Category: Dating

Q&A: Ready to Remarry?

Q: I was married for 25 years and now divorced for nine. How do I know if I’m ready to remarry?

Gary Chapman: The most common mistake people make is to go into a second marriage thinking that because they’ve fallen in love with someone else they’ve now found the right one and everything is going to be like heaven. The reality is—no matter how long you’ve been divorced—when you remarry you are entering into a whole new world because both of you are coming with a history—a history that often involves children whether young or grown. Those dynamics are very, very difficult to navigate in a remarriage. So I would say you are asking the right question. Be sure to take time to prepare yourself. It’s not a matter of how long you’ve been divorced, it’s a matter of how well you are preparing for a second marriage.

Social Intimacy in Marriage

In a healthy marriage there will be ‘social intimacy’ between husband and wife. Social intimacy has to do with spending time together; going to a movie or attending an athletic event. Or, we may go bowling, or plant a tree, or go shopping together. Much of life involves ‘doing’. When we do things together, we are enhancing our sense of intimacy. On the other hand, most couples spend several hours each day apart. While apart, they each have various social encounters. At the end of the day, if they share some of these encounters, they are building social intimacy by letting each other in on their time apart. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much social intimacy do you feel in your marriage?

Q&A: Has God Selected The Person You Should Marry?

Q: “I hear all the time about how God has someone selected for me and I just need to wait for her. You don’t really address this in you books. Thoughts?”

Gary Chapman: Christians look at this in different ways. Some believe that God has one individual picked out for you and He wants to lead the two of you together. Others feel like this falls into the kinds of categories in life such as giving us the choice as to which shirt we will wear today. He hasn’t predestined that you wear a particular kind of shirt and leaves that choice up to you. Both of these views are Christian because they both recognize that God is active in our lives and if we are seeking His guidance that He is faithful to guide us. That’s the important thing. I think you may find it interesting to look at Genesis 24 and look for the principles that God used to lead Abraham’s servant to find a bride for Isaac. I think those same principle apply to our lives today.

Q&A: Family Before Spouse?

Q: “I’m wondering about the concept of “leaving and cleaving. I’m engaged and members of my family are saying that family comes before my husband. What is your take on this?”

Gary Chapman: The scriptures are very clear that when we get married we are to leave our parents and cleave to our spouse. That doesn’t mean we desert our parents. We must certainly honor them after we get married, but our main allegiance is to our husband or to our wife. Failure to reconcile with this and to clarify this before you get married will cause problems after you get married. If you and your fiancé don’t agree on this, it would be good for you both to sit down with a counselor or pastor to help clarify this Biblical teaching of leaving and cleaving. If you don’t, it will likely raise it’s head again after you get married. Far better to deal it it and clarify it before you tie the knot, then to try to deal with the consequences afterwards.

Q&A: My Fiancé has an STD

Q: “I just discovered that my fiancé tested positive for an STD from a past relationship. I feel hurt and disgusted and don’t know how to deal with it. Can you help?”

Gary Chapman: I think the answer is that you need to discuss this openly and freely. Discuss the nature of the sexually transmitted disease—is it treatable, and how will it affect your relationship from a medical perceptive? Then, you’ll need to wrestle with whether this is something you would like to constinue with given the reality of the situation. We cannot erase our past. . . and some of us have past experiences that aren’t good. If you are  not willing to live with that, accept that, and forgive that, then it could potentially be a deal breaker. I encourage couples to share their previous sexual expereince so that they enter marriage aware of what they are dealing with. If you find you can’t deal with it, solve it, or reconcile it before marriage, it will certainly be a problem after.

Q&A: Betrayal and Pain in Past

Q: “Do love languages work on someone who equates “love” with betrayal and pain? The woman I love is afraid of loving and being loved because of two failed marriages? “

Gary Chapman: Anyone who has come through two failed marriages is going to come to a new relationship with a lot of hurt, pain, and likely lack of trust in the person she is now dating. What she needs, in my opinion, is some individual counseling where she works through some of the pain and hurt from her past before she gets involved in another relationship. To simply go from one relationship to another—carrying with us the baggage of the past—sets us up for failure in the new relationship. I would suggest that you highly encourage her to get some help working through these issues before you go very far in your relationship.

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: Why Not Have Sex Before Marriage?

Q:  “Gary, what’s wrong with being physically intimate before marriage? Isn’t the wedding just a formality?”

Gary Chapman: The reality is that marriage has always been a public thing. It’s not simply an agreement between two people. It’s recorded in human history and society recognizes the couple as being married—something that doesn’t happen when a couple is simply living together. I know it’s popular today to be sexually active and/or live together prior to, or in place of, getting married. However, the wedding is important. Marriage is important. When we downplay the marriage covenant by living together and become sexually active prior to marriage, we increase our chances for marital problems. In fact, research indicates that a sexually active couple who lives together is far more likely to divorce once they do get married. The reality is that you cannot simulate marriage. It’s far better to wait to come together sexually until after you’ve made that lifelong commitment to the other person.

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.


You Need to Explore This

When couples come to me for pre-marital counseling, I sometimes ask: “Why do you want to get married?” Whatever else they say, they always give me the big reason: and the big reason is always the same. “We love each other.” Then I ask a very unfair question: “Tell me, what do you mean by that?” There is silence. Then, one will say, “Oh…You know!” I guess maybe I do know. I think they are talking about a euphoric emotion that makes them oblivious to reality. They are the happiest they have ever been. What they don’t know is that the euphoric feelings will last for two years and then they must find another foundation for marriage. Wouldn’t it be better to explore that foundation before they get married?