Archive

The Importance of Attitude

I am responsible for my own attitude. My spouse may treat me unkindly, or ignore me, but I am still responsible for choosing my thoughts. The challenge is to have a loving attitude. The question is, “What is the loving way for me to look at this?” Love always seeks the well being of the other person. This does not mean that I am unconcerned about myself and meeting my needs, but my first concern must be for my spouse.

This does not imply that I am to become a doormat. That is not the loving thing to do. Accepting such behavior is not loving my spouse. When you choose the attitude of love, you are asking yourself, “What is best for my spouse in this situation?” Always that means holding your spouse accountable for unacceptable behavior.
“I love you too much to sit here and allow you to destroy yourself. What you are doing is hurting me, but it is also detrimental to your well-being and I will not be a part of it.” This is a loving attitude.

Trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional. Attitude has to do with the way I choose to think about things. It has to do with one’s focus. Two men looked through prison bars – one saw mud, the other stars. Two people were in a troubled marriage – one cursed, the other prayed. The difference always is attitude.

Negative thinking tends to beget negative thinking. 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 that light, and it will eventually flood the room.
Maintaining a positive attitude in a troubled marriage may seem impossible, but the Christian has outside help. Lord, help me to see my marriage the way you see it. Help me to view my spouse the way you view them. Help me to think the thoughts that you have toward them. This kind of praying will lead you to a positive attitude.
A positive attitude can be the salvation of a difficult situation. A lady said to me, “My husband hasn’t had a full-time job in three years. The good part is that we can’t afford cable TV, so we spend a lot more time talking on Monday nights. She went on to say, “These three years have been tough, but we have learned a lot. Our philosophy has been “Let’s see how many things we can do without that everybody else thinks they have to have.” It’s amazing how many things you can do without. It’s been a challenge, but we are going to make the most of it.”
There is a wife who has learned the power of a positive attitude. Do you think it has been easy for her? For him? Not at all. But a negative, critical, pessimistic attitude would have made things worse. Why would you want to make things worse?
We must not yield to our natural tendencies. We must seek to walk the high road of looking for God’s hand in everything. Even in a troubled marital situation, God is always at work.
The challenge of keeping a positive attitude is not a new idea. It is found clearly in the first-century writing of Paul the apostle. He wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds. …Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil. 4:4-7.
We are responsible for the way we think. Even in the worst marital situation, we choose our attitude. Maintaining a positive attitude requires prayer. Paul said, bring your requests to God. Tell him what you want. Will God always do what we ask? No, but what does happen is that “the peace of God” descends on our emotions and our thoughts. God calms our emotions and directs our thoughts. With a positive attitude, we become a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem.
One reason my attitudes are so important is that they affect my actions–that is my behavior and words. If I have a pessimistic, defeatist, negative attitude, it will be expressed in negative words and behavior. The reality is that I may not be able to control my environment: sickness, alcoholic spouse, teenager on drugs, mother who abandoned me, father who abused me, spouse who is irresponsible, aging parents. But I am responsible for what I do within my environment. My attitude will greatly influence my behavior.
If you want to know your attitude, look at your words and behavior. If your words are critical and negative, then you have a negative attitude. If your behavior is designed to hurt or get back at your spouse, then you have a negative attitude. Guarding the attitude is the most powerful thing you can to affect your behavior. And, your behavior greatly influences your spouse.

What's Your Love Language?

Do you know your love language? Click here for a free 30-second quiz. Encourage a loved one to take the quiz too, and share your results!

Keeping the Love Tank Full

Love is the most important word in the English language – and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. We are told that “love is a many-splendored thing” and that “love makes the world go round.” Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are peppered with the word “love.” The apostle Paul said that in the last scene of the human drama, only three characters will remain: “faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Yet, love is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. We say, “I love hot dogs,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother.” We speak of loving activities: swimming, skiing, golfing. We love objects: food, cars and houses. We love animals. We love nature. We love people. We may even love God.

Our purpose is not to eliminate all the confusion, but rather to focus on the kind of love that is essential to our emotional health: the need to feel loved.

I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it: “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’” I was listening to Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist who has treated hundreds of children and adolescents.

As I listened, I thought of the hundreds of parents who had paraded the misdeeds of their children through my office. I had never visualized an empty love tank inside those children, but I had certainly seen the results of it. Their misbehavior was a misguided search for the love they did not feel. They were seeking love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.

I also realized that many of their parents were suffering from an empty love tank and that much of the misbehavior of married individuals was growing out of an empty love tank. This week we are visualizing this tank, inside all of us and talking about how to fill it.

The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires. A man said to me recently, “What good is the house, the cars, the place at the beach, or any of the rest of it if your wife doesn’t love you?” Do you understand what he was really saying? “More than anything, I want to be loved by my wife.”

