Category: Issues

Q&A: A husband trying to come together with his wife on choosing a church.

Q: Gary, my wife and I attend separate churches because of our differing opinions of what a “good” church is. It feels awkward sometime, but I just don’t know how to come together on this.

Gary: I have known couples that have gone to separate churches for over thirty years. I don’t, however, think it is the healthiest thing. Sometimes, one individual is so “married” to a particular church that they are unwilling to budge at all and this becomes inevitable.

It’s much healthier for your marriage to find a place you can go together. My suggestion is to challenge your spouse to visit another church with you, at least once every month or two—not her church, not your church. By doing this you open the possibility of finding a church you both feel good about.

Q&A: A wife struggling to recover from her husband’s emotional affair

Q: Gary, I discovered emails between my husband and someone from his past. They have been in touch throughout our marriage. He met her for dinner on a business trip out of town 5 years ago. He ended the contact; we did counseling. But, I’m still angry and so hurt.

Gary Chapman: It’s understandable that one would be hurt and experience the emotion of anger when a spouse has stepped out of line. What is fortunate is that, in this case, your spouse ended that relationship, the two of you went for counseling, and, I’m assuming, you processed that rather thoroughly.

I would suggest that even though the hurt and the anger may come back you take these emotions to God. Say, “Lord, you know what I am remembering. You know what I am feeling again. But, in spite of this, I thank you that my husband repented and I’ve forgiven him. Now help me to do something good today.”

Don’t allow the emotions that come from the past memory destroy today.

Q&A: Living With Someone Who Has Wronged You

Q: Gary, I just read your blog about releasing anger and giving it to God.  I totally get that, but how do you continue to live with that person?

Gary Chapman: Don’t overlook the steps that need to be taken before you release the person to God. The Bible says if you’ve been hurt or offended—which is usually what stimulates anger—you should go to the person who has wronged you and confront them. The hope is that they will acknowledge their failure and it’s at this point that you can forgive them. However, if you do this and they still are not willing to apologize or admit their wrong, then release your anger and that person to God. Consequently, the relationship will not be a close one because you can’t be close to someone you feel has wronged you but unwilling to deal with it, but at least you’re not perpetually living with the anger.

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.

Understanding Homosexuality

I am meeting more and more Christian parents who are struggling in their efforts to understand homosexuality. Almost all parents – even those who say we should tolerate all lifestyles – will feel shock and deep pain if one of their children announces that he is homosexual. The initial reaction is that they have failed their child in some critical way. The fact is that research has failed to discover the causes of homosexuality. We simply don’t know why some people have “same sex” attraction. So what’s a Christian parent to do? The example of Jesus would lead us to spend time with them, communicate with them, and demonstrate love for them, even though we do not approve of their lifestyle.

The Purpose of Marriage

Q: I’m dating and always getting ultimatums for things from my girlfriend. She says I value friends and family above her.

Gary: Recognize the purpose of dating is to get to know each other and to decide if this will lead to marriage or not. Many times the dating relationship does not lead to marriage, rather it helps us understand this person well enough to know that we are not meant for each other. I would be encouraged by the fact that you’re having conflicts in the dating relationship. And if you can’t resolve those things while you are dating, it’s a pretty good sign you’re not going to make it in marriage. Because if one person has to have their way all the time and you’re always condemned on the other side, that doesn’t lead to a happy marriage. 

The Four Seasons of Marriage

Some time ago, I wrote a book entitled, The Four Seasons of Marriage. It’s not the idea that you get married in Spring and when you are old you end up in Winter. Rather, I use the seasons to describe the quality of the marriage. It has nothing to do with how long you’ve been married. So people go from Spring to Winter on the honeymoon. Yes, Spring marriages are exciting. We have plans, we are optimistic. We love each other. Most people get married in Spring. On the other hand, a Winter marriage is cold, harsh, and bitter. We’ve stopped talking because we don’t like to argue. If you would like to move from winter to spring, you need to confess past failures, and give love a second chance.

Negotiating Solutions

“Ignore it and it will go away?” Is that your philosophy? If so, your relationships will never be authentic. In healthy relationships, people must talk about the things that irritate them. They must seek to negotiate solutions which will respect their differences. Put your head in the sand, and your problems will get worse. Speak the truth in love and you can solve your problems. Don’t change the subject when your spouse brings up a topic that you think will start an argument. Simply ask, “Do you want us to share our ideas and look for a solution? If so, I’m willing to talk. If we are simply going to argue, I don’t have the energy to do that. If we can respect each other’s thoughts I think we can find an answer.” This is the way to build healthy relationships.

Q&A: Friends Tell Me That There Is Something Wrong With Us

Q: I’ve been dating for several years but my best friend tells me that something’s not quite right. What should I do?

Gary: Listen to your friends. I don’t mean that you should necessarily break up. What I do mean is that you should listen to what your friends are saying. It’s not uncommon to have blind spots. Your friends see things that you don’t see. You need to find out what their concerns are and then address the issue. If you don’t, you’re likely to wake up married and realize that your friends were right. Don’t assume just because you are in love you should get married. It’s highly possible to fall in love with someone you should not marry. If you want a practical guide as to what you should consider before deciding to marry, you might want to check out my book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married.

Ways to Help Your Child with a Drug Problem

Alcohol and drug-related problems have become the downfall of many adolescents and young adults. Parents are frustrated and often do not know what to do. Here are three specific ways you can help if you suspect that your child has a drug problem. First, pray and ask God for wisdom. He can and will guide you in finding the help you need. Second, seek counsel from a qualified person on what steps you should take. Don’t try to solve the problem on your own. Third, practice “tough love”. Tough love means letting your child suffer the consequences of their drug and alcohol abuse. This is the fastest way for your child to become willing to go for treatment. Be kind, but firm in refusing to bail them out.

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