Category: Conflict

Q&A: A husband trying to come together with his wife on choosing a church.

Q: Gary, my wife and I attend separate churches because of our differing opinions of what a “good” church is. It feels awkward sometime, but I just don’t know how to come together on this.

Gary: I have known couples that have gone to separate churches for over thirty years. I don’t, however, think it is the healthiest thing. Sometimes, one individual is so “married” to a particular church that they are unwilling to budge at all and this becomes inevitable.

It’s much healthier for your marriage to find a place you can go together. My suggestion is to challenge your spouse to visit another church with you, at least once every month or two—not her church, not your church. By doing this you open the possibility of finding a church you both feel good about.

Deadlock vs Wedlock

Most counselors agree that one of the greatest problems in marriage is decision making. Visions of democracy dance in the minds of many young couples, but when there are only two voting members, democracy often results in deadlock.

How does a couple move beyond deadlock? The answer is found in one word—love. Love always asks the question, “What is best for you?” Love does not demand it’s own way. Love seeks to bring pleasure to the one loved. We are called to be lovers. When I love my wife, I will not seek to force my will upon her for selfish purposes.

This Won’t Work in Marriage

What’s so bad about arguing? First, let me clarify what I mean by the word argue. It is a legal term. In a court of law attorneys make arguments designed to show the guilt or innocence of their client. They present the ‘facts’ with the attitude, “Any reasonable person would agree with my argument.” What works fairly well in the court room, works poorly in a marriage, because there is no judge available to determine when your spouse is ‘out of order’. Arguments become charged with emotion and you end up yelling, screaming, or crying. Each feels the other is unreasonable.

What’s so bad about arguing? It turns spouses into enemies who have feelings of hurt, anger, and resentment.

Q&A: Living With Someone Who Has Wronged You

Q: Gary, I just read your blog about releasing anger and giving it to God.  I totally get that, but how do you continue to live with that person?

Gary Chapman: Don’t overlook the steps that need to be taken before you release the person to God. The Bible says if you’ve been hurt or offended—which is usually what stimulates anger—you should go to the person who has wronged you and confront them. The hope is that they will acknowledge their failure and it’s at this point that you can forgive them. However, if you do this and they still are not willing to apologize or admit their wrong, then release your anger and that person to God. Consequently, the relationship will not be a close one because you can’t be close to someone you feel has wronged you but unwilling to deal with it, but at least you’re not perpetually living with the anger.

The Purpose of Marriage

Q: I’m dating and always getting ultimatums for things from my girlfriend. She says I value friends and family above her.

Gary: Recognize the purpose of dating is to get to know each other and to decide if this will lead to marriage or not. Many times the dating relationship does not lead to marriage, rather it helps us understand this person well enough to know that we are not meant for each other. I would be encouraged by the fact that you’re having conflicts in the dating relationship. And if you can’t resolve those things while you are dating, it’s a pretty good sign you’re not going to make it in marriage. Because if one person has to have their way all the time and you’re always condemned on the other side, that doesn’t lead to a happy marriage. 

Praying for Our Enemies

Many people say that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth. Whatever our limitations we have been greatly blessed of God. This nation has faced many crises in the past. Today we face a growing and illusive enemy that seeks to destroy America in the name of religion. Ours has been a land of religious freedom. We allow all religions to practice their faith freely. As we thank God for our history, let us pray for His wisdom in the present. Let us stand firmly on the side of freedom and pray for our enemies. As Abraham Lincoln noted, our concern is not whether God is on our side, but that we are on God’s side. The nation that exalts God will be blessed. Whatever others do, let us seek God and His Kingdom.

Unhealthy Patterns of Communication

Unhealthy patterns of communication can destroy a marriage. However, you can’t correct them until you identify them. Here are four common negative patterns: (1) The Blamer, “It’s your fault.” No matter what it is, you blame your spouse. (2) The Peacemaker, “Whatever you want is fine with me.” Even if you have opinions you don’t share them, because you don’t want to start an argument. (3) The Professor, “Let’s be reasonable.” You see yourself as a person of logic. You explain it as you would to a child. And, that’s exactly what your spouse feels. (4) The Statue. You don’t talk. “Ignore her and she will go away” is your philosophy. Want some help? The book is entitled: Now You’re Speaking My Language.

Q&A: Newly Married but Having Little Fights

Q: After getting married we are having a hard time with coming together with our money. When it comes to bills it seems like it’s either hers or mine. Any advice?

Gary: Talk about it. It’s normal for couples to have issues of adjustment when they get married. I suggest that each week you have a family conference in which each of you brings up one thing that is bothering you. Then the two of you look for an answer. If it’s done on a regular basis, you will process normal conflicts in a positive way. If you don’t have a set time to talk you will likely hold things inside until the pressure gets so strong that you explode and end up in an argument. Sharing concerns and looking for solutions draws a couple together. Love is always willing to listen and open to change.

Q&A: Affair on The Internet

Q: I suspect my husband of cheating on me on the internet and he gets upset when I ask to see his account. How do I deal with this?

Gary: It’s difficult to deal with that, but you cannot accept a husband who is hiding part of his life from you. I think you have to tell him very lovingly that you love him too much to let him block off a part of his life from you. Does he want an intimate marriage with you or does he want to live with the internet? I think when you push him to make that kind of choice you will discover the truth, then you can deal with the truth. I also suggest you need someone to walk with you through this journey. I suggest you see a Christian counselor or pastor.

Struggle With Anger?

Let’s be honest, many of us have never learned to handle anger positively. Our responses to anger in the past have always made things worse. Some people deny that they have an anger problem. Margaret was a screamer. She prided herself in “speaking her mind”. She justified her tirades until the day her daughter left her the following note. “Dear Mom, I won’t be home tonight. I can’t take your screaming anymore. I don’t know what will happen to me, but at least I won’t have to hear all the nasty things you say to me when I don’t do everything you want.” Margaret read the note, cried, and called her pastor, who in turn helped her find a Christian counselor. Don’t wait until you get a note – reach out for help.

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