Material things are no replacement for human, emotional love. A wife says, “He ignores me all day long and then wants to jump in bed with me. I hate it.” This is not a wife who hates sex; this is a wife desperately pleading for emotional love. Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another.

I believe this need can be met in any marriage, if each of them will discover the primary love language of their spouse and speak it regularly. There are only five love languages. Your spouse desperately craves one of them. Make it your goal to discover it and speak it, and their love tank will be full.

Marriage is designed by God to meet our deep need for intimacy and love. Yet this emotional love often seems elusive. I have listened to many married couples share their secret pain. Some came to me because the inner ache had become unbearable. Others came simply to inform me that they no longer wanted to be married. Their dreams of “living happily ever after” had been dashed against the hard walls of reality.

Again and again I have heard the words “Our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Their stories bear testimony that their emotional love tanks are empty.

Can these marriages be reborn? Absolutely! Because love is learned. My files are filled with letters which say: “Dr. Chapman, we have read your book: The 5 Love Languages™, and we have finally learned to love each other. We can’t believe the difference it has made. We actually feel excited about being with each other.” Love is a language waiting to be learned.

Could it be that deep inside hurting couples exists and invisible “emotional love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of the empty tank? If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that opens the door to a satisfying marriage?

I believe the answer is “Yes.” God made us with a capacity for giving and receiving emotional love. He also made each of us unique. Which means that what makes one of us feel loved will not necessarily make the other feel loved. [Thus, we must learn the primary love language of our spouses if we want them to feel loved.]

Nothing is more important to the emotional climate of your marriage than asking God to teach you how to effectively love your spouse. Learning his or her primary love language and speaking it regularly will make you an effective lover.

Was this post helpful to you? Feel free to share your thoughts.

-The Gary Chapman Team

Keeping the Love Tank Full

Love is the most important word in the English language – and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. We are told that “love is a many-splendored thing” and that “love makes the world go round.” Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are peppered with the word “love.” The apostle Paul said that in the last scene of the human drama, only three characters will remain: “faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Yet, love is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. We say, “I love hot dogs,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother.” We speak of loving activities: swimming, skiing, golfing. We love objects: food, cars and houses. We love animals. We love nature. We love people. We may even love God.

Our purpose is not to eliminate all the confusion, but rather to focus on the kind of love that is essential to our emotional health: the need to feel loved.

I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it: “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’” I was listening to Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist who has treated hundreds of children and adolescents.

As I listened, I thought of the hundreds of parents who had paraded the misdeeds of their children through my office. I had never visualized an empty love tank inside those children, but I had certainly seen the results of it. Their misbehavior was a misguided search for the love they did not feel. They were seeking love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.

I also realized that many of their parents were suffering from an empty love tank and that much of the misbehavior of married individuals was growing out of an empty love tank. This week we are visualizing this tank, inside all of us and talking about how to fill it.

The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires. A man said to me recently, “What good is the house, the cars, the place at the beach, or any of the rest of it if your wife doesn’t love you?” Do you understand what he was really saying? “More than anything, I want to be loved by my wife.”

Material things are no replacement for human, emotional love. A wife says, “He ignores me all day long and then wants to jump in bed with me. I hate it.” This is not a wife who hates sex; this is a wife desperately pleading for emotional love. Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another.

I believe this need can be met in any marriage, if each of them will discover the primary love language of their spouse and speak it regularly. There are only five love languages. Your spouse desperately craves one of them. Make it your goal to discover it and speak it, and their love tank will be full.

Marriage is designed by God to meet our deep need for intimacy and love. Yet this emotional love often seems elusive. I have listened to many married couples share their secret pain. Some came to me because the inner ache had become unbearable. Others came simply to inform me that they no longer wanted to be married. Their dreams of “living happily ever after” had been dashed against the hard walls of reality.

Again and again I have heard the words “Our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Their stories bear testimony that their emotional love tanks are empty.

Can these marriages be reborn? Absolutely! Because love is learned. My files are filled with letters which say: “Dr. Chapman, we have read your book: The 5 Love Languages™, and we have finally learned to love each other. We can’t believe the difference it has made. We actually feel excited about being with each other.” Love is a language waiting to be learned.

Could it be that deep inside hurting couples exists and invisible “emotional love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of the empty tank? If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that opens the door to a satisfying marriage?

I believe the answer is “Yes.” God made us with a capacity for giving and receiving emotional love. He also made each of us unique. Which means that what makes one of us feel loved will not necessarily make the other feel loved. [Thus, we must learn the primary love language of our spouses if we want them to feel loved.]

Nothing is more important to the emotional climate of your marriage than asking God to teach you how to effectively love your spouse. Learning his or her primary love language and speaking it regularly will make you an effective lover.

Was this post helpful to you? Feel free to share your thoughts.

-The Gary Chapman Team