Category: Conflict

Q&A: Sexual Boundaries in Dating

Q:  Gary, my boyfriend and I have been intimate together and I feel guilty about it. I am always the one who is re-setting the boundaries and don’t feel like he is being a leader in this area. Can you help?

Gary Chapman: What you are observing is good—that is, you are recognizing a lack of leadership on his part in this part of the relationship. Maybe he doesn’t feel as strongly as you do about this, but that also should give you a clue as to where he might be in his thinking and his commitment to Biblical standards. You are observing the kind of things that need to be observed. You can’t make him be a leader in this area. You want a young man that who is strongly committed to Biblical principles and who is also applying them in a practical way to the sexual part of the relationship. If he can’t want to get on board with you in this area, you may want to consider this a red flag and possibly a deal breaker.

Q&A: Angry Spouse

Q: Gary, it seems like I can make my wife angry by doing the smallest things. Why is this?”

Gary Chapman: I can’t tell you why, but I can help you find out. Try to learn from each of the experiences. Whenever she responds in a defensive or angry manner follow up the next day with something like, “I wonder what we can learn from last night. I noticed that when I said _____ that you responded in a very negative way. It wasn’t my intent to make you angry. Therefore, what would be a better way to have expressed that … or what might have I have done differently that would have made it easier for you?” I think if you try to learn from each of those experiences, you’ll find out why she has those particular areas as hot spots. Additionally, you’ll find a better way to approach future conversations or situations in the process.

Wasted Energy

When is the last time you and your spouse had an argument about money? Was it the ‘same old issue’? My contention is that couples who continue to argue about the same thing over and over again need help. That is what motivated me to write my book:  Profit Sharing: The Chapman Guide to Making Money an Asset to Your Marriage.

When you argue, you are wasting energy. You don’t have a problem that other couples have not had. Perhaps you could find an older couple whom you respect. Share your struggle with them and ask for advice. If they don’t have an answer, they can likely point you to someone who does. Make money an asset to your marriage, not a battleground.

More Money?

Is money an asset, or a liability to your marriage? Much of the answer lies in your attitude toward money. If you are looking to money or the things that money can buy to make you happy, then money will be a source of conflict in your marriage. But if your trust is in God and you’re looking to Him for wisdom in how to handle money, then money will become an asset. Money is a great servant, but a poor master. Don’t let money overly influence the decisions you make. The bigger question is “How will this decision influence our marriage and family?” A move across the country may bring more money, but be detrimental to your family. In which case, less money is an asset.

When Money is in the Middle

Why is money often a source of conflict in marriage? For over thirty years as a marriage counselor, I have been listening to couples argue about money. “He could get a better job if he would try.” “All I ask is that she record the checks that she writes.” “Why can’t we save something?” Is the problem really money? I don’t think so.

I think it is a relationship problem. The first step is to write down the ‘money issues” on which the two of you disagree. Then one by one, look for a game plan that will make both of you winners. If you can’t agree on such a plan, then get a counselor or trusted friend to help you. You don’t have to spend a lifetime arguing about money.

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.

Q&A: My Wife’s Talks About Her Crushes

Q: Gary my wife is always joking around about different “crushes” she has, both with guys on T.V. and those we know. She says it’s joking around, but it bugs me.

A:  First of all, you’re not alone. We all have emotional hot spots and there are many other souses—male and female—that feel the same you do. Working through the issue starts with finding better ways of saying things that don’t hurt the other person. To say he’s “good looking” may not hurt as bad, but to use the word “crush” communicates to you that she has some sort of desire to be with that person. Share with her how hurtful that is to you. Have an open conversation with her. If you find you two can’t work it out one-on-one, then I would encourage you both to sit down with a counselor or pastor and let someone else help through it.

I Just Don’t Love Her Anymore

“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.

Q&A: I’m Emotionally Unstable. Help!

Q: “Gary, I fear that I am very emotionally unstable.  I tend to always take things people say the wrong way and blow situations up.  Help!”

Gary Chapman: People talk about physical health a lot, but we don’t often talk about emotional health. Some of us grew up in homes where we didn’t have a whole lot of love and care—resulting in a lot of internal struggles. Now you’re an adult and you are recognizing this. Reach out to a counselor—someone who is trained to help people start where they are and move towards a healthier state. We are growing and we’re in process. Wherever you are in your journey of emotional health, it can get better. My encouragement: Let God use someone who has been trained in this area to help move you in a positive direction.

Q&A: Different Christian Backgrounds

Q: My fiancé and I have very different ways of defining how to live as a ‘Christian’.  How can we come together on this?

Gary Chapman: When you say “different ways of defining how to live as a Christian,” it may be that one of you grew up in a home that had certain things that were considered to be Christian—if you do this and don’t do that then you were in right standing. The other may have had a different experience—raised in a different type of family or attended a fellowship that did not emphasize the dos and don’ts as much as a personally relationship with God. Therefore, I think it’s important to start by sharing your journey with each other. Marriage has to do with oneness and coming together. Talk about it. Take turns sharing your perceptions. Then, try to understand each others perspective so that you can find a meeting place.