Category: Communication

Identifying Past Failures

Most of us will admit that we are not perfect. From time to time we say and do things that are not loving, kind, or helpful. In a marriage these failures build into walls of separation. If you would like to remove past failures, you must first identify them. Get pen and paper and ask God to bring to your mind the ways you have hurt your spouse in the past. Now, go to your children individually and ask them to tell you times when they have seen you being unkind to your spouse. Get ready, because children can be brutally honest. Then ask the same question to close friends who have had opportunity to observe your behavior. This process can be painful, but it is the first step in dealing with past failures.

Q+A: Is He the One?

Q: Gary, how do I know He is the one? Friends have their opinion & so does family….but How do I decide for myself if this is the person for me? The pressure is there of not choosing someone outside of the will of God but how does one really accomplish that?

Gary: “How do I know if this is the one?” Isn’t that the question that everyone asks when they’re single? How am I going to know if this is really the person? I would say you need to listen to your friends and listen to your parents because they see things that you don’t see. Don’t discount what they’re saying to you. Sometimes we fall in love and we overlook a lot of red flags that are waving because of our feelings, but our parents and others are sometimes able to see things we don’t. Listen to what they’re saying, ask questions, and read my book Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. It’ll help you make that decision.

Q&A: Should I Apologize to Those from Past Relationships?

Q: Gary, I will be getting married soon and I want to have a clean conscience. Should I apologize to those whom I might have hurt in previous relationships?

Gary: I think a good basic pattern is that we always apologize to the people we’ve hurt in the past. Sometimes we haven’t learned that and we leave a whole string of relationships that are fractured because we never accept that responsibility. If you’ve hurt people in past relationships, then yes, I think it’s good to go back and apologize for your part in that relationship and for what you did. You’re not asking for reconciliation because you’re getting married to someone else, but you are acknowledging responsibility for your failures in the past.

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.

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.

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.

Understanding the value of apologizing.

I was giving a lecture on the five love languages of apology. At the break, a man approached me and said: “For the first time in my life, I understand the value of apologizing. My father’s philosophy was that ‘apologizing gets you nowhere. Do the best you can and never look back.’ That’s pretty much the way I lived until my wife committed adultery.” “So, what would it take for you to forgive her?” I asked. “I want her to admit that what she did was wrong and to promise me that she will never do it again. If I knew that she would never do it again, I think I could forgive her.” This husband was demonstrating the necessity of apologies. There are no healthy marriages without apologies and forgiveness.

Q&A: Husbands That Don’t Want to Talk

Q: Gary, my new husband doesn’t want to talk and just wants to be with his friends. How do I show him that it’s not too late to start over?

 

Gary: It sounds like he’s withdrawing from the relationship and there must be a reason for that. Either in his efforts to talk he has felt put down by you and consequently doesn’t want to talk. On the other hand, I’m wondering, if he wants spend all of his time with his friends, why did he get married? So I think I would ask him, “Can you help me understand why you don’t want to spend time with me?” There has to be a reason. I don’t know what it is, but something is going on if a newly married husband doesn’t want to spend time with his wife.

Q&A: Love Languages and Dating

Q: Gary, should I be concerned if my boyfriend refuses to take the Love Languages quiz? How can I determine what his language is?

If someone refuses to take a positive step in helping the relationship, yes, it’s a red flag waving because they’re not likely to be open to other things you request. In answering your second question, you determine his love language by asking yourself, How does he respond to others?” Observe his behavior. Is he giving pats on the back, is he giving words of affirmation, does he spend time talking to people? The second question is what does he complain about? The complaint reveals his love language. And then, what does he request of you most often? That also reveals his love language. So you can determine his love language even if he won’t take the quiz. But don’t overlook the fact that he’s refusing to do something you’re requesting.

7 Steps to Get the Most Out of Anger

I grew up in a family that understood anger as a threat to relationship. As such, raised voices or certain vocal tones got us a ticket to our bedrooms where we were supposed to magically get over it. Only we didn’t…

…The unfortunate conundrum is that unless humans pathologically detach, we cannot avoid anger. If you are awake and paying attention, there’s actually a lot going on around the globe to inspire this threatening emotion. Thankfully, God does not call us to be emotional agnostics. Anger is one of many appropriate responses to atrocities, particularly those that end in premature death. When Lazarus died and Jesus faced his grieving sister, Scripture tells us “a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled” (John 11:33). Because of his connection to God the Father, Jesus didn’t sin in his anger. As Paul referenced in Ephesians, we occasionally do.

How are we to respond honestly without hurting others when the inevitable anger rises up within our marriage?

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