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.

 

The Attitude of Listening

When two people are talking at the same time, no one is listening. Consequently, there is no communication. For conversation to be meaningful, it requires talking and listening. How hard can that be? Yet, 87% of those who divorce say their main problem was that they could not communicate. Listening begins with an attitude. If I choose to believe that every person I encounter is made in God’s image; that their thoughts and feelings are important, than I am prepared to listen. If I think the world revolves around me; that my ideas are all that counts, then why should I listen to anyone else? Many couples don’t have a communication problem, they have an attitude problem.

Listening our Way to Love

Ask any group of people, such as friends or co-workers, “When do you feel loved?” and the answer will likely include something about listening. When people listen, we feel worthwhile and valued. Listening is hard when trying to start a love relationship, because we’d rather try to impress. Yet listening is one of the strongest ways to say, “I love you.”

Jesus’ example in this startles us. Why the God-man with all the answers would wait to hear our questions is provocative. But that’s just what Jesus did with the woman at the well. Though he knows immediately the answer to her need, he asks a question, listens, and waits for her response (see John 4). Why? Perhaps it is because, in knowing all things, he understands that his listening heart will be partly responsible for her healing.

Continue reading article by Marty Trammell and Rich Rollins >>

Do You Know how to Apologize?

Do you know how to apologize? Chances are you do what your parents taught you, but that may not be enough. Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I discovered that people have different ideas on what it means to apologize. In fact, there are five languages of apology. If you don’t speak the right language, you are not likely to have a favorable response. If you aren’t sure how to apologize, consider saying this: “I value our relationship. What do I need to do or say in order for you to consider forgiving me?” Their answer will reveal their ‘primary apology language.’ Express your apology in that language and you will likely receive forgiveness.

Appropriate Age Difference in Marriage

Q: Gary, what are appropriate age differences in marriage?

Gary: It all depends on if you’re thinking of a 16-year-old marrying a 30-year-old, or whether you’re talking about a 30-year-old marrying a 50-year-old. The question is much more important in the early years of life. The differences between people are colossal in those years. After 30, 35, 40, the differences are not as important or prevalent. So, while I don’t think there’s any arbitrary answer to this question, I would say that I think you set yourself up for problems if you’re 16 and marrying someone whose 30.

How to Love the Unlovely

Q: Gary, I’ve heard you say that we are to “love the unlovely” as Jesus did. But since Jesus is God and perfect, He can do anything! How are lowly people expected to do what only God can do?

Gary: Well the scriptures say that the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy spirit, and that’s how a Christian can love an unlovely person. You’re exactly right: by nature, we are not lovers. We are self-centered and self-righteous. But by God’s help, we can be his agents of expressing his love to an unlovely person.

Essentials for Healthy Relationships

Do you have a relationship that is presently broken or fractured? What would it take to heal the relationship? I’d like to suggest two essentials: apologizing and forgiving. When we have hurt someone, it is time to apologize. Don’t let your pride keep you from admitting that you were wrong. When someone has hurt you, it is time to confront. Jesus said that if someone sins against you, then you should tell them, and seek reconciliation. Don’t let fear keep you from confronting the person who has hurt you. Healthy relationships must be authentic. You cannot suffere in silence and hope things will workout. Apologizing and forgiving are two essentials for healthy relationships.