Category: Love

Q&A: Topics that Apply to Couples of all Ages

Q: Your books on marriage seem to be geared toward younger people. Do your principles apply to older people as well?

Gary Chapman: Well, I agree that some of my books are geared more toward younger couples, but many of my books are geared to couples of any age. For example, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been married 2 years or 30 years, learning how to speak each other’s love language is extremely important if you want to have an ongoing healthy relationship. In my books I also address topics like learning how to apologize and how to forgive each other. So I really think that the basic concepts that I seek to share in all of my books can apply to all ages. Now there is one book of mine, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, that is written specifically to singles or engaged couples. In it I try to help them have a healthy marriage from the start. However, even couples that have been married for many years have shared with me how they have benefited from that book. No matter when you start applying the concepts I teach in my books, I believe they will help you work towards a healthy marriage and/or relationship with others.

Loving “Argumentative” Teens

Adolescence is the age of reason. Teenagers are beginning to think logically. We say, they are argumentative. Many parents have said through the years, “I think my teenager is going to be an attorney, he is so good at arguments.” In reality, the teen is developing his mental skills. If parents don’t realize this, they can create an adversarial relationship where the teen does not feel free to flex his intellectual muscles. How do we create a positive atmosphere where we can have meaningful dialogue with our budding philosopher? In one word – love. When the teen feels loved, he still may not agree with parents, but he will respect them; and be influenced by their opinions.

Differences with Your Teenager

Do you ever get frustrated with your teenager? The teenager has a strong pull toward independence and is going through radical physical and emotional changes. They are greatly influenced by their peers. In fact, we often speak of ‘teenage culture’. That culture focuses on music, dress, language, and behavior. This has often created a great divide between teens and parents. So, at a time when the teen most needs moral and spiritual guidance, parents are often rejected. Don’t allow your differences to keep you from loving your teen. Love keeps the door open for your positive influence. Learn your teens’ love language and speak it daily. They never outgrow their need for love.

Q&A: How to Get Your Spouse to Talk

Q: How do I get my husband to talk more?

Gary Chapman: There are two kinds of people when it comes to talking: Dead Seas and Babbling Brooks. Dead Seas by nature don’t talk very much. They can receive, they can listen, but they don’t have much to say. Babbling Brooks are sharing everything that comes into their mind. Usually these two types of people are married to each other. So part of the disconnect is personality differences; he will never speak as much as you would like for him to speak. However, if you can ask specific questions he’s far more likely to answer. And when he does answer, don’t clobber his answer because that causes him not to speak the next time. Receive what he says and give a specific follow-up question. You’ll begin to see little by little that when he understands he can talk without being condemned, he’s far more likely to continue talking.

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.

Turn Them Over

Must I continue to forgive when a person hurts me again and again? Jesus once said, “If a person sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4) The important word is the word repent not the word seven. Peter later asked Jesus, “seven times in a day?” And Jesus said, “70 times 7”. It’s not the number that’s important it is the repentance. We forgive as often as people repent. If they don’t repent, we turn them over to God. God will bring punishment to the unbeliever, and discipline to the believer. It is not our place to seek vengeance. We release our hurt and anger to God and we put the person in His hands.

Q&A: How to Respond to a Spouse’s Disrespect

Q: My husband disrespects me. How do I deal with this?

Gary Chapman: All of us need to feel loved and appreciated. When we don’t feel appreciated or respected, being put down again and again by our spouse makes us feel that they think we’re inferior. It’s difficult to live like that. There’s two approaches. One is to argue—to tell them you can’t take this anymore and lash out at them. The other is the biblical way, and that is to love the unlovely spouse. Find out their love language, speak it loudly and clearly and regularly over a period of three months and see what happens. Typically, when they begin to feel your love they begin to treat you differently. It doesn’t always work out that way, but loving an unlovely spouse is the most powerful thing you can do.

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.

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