Do You Have Elephant Ears?

When two people are talking at the same time, no one is listening. Consequently, there is no communication. For conversation to be meaningful it requires talking and listening. How hard can that be? Yet, 87 % of those who divorce say their main problem was that they could not communicate.

Listening begins with an attitude. If I choose to believe that every person I encounter is made in God’s image; that their thoughts and feelings are important, then I am prepared to listen. If I think that the world revolves around me; that my ideas are all that counts, then why should I listen to anyone else? Many couples don’t have a communication problem, they have an attitude problem.

If you want to have a healthy marriage, you must learn to listen. Listening leads to understanding. Once I understand what my spouse is thinking and feeling, I can have a meaningful response. When I speak before I listen, I’m simply throwing words into the wind.

May I give you a practical suggestion? When your spouse begins talking, about anything, imagine yourself having huge elephant ears. Have you heard the expression, “I’m all ears”? That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t think about how you are going to respond. Focus on making sure you understand the thoughts and feelings of your spouse. Then, when it’s your turn to talk, your spouse can put on the elephant ears.

*Adapted from Everybody Wins: Solving Conflicts Without Arguing by Dr. Gary Chapman

Are You Getting the Point?

Communication is not easy until you have a disagreement. So, how do we process conflicts without arguing? As I was writing my book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, one of the great discoveries I made was the awesome power of listening. Most of us are far better at “making our point” than in “getting the point” of the other person. Listening has to do with trying to look at the world through the other person’s eyes. It’s not difficult if you try.

Once you can truthfully say, “I think I understand what you are saying, and it makes sense.” Then you can say, “Let me tell you how I’m thinking, and if it makes sense to you.” Two people who listen long enough to affirm each other can then find a win-win solution.

Arguments reveal the heart. Almost all arguments grow out of unmet emotional needs. One wife said, “Little things like getting the old newspapers out of the garage for recycling is not a big deal to him, but it is important to me because I hate clutter. It’s kind of a visual thing.” What is she saying? One of her emotional needs is to have order in the house. Clutter is emotionally upsetting to her.

The wise husband and wife will look for the emotional need behind the argument. Why is my spouse so upset over what seems trivial to me? The answer to that question will help  you understand your spouse. Meeting emotional needs for each other is one way to create a positive climate for communication.

Becoming Friends with Your Feelings

I often hear people ask, “How are you feeling today?” The common answer is, “Fine.” It was a good question, but not a good answer. Why do we ignore our feelings, or camouflage them with such words as “fine” or “not so well”? Feelings are a part of who we are. We have emotions because we are made in the image of God.

How dull life would be if we had no feelings. Imagine watching a sunset, a ball game, or the ocean and feeling no emotion. Feelings are a gift from God to help us enjoy life and process life and pain. Certainly at times we feel lonely, disappointed, and frustrated, but these emotions push us to take constructive action. Pause and thank God for whatever emotion you are presently feeling. Ask Him to guide your actions.

Some Christians are critical of their emotions. They will say, “Don’t trust your emotions. Faith, not feelings, is the road to spiritual growth.” Why are we so critical of our emotions? In Mark chapter 3, Jesus felt anger and sorrow. Is that bad? I don’t think any of us would condemn Jesus for having emotions. Then why do we condemn ourselves.

God gave us emotions for growth, maturity, fulfillment, and enjoyment. Feelings were made to be our friends. If it is a negative emotion, it means something needs attention. It is like the red light that appears on the dash when the car needs oil. We don’t curse the light; we give attention to the problem. Why not do the same with your emotions? If you take constructive action, emotions have served their purpose.

Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

FACEBOOK CONTEST! (ends Oct. 1, 2010)

You could WIN 2 SIGNED copies of Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married + a $100 Amazon Giftcard!

Official Rules:

(1) Upload a video of you asking someone who is married what is one thing they wish they knew before they got married. Then upload to or YouTube and link at Facebook page.

(2) Email 5ll.giveaways @ and let us know you uploaded your video…. Include the subject line “Video Contest” and in the body: your Facebook profile name.

