What’s so difficult about communication?

Why does communication  break down after marriage?  Often, the answer lies in emotions.  Before marriage we felt one over-powering emotion—love.  But now, the emotions of hurt, anger, disappointment, and fear often dominate.  These emotions do not encourage us to communicate.  Or, if we communicate it is likely to be critical.

We speak out of our anger and create even more negative feelings.  The key is in learning how to share emotions without condemnation.  “I’m feeling hurt and when you have time, I need your help.” Identifying your feelings and choosing to share them is step one.  Step two is accepting the feelings of your mate and asking, “What can I do to help?”

Why is communication so important in a relationship?  Because we are not mind readers. The apostle Paul recognized this reality when he asked the question, “Who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?  So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The reason we know what God is like is because God has chosen to reveal Himself.  If we listen and reciprocate, we can have a love relationship with God.

Likewise, when we reveal ourselves to another person, and they listen and reciprocate, we can build an intimate relationship with that person.  Communication is to a relationship what breathing is to the body.  Don’t stop talking and don’t stop listening.

Adapted from The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Dr. Gary Chapman.

Balancing Work and Family

Money, Family, or Both?

Is it possible that we may be working so hard to support our families financially that we end up losing our families? Then money becomes empty compensation. This week we’ll talk about the issue of money and marriage.

What is most important in life? If we are given stark choices, the issue becomes clear. If someone offered you one million dollars for your child or your spouse, would you take it? Any sensible parent or spouse would say, “No”. But do we not sell our families for much less when we spend all of our energy working for money and have no time left to enjoy our relationships?

The Key is Balance

Work is a noble endeavor. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, neither should he eat. But can we work too much? Is vocational success worth losing a marriage? The Scriptures teach that life’s meaning is not found in things, but in relationships. It is found first in a relationship with God, and then with family and others.

Family relationships are always in process. If we want to keep our marriages alive, our families healthy, then we must find ways of balancing work and family. Thousands of men and women are finding that a growing marriage and a healthy family requires readjusting schedules from time to time. The key question is, “How does my work affect my marriage and family?” Once I answer that question, I will know if I need to change my work patterns.

Integration & Time Management

The answer is not always less work. Sometimes it is integrating the family into my work. For example, does your work allow the opportunity for you and your spouse to have lunch together from time to time? Such lunches can be an oasis in the midst of a dry day.

If your work requires travel, could you take your spouse or one of your children with you? This allows a mini-vacation which you might not otherwise be able to afford. It also exposes your family to your vocation and gives them a little more appreciation for what you do.

Less work and more time at home is not necessarily the answer. Better use of time at home may make all the difference. Do something different tonight with your spouse or with a child.  Get out of the routine. Minimize the television and maximize activity and conversation.  Keep your marriage alive and growing.

Living with a Depressed Spouse

John is a successful business man, but his wife is suffering from depression. “She spends most mornings in bed, and in the afternoons she just sits around the house,” he said. “She seems to have no ambition. Every night, I have to bring food home for dinner. Many nights she doesn’t eat with us. She has lost forty pounds over the last year. To be truthful, life is pretty miserable at our house. I feel sorry for the kids, although they get more attention than I do. But I know they must wonder what is wrong with their mother.”

John just described some of the classic characteristics of depression. Unfortunately, depression does not go away simply with the passing of time. John’s wife needs medical and psychological help, and without it things will get even worse. Many Christians don’t understand depression. They think it is a spiritual problem. While it may have a spiritual dimension, it is often rooted in physical, and emotional imbalance.

Identifying the Problem

What do you do when your spouse is depressed? First, you must get information. It is helpful to think of three categories of depression. First, depression may be the by-product of a physical illness. When we are physically sick, our minds and emotions move into a depressed state. We temporarily check out. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from constant anxiety about your physical condition.

The second kind of depression is called situational depression or reactive depression. It is a depression that grows out of a particularly painful situation in life.  Many of these experiences involve a sense of loss: the loss of a job, the loss of a child to college, or loss of a friendship.

