Category: Confrontation

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.

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.

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.

Q&A: Disagreement with Church Styles

Q: “My husband is from a very traditional church background and I enjoy the more modern, contemporary style. Are there ways we could come together on this?”

Gary Chapman: If you have a room full of people, it’s likely that there will be a great diversity in their preferences for food. Some will prefer Mexican, while others might prefer a good burger. It doesn’t mean that any type of food is actually better than the other, but rather our preferences simply differ. This is common in many areas of life—including the way we prefer to worship. Therefore, it is helpful to give each other the freedom to have their own preferences. What you don’t want to do is let your preferences be divisive in the relationship. Most larger churches will host both a contemporary worship service as well as a more conservative one. One solution might be to agree to go back and forth between the two services every other week.  Other solutions are waiting to be discovered, you simply need an open heart and honest communication to find an agreeable solution when preferences collide.

Q&A: How can I improve communication skills?

Q: “What would be some good suggestions on how to work on communication skills in marriage?”

Gary Chapman: One suggestion I would make to an individual desiring to work on his/her communication skills in marriage would be to simply read a book on communication. I’m thinking of a book I wrote some time ago called: Now You’re Speaking My Language. It has nothing to do with the love languages. It’s a book on communication and intimacy—how to build positive communication patterns and build intimacy in marriage emotionally, spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. Reading a book like that together—talking it through as you go chapter by chapter—is an easy and organized way to learn some new skills in communication.

Q&A: My Child is Gay

Q: “My son has recently told us that he is gay. I’m having a very hard time dealing with it. How can I help him with this and still show love?”

Gary Chapman: Disappointment is a common emotion when a parent hears one of their children indicate that he/she is gay. Men and women are made for each other—it is God’s design. Anything other than that is outside of that primary design of God. Now I’m not going to try explain all the ins and outs of homosexuality, but what I will say is this—we love our children no matter what. Express your disappointment and/or your lack of understanding, but make it clear that you love them and that you will continue to love them no matter what. I would also encourage you to ask your child to do some serious reading and/or talk to a counselor to try to understand him/herself better while continuing to affirm your love.

A Sad Reality

One of the sad realities is that many married individuals have allowed themselves to be pulled into an emotional or physical relationship with someone else. They reason, “I know God hates divorce, but this relationship is so loving. We are able to communicate with such freedom and understanding. It feels like we were meant for each other.” So, they divorce their spouse and marry their new lover.

What they do not know is that 75% of those kind of marriages will end in divorce. Their children are devastated and they have complicated their lives forever. Research indicates that people are not happier five years after divorce and re-marriage. Why not choose God’s way and seek reconciliation?

Q&A: My wife thinks I’m boring

Q: “My wife says that she doesn’t really love me because I’m not charismatic enough. I agree that I’m pretty bland, but how am I improve things?”

Gary Chapman: Short answer—learn her love language and speak it on a regular basis. If you speak her love language she will feel loved by you. She is using the word charismatic, but really what she is asking for in my opinion is emotional love. She wants this sense that you are excited about her, that you care about her, and that you want to communicate love to her. So if you haven’t read The 5 Love Languages, I would suggest you read the Men’s Edition which includes some additional ideas specifically for the men. Learn to speak her love language and I think you’ll see her whole attitude towards you change.

Q&A: Pre-Nuptual Agreement after Divorce

Q: “My fiancé just came out of a bad divorce and wants me to sign a pre-nup. What is your opinion of them?”

Gary Chapman: If he has just come out of a bad divorce, I would say it is not time to get married yet. Research says it takes two years after a divorce for people to get back on level ground emotionally. And the most common mistake people make is that they get married too soon after a divorce. So I would suggest you slow the process down. Give him a chance to work through all the things he has been through in the past divorce. The very fact that he is asking you to sign a prenuptial agreement means that he is not over what happened to him. You might even consider asking him to see a counselor so that he can work through some things and not bring any baggage into your future marriage.

Requirement for Authentic Relationships

Authentic relationships require honesty. Bill said to his wife Martha, “I have felt for a long time that you don’t love me. I have felt that you demand many things from me, but give me little of your affection. So, I feel angry and cold toward you. I pray that we can learn to be open and work through our problems. I do not want to be controlled by my negative feelings.” Was this painful for Martha to hear? Absolutely, but Bill is giving her valuable information. If she wants to restore the marriage she will choose to listen and seek to understand his feelings. If she allows her own defensive feelings to control her, they will simply have another fight. Listening leads to understanding.

Categories