Category: Marriage help

Difficulty in Communication

Why do so many couples have difficulty with communication? Often, the answer lies in emotions. Before marriage we had one over-powering emotion – love. But now, the emotions of hurt, anger, disappointment, and fear often dominate. These emotions do not encourage us to communicate. Or, if we communicate it is likely to be negative or critical. We speak out of our anger and create even more negative feelings. The Key is in learning how to share emotions without condemnation. You might begin by saying, “I feel hurt and when you have time, I need your help.” Identifying your feelings and choosing to share them is step one. Step two is accepting the feelings of your mate and asking: “What can I do to help?”

Working Together on Finances

When I wrote my book: Profit Sharing: The Chapman Guide to Making Money an Asset to Your Marriage, I discovered that one of the most common problems is that couples do not feel like partners. Often, the husband so controls the money that the wife feels like a child on an allowance. Or, the wife will control the money and the husband feels ‘left out’. Obviously, someone must balance the checkbook, and keep the bills paid, but this does not mean that they control the money. We are a team, and must work together. The Bible says, “Two are better than one.” That is certainly true in money management. If you keep the books, you might ask your spouse: “Do you feel like a partner, or a child?” Take their answer seriously, and make adjustments as needed.

Q&A: Angry Spouse

Q: Gary, it seems like I can make my wife angry by doing the smallest things. Why is this?”

Gary Chapman: I can’t tell you why, but I can help you find out. Try to learn from each of the experiences. Whenever she responds in a defensive or angry manner follow up the next day with something like, “I wonder what we can learn from last night. I noticed that when I said _____ that you responded in a very negative way. It wasn’t my intent to make you angry. Therefore, what would be a better way to have expressed that … or what might have I have done differently that would have made it easier for you?” I think if you try to learn from each of those experiences, you’ll find out why she has those particular areas as hot spots. Additionally, you’ll find a better way to approach future conversations or situations in the process.

Wasted Energy

When is the last time you and your spouse had an argument about money? Was it the ‘same old issue’? My contention is that couples who continue to argue about the same thing over and over again need help. That is what motivated me to write my book:  Profit Sharing: The Chapman Guide to Making Money an Asset to Your Marriage.

When you argue, you are wasting energy. You don’t have a problem that other couples have not had. Perhaps you could find an older couple whom you respect. Share your struggle with them and ask for advice. If they don’t have an answer, they can likely point you to someone who does. Make money an asset to your marriage, not a battleground.

Q&A: Opposite Love Languages

Q:  My husband got a zero for physical touch on your online quiz and I got a zero. How do I deal with it?

Gary Chapman:  He must learn how to reach out and give you the kind of touches that communicate love to you—just as you must learn to speak his love language. It usually doesn’t come natural to speak a language that is not native to us, so it will be just as difficult for him as it is for you. But if you both understand how important this is—that this is what is going to make the other person feel loved—it makes learning to speak each other’s primary love language much easier. I deal with thoroughly in my book The 5 Love Languages, so if you’ve not yet read it and only taken the quiz, I want to encourage you do so. I would also recommend you get your husband the men’s edition because in it I give guys several additional ideas on how to speak all five languages.

Q&A: My Wife is not a Talker

Q: “My wife is not a talker, but I really want to open up to her.  She just doesn’t seem there most of the time.  How can I change this?”

Gary Chapman: It is possible to grow significantly in learning how to talk, but she will need your help. Be aware when talking to her that you don’t just make statements—things like, “I wish you’d talk more,” or “It’s a beautiful day.”  One of best things you can do is to ask her specific questions. It is easier for a “dead sea” (non-talker) to talk if you ask specific questions. So once you’ve asked a question, leave some silence. Don’t answer for her. Give her a chance to enter into the conversation. Additionally, it’s a good idea to phrase questions in a way that require thoughtful response as opposed to one word answers (yes or no). Be satisfied with short answers at first because it will take a while for her to begin to talk more. Try to have different questions you can ask her everyday and before long you will notice a change.

Q&A: Hope for the Separated

Q:  Gary. My husband and I recently separated and he is unwilling to listen to my reasoning.  Is there hope for our marriage?

Gary Chapman: Until your husband is remarried, there is hope for your marriage. Don’t ever give up until he marries someone else. Now having said that, I recognize that you cannot control your husband. There’s nothing you can do that is going to make him return. You or friends can put helpful books in his hands—like my book Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed which has helped many people come to a different perspective on their marriage. If they respond and come back to reinvest in the marriage, then I would encourage you to get counseling. Don’t just move back together.

Yes, your marriage can be restored. Trust God to work in his heart and allow him be free because God also allows him to be free.

Q&A: My Wife’s Talks About Her Crushes

Q: Gary my wife is always joking around about different “crushes” she has, both with guys on T.V. and those we know. She says it’s joking around, but it bugs me.

A:  First of all, you’re not alone. We all have emotional hot spots and there are many other souses—male and female—that feel the same you do. Working through the issue starts with finding better ways of saying things that don’t hurt the other person. To say he’s “good looking” may not hurt as bad, but to use the word “crush” communicates to you that she has some sort of desire to be with that person. Share with her how hurtful that is to you. Have an open conversation with her. If you find you two can’t work it out one-on-one, then I would encourage you both to sit down with a counselor or pastor and let someone else help through it.

I Just Don’t Love Her Anymore

“I don’t love her anymore.” How many times have I heard that in my office! What is that supposed to mean? Usually, it means that he has lost the euphoric feelings he had for her when they got married. And that their differences have emerged and ended in arguments. The fact is, everyone loses the euphoric feelings. They usually last for only two years. Then, we must learn to love. We must choose to treat each other with respect. We must listen to differences of opinion and try to find a solution. We must learn to work together as a team; using our differences for the benefit of the team. This attitude is commanded by God. To say, “I don’t love her anymore,” is admitting that you are breaking God’s command.

I was Wrong

I remember when my son was about six years old. He accidentally knocked a glass off the table. It fell broken on the floor. I looked at him, and he said, “It did it by itself.” I smiled and said, “Let’s say that a different way: ‘I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.’” He smiled and said, “I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.” He had learned an important lesson:  accept responsibility for your behavior.

I know adults who have never learned that lesson. They are still saying, “It did it by itself.” Here’s an exercise for you: Stand in front of the mirror and say, “I was wrong.  I was wrong.  I was wrong.” Say it until it feels comfortable. Then, use it when you know that your behavior was inappropriate.

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