The third category is depression rooted in some biochemical disorder. It is a physical disease, and must be treated with medication. Visit the library or search the web and learn about depression. It’s the first step in helping your spouse.

Finding the Solution

The healthiest road of treatment involves an honest and in-depth evaluation of three elements: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Seriously depressed persons will seldom take initiative to help themselves. As a caring spouse you must insist that they get help. Depression is not an incurable disease. Even those who have been depressed for months or sometimes years can find relief with the proper treatment.

Long term depression can be devastating to a marriage. If your spouse has been depressed for more than a few weeks, I urge you to take action.

Mom’s Choice Awards Presented to Love Language Books

The Mom’s Choice Awards has named Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages Singles Edition (Northfield Publishing, 2009), as well as The Five Love Languages of Children (Northfield Publishing, 1997) among the best in family-friendly media, products and services.

The esteemed Mom’s Choice Awards seal helps parents, educators, librarians and retailers wade through an overwhelming number of choices to select quality materials for families.

The Five Love Languages Singles Edition has proven itself a must-read for single adults in all walks of life. This special edition helps readers successfully navigate relationships in the workplace, friendships, and the dating environment. The Five Love Languages of Children explores how speaking the right love language affects and transforms a child’s attitude, behavior, and development.

To learn more about Mom’s Choice Awards, visit www.momschoiceawards.com.

Mom's Choice Awards Presented to Love Language Books

The Mom’s Choice Awards has named Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages Singles Edition (Northfield Publishing, 2009), as well as The Five Love Languages of Children (Northfield Publishing, 1997) among the best in family-friendly media, products and services.

The esteemed Mom’s Choice Awards seal helps parents, educators, librarians and retailers wade through an overwhelming number of choices to select quality materials for families.

The Five Love Languages Singles Edition has proven itself a must-read for single adults in all walks of life. This special edition helps readers successfully navigate relationships in the workplace, friendships, and the dating environment. The Five Love Languages of Children explores how speaking the right love language affects and transforms a child’s attitude, behavior, and development.

To learn more about Mom’s Choice Awards, visit www.momschoiceawards.com.

Save a Marriage, Save a Tree

Can the book known for saving marriages also save trees? Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing is pleased to announce that The 5 Love Languages™ by Dr. Gary Chapman will now be printed on 100 percent recycled paper made of 40 percent post consumer waste paper.

“We’re part of an educational organization that practices responsible stewardship through reduction in energy consumption and recycling efforts. Now we’ve taken another important step in caring for God’s creation,” says Greg Thornton, Vice President, Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing.

With more than six million copies sold, The 5 Love Languages has claimed a regular spot on the New York Times bestseller list. For the first time in the book’s history, its new recycled paper initiative will:

• Save 1,020 trees
• Save 6,000 gallons of gasoline
• Save 624,060 kilowatts of electricity
• Eliminate 3,600 pounds of air pollutants
• Save 198 cubic yards of landfill space.*

Please join us in supporting policies that seek to maximize the efficient use of our world’s resources.

*Figures are based on a printing of 500,000 copies of The 5 Love Languages.

The Best and Worst Public Apologies of 2009

By Guest Blogger: Dr Jennifer Thomas Expert in Relationships

The Best: This year’s winner with 5 stars: Pastor Robin Phillips

Phillips is a former pastor who returned to give a 15-minute apology to his congregation 10 years after his dismissal for having had an affair with a church member. In his unprecedented public apology, Phillips used all five of our languages of apology.

Here is a quote from his apology:

“What I am here to do today is pretty simple. I am here to say I am sorry. I recognize the immeasurable pain, hurt and confusion I brought into this room- into your lives- into your families- into your hearts- and into the hearts of people that you love. My sin didn’t just cause a car wreck. It wasn’t a mere multi-car pile up. It was a train wreck and there were a couple of thousand passengers in those cars. A part of what made it so hard was that in that train wreck it wasn’t just you that got hurt. It was you and your spouse, it was you and your kids, it was you and your friends, it was you and your church. By having an affair, I betrayed you in the worst kind of way.”

