Category: Fear

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.

Q&A: Trust Issues

Q: I have serious trust issues from a past relationship. How can I keep it from creeping into my new relationship? 

Gary: This is a very common problem. We often reach back and bring the fears of that past relationship into the new relationship. Acknowledge the reality that this is very common–that these thoughts and feelings come back to you. But, you choose not to let those thoughts and feelings control your behavior. And you say to this new person, “Here’s what I’m feeling, here’s what I’m fearing. I don’t want to bring that into our relationship and put that between us. I’m choosing to trust you.” Obviously, if they are untrustworthy, you will be hurt again. But you choose to trust, it’s a choice we make in every relationship.

Q&A: Winning a Person Back into a Relationship

Q: How can I win back my girlfriend after a short break?

Gary Chapman: We seldom fall out of love on the same day, and consequently the one who falls out of love often breaks the relationship. The other person is deeply hurt because you are bonded to that person with an emotional warmth and excitement. “Win” is a good word because it does mean you can make efforts, you can try to influence them. Ultimately, however, you cannot make them come back. You have to be open to the possibility that they’re not going to return to the relationship and that it’s not the end of world. God knows what’s going on, God has a plan for your life. Whether they come back or not, he will guide you in the future to accomplish his purposes for your life. After all, that is the most important thing.

Differences with Your Teenager

Do you ever get frustrated with your teenager? The teenager has a strong pull toward independence and is going through radical physical and emotional changes. They are greatly influenced by their peers. In fact, we often speak of ‘teenage culture’. That culture focuses on music, dress, language, and behavior. This has often created a great divide between teens and parents. So, at a time when the teen most needs moral and spiritual guidance, parents are often rejected. Don’t allow your differences to keep you from loving your teen. Love keeps the door open for your positive influence. Learn your teens’ love language and speak it daily. They never outgrow their need for love.

The Power Of Positive Influence

When in a bad marriage, people often think they have only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery or get out. This limits one’s horizons to two equally devastating alternatives. In my book, Desperate Marriages, I talk about how to be a positive change agent in a difficult marriage. It is true that you cannot make your spouse change, but you can influence your spouse. One husband said, “I used to have rage in my heart toward my wife, but now, I realize what a wonderful wife I have.” Her positive actions stimulated positive emotions in him. With warm emotions his behavior also changed. Learning the power of positive influence could radically change your marriage. You need not be miserable forever.

Victims of Our Environment

The commonly held view is that we are victims of our environment. If I grew up in a dysfunctional family, then I am destined to failure in relationships. If I am married to an alcoholic, I will live a miserable life. This approach to life renders one helpless. The reality is that while our environment certainly affects us, it does not control us. Because we are made in God’s image, we have the capacity to choose our attitudes. We can curse the darkness, or we can light a candle. Your past and your present situation may be discouraging, but it need not destroy your marriage or your life. Reach out to God and ask: “What can I do that would be redemptive in my present situation?” That is a prayer God will answer.

Q&A: Hot Tempered Husband

Q:  “My husband is quick to anger and curses and yells when we fight. I feel like it borders on abuse. What can I do?”

Gary Chapman: This sort of thing should not be accepted as normal. The best thing you can do in this situation is to is apply tough love. Say something like this to your husband, “I don’t know if you love me or not, but it certainly doesn’t feel loving when you get angry and you curse at me. I love you too much to continue to sit here and let you do that. I’m going to move in with my mother and when you are willing to deal with this issue, then I am willing to engage with you in marriage counseling. I am not abandoning you—I am loving you. However, this type of behavior is not acceptable. I think you know that as well as I.” Then, you proceed to follow through with that tough love. This is probably the most powerful thing you can do for your husband.

Q&A: Betrayal and Pain in Past

Q: “Do love languages work on someone who equates “love” with betrayal and pain? The woman I love is afraid of loving and being loved because of two failed marriages? “

Gary Chapman: Anyone who has come through two failed marriages is going to come to a new relationship with a lot of hurt, pain, and likely lack of trust in the person she is now dating. What she needs, in my opinion, is some individual counseling where she works through some of the pain and hurt from her past before she gets involved in another relationship. To simply go from one relationship to another—carrying with us the baggage of the past—sets us up for failure in the new relationship. I would suggest that you highly encourage her to get some help working through these issues before you go very far in your relationship.

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