Contest will end October 1st, 5 winners will be chosen to receive 2 signed copies of the book (one for yourself, and the other for whoever was featured in the video) with 1 GRAND PRIZE WINNER receiving the 2 books + a $100 GIFTCARD for

Winners will be considered based on content, creativity, and # of LIKES and announced on the following Monday.

Happy filming!

(US and Canadian residents only)

Dr. Gary Chapman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award


Phoenix, Arizona, August 30, 2010: Dr. Gary Chapman, best-selling author of The 5 Love Languages™, was honored by the Association of Marriage and Family Ministries (AMFM) with the H. Norman and Joyce Wright Lifetime Achievement Award during the opening night of the AMFM National Marriage and Family Ministry Training Conference on August 2, 2010.

This award is given annually to an individual or couple who exemplifies the work and legacy of H. Norman and Joyce Wright in marriage and family ministry. According to Eric Garcia, co-founder of AMFM, “Dr. Chapman has undoubtedly made a lasting impact on marriages and families with The 5 Love Languages, but his impact goes way beyond a book.  He has served thousands of churches, encouraging them to strengthen their marriages and families, marriage and family is simply his DNA.”

AMFM is a non-profit organization that exists to encourage, equip, serve and partner with those called to marriage and family ministry. They assist churches and community organizations in helping individuals, couples and families develop trusted relationships. The co-founders of AMFM are Eric and Jennifer Garcia, who have served in marriage ministry in their local church over the past eight years and are also the creators of Couple-to-Couple Mentoring™.

Michele Elizaga
8283 N. Hayden Rd. Suite 258
Scottsdale. AZ 85258
Ph: 480.718.3020


WIN a FREE SIGNED copy of Dr. Gary Chapman’s latest book entitled Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married! Just click the LIKE button below for the Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Got Married page and watch for contest details on Facebook.

Real Men Speak 5 Languages

Guest Post by Zack Williamson (Chapman Team)

Recently I was watching an episode of the new NBC show Losing It with Jillian. This particular episode featured the Vivio family who were learning to overcome some obstacles in regards to their weight. Along the way, a few relationship issues came to the forefront. One of these was Mark’s (husband/father) mentality that real men don’t let their emotions show. Originally instilled from his father, Mark was taught to just “suck it up” and provide for the family. At one point Mark even made this statement about his dad, “To this day he still can’t say it [I love you].” Unbeknownst to Mark, this attitude was having a negative effect on his son, Elijah.

Sometimes the way we think we show love best is not actually the best way to show love. Let me explain. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, everyone has a primary way in which they prefer to receive love called their primary love language. When someone speaks this love language to them, it fills their “love tank” to the brim and, inadvertently, they feel loved. Chapman has revealed five distinct languages from which our primary can be drawn—Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Quality Time.

If we do not know, or understand, that the “love tank” of others might be filled best through a language other than our own, we often default to showing love in the way we prefer to receive love ourselves. In Mark’s case, he was speaking Gifts by providing for the material needs of his family. But when he found that, due to some physical issues, he was no longer able to provide to the same degree he once could, Mark struggled with how to show love to his family.

Through a conversation with his wife and Jillian, Mark realizes that Elijah needs more than just provision—he needs Words of Affirmation from his father. During a heartfelt chat with his son, Mark tells Elijah that he is proud of him. A smile appears on Elijah’s face and the video cuts to Elijah saying, “When my dad told me how proud he was of me, I was happy.” In that one powerful moment Mark learns to speak his son’s love language and what a difference it makes for Elijah!

When you learn to speak love languages you are not necessarily comfortable with, you are showing a form of selfless love that speaks for itself. It shows you are genuine and that your love is real. Mark learned this, and his family is better for it.

Mark, thanks for caring enough to step out of your own comfort zone to love your family well. Real men speak 5 languages.

What’s so difficult about communication?

Why does communication  break down after marriage?  Often, the answer lies in emotions.  Before marriage we felt one over-powering emotion—love.  But now, the emotions of hurt, anger, disappointment, and fear often dominate.  These emotions do not encourage us to communicate.  Or, if we communicate it is likely to be critical.