The full text of Phillips’ apology can be found on my blog under An Unprecedented Public Apology

The Worst: This year’s loser with 0 stars: representative Virgina Foxx

In May 2009, a North Carolina newspaper reported that U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx wrote a letter of apology to the mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay young man whose name is on a bill adding sexual orientation to federal hate-crimes legislation.

Foxx was interviewed by WXII, a local television station, after withdrawing the word “hoax”, which she had used in describing Matthew Shepard’s 1998 murder. Foxx added that she sent a handwritten note to Jane Shepard, his mother, saying:

“If I said anything that offended her, I certainly apologize for it and know that she’s hurting, and I would never do anything to add to that.”

My analysis: The word “If” invalidates this apology. If I were to have given her apology even a single star, it would have been revoked with no”ifs, ands, or buts” due to the failure of Rep. Foxx to convey sincerity in her pitiful apology.


Dr. Jennifer M. Thomas is a motivational speaker and psychologist in private practice in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jennifer is the co-author, along with Dr. Gary Chapman of The Five Languages of Apology. She consults with companies on leadership and relationship issues. Visit her website: drjenthomas.com

Article Source: http://www.bizymoms.com/expert-advice

Keeping Romance Alive

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”  If we take Twain literally, he only needed six compliments a year.  Believe me, Your spouse, your child, your friend will need more than that.  Verbal compliments, or words of affirmation are powerful communicators of love.  Imagine hearing these words, “You look sharp in that suit.”  “Do you ever look nice tonight.”  “I appreciate your washing the dishes.”

“Thanks for getting the baby sitter lined up.”  What would happen to the emotional climate in your relationship if you heard such words of affirmation regularly?  Then why not develop the habit of speaking such words to others.  Compliments, stimulate compliments.

Choose Your Words Wisely
Is there something your spouse has expressed a desire to do?  Such as: loose weight, write an article, go back to school, or learn to ski?  Then why not encourage their dream?  Many dreams are killed by a spouse or friend who says, “It’s not realistic.”  “We can’t afford it.”  “You won’t follow through.”  Why be a dream killer?

Learn to speak encouraging words such as: “I know you can do it because you are an excellent writer.”  “If you want to go back to school, we’ll find the money.”  “If you decide to go on a diet, I’ll be happy to join you.”  One encouraging statement can be the difference between success and failure.  Remember, we give life or death to people’s dreams by what we say.

Prepare for Valentine’s Day in Advance
If you haven’t bought your valentine a card, flowers, candy, or a gift, today is the day to do so.  If you don’t have any money, then make a card.  Get the paper out of the trash can where you work.  Cut out a heart.  Write the words, “I love you.”  Be creative.  You don’t have to have money to keep romance alive, but you do have to thoughtful.

The husband who ignores Valentines Day is digging his own marital grave.  Marriages are kept alive by expressions of love.  Why not write a love letter to your spouse today.  On Valentine’s Day, you can give it to her or your can read it to her.  Or, you can do both.  Words of affirmation is one way of keeping romance alive in a marriage.  Don’t miss this opportunity.

Don’t Let Valentines Day Be Just a Normal Day

Happy Valentines Day.  This is the day to be nice.  Don’t go home without a card.  Underline key words and add a few of your own.  If you can afford it, have flowers delivered before you get home.  Take your lover out to dinner.  Or, if she prefers a nice quiet evening at home, then be sure you wash the dishes and take out the trash.

Do something different.  Don’t let this be a normal day.  What’s the big deal, you ask?  The big deal is keeping romance alive in a marriage.  Some husbands only want sex, but I can tell you that when you separate sex from romance, your wife will never be satisfied.

Pick out a few choice lines from the Song of Solomon in the Bible and read them to your wife, and you’ll have a happy valentines day.

If you’re married, and this Valentine’s Day proves to be a disappointment because your spouse didn’t make it a special day, don’t despair.  Couple’s often have different ideas about what it means to be romantic.  Sit down and make a list of the things that would have made Valentine’s really special for you.  Put this list in a safe place because next year, you are going to give it to your spouse a week before Valentines Day.

