Category: Separation

Q&A: Divorce and Your Relationship with God

Q: If I get divorced, will it affect my relationship with God?

Gary: Divorce is never God’s intention. Jesus makes that very clear in the New Testament. Marriage is for a lifetime. I know that there are difficult situations. Sometimes separation can be an act of love if the person is being destructive to you or to themselves. You say, “I cannot continue to support you in this behavior.” Then, after healing has occurred, you return. Divorce, however, is a different thing. Divorce is not an act of love; it’s abandonment. I hope that you will sit down with a pastor or Christian counselor and do everything you possibly can to save your marriage. Divorce does not alleviate problems. It only creates a whole new set of problems that you must then deal with.

Q&A: Taking a Break from Your Spouse

Q: My friends are telling me that I need to take a break from my spouse to refresh our love for each other. Is this healthy?

Gary: We all need time alone, but marriage consists of more than refreshing ourselves; it has to do with building intimacy between the two of you. Separation may give you some temporary relief from arguing, if that is happening, but you don’t win the battle by retreating. You win by staying on the battlefield and finding ways to solve the problems that are destroying your marriage. So, I cannot recommend separation as a means for enriching your marriage. That comes when the two of you engage with each other in a deep and meaningful way.

Q&A: Songs of Relationships Past

Q: Now that I’m married is it still OK to listen to music that takes me back in time to past relationships?

Dr. Gary Chapman: We often connect past relationships with certain songs. I have heard people say, “That was our song.” In my opinion, you ought to avoid songs that bring back memories of prior relationships. There are plenty of songs out there; why not build new memories with your spouse? Having visual images from relationships past is never easy, and it is especially problematic when you are married. Let the past be the past. Select new songs and create new memories with your spouse.

Q&A: Protecting Children in an Abusive Marriage

Q: Should a person stay in an abusive marriage for the children’s sake?

Gary Chapman: I think it depends on what kind of abuse we’re talking about. If it’s physical abuse, no. I don’t think it’s a loving thing to stay there and let that happen. Verbal abuse has different levels. If it’s constant verbal abuse, and you’re put down, the kids are put down, again, that’s not healthy. I think there’s a place to say, “I love you too much, I love our children too much to sit here and do nothing.” Sometimes it’s necessary to physically separate yourself and the children from him or her until they are willing to get help with the problem. We’re not abandoning them, we’re loving them. It’s taking tough steps to communicate to the other person, “I love you too much to let you continue with your destructive behavior.”

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.

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.

Q&A: Love Languages and Business Trips

Q: “Gary, my fiance’s love language is Physical Touch, however I travel a lot for my job and can’t always be there to satisfy this. Any suggestions?”

Gary Chapman: All of the love languages can be expressed long distance. If you are not physically present, it’s true that you can’t actually put your arm around them or reach over and hold hands, but what you can do is call, write, or text. Say something like, “If I were with you I would give you a big hug and kiss right now that you would never forget!” This will speak to them on an emotional level and help fill their love tank. Why? Because you are verbalizing what you would do if you were together. This helps them to know you are thinking about expressing your love to them in a way that is meaningful.

The Power Of Positive Influence

When in a bad marriage, people often think they have only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery or get out. This limits one’s horizons to two equally devastating alternatives. In my book, Desperate Marriages, I talk about how to be a positive change agent in a difficult marriage. It is true that you cannot make your spouse change, but you can influence your spouse. One husband said, “I used to have rage in my heart toward my wife, but now, I realize what a wonderful wife I have.” Her positive actions stimulated positive emotions in him. With warm emotions his behavior also changed. Learning the power of positive influence could radically change your marriage. You need not be miserable forever.

Q&A: Hot Tempered Husband

Q:  “My husband is quick to anger and curses and yells when we fight. I feel like it borders on abuse. What can I do?”

Gary Chapman: This sort of thing should not be accepted as normal. The best thing you can do in this situation is to is apply tough love. Say something like this to your husband, “I don’t know if you love me or not, but it certainly doesn’t feel loving when you get angry and you curse at me. I love you too much to continue to sit here and let you do that. I’m going to move in with my mother and when you are willing to deal with this issue, then I am willing to engage with you in marriage counseling. I am not abandoning you—I am loving you. However, this type of behavior is not acceptable. I think you know that as well as I.” Then, you proceed to follow through with that tough love. This is probably the most powerful thing you can do for your husband.

Q&A: Hope for the Separated

Q:  Gary. My husband and I recently separated and he is unwilling to listen to my reasoning.  Is there hope for our marriage?

Gary Chapman: Until your husband is remarried, there is hope for your marriage. Don’t ever give up until he marries someone else. Now having said that, I recognize that you cannot control your husband. There’s nothing you can do that is going to make him return. You or friends can put helpful books in his hands—like my book Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed which has helped many people come to a different perspective on their marriage. If they respond and come back to reinvest in the marriage, then I would encourage you to get counseling. Don’t just move back together.

Yes, your marriage can be restored. Trust God to work in his heart and allow him be free because God also allows him to be free.

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