Category: Health

Q+A: Alcohol Addiction in Marriage

Q: Gary, how can you deal with alcohol addiction in a marriage, especially when that person doesn’t think they have a problem?

Gary: Well this is another very common phenomenon in our society. Alcoholism is very prevalent and often the alcoholic doesn’t see themselves as an alcoholic, they just see themselves as drinking. You see the problem, you see it effecting their lifestyle. I think we have to confront them on it, but also realize that they’re likely to push back. However, there does come a time where you say, “I love you very much and I cannot sit here and watch you destroy yourself. If you’re not going to get help then I’m going to get help because I cannot simply sit here and do nothing.” You invite them to go with you if they want. You go for counseling, you go share your struggle and let the counselor help you decide how you can be a positive influence on them trying to get them to the point where they reach out for help.

Identifying Past Failures

Most of us will admit that we are not perfect. From time to time we say and do things that are not loving, kind, or helpful. In a marriage these failures build into walls of separation. If you would like to remove past failures, you must first identify them. Get pen and paper and ask God to bring to your mind the ways you have hurt your spouse in the past. Now, go to your children individually and ask them to tell you times when they have seen you being unkind to your spouse. Get ready, because children can be brutally honest. Then ask the same question to close friends who have had opportunity to observe your behavior. This process can be painful, but it is the first step in dealing with past failures.

Investing Your Life

“It’s not how long you live, but how well you live.” You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. But, it’s really true. Ultimately, age has little to do with success. It is not how many years we have to live, but how we use the years that we have. My sister died at age 58. I have a close friend who died at 52. Recently, a 24 year old graduate student in our church died. As I listened to the eulogies, I realized that he had accomplished far more in 24 years than many people accomplish in 80.

The key is to invest life one day at a time. Do something kind for someone every day. When you do, any day will be a good stopping place. It was said of Jesus, “He went about doing good.” We are called to follow His example. He said, that we are to love one another as He loved us.

Why it’s Hard to Forgive

Why is it so hard for us to forgive? I think it is because we are made in God’s image and we have a deep concern for justice. Forgiveness did not come easy with God. That is what the cross of Christ is all about. Because Christ paid the penalty, then God can forgive us and still be just. How do we experience God’s forgiveness? We confess our sins and accept what Christ did for us. So, when others sin against us, forgiveness is not easy. Our sense of justice demands that they pay for their sin. We want to be reconciled, but we do not want to ignore wrongdoing. However, when they confess, we remember that God forgave us when we confessed, and we choose to forgive others. Love is always ready to forgive.

Social Intimacy in Marriage

In a healthy marriage there will be ‘social intimacy’ between husband and wife. Social intimacy has to do with spending time together; going to a movie or attending an athletic event. Or, we may go bowling, or plant a tree, or go shopping together. Much of life involves ‘doing’. When we do things together, we are enhancing our sense of intimacy. On the other hand, most couples spend several hours each day apart. While apart, they each have various social encounters. At the end of the day, if they share some of these encounters, they are building social intimacy by letting each other in on their time apart. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much social intimacy do you feel in your marriage?

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.

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: 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.

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.

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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