Category: Issues

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.

A Sad Reality

One of the sad realities is that many married individuals have allowed themselves to be pulled into an emotional or physical relationship with someone else. They reason, “I know God hates divorce, but this relationship is so loving. We are able to communicate with such freedom and understanding. It feels like we were meant for each other.” So, they divorce their spouse and marry their new lover.

What they do not know is that 75% of those kind of marriages will end in divorce. Their children are devastated and they have complicated their lives forever. Research indicates that people are not happier five years after divorce and re-marriage. Why not choose God’s way and seek reconciliation?

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.

Q&A: Refuses Sex?

Q: “My husband and I are in our 50’s and he refuses to be intimate with me physically. My love language is touch and it hurts me when he stays away. Is there anything I can do?”

Gary Chapman: First things is to inquire “Why?” — Does he not have the physical ability? Or, is he involved with someone else? Or, is he involved with stimulating himself privately? There are many reason why a spouse might refuse to be intimate, but since it is serious to the health of your relationship you need to inquire about it. You see, if you can get to the root of the problem, then you can look for an answer. But without understanding why he doesn’t have that desire, it is most likely not going to resolve itself.

Q&A: Cultural Connection

Q: “My boyfriend and I are engaged, though we are from very different cultures. What areas should we address before getting married?”

Gary Chapman: This is an excellent question and I wish more people were asking it. Cultures are different and the more diverse the culture the greater the potential for conflict in a marriage. I would suggest such practical things such as spending time in your respective families and observe how they “do life”, traditions, expectations, and points of difference. Also, learn about each other’s culture. Discuss these things with each other and identify the potential areas of conflict. Be honest, yet open to one another’s point of view and heritage. Please note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t get married across cultural lines, but rather you just shouldn’t do it blindly.

Q&A: Married Yet Tempted

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 (co-author of 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 others’ 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!

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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