Category: Communication

Memory and Forgiveness

What would you say to the wife who says, “I have forgiven him, but I am deeply pained when I remember what he did.”? Would you quote Hebrews 10:17 where God says, “And their sins I will remember no more.”? Would you tell her that if she has not forgotten, then she has not forgiven? I hope not. Forgiveness does not destroy our memory. Our brain records every event we experience. Memory may bring back the feeling of hurt. But forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a promise. Forgiveness says, “I will no longer hold that against you.” When the memory comes back and the pain returns, take it to God and say, “Father, thank You, that is forgiven.” Don’t allow the memory of the past to destroy your day.

Q&A: Marriage and Deployment

Q: I’m in the military and I’m about to be deployed. How can my wife and I prepare?

Gary Chapman: I think the first thing that you need to do is acknowledge that you’re going to have to work together to find a new way to relate to each other. This is where I think the five love languages can be very, very helpful to you. For example, if you know each other’s primary love language in those early days you are going to want to speak volumes of that language. If you and your spouse feel loved it’s much easier to negotiate other factors. While preparing for that, I think you would find a new book we’ve just released to be helpful. It’s called The 5 Love Languages Military Edition. It provides a lot of practical help on reintegration.

Q&A: Military Couples in the Church

Q: As a pastor, what can my congregation and I do to help military couples in our church?

Gary Chapman: I wish more pastors were asking that question because churches are often not aware of the needs military couples have. They face challenges that civilian couples do not, and as a result suffer a higher divorce rate. My suggestion would be to give the military couples in your church a time to talk to each other—such as a small group. Identify someone who’s a veteran, who has the ability to lead and let the setting and structure be conducive for conversation. A good book to use as a guide in such a framework would be The 5 Love Languages Military Edition. When military couples start talking to each other about the challenges they face and the practical solutions they read about in the book, they will feel encouraged that they’re not alone and hopeful for the future. It’d also be a great way for your congregation to say, “We care about you.”

Forgiveness is not Always Acceptance

There is a difference between forgiveness and acceptance. You may accept many things about your spouse that you do not particularly like. In fact, such acceptance is necessary in healthy marriages. But forgiveness presupposes that you have been wronged, treated unfairly. In the Bible, such action is called sin and sin cannot be accepted. There are two responses to sin; we can confess our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness or we can continue in our sin. The one who continues in sin will not be forgiven. In fact, God will bring discipline to the Christian who continues in sin. His desire is that we turn from our sin so that we can experience His forgiveness, and have warm fellowship again. In a healthy marriage, this will also be our desire.

I Am Not a Perfect Husband

I wish I were a perfect husband: always kind, thoughtful, understanding, and loving. Unfortunately, I am not. I am sometimes selfish, thoughtless, and cold. In short, I fail to live up to the biblical ideal for a Christian husband. Does this mean that my marriage is destined for failure? Not if I am willing to admit my failures and my wife is willing to forgive. God is our model. The scriptures say that God is always willing to forgive if we are willing to confess and repent. Confession is an admission that we are wrong. Repentance is the desire to turn from our sinful behavior. Forgiveness opens the door to reconciliation. It is essential if we are to have a growing marriage.

Q&A: Long Distance Love Languages

Q: My wife and I are in the military. How can we speak the 5 love languages while we’re apart?

Gary Chapman: All of the love languages can be spoken long distance. I have just released a book with Jocelyn Green called The 5 Love Languages Military Edition in which we talk about how to speak the love languages long distance. For example, despite what most people may assume, Physical Touch can be spoken when you’re apart. You can say to them in an email or phone call, “If I were with you I would give you a big hug you would never forget.” Emotionally they’d feel your arms around them. You can learn to keep love alive while you’re deployed with the five love languages. I’m hoping this book is going to help thousands of military couples learn how to stay emotionally connected even while they’re deployed.

War and Peace

One of the barriers to communication is uncontrolled anger. When you are lashing out at your spouse, you are declaring war. If they respond with angry words, you may have a full scale battle. The good news is that we have the ability to control anger rather than being controlled by anger. Call a ‘time out’ and give yourself time to cool off. Then, come back with your emotions under control and share your concerns in a soft voice. Does it sound impossible? It’s not. In fact, it’s biblical. The scriptures say, “being angry sin not, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” It is not sinful to feel angry. Anger indicates that something is wrong. You need to talk about it, but in a constructive manner. Learning to control anger fosters good communication.

Fast Computers

Do you ever wonder what we did before computers? I think we played games with each other. I think we had meals together and talked about what was going on in our lives. I think husbands and wives made love, and children felt secure. I think fathers and sons threw the ball in the back yard. I think mothers and daughters made doll clothes. I think we had families.

What if, just for a week, we said, “NO” to the computer and the television and said, “YES” to the family? What would that look like in your house? You might be surprised. You might even like it. You might even decide to make an early New Years resolution to make family a priority. If so, I think you will have discovered what God had in mind when he instituted the family.

Q&A: Interracial Marriage

Q: “Do you have any comments on how the love languages work in an interracial marriage? I’ve been married for 22 years and it’s always been a challenge.”

Gary Chapman: The difference you are dealing with is a cultural difference, not racial. People of different races come out of different cultures or sub-cultures and when you put them together this often presents some challenges. The important things is to understand each other’s sub-culture and recognize that to cultivate a healthy marriage a couple must learn to accept and learn how to navigate or negotiate those differences—finding something that is meaningful and works for the two of them. Then, they can begin to look for ways to work together as a team. Consequently, learning ways to speak the primary love language of your spouse is going to help you do that.

Enhancing Sexual Intimacy

Why is sexual intimacy so illusive for many couples? I believe it is because we have separated it from intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual intimacy. Intimacy is that sense of closeness that comes when we share life deeply with each other. But it cannot be limited to the sharing of our bodies. When we are critical, demanding, and verbally abusive, and then try to have sex we will not experience intimacy.

Sexual intimacy flows naturally from a loving marital relationship. If you want greater sexual intimacy then focus on building closeness in the other areas of life. Spend time together, give affirming words, pray together, apologize for your failures. This is the road to sexual intimacy.

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