Category: Listening

Intimacy and the Healthy Marriage

Intimacy between the husband and wife is one of the characteristics of a healthy marriage. The problem is that we have different ideas as to what it means to have intimacy. For some husbands ‘intimacy’ means ‘sex’. For most wives ‘intimacy’ is something far more emotional and relational. In fact, without emotional closeness, sex may be meaningless. What is intimacy? It is that sense of closeness that comes when we share our lives deeply with each other. We spend time together. We share our opinions, desires, and feelings. We do things together socially. We let each other in on our spiritual journey. We pray together. And yes, we have sex together. Intimacy involves sharing all of life. That is what marriage is all about.

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: Speaking Gifts is Hard for Him

Q: “My love language is gifts, but he has a hard time speaking it. Because of this I feel misunderstood. I give specific suggestions, but he’ll instead bring something home for me from the hardware store and it just doesn’t cut it. Can you help?”

Gary Chapman: Maybe he doesn’t understand. Either you or someone needs to sit down with him and communicate the love language concept. Just like he would want you to speak his love language, you would like him to speak yours. You say you give him suggestions—that’s good. You might even want to write those things down. I might even suggest he take his sister shopping with him when he goes out to buy you a gift. This could provide him with the proper insight from a woman’s perspective allowing him to fare better than he would on his own.

A Daughter Needs Her Daddy

A few years ago, I teamed up with Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist whom I greatly admire, and wrote a book called The5 Love Languages of Children. In that book, Dr. Campbell made the point that “during the preadolescence stage, girls have a particular need for expressions of love from their fathers. At the same time, fathers often withdraw from hugging and kissing their daughters, feeling it is inappropriate at this stage.” In reality, the daughter needs the hugs and kisses of her father; and if he withdraws, she will likely seek physical touch from another male and often in an unwholesome manner. Certainly there is no place for sexual exploitation, but your daughter deeply needs your loving and affirming touches.

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: Has God Selected The Person You Should Marry?

Q: “I hear all the time about how God has someone selected for me and I just need to wait for her. You don’t really address this in you books. Thoughts?”

Gary Chapman: Christians look at this in different ways. Some believe that God has one individual picked out for you and He wants to lead the two of you together. Others feel like this falls into the kinds of categories in life such as giving us the choice as to which shirt we will wear today. He hasn’t predestined that you wear a particular kind of shirt and leaves that choice up to you. Both of these views are Christian because they both recognize that God is active in our lives and if we are seeking His guidance that He is faithful to guide us. That’s the important thing. I think you may find it interesting to look at Genesis 24 and look for the principles that God used to lead Abraham’s servant to find a bride for Isaac. I think those same principle apply to our lives today.

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.

Q&A: Discovering Your Teen’s Love Language

Q: “Gary, do you have a resource for teens to help them discover their love language?”

Gary Chapman: That is an important question because if you don’t know your teenager’s love language, you are not likely to speak it. First of all, observe their behavior—how do they respond to you and how do they respond to other people? Their behavior towards you and others will give you a clue towards as to what their love language is. Secondly, listen to what they complain about. If they often say comments like, “You didn’t bring me anything home from your trip?!” they are telling you that Gifts is most likely their language. Lastly, what do they request of you most often? “Can we take a walk after dinner?” often means a teenager is seeking some Quality Time.

If you do these three things, you can rather easily discover a teenager’s love language.

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