Category: Listening

Influencing Teens

Did you know that 70 years ago, teenagers did not exist? That is, as a separate cultural group. Before the industrial age, teens worked on their parents’ farms until they got married. With industrialization, teens had a choice. They could be a weaver, a cobbler, or a machinist. But they still lived with their parents until they got married; usually in the late teens. In the modern world, young people have high school, college, and often graduate school before they get married. So they are with parents much longer. This is good news, because it gives greater opportunity to influence their lives for good. Remember, the quality of your marriage is your greatest means of influence. They will remember your model long after they have forgotten your words.

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.

Q&A: Military Couples in the Church

Q: As a pastor, what can my congregation and I do to help military couples in our church?

Gary Chapman: I wish more pastors were asking that question because churches are often not aware of the needs military couples have. They face challenges that civilian couples do not, and as a result suffer a higher divorce rate. My suggestion would be to give the military couples in your church a time to talk to each other—such as a small group. Identify someone who’s a veteran, who has the ability to lead and let the setting and structure be conducive for conversation. A good book to use as a guide in such a framework would be The 5 Love Languages Military Edition. When military couples start talking to each other about the challenges they face and the practical solutions they read about in the book, they will feel encouraged that they’re not alone and hopeful for the future. It’d also be a great way for your congregation to say, “We care about you.”

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.

Enhancing Sexual Intimacy

Why is sexual intimacy so illusive for many couples? I believe it is because we have separated it from intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual intimacy. Intimacy is that sense of closeness that comes when we share life deeply with each other. But it cannot be limited to the sharing of our bodies. When we are critical, demanding, and verbally abusive, and then try to have sex we will not experience intimacy.

Sexual intimacy flows naturally from a loving marital relationship. If you want greater sexual intimacy then focus on building closeness in the other areas of life. Spend time together, give affirming words, pray together, apologize for your failures. This is the road to sexual intimacy.

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.

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.

Grow Closer by Sharing Your Feelings

We often hear couples talk about emotional intimacy; but what does that mean? Essentially, it is the sharing of emotions in an accepting atmosphere. All day long, life is filled with feelings. You put your dollar in the drink machine and receive no drink (and no change). You have feelings. You are informed that the company is going to ‘downsize.’ You have feelings. Emotional intimacy is that sense of closeness that comes when you choose to share your emotions with each other in an effort to know each other more deeply. For this to happen, we must create an atmosphere of acceptance. “I can see how you might feel hurt by that. Is there anything I can do to help?” Such a response encourages emotional intimacy.

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