Category: Relationships

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.

Keys to Deeper Spiritual Intimacy

One of the most common complaints I hear from Christian wives is that they want to have a deeper level of ‘spiritual intimacy’ with their husbands. I believe there are two ways to build spiritual intimacy. One is by shared experience. Attending worship together and holding hands while the minister prays. Making time to pray together daily – even if it is silent prayer; or attending a couple’s bible study. Another approach is to discuss with each other some of your thoughts about spiritual realities. It may be as simple as sharing what you read in your quiet time this morning, while your spouse listens attentively and affirms your insights. Spiritual intimacy is an important part of marriage. In fact, it is the most important aspect of marriage and will greatly affect all other areas.

Social Intimacy in Marriage

In a healthy marriage there will be ‘social intimacy’ between husband and wife. Social intimacy has to do with spending time together; going to a movie or attending an athletic event. Or, we may go bowling, or plant a tree, or go shopping together. Much of life involves ‘doing’. When we do things together, we are enhancing our sense of intimacy. On the other hand, most couples spend several hours each day apart. While apart, they each have various social encounters. At the end of the day, if they share some of these encounters, they are building social intimacy by letting each other in on their time apart. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much social intimacy do you feel in your marriage?

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.

Grow Closer by Sharing Your Feelings

We often hear couples talk about emotional intimacy; but what does that mean? Essentially, it is the sharing of emotions in an accepting atmosphere. All day long, life is filled with feelings. You put your dollar in the drink machine and receive no drink (and no change). You have feelings. You are informed that the company is going to ‘downsize.’ You have feelings. Emotional intimacy is that sense of closeness that comes when you choose to share your emotions with each other in an effort to know each other more deeply. For this to happen, we must create an atmosphere of acceptance. “I can see how you might feel hurt by that. Is there anything I can do to help?” Such a response encourages emotional intimacy.

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: My Child is Gay

Q: “My son has recently told us that he is gay. I’m having a very hard time dealing with it. How can I help him with this and still show love?”

Gary Chapman: Disappointment is a common emotion when a parent hears one of their children indicate that he/she is gay. Men and women are made for each other—it is God’s design. Anything other than that is outside of that primary design of God. Now I’m not going to try explain all the ins and outs of homosexuality, but what I will say is this—we love our children no matter what. Express your disappointment and/or your lack of understanding, but make it clear that you love them and that you will continue to love them no matter what. I would also encourage you to ask your child to do some serious reading and/or talk to a counselor to try to understand him/herself better while continuing to affirm your love.

Emotional Scars from Divorce

A man who has been divorced from his wife for three years recently said to me. “If I wrote a book the title would be: Divorce: The Living Hell.” Thousands of individuals can echo his sentiments. The emotional scars that come from divorce are never removed. The hurt that is indelibly printed in the minds of children will never be erased. Our whole society has been deeply infected with the “throw-away” mentality. When you are no longer excited about it, get rid of it. No wonder children are so insecure. No wonder there is so little trust in marriage. I am not suggesting that the road to reconciliation is easy, but rather that it is right and that the results are worth the effort.

A Sad Reality

One of the sad realities is that many married individuals have allowed themselves to be pulled into an emotional or physical relationship with someone else. They reason, “I know God hates divorce, but this relationship is so loving. We are able to communicate with such freedom and understanding. It feels like we were meant for each other.” So, they divorce their spouse and marry their new lover.

What they do not know is that 75% of those kind of marriages will end in divorce. Their children are devastated and they have complicated their lives forever. Research indicates that people are not happier five years after divorce and re-marriage. Why not choose God’s way and seek reconciliation?

Q&A: My wife thinks I’m boring

Q: “My wife says that she doesn’t really love me because I’m not charismatic enough. I agree that I’m pretty bland, but how am I improve things?”

Gary Chapman: Short answer—learn her love language and speak it on a regular basis. If you speak her love language she will feel loved by you. She is using the word charismatic, but really what she is asking for in my opinion is emotional love. She wants this sense that you are excited about her, that you care about her, and that you want to communicate love to her. So if you haven’t read The 5 Love Languages, I would suggest you read the Men’s Edition which includes some additional ideas specifically for the men. Learn to speak her love language and I think you’ll see her whole attitude towards you change.

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