But do I have to wait a year for my marriage to get better?  No, No.  If you haven’t read my book The 5 Love Languages, this is the time to read it, and get your husband the Men’s Edition.  Discuss it and learn to speak each others love language and watch romance return long before another Valentines Day.

Developing an Attitude of Service

Before marriage, I dreamed about how happy I would be when we got married. I had visions of all the wonderful things my wife would do for me. Sausage and eggs together in the mornings. Candlelight dinners at night. Holding hands all day long and sex every night. I assumed that she had the same visions.

But, after marriage I found out that my wife didn’t do mornings. So much for the sausage and eggs. She anticipated that I would take her out to romantic restaurants for dinner, not as a prelude to sex, but simply because I loved her.

I expressed my disappointment with her and she expressed her disappointment with me. We succeeded in being utterly miserable. Our marriage didn’t turn around overnight, but it did turn around. And so can yours. I want to share the secret. It all has to do with attitude.

Jesus’ life and teachings focused on sacrificial service to others. He once said, “I did not come to be ministered to, but to minister.” It is a theme that all truly great men and women of the past have affirmed. Life’s greatest meaning is not found in getting, but in giving. This profound principle made a significant difference in my marriage. Developing an attitude of service is not easy but the rewards are overwhelmingly positive. Few people will run away from someone who is serving them.

My wife was no exception. When I reached out to serve her, it wasn’t long before she was reaching out to me. Jesus had it right!  Why did it take me so long to learn?

How would a wife respond to a husband who sincerely sought to serve her? In my desperation I was determined to find out. I set myself to discovering her needs and desires and sought to fulfill them. I began quietly and slowly to do some of the things she had requested in the past. You see, by now we were too estranged to talk about our relationship, but I could choose to take action on some of her previous complaints.

I started washing dishes without being asked. I volunteered to fold the clothes. It seemed to me these where the kind of things Jesus might have done had He been married. When she made specific requests, I determined to respond cheerfully and if possible to do them.

In less than three months, my wife’s attitude toward me began to change. She came out of her shell of withdrawal and began to talk again. I think she sensed that my days of preaching were over and that my attitude toward her was changing. Genuine acts of service seldom go unrewarded. Before long, our hostility was gone, and we began to have positive feelings toward each other.

You see, if I believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive; that serving my spouse is more important than being served; that my best end is found in making her life better, then it will affect the way I treat her. When she sees this attitude expressed in my behavior she knows that something has changed. If I am consistent, then service becomes a lifestyle.

Most wives and husbands are attracted to someone who shows genuine concern for them. The person who follows the example of Jesus – in serving others, is on the road to greatness and to a growing marriage relationship.

Adapted from The Family You’ve Always Wanted: Five Ways You Can Make it Happen by Dr. Gary Chapman.

Apologizing – Learning to Express Regret

What most people are looking for in an apology is sincerity. But how do you determine sincerity? Research has revealed that there are five basic elements to an apology. I call them the five languages of apology. For an apology to be accepted, you need to speak the language that conveys to the offended your sincerity.

The first language of apology is expressing regret, or saying, “I’m sorry.” It is expressing to the offended person your own sense of pain that your behavior has hurt them.

Without the expression of regret, some people do not sense that the apology is adequate. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward restoring goodwill. An apology has more impact when it is specific. The details reveal the depth of your understanding of the situation and how much you inconvenienced your spouse.

Sincere regret needs to stand alone.  It should never be followed with “But…” One husband said, “She apologizes, then blames her actions on something I did to provoke her. Blaming me does little to make the apology sincere.”

When we shift the blame to the other person, we have moved from apology to an attack.  Blame and attacks never lead to forgiveness and reconciliation.  When you are apologizing, let “I’m sorry,” stand alone. Don’t continue by saying, “But if you had not yelled at me I would not have done it.”

For many people, receiving a sincere expression of regret is the strongest language of apology. It is what convinces them that the apology is sincere. Without it, they will hear your words but they will appear empty.

Featured Resource: The Five Languages of Apology