Category: Personality

Saying “Yes” To God

One of the most important relationship realities is that I am responsible for my own attitude. Attitude has to do with the way I choose to think about things. Two people were in a troubled marriage – one cursed, the other prayed. The difference always is attitude. Focus on how terrible the situation is and it will get worse. Focus on one positive thing and another will appear. In the darkest night of a troubled marriage, there is always a flickering light. Focus on the light and it will eventually flood the room. God wants to use your marriage in two ways. He wants to build the character of Christ in you, and He wants to use you to enrich the life of your spouse. Saying “Yes” to God is the best possible attitude.

Q&A: Discovering Your Teen’s Love Language

Q: “Gary, do you have a resource for teens to help them discover their love language?”

Gary Chapman: That is an important question because if you don’t know your teenager’s love language, you are not likely to speak it. First of all, observe their behavior—how do they respond to you and how do they respond to other people? Their behavior towards you and others will give you a clue towards as to what their love language is. Secondly, listen to what they complain about. If they often say comments like, “You didn’t bring me anything home from your trip?!” they are telling you that Gifts is most likely their language. Lastly, what do they request of you most often? “Can we take a walk after dinner?” often means a teenager is seeking some Quality Time.

If you do these three things, you can rather easily discover a teenager’s love language.

Reality Living

One of the great hindrances to marital growth is the belief that “some situations are hopeless.” Those who believe this, usually think that their situation falls into this category. They reason, “Perhaps there is hope for others, but my marriage is hopeless. Too much has happened. It has gone on too long; the hurt is too deep, the damage is irreversible.” This kind of thinking leads to depression and divorce. Talk to any Christian counselor and they can tell you of scores of couples whose marriages have been radically changed. It all begins with choosing to live by truth rather than believing a lie. I call this “reality living.” Remember Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.”

Why Cynicism is Good for Your Workplace

Guest Post: Dr. Paul White, co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

This may seem to be a bit of an “about face” for me – given my previous writing on how cynicism is a result of “bad” employee recognition or when employees question the authenticity of appreciation communicated. But it occurred to me that, really, cynicism can be a positive influence in our workplaces. How?

1) When people are cynical, they are giving us honest feedback about how they really feel. When was the last time that you heard a cynical remark from a colleague and you accused them of not being honest regarding how they really feel? (Aside from the sarcastic remark: “So, Janice, tells us how you really feel!”) Cynicism communicates from the heart, so you don’t have to question whether the person is being honest with their comment.

2) Cynical remarks give us a reality check with what was said, promised or done in the past. When people question the probability of the most recent promise actually happening, they almost always refer back to a prior promise or commitment that wasn’t fulfilled.(“Oh, so this is just like the time the management said that if we got the project completed on time, we’d share in the bonus the company received. Didn’t happen.”) So they help us remember what we said (and didn’t follow through on) before. They become sort of our informal historians.

3) Cynicism lets us know how people perceive our words and actions. Have you ever noticed that most cynical remarks are fairly quick, “on the spot” quips or “come back’s” to a statement? They are largely unedited thoughts and attitudes spoken out loud. And they fairly directly communicate how others view what we just said, did or promised – unfortunately, the message is: “I don’t believe you.” So most cynical remarks give us a clue that we need to work on our following through on what we say. (Sometimes, I will admit, that cynicism is coming from the heart of the speaker – that they are angry and resentful about life in general – and that their remark may have little to do with you, me or whoever is speaking.)

4) Cynicism provides the opportunity to learn what would be really meaningful to others. If we take the time to listen to the cynical comment, not dismiss it immediately as “disrespectful” and “unfounded”, then we actually can learn something from our colleagues. A follow-up question like: “What would could be done that would start to demonstrate that we mean what we say?” can provide some valuable insight into how others are thinking – and how we can begin to rebuild trust.

I’m not advocating for implementing strategies for increasing cynicism in our work environments (there seems to be plenty). But I do think we can learn positive lessons from the cynical remarks we hear, and then try to address the root issues of “unbelievability” that help create the cynical mindset.

Q&A: He Doesn’t Say “I Love You”

Q: “My boyfriend and I have been dating for 16 months. I have told him that I love him but he won’t say it to me and it bothers me. Does this indicate a problem?”

Gary Chapman: If he is not willing to say he loves you, it means either he is not attracted to you emotionally or he is not willing to commit himself to your well-being. The foundation stone of marriage is a commitment to love each other. I’m not talking about feelings—I’m talking about a commitment to seeking the well-being of the other person. That is what marriage is made of. At this point you may want to reconsider your relationship in light of this. However, if you want to continue the relationship to see if he warms up, or if he is willing to make positive steps in that direction, then my suggestion would be to begin to work through one of my books together entitled Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. The discussion that will come out of it will help you make a wise decision moving forward.

Q&A: He Won’t Open Up

Q: “I long for meaningful conversation with my husband, but it seems he is incapable of talking in a reflective way about himself. How can I get him to open up?”

Gary Chapman: There are people that I call dead seas. These people receive information, but it goes no where—much like the Dead Sea receives water from the Jordan River, but has no outflow. They receive information, emotions, experiences, yet have no compulsion to talk. It sounds like this may be the type of person you are married to. The best way to get a dead sea to talk more is to ask  specific questions.  It’s important not to condemn the answers regardless of your possible inclination to do so. Simply receive his answer by saying something like, “That’s interesting. Tell me more about that.” If  you ask specific questions and you make it safe for him to share, chances are he will learn to talk.

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