Category: Confrontation

Q&A: Can I Trust an Unreliable Spouse?

Q: Gary, my fiancé is a bit undependable (paying bills, chores, being on time, etc.). How can I Trust him with bigger things if he doesn’t take care of the small things?

Gary: Excellent question, and a question that should always be asked and answered before you get married, because whatever patterns are there before you get married will follow into the marriage. That’s why these things need to be discussed openly, you need to share your concerns, share your thoughts. If a person can’t grow in these areas before marriage, then they’re not going to grow in them after marriage. So these are the kind of things that need to be settled before you get married.

Q&A: Confronting Someone you Suspect of Cheating

Q: Gary, what is the proper way to confront someone if you suspect them of cheating?

Gary: First of all, you have to be honest but you want to do it in a positive way. You want to say to them, “Honey, I hope you know that I really love you, and I’m having some feelings and thoughts going through my mind. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have to ask the question: Are you involved with someone else?”

You’re just straight forward with it, but you do it in a kind way. Not in an angry way, not with an angry voice, but with a lot of kindness that communicates to them that you love them. That’s why you’re confronting them. That’s why you’re sharing with them your thoughts. Keep in mind that your feelings and your thoughts may be wrong. And I believe that, at least initially, you should accept what they say and then wait. If they say, “no no no,” then you wait. Because if they are, it will become obvious.

Q&A: Dealing with a Secretive Teen

Q: Gary, my teenager is somewhat secretive. How do I monitor their activity without violating trust?

Gary Chapman: I think teenagers being secretive often has to do with their whole move toward independence. This is a good shift because we want them to be independent by the time they’re 18 and moving on to college or joining the military. At the same time, if they’re being secretive about things that are detrimental to them, that’s a different matter. Even at the expense of their thinking you are violating their space, if you think something very negative is going on, you should violate their space. You should find out and confront them with it because you don’t want to let it get established as a habit in their lives.

Hope for Your Marriage

Bob and Janice have been separated for three months. The only contact they have had is when they met briefly with a lawyer to discuss the terms of legal separation. Is there hope for their marriage? Not until someone seeks to penetrate the silence. But let me remind you that one person can break the silence. It takes both to communicate, but only one to initiate the process.

Have you been standing off, refusing to give in and call, waiting for your spouse to make the first move? Jesus said, that if your brother sins, you are to confront him in private and seek to be reconciled. You can’t make him reconcile, but you can seek reconciliation. If your spouse refuses, you have lost nothing. It is worth the effort.

53 Hours a Week

Is technology bringing your family closer together, or is it driving your family apart? The average American child spends 53 hours a week with media and technology. It is easy for parents to use the screen to entertain their children and keep them happy (which normally means quiet).

Screen time that is not purposeful tends to be a waste of time and a negative influence. Children are like wet cement, and many children are being imprinted by screens not by parents. In my book: Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World, Arlene Pellicane and I seek to give parents practical help with screen management.

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.

In Conflict with Child’s Sexual Behavior

In the fifties it was called “shacking up”. Today it’s “cohabitation,” or simply “living together.” So what are Christian parents to do when they find themselves in conflict with their child’s sexual behavior? Some parents have tried the ‘ostrich’ approach, denying that it’s happening. Others take the ‘missile’ approach, launching verbal condemnation. I believe the Christian approach is to speak the truth in love. “I think you know that I don’t approve of what you are doing. I think it is detrimental to your future. But I know that you are an adult and I cannot make decisions for you. I do request that you respect our beliefs and not sleep together at our house.” Then treat the couple with love and respect. Pray, and give God a chance to work.

A Friendship with a Female Online Gaming Partner

Q: My husband seems to be pursuing a “friendship” with a female gaming partner online. He says there is nothing going on, but it makes me uncomfortable.

Gary: I think many wives can identify with this question. Let’s face it, most affairs do not begin with the affair. It begins with interaction with another person, often online, and bit by bit it develops into something. So, maybe there is nothing really going on that’s improper here. But, the very fact that you’re concerned and you’re sharing that with your husband, which I think you should share it with him. It ought to trigger in him a desire to please you and be willing to draw back from that. So, pray that God will touch his heart and make sure that he knows you’re not happy with this.

Learn to Listen Empathetically

If you are married and you take pride in being reasonable, and you see your spouse as being unreasonable, you are in the process of destroying your marriage. The person I’m talking about is calm, cool and collected. He believes that if you will listen to his arguments, you will be forced to agree. Any sane person could not disagree. “Let me explain this to you one more time.” The implication is that if you will just listen, you will understand and thus agree. This person makes no room for emotions. All that matters is logic. But I remind you that God made us emotional creatures and if you don’t allow for emotions, you will never create an intimate marriage. Learn to listen. Treat your spouse as a person of worth. Ask for their opinions and be empathetic with their feelings.

Release the Person to God

If you have a tendency to hold anger inside and to withdraw from the person at whom you are angry, please listen. The apostle Paul instructed us to “get rid of anger.” Jesus said, “don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Anger was meant to be a visitor, not a resident. It is not wrong to feel anger, but it is wrong to hold anger inside. There are two biblical ways to handle anger. First, you may lovingly confront the person at whom you are angry and hope that they will apologize and the relationship can be restored. Secondly, if they persist in hurting you and not apologizing, you can release the person to God. The scriptures say, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay says the Lord.” Trust Him, and don’t live another day with anger.

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