Q&A: Marrying your 3rd Cousin

Q: Gary, is there something spiritually or otherwise wrong with dating a 3rd cousin… especially if it’s been going on for a long time and you both love each other?

 

Gary: 3rd cousin! Boy, I don’t even know how you figure that out! I think that’s far enough removed… probably a lot of people have married 3rd cousins and not even known it. I don’t know of anything biblically or socially that would speak against that. I’m not a medical doctor, though, so there might be genetic factors that would come into play. I personally don’t see any red flags waving.

Q&A: Is There Hope for a Divorced Couple?

Q: Gary, I am recently divorced and have just discovered the 5LL. I haven’t been speaking his. We are still in touch. Can I still save something of our marriage?

 

Gary: You know I have many people who share this sentiment: they wish they had discovered their love languages much earlier. But if you have contact, you can still speak his love language with whatever opportunities you have. I would begin with an apology, though. I would say to him, “You know, I was reading a book the other day and I realized that I failed you in terms of loving you. I didn’t even know your love language.” And now you’ve got his attention. You’re apologizing to him for failing to meet his need for love, and when you apologize it opens the door to the possibility of him forgiving you, and then when you ask for another chance he’s far more likely to give you another chance because he sees a change in you.

A Man’s Life does not Consist in the Abundance of His Posessions

In today’s world, many people are suffering from the pain of debt. Others are troubled with the upheavals of the financial markets. Let me remind you of the words of Jesus: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” If you understand that truth it will change your life forever. Real satisfaction is found not in money, but in loving relationships with God, our spouse, children and friends. Loving relationships are our greatest assets. Most of us could live with less money, and may of necessity have to do so. But, if that helps us focus on relationships, then we still come out winners. Why not have a family ‘soup’ night – eat only soup and crackers and thank God that you are alive and together.

The Art of Apologizing

Though the word apology, as we know it, does not exist in the New Testament, an absence of the specific word does not indicate an absence of the concept. Scripture provides lessons for how to do this well and demonstrates that there is more to making an apology than what we often hear in popular culture.

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Selfishness is the Problem

Do you have a conflict that you have not been able to solve in your marriage? May I make a suggestion? Why not write out all the possible solutions that you can think of. Ask your spouse to do the same. Then sit down and compare your lists. Perhaps in at least one of the solutions, you both agree. Why not try it and see if it works. Conflicts are going to always arise because of one simple reality. We are human. Humans don’t always have the same thoughts and feelings. Conflicts are not the problem. Selfishness is the problem. When I insist that my way is the only ‘right’ way, I’m condemning my spouse. Condemnation does not lead to a good marriage.

Q&A: Fading in Love

Q: Gary, I’m engaged, but the “in-love” phase seems to already be ending. How can we maintain the ‘openness’ in our relationship?

 

Gary: I’m glad you’re acknowledging that the “in-love” feelings are fading; if you’ve dated long enough, they’re bound to fade before you get married. That’s where the 5 Love Languages can really help you stay emotionally connected to each other. If you haven’t read the book, read it, and if you don’t know each other’s love language then I would encourage you to take the quiz. Speak that language on a regular basis and you will keep the emotional love alive in the relationship.

Arguments are Seldom the Answer

Some people don’t solve conflicts because they would rather win an argument than find a solution. Did you ever stop to think that if you win the argument, your spouse lost the argument. It’s no fun to be a loser or to live with a loser. So, why create one? Arguments seldom lead to a mutually satisfying solutions. More often than not, one of us walks out of the room and nothing is resolved. One way to stop arguments is to agree that we will focus on finding a solution. We already know that we disagree. So, let’s try to understand the other person’s point of view. Let’s listen long enough to say, “that makes sense.” (It always makes sense in their head.) Then you ask, how can we solve the problem? When you look for a solution, you will find one.

You Must Learn to Listen

If you want to have a healthy marriage, you must learn to listen. Listening leads to understanding. Once I understand what my spouse is thinking and feeling, I can have a meaningful response. When I speak before I listen, I’m simply throwing words into the wind. May I give you a practical suggestion? When your spouse begins talking, about anything, imagine yourself having huge elephant ears. Have you heard the expression, “I’m all ears”? That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t think about how you are going to respond. Focus on making sure you understand the thoughts and feelings of your spouse. Then, when it’s your turn to talk, your spouse can put on the elephant ears.

Q&A: Spending Quality Time During Long Distance Relationships

Q: Gary, I’m in a long distance relationship, how can I show quality time while apart?

Gary: I have found that that question arises often with military couples when one is deployed, but in today’s world of technology, it’s much easier to spend quality time than ever before. There’s Facetime and Skype where you can look at them when you’re talking to them, actually have a face to face conversation. You can also read a book together. Read the same chapter that week and then talk on the phone, email, or connect however you prefer. You can discuss what you learned in the chapter so it gives focus to your quality time.

I think there are many wonderful things you can do now with technology so when you’re apart you can still have extended conversations. But you still want to make them as meaningful as you can and often you can do that when you focus on a particular topic when you are talking or emailing.

Q&A: Why is there a 5LL for Men and not for Women?

Q: Gary, why do you have a “Men’s” edition of the 5 Love Languages and not a “women’s?”

Gary: Well, the original edition of The 5 Love Languages was written for women and for men, but I discovered that men need a little extra help. For that reason, I wrote the Men’s edition so that I could give them additional ideas for how to speak those love languages. I also have a chapter in there on how to handle anger and how to apologize effectively, which are two issues that I have observed men often struggle with more than women.

 

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