Category: Love

Q&A: Long Distance Love Languages

Q: My wife and I are in the military. How can we speak the 5 love languages while we’re apart?

Gary Chapman: All of the love languages can be spoken long distance. I have just released a book with Jocelyn Green called The 5 Love Languages Military Edition in which we talk about how to speak the love languages long distance. For example, despite what most people may assume, Physical Touch can be spoken when you’re apart. You can say to them in an email or phone call, “If I were with you I would give you a big hug you would never forget.” Emotionally they’d feel your arms around them. You can learn to keep love alive while you’re deployed with the five love languages. I’m hoping this book is going to help thousands of military couples learn how to stay emotionally connected even while they’re deployed.

War and Peace

One of the barriers to communication is uncontrolled anger. When you are lashing out at your spouse, you are declaring war. If they respond with angry words, you may have a full scale battle. The good news is that we have the ability to control anger rather than being controlled by anger. Call a ‘time out’ and give yourself time to cool off. Then, come back with your emotions under control and share your concerns in a soft voice. Does it sound impossible? It’s not. In fact, it’s biblical. The scriptures say, “being angry sin not, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” It is not sinful to feel angry. Anger indicates that something is wrong. You need to talk about it, but in a constructive manner. Learning to control anger fosters good communication.

Fast Computers

Do you ever wonder what we did before computers? I think we played games with each other. I think we had meals together and talked about what was going on in our lives. I think husbands and wives made love, and children felt secure. I think fathers and sons threw the ball in the back yard. I think mothers and daughters made doll clothes. I think we had families.

What if, just for a week, we said, “NO” to the computer and the television and said, “YES” to the family? What would that look like in your house? You might be surprised. You might even like it. You might even decide to make an early New Years resolution to make family a priority. If so, I think you will have discovered what God had in mind when he instituted the family.

Q&A: Interracial Marriage

Q: “Do you have any comments on how the love languages work in an interracial marriage? I’ve been married for 22 years and it’s always been a challenge.”

Gary Chapman: The difference you are dealing with is a cultural difference, not racial. People of different races come out of different cultures or sub-cultures and when you put them together this often presents some challenges. The important things is to understand each other’s sub-culture and recognize that to cultivate a healthy marriage a couple must learn to accept and learn how to navigate or negotiate those differences—finding something that is meaningful and works for the two of them. Then, they can begin to look for ways to work together as a team. Consequently, learning ways to speak the primary love language of your spouse is going to help you do that.

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.

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: What’s really important in marriage?

Q: “What is your definition of the ideal marriage and what is the single, most important thing to achieve?”

Gary Chapman: An ideal marriage is two individuals—a man and a woman—committed to Jesus Christ, looking to Him for instruction in how to live, and in the power of the Holy Spirit loving, encouraging, and helping each other to become everything that God intended for them to become. I believe that is God’s plan for marriage. A husband reaches out to love, encourage, and support his wife. She reaches out to do the same for him. The result is both partners accomplish more in the kingdom of God together than you would have accomplished as individuals apart from each other. Marriage is meant to be a loving, supportive, caring relationship that pushes each spouse in the direction of God and His purposes for our lives.

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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