Category: Personality

Learning Love Languages

Recently a wife said to me, I’m sending all of my friends to your marriage seminar.” “Really, why?” I asked. “Before the seminar, Bob never helped me with anything. We both had our careers, but it was always my job to do all the house work. After the seminar he started asking me, ‘What can I do to help you this evening?’ I’ll have to admit that at first there were trying and humorous times. The first time he did the laundry, he used bleach instead of detergent. Our blue towels came out white polka dotted. But eventually he learned. It’s wonderful. And it’s been going on for three years now.” Why was this wife so happy? Because her husband learned to speak her love language.

Q&A: Can I Trust an Unreliable Spouse?

Q: Gary, my fiancé is a bit undependable (paying bills, chores, being on time, etc.). How can I Trust him with bigger things if he doesn’t take care of the small things?

Gary: Excellent question, and a question that should always be asked and answered before you get married, because whatever patterns are there before you get married will follow into the marriage. That’s why these things need to be discussed openly, you need to share your concerns, share your thoughts. If a person can’t grow in these areas before marriage, then they’re not going to grow in them after marriage. So these are the kind of things that need to be settled before you get married.

Q&A: A husband trying to come together with his wife on choosing a church.

Q: Gary, my wife and I attend separate churches because of our differing opinions of what a “good” church is. It feels awkward sometime, but I just don’t know how to come together on this.

Gary: I have known couples that have gone to separate churches for over thirty years. I don’t, however, think it is the healthiest thing. Sometimes, one individual is so “married” to a particular church that they are unwilling to budge at all and this becomes inevitable.

It’s much healthier for your marriage to find a place you can go together. My suggestion is to challenge your spouse to visit another church with you, at least once every month or two—not her church, not your church. By doing this you open the possibility of finding a church you both feel good about.

Learn to Listen Empathetically

If you are married and you take pride in being reasonable, and you see your spouse as being unreasonable, you are in the process of destroying your marriage. The person I’m talking about is calm, cool and collected. He believes that if you will listen to his arguments, you will be forced to agree. Any sane person could not disagree. “Let me explain this to you one more time.” The implication is that if you will just listen, you will understand and thus agree. This person makes no room for emotions. All that matters is logic. But I remind you that God made us emotional creatures and if you don’t allow for emotions, you will never create an intimate marriage. Learn to listen. Treat your spouse as a person of worth. Ask for their opinions and be empathetic with their feelings.

Q&A: I’m Social, but my Spouse Isn’t

Q: I’m a very social person but my husband isn’t. Is it wrong for me to pressure him to do more?

Gary: What you have to realize is that it’s a personality difference. Those who are extroverted get energized by being around other people. Those who are introverted get energized by being alone. So, it’s not wrong for you to pull him in, but it’s also not wrong for you to let him pull you out. There needs to be a balance; don’t stop inviting him, don’t stop asking him to go with you to things. You will pull him into experiences he would never have had if he were not married to you. Give him a good time and expose him to things that he will enjoy. Just don’t badger him about it, and give him the freedom to not always go with you.

A New Nature

Selfishness is the greatest barrier to marital unity, and we are all afflicted with the disease. “My way is the right way.” That’s the way all of us feel. I can expect myself to be selfish because that is my nature. But, as a Christian, I have a new nature – the very real presence of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I have a choice. I do not have to bow to the old selfish nature, I can choose to co-operate with the Holy Spirit. The opposite of selfishness is love, and that is the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ Love is self-giving, not self- centered. Love is the greatest gift I can offer to my spouse. It’s available when I pray, “Lord, let your love flow through me today.” Selfishness falls away as we learn to love.

Q&A: Significant Age Differences in Relationships

Q: My boyfriend is significantly older than I am. Will this create problems for us if we get married?

Gary Chapman: That depends on how old you are. If you’re 16 and he’s 26, that has the potential to be a major problem because you’re in two different worlds. However, if you’re 36 and he’s 46 there is not as much potential for a problem related to your age because you’re both in a similar stage of life. It’s not necessarily about age in general, but rather young age, middle age, or older age. At 16, you’ve got a lot of developing to do–high school, college perhaps, the ability to legally work–you’re in a different world. This is not the same for someone who is 26 or 46. Find someone in a similar stage of life.

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.

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