Category: Honesty

Q&A: Jealousy Issues

Q:  I have jealousy issues toward my wife. We are newly married, but I struggle with her having other guy friends. How can I deal with this?

Gary: Some jealousy is normal, particularly in the early years of marriage. We cannot, however, smother our spouse and not let them have friends. If it’s simply friendships with simple conversations, then no problem. But if indeed she has hidden (or not so hidden) feelings for these friends and there are some romantic elements involved, that’s not permissible in a healthy marriage. Be honest with her about your feelings. She in turn needs to be honest with you about the nature of these relationships. Marriage is designed to be exclusive and this conversation will help set that standard.

Q&A: Trusting Men

Q: My girlfriend has a very hard time trusting men. How can I help her to know she can trust me?

Gary Chapman: You cannot convince her to trust you, but you can be trustworthy. If she can tell you how people have failed her in the past and brought her to a place of distrust, you can focus on those areas in particular. You can say things like, “My cell phone is always open to you. My emails are also open if you’d like to check my computer. If you would like to call and check to see if I was where I said I was that is fine.” As she sees that you are trustworthy, she will come to trust you.

Q&A: Your Spouse’s Past

Q: My husband keeps his past a secret because of painful memories. How important is it that I know these things?

Gary Chapman: It depends on what he’s keeping secret. If he’s had painful experiences or trauma such as you would expect from being in the military, people have cheated him in business, or something similar, I think you need to be sensitive to him and not force him to share things that he does not want to share. I feel this way because there are some things that he could share that may be extremely painful to you. Even though he may feel better for having told you, you may feel worse for knowing. If God has forgiven him, I would let him choose what he shares with you from his past and I would not pressure him to tell you everything that’s ever happened in his life. If his sins are covered by the blood of Christ, there’s not necessarily a need for you to know them.

Q&A: A Wandering Eye in Marriage

Q: I’ve been married to my best friend for 10 years. I’ve never had a wandering eye but I’m suddenly finding myself drawn to a new co-worker. Is my marriage in danger?

Jennifer Thomas (coauthor, When Sorry Isn’t Enough): You’ve asked an important question. We know that it takes 100 or more steps to begin an affair. Avoid taking the first steps and you’ll prevent a world of pain. Simply ask anyone who has lived through an affair and they will tell you it is unspeakably tragic and regrettable. Be on guard for these earliest signs of an affair:

  • Noticing a magnetic pull towards someone who is not your spouse
  • Daydreaming about them
  • Spending extra time with them
  • Sharing confidences with them
  • Devaluing your own spouse in your mind if not also in action

If you notice these signs of a crush, take note. You are on the road to an emotional affair. First, do not mention your attraction to your co-worker. To do so would multiply your risk because he or she might also be feeling the spark. You must FLEE and seek support. Take steps today to re-focus on your spouse and make sure that you are speaking each other’s love languages. This is the only way to keep your love tank full. Read our Practically Speaking newsletter for useful tips to speak any love language while having fun!

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.

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.

I Am Not a Perfect Husband

I wish I were a perfect husband: always kind, thoughtful, understanding, and loving. Unfortunately, I am not. I am sometimes selfish, thoughtless, and cold. In short, I fail to live up to the biblical ideal for a Christian husband. Does this mean that my marriage is destined for failure? Not if I am willing to admit my failures and my wife is willing to forgive. God is our model. The scriptures say that God is always willing to forgive if we are willing to confess and repent. Confession is an admission that we are wrong. Repentance is the desire to turn from our sinful behavior. Forgiveness opens the door to reconciliation. It is essential if we are to have a growing marriage.

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.

Keys to Deeper Spiritual Intimacy

One of the most common complaints I hear from Christian wives is that they want to have a deeper level of ‘spiritual intimacy’ with their husbands. I believe there are two ways to build spiritual intimacy. One is by shared experience. Attending worship together and holding hands while the minister prays. Making time to pray together daily – even if it is silent prayer; or attending a couple’s bible study. Another approach is to discuss with each other some of your thoughts about spiritual realities. It may be as simple as sharing what you read in your quiet time this morning, while your spouse listens attentively and affirms your insights. Spiritual intimacy is an important part of marriage. In fact, it is the most important aspect of marriage and will greatly affect all other areas.

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