Category: Personality

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.

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.

Q&A: Disagreement with Church Styles

Q: “My husband is from a very traditional church background and I enjoy the more modern, contemporary style. Are there ways we could come together on this?”

Gary Chapman: If you have a room full of people, it’s likely that there will be a great diversity in their preferences for food. Some will prefer Mexican, while others might prefer a good burger. It doesn’t mean that any type of food is actually better than the other, but rather our preferences simply differ. This is common in many areas of life—including the way we prefer to worship. Therefore, it is helpful to give each other the freedom to have their own preferences. What you don’t want to do is let your preferences be divisive in the relationship. Most larger churches will host both a contemporary worship service as well as a more conservative one. One solution might be to agree to go back and forth between the two services every other week.  Other solutions are waiting to be discovered, you simply need an open heart and honest communication to find an agreeable solution when preferences collide.

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.

Intimacy and the Healthy Marriage

Intimacy between the husband and wife is one of the characteristics of a healthy marriage. The problem is that we have different ideas as to what it means to have intimacy. For some husbands ‘intimacy’ means ‘sex’. For most wives ‘intimacy’ is something far more emotional and relational. In fact, without emotional closeness, sex may be meaningless. What is intimacy? It is that sense of closeness that comes when we share our lives deeply with each other. We spend time together. We share our opinions, desires, and feelings. We do things together socially. We let each other in on our spiritual journey. We pray together. And yes, we have sex together. Intimacy involves sharing all of life. That is what marriage is all about.

Q&A: Refuses Sex?

Q: “My husband and I are in our 50’s and he refuses to be intimate with me physically. My love language is touch and it hurts me when he stays away. Is there anything I can do?”

Gary Chapman: First things is to inquire “Why?” — Does he not have the physical ability? Or, is he involved with someone else? Or, is he involved with stimulating himself privately? There are many reason why a spouse might refuse to be intimate, but since it is serious to the health of your relationship you need to inquire about it. You see, if you can get to the root of the problem, then you can look for an answer. But without understanding why he doesn’t have that desire, it is most likely not going to resolve itself.

Pat Your Back

Physical touch is one of the fundamental languages of love. If it happens to be the primary love language of your child or your spouse it is exceedingly important that you speak it regularly. Much of the miss-behavior of children grows out of an empty love tank. The same is true of adults. Perhaps you are not a ‘toucher’. You did not grow up in a touchy-feely family. The good news is that you can learn to speak this love language. Begin by patting yourself on the back. Then do the same to your spouse or child. Put one hand on top of the other hand. Then put your hand on top of your child’s hand. Touches lead to hugs and hugs lead to kisses. Soon you will be proficient in speaking the love language of physical touch.

Q&A: Cultural Connection

Q: “My boyfriend and I are engaged, though we are from very different cultures. What areas should we address before getting married?”

Gary Chapman: This is an excellent question and I wish more people were asking it. Cultures are different and the more diverse the culture the greater the potential for conflict in a marriage. I would suggest such practical things such as spending time in your respective families and observe how they “do life”, traditions, expectations, and points of difference. Also, learn about each other’s culture. Discuss these things with each other and identify the potential areas of conflict. Be honest, yet open to one another’s point of view and heritage. Please note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t get married across cultural lines, but rather you just shouldn’t do it blindly.

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