May 9, 2013
“I don’t love her anymore.” How many times have I heard that in my office! What is that supposed to mean? Usually, it means that he has lost the euphoric feelings he had for her when they got married. And that their differences have emerged and ended in arguments. The fact is, everyone loses the euphoric feelings. They usually last for only two years. Then, we must learn to love. We must choose to treat each other with respect. We must listen to differences of opinion and try to find a solution. We must learn to work together as a team; using our differences for the benefit of the team. This attitude is commanded by God. To say, “I don’t love her anymore,” is admitting that you are breaking God’s command.
April 29, 2013
Q: Gary, I’ve been separated for 11 years and I’ve always wondered, is divorce Biblical?
Gary Chapman: In the Bible, divorce is not viewed as an ideal outcome to a challenging marriage and is never encouraged. The Old Testament says God hates divorce, and yet in some cases, He allows it. So what does this mean for you today? Well, you are divorced and there is no changing that fact. More importantly, God can forgive your part in the divorce and He certainly loves you beyond it. There are thousands of Christians who today walk closely with God who have been through a divorce. So, don’t put yourself down if you have been through that. Don’t live in the past. If you have confessed your part and God has forgiven you, raise your head high, thank God that you are his child, and seek His guidance for your future. God does have a future for you.
April 23, 2013
In a perfect world, no one would need to apologize. But in an imperfect world apologizes are a necessity. The first step is admitting that you need to apologize. “I owe you an apology,” is a good beginning. Then, express your apology, and admit that your behavior was wrong. Ask them to forgive you. When you sincerely apologize, you will most likely receive forgiveness. When you fail to apologize you leave an emotional barrier between you and the other person. When is the last time you apologized to your spouse? Or, your child? If it has been more than a week, you probably need to say, “I owe you an apology.” Time doesn’t heal hurts; apologies do.
April 19, 2013
Q: “Gary, I struggle with loving other people as they always disappoint. How can I work on this?”
A: The only way to avoid being hurt is to stay away from relationships. The reality is that there is going to be pain, hurt, and disappointment in all human relationships. This is because we are imperfect. None of us are loving all the time. We are by nature self-centered and often selfish. Consequently, we hurt each other—most of the time unintentionally. The fact is that if you’re going to have relationships, you’re going to have times that you will be hurt. You have to accept that. Then, when you do feel hurt or wronged, you lovingly confront and try to work through that difficulty so the relationship can continue on down the road.
April 16, 2013
I remember when my son was about six years old. He accidentally knocked a glass off the table. It fell broken on the floor. I looked at him, and he said, “It did it by itself.” I smiled and said, “Let’s say that a different way: ‘I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.’” He smiled and said, “I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.” He had learned an important lesson: accept responsibility for your behavior.
I know adults who have never learned that lesson. They are still saying, “It did it by itself.” Here’s an exercise for you: Stand in front of the mirror and say, “I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong.” Say it until it feels comfortable. Then, use it when you know that your behavior was inappropriate.
March 11, 2013
Q: When do I call it quits in a marriage that has been filled with lies and infidelity?
A: When you’re in a difficult marriage and particularly one that involves untruths and infidelity (both of those issues create a very dysfunctional marriage), I don’t want to say when you give up because we ought to always have hope. So, I would say: if they are not willing to go with you in counseloing, you go yourself for counseling to help you decide how to exercise tough love in an effort to stimulate some chagne in the other person. You can’t change them but you can influence them. Someone coming along side you can help you do that.
February 28, 2013
In my book, Love as A Way of Life, I talk about the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice to lift the penalty and let the offender back into your life. Their actions or words hurt you deeply, but they apologized and you extended mercy instead of demanding justice. That is exactly what God has done for us. The justice of God was settled on the cross. He can forgive us and still be just because the penalty has been paid by Christ. We can forgive others for the same reason. Forgiveness does not remove all of the hurt, but it does open the door to the possibility of reconciliation. Forgiveness removes the barrier and allows you to even return good for evil. This is love as a way of life.
November 26, 2012
Q: I left my husband 2 years ago, but still love him. Is it too late to repair the relationship?
A: In my opinion, it is never to late to seek to restore a relationship as long as the other person has not remarried. So, if he is unattached it’s not too late. I would suggest that you make contact with him, maybe invite him to dinner. If he comes at least there’s an opportunity to sit down and talk. Share your heart, share your desires and ask him if he thinks there is a possibility. If so, then begin a dating relationship: go to movies, take walks, do anything that the two of you enjoy doing together. Bit by bit, begin to surface the things that led to your separation and talk about how you might do those differently if you got back together. It’s a process but I think reconciliation is always possible.
November 15, 2012
Marital separation sometimes brings a temporary sense of ‘peace’. One husband said, “This is the first week of peace I’ve had for years.” Of course he felt peace; he had left the battlefield. However, retreat is not the road to victory. You must come from that retreat with a renewed determination to defeat the enemy of your marriage. If you are separated, use this time to examine the biblical principles for building a marriage. Discover where you went wrong and how to correct it. Reach out for God’s help. I wrote the book: Hope for the Separated to help you do this. Separation is not necessarily the end. It may be the beginning of rediscovering the dream you shared when you were first married.
November 8, 2012
You dreamed of a marriage where each made the other supremely happy. Now one of you has walked out. Separation is not the time to capitulate. Your dream can live again. But not without work–work that will demand listening, understanding, discipline and change. That work will likely involve the help of an outside counselor; someone who can help you think, evaluate, and reach out for God’s help. I know you’ve tried before, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. One of God’s great gifts is the gift of choice. It is extremely important that you make the right choices. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to a pastor, a counselor, or a friend. There is hope for the separated.