jesus said, that if your brother sins, you are to confront him in private and seek to be reconciled. You can’t make him reconcile, but you can seek reconciliation. If your spouse refuses, you have lost nothing. It is worth the effort.
June 15, 2015
Q: Gary, my wife and I attend separate churches because of our differing opinions of what a “good” church is. It feels awkward sometime, but I just don’t know how to come together on this.
Gary: I have known couples that have gone to separate churches for over thirty years. I don’t, however, think it is the healthiest thing. Sometimes, one individual is so “married” to a particular church that they are unwilling to budge at all and this becomes inevitable.
It’s much healthier for your marriage to find a place you can go together. My suggestion is to challenge your spouse to visit another church with you, at least once every month or two—not her church, not your church. By doing this you open the possibility of finding a church you both feel good about.
March 27, 2015
Most counselors agree that one of the greatest problems in marriage is decision making. Visions of democracy dance in the minds of many young couples, but when there are only two voting members, democracy often results in deadlock.
How does a couple move beyond deadlock? The answer is found in one word—love. Love always asks the question, “What is best for you?” Love does not demand it’s own way. Love seeks to bring pleasure to the one loved. We are called to be lovers. When I love my wife, I will not seek to force my will upon her for selfish purposes.
March 4, 2015
What’s so bad about arguing? First, let me clarify what I mean by the word argue. It is a legal term. In a court of law attorneys make arguments designed to show the guilt or innocence of their client. They present the ‘facts’ with the attitude, “Any reasonable person would agree with my argument.” What works fairly well in the court room, works poorly in a marriage, because there is no judge available to determine when your spouse is ‘out of order’. Arguments become charged with emotion and you end up yelling, screaming, or crying. Each feels the other is unreasonable.
What’s so bad about arguing? It turns spouses into enemies who have feelings of hurt, anger, and resentment.
January 26, 2015
Q: Gary, I discovered emails between my husband and someone from his past. They have been in touch throughout our marriage. He met her for dinner on a business trip out of town 5 years ago. He ended the contact; we did counseling. But, I’m still angry and so hurt.
Gary Chapman: It’s understandable that one would be hurt and experience the emotion of anger when a spouse has stepped out of line. What is fortunate is that, in this case, your spouse ended that relationship, the two of you went for counseling, and, I’m assuming, you processed that rather thoroughly.
I would suggest that even though the hurt and the anger may come back you take these emotions to God. Say, “Lord, you know what I am remembering. You know what I am feeling again. But, in spite of this, I thank you that my husband repented and I’ve forgiven him. Now help me to do something good today.”
Don’t allow the emotions that come from the past memory destroy today.
January 14, 2015
Is technology bringing your family closer together, or is it driving your family apart? The average American child spends 53 hours a week with media and technology. It is easy for parents to use the screen to entertain their children and keep them happy (which normally means quiet).
Screen time that is not purposeful tends to be a waste of time and a negative influence. Children are like wet cement, and many children are being imprinted by screens not by parents. In my book: Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World, Arlene Pellicane and I seek to give parents practical help with screen management.
January 6, 2015
Parents often find themselves in conflict with their young adult children. Sometimes these conflicts focus on religion. They become involved in a different religion or a cult. How is the Christian parent to respond?
First, let me remind you that the greatest influence you have on your children’s religious beliefs happens in the first eighteen years of their lives. They have heard you and watched you for many years. The closer your practice is to your preaching, the more they respect your beliefs. If you have failed, it’s time to repent and apologize. Then, it’s time to listen and dialogue. The days for preaching are over. They are young adults and you must respect their freedom. It’s the same freedom that God gives to all of us.
January 5, 2015
Q: Gary, I just read your blog about releasing anger and giving it to God. I totally get that, but how do you continue to live with that person?
Gary Chapman: Don’t overlook the steps that need to be taken before you release the person to God. The Bible says if you’ve been hurt or offended—which is usually what stimulates anger—you should go to the person who has wronged you and confront them. The hope is that they will acknowledge their failure and it’s at this point that you can forgive them. However, if you do this and they still are not willing to apologize or admit their wrong, then release your anger and that person to God. Consequently, the relationship will not be a close one because you can’t be close to someone you feel has wronged you but unwilling to deal with it, but at least you’re not perpetually living with the anger.