Category: Emotional Health

Emotional Scars from Divorce

A man who has been divorced from his wife for three years recently said to me. “If I wrote a book the title would be: Divorce: The Living Hell.” Thousands of individuals can echo his sentiments. The emotional scars that come from divorce are never removed. The hurt that is indelibly printed in the minds of children will never be erased. Our whole society has been deeply infected with the “throw-away” mentality. When you are no longer excited about it, get rid of it. No wonder children are so insecure. No wonder there is so little trust in marriage. I am not suggesting that the road to reconciliation is easy, but rather that it is right and that the results are worth the effort.

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.

A Daughter Needs Her Daddy

A few years ago, I teamed up with Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist whom I greatly admire, and wrote a book called The5 Love Languages of Children. In that book, Dr. Campbell made the point that “during the preadolescence stage, girls have a particular need for expressions of love from their fathers. At the same time, fathers often withdraw from hugging and kissing their daughters, feeling it is inappropriate at this stage.” In reality, the daughter needs the hugs and kisses of her father; and if he withdraws, she will likely seek physical touch from another male and often in an unwholesome manner. Certainly there is no place for sexual exploitation, but your daughter deeply needs your loving and affirming touches.

Q&A: God in Marriage

Q: “Neither my fiance or I are very spiritual, though my girlfriend seems to think we need to agree on at least a common idea of ‘God’ before we marry. Is this really that important?”

Gary Chapman: If two people get married with different views about who God is—or even if God is—it will touch nearly every aspect of their lives. Why? Because what you believe about God affects everything else in life—the way you think, approach situations, your attitudes, and more. If two people don’t have a common foundation to build from, the differences will erode the necessary intimacy—intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical—needed to create the kind of closeness we as humans desire. I think it is an important issue that needs to be discussed prior to marriage. Take time to dig down and see if you have a foundation you need to build a healthy marriage.

The Difference You Can Make For Your Child

Did you hug your child when you sent them off to school this morning? I hope so because your hug may make the difference between emotional security and insecurity throughout the day. A hug when the child returns home may determine whether your child has a quiet evening of positive mental and physical activity or makes a rambunctious effort to get your attention. Home should be a haven, the place where love is secure. Physical touch is one of love’s strongest languages. When a child is young they will sit on your lap while you read a story. As they get older you must use different types of touch: wrestling, playful hitting, bear hugs and high-fives. During the grade school years you are preparing your child for the most difficult part of childhood—adolescence. Loving touch is one of your best tools.

The Importance of Touch

In recent years, many research studies have come to the same conclusion: Babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices. The importance of touching children is not a modern idea. Remember in Mark chapter 10 when the parents brought their children to Jesus and the disciples objected? The scripture says that Jesus “took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them” Why should we do less? I know that there are sexual predators who touch children wrongfully, but we should not allow their distortion to keep us from touching children in a loving and healthy way. All children need affirming touch.

Saying “Yes” To God

One of the most important relationship realities is that I am responsible for my own attitude. Attitude has to do with the way I choose to think about things. Two people were in a troubled marriage – one cursed, the other prayed. The difference always is attitude. Focus on how terrible the situation is and it will get worse. Focus on one positive thing and another will appear. In the darkest night of a troubled marriage, there is always a flickering light. Focus on the light and it will eventually flood the room. God wants to use your marriage in two ways. He wants to build the character of Christ in you, and He wants to use you to enrich the life of your spouse. Saying “Yes” to God is the best possible attitude.

Reality Living

One of the great hindrances to marital growth is the belief that “some situations are hopeless.” Those who believe this, usually think that their situation falls into this category. They reason, “Perhaps there is hope for others, but my marriage is hopeless. Too much has happened. It has gone on too long; the hurt is too deep, the damage is irreversible.” This kind of thinking leads to depression and divorce. Talk to any Christian counselor and they can tell you of scores of couples whose marriages have been radically changed. It all begins with choosing to live by truth rather than believing a lie. I call this “reality living.” Remember Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.”

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