Category: Relationships

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.

Q&A: Long Distance Love Languages

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.

Q&A: Teaching Children How to Choose a Good Spouse

Q: What are some things I can teach my son about how to choose a good wife?

Gary Chapman: I wrote a book entitled Things I Wished I’d Known Before We Got Married that deals with this topic. In the book I deal with such things as personality differences, religious differences, and learning how to negotiate and solve conflicts. Because people grow up in different homes they develop different ideas. Therefore, I talk about the influence of parents. There are many other topics I also address. I think if you take the time to read this book you will find it a helpful and useful tool in guiding your adult child towards choosing a good spouse.

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.

Fast Computers

Do you ever wonder what we did before computers? I think we played games with each other. I think we had meals together and talked about what was going on in our lives. I think husbands and wives made love, and children felt secure. I think fathers and sons threw the ball in the back yard. I think mothers and daughters made doll clothes. I think we had families.

What if, just for a week, we said, “NO” to the computer and the television and said, “YES” to the family? What would that look like in your house? You might be surprised. You might even like it. You might even decide to make an early New Years resolution to make family a priority. If so, I think you will have discovered what God had in mind when he instituted the family.

Q&A: New to the 5 Love Languages

Q: “I’m new to the love language concept. What is the first step in understanding and applying them?”

Gary Chapman: When you’ve got the concept down—that people have different love languages—the next step is to discover your own and that of your spouse. You can do that by going to 5lovelanguages.com and taking the quiz. Or, you can also ask yourself the following questions:

  • “How do I typically express my love and appreciation to other people?”
  • “What do I complain about most often?”
  • “What do I request of people most often?”

If you put the answers to these questions together, I think you’ll discover your primary love language. Once you know it and that of the people you care about, then it’s a matter of choosing to speak the love language of the other person. And, if they reciprocate, then the emotional climate of your relationship will be enhanced.

Enhancing Sexual Intimacy

Why is sexual intimacy so illusive for many couples? I believe it is because we have separated it from intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual intimacy. Intimacy is that sense of closeness that comes when we share life deeply with each other. But it cannot be limited to the sharing of our bodies. When we are critical, demanding, and verbally abusive, and then try to have sex we will not experience intimacy.

Sexual intimacy flows naturally from a loving marital relationship. If you want greater sexual intimacy then focus on building closeness in the other areas of life. Spend time together, give affirming words, pray together, apologize for your failures. This is the road to sexual intimacy.

Q&A: Ready to Remarry?

Q: I was married for 25 years and now divorced for nine. How do I know if I’m ready to remarry?

Gary Chapman: The most common mistake people make is to go into a second marriage thinking that because they’ve fallen in love with someone else they’ve now found the right one and everything is going to be like heaven. The reality is—no matter how long you’ve been divorced—when you remarry you are entering into a whole new world because both of you are coming with a history—a history that often involves children whether young or grown. Those dynamics are very, very difficult to navigate in a remarriage. So I would say you are asking the right question. Be sure to take time to prepare yourself. It’s not a matter of how long you’ve been divorced, it’s a matter of how well you are preparing for a second marriage.

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