December 20, 2013
Q: My husband has told me that he doesn’t find me attractive. It breaks my heart, but what can I do?
Dr. Gary Chapman: I would say to ask why. If he says, “You’re overweight,” or “You dress sloppy,” those are things you can work on. However, it is likely far deeper than that; it is more than physical, it is emotional. Ask, “On a scale of 0 to 10. How much love do you feel coming from me?” It will probably be rather low. Then ask, “What can I do to help meet your need for love?” Take the quiz on 5lovelanguages.com and determine each other’s language. You can then begin to speak his language and vice versa. Chances are, he will begin to find you attractive again.
December 9, 2013
Q: Are your “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” seminars only for married couples?
Gary Chapman: Most of the couples who come to my conferences are married, but we always have engaged couples come and even single adults who want to learn about marriage. While we focus on married couples, everyone is invited. If you’re interested in marriage, you’ll learn some things that will help you when you are married.
October 16, 2013
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 (coauthor, 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 other’s 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!
October 14, 2013
Q: Should a person stay in an abusive marriage for the children’s sake?
Gary Chapman: I think it depends on what kind of abuse we’re talking about. If it’s physical abuse, no. I don’t think it’s a loving thing to stay there and let that happen. Verbal abuse has different levels. If it’s constant verbal abuse, and you’re put down, the kids are put down, again, that’s not healthy. I think there’s a place to say, “I love you too much, I love our children too much to sit here and do nothing.” Sometimes it’s necessary to physically separate yourself and the children from him or her until they are willing to get help with the problem. We’re not abandoning them, we’re loving them. It’s taking tough steps to communicate to the other person, “I love you too much to let you continue with your destructive behavior.”
September 20, 2013
Q: I think my wife’s love language is Acts of Service. But she always complains that I don’t do a good enough job at the things I do for her. Why is this?
Gary Chapman: Here’s a clue: In whatever project she would like for you to do, whether it be vacuuming floors, washing dishes, or cleaning the car, say to her, “I would love to help you with this. Tell me what’s important to you when I do this.” This way, you’re really trying to not only do it, but you’re also trying to do it her way. That will speak volumes to her. I know you feel discouraged when you spend an hour doing a chore and don’t get positive feedback, but if you ask her beforehand what she would like you to do and how she would like you to do it, you’re far more likely to find the affirmation that you’re looking for.
September 16, 2013
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.
September 6, 2013
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.”
September 5, 2013
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.
September 3, 2013
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.
September 2, 2013
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.