We speak out of our anger and create even more negative feelings.  The key is in learning how to share emotions without condemnation.  “I’m feeling hurt and when you have time, I need your help.” Identifying your feelings and choosing to share them is step one.  Step two is accepting the feelings of your mate and asking, “What can I do to help?”

Why is communication so important in a relationship?  Because we are not mind readers. The apostle Paul recognized this reality when he asked the question, “Who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?  So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The reason we know what God is like is because God has chosen to reveal Himself.  If we listen and reciprocate, we can have a love relationship with God.

Likewise, when we reveal ourselves to another person, and they listen and reciprocate, we can build an intimate relationship with that person.  Communication is to a relationship what breathing is to the body.  Don’t stop talking and don’t stop listening.

Adapted from The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Dr. Gary Chapman.

Balancing Work and Family

Money, Family, or Both?

Is it possible that we may be working so hard to support our families financially that we end up losing our families? Then money becomes empty compensation. This week we’ll talk about the issue of money and marriage.

What is most important in life? If we are given stark choices, the issue becomes clear. If someone offered you one million dollars for your child or your spouse, would you take it? Any sensible parent or spouse would say, “No”. But do we not sell our families for much less when we spend all of our energy working for money and have no time left to enjoy our relationships?

The Key is Balance

Work is a noble endeavor. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, neither should he eat. But can we work too much? Is vocational success worth losing a marriage? The Scriptures teach that life’s meaning is not found in things, but in relationships. It is found first in a relationship with God, and then with family and others.

Family relationships are always in process. If we want to keep our marriages alive, our families healthy, then we must find ways of balancing work and family. Thousands of men and women are finding that a growing marriage and a healthy family requires readjusting schedules from time to time. The key question is, “How does my work affect my marriage and family?” Once I answer that question, I will know if I need to change my work patterns.

Integration & Time Management

The answer is not always less work. Sometimes it is integrating the family into my work. For example, does your work allow the opportunity for you and your spouse to have lunch together from time to time? Such lunches can be an oasis in the midst of a dry day.

If your work requires travel, could you take your spouse or one of your children with you? This allows a mini-vacation which you might not otherwise be able to afford. It also exposes your family to your vocation and gives them a little more appreciation for what you do.

Less work and more time at home is not necessarily the answer. Better use of time at home may make all the difference. Do something different tonight with your spouse or with a child.  Get out of the routine. Minimize the television and maximize activity and conversation.  Keep your marriage alive and growing.

Living with a Depressed Spouse

John is a successful business man, but his wife is suffering from depression. “She spends most mornings in bed, and in the afternoons she just sits around the house,” he said. “She seems to have no ambition. Every night, I have to bring food home for dinner. Many nights she doesn’t eat with us. She has lost forty pounds over the last year. To be truthful, life is pretty miserable at our house. I feel sorry for the kids, although they get more attention than I do. But I know they must wonder what is wrong with their mother.”

John just described some of the classic characteristics of depression. Unfortunately, depression does not go away simply with the passing of time. John’s wife needs medical and psychological help, and without it things will get even worse. Many Christians don’t understand depression. They think it is a spiritual problem. While it may have a spiritual dimension, it is often rooted in physical, and emotional imbalance.

Identifying the Problem

What do you do when your spouse is depressed? First, you must get information. It is helpful to think of three categories of depression. First, depression may be the by-product of a physical illness. When we are physically sick, our minds and emotions move into a depressed state. We temporarily check out. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from constant anxiety about your physical condition.

The second kind of depression is called situational depression or reactive depression. It is a depression that grows out of a particularly painful situation in life.  Many of these experiences involve a sense of loss: the loss of a job, the loss of a child to college, or loss of a friendship.

The third category is depression rooted in some biochemical disorder. It is a physical disease, and must be treated with medication. Visit the library or search the web and learn about depression. It’s the first step in helping your spouse.

Finding the Solution

The healthiest road of treatment involves an honest and in-depth evaluation of three elements: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Seriously depressed persons will seldom take initiative to help themselves. As a caring spouse you must insist that they get help. Depression is not an incurable disease. Even those who have been depressed for months or sometimes years can find relief with the proper treatment.

Long term depression can be devastating to a marriage. If your spouse has been depressed for more than a few weeks, I urge you to take action.