Category: Engagement

Q&A: Money from Your In-Laws

Q: My parents are offering my fiancé and I money for a house downpayment, but my boyfriend doesn’t want to owe anything after being married. What do you think?

Dr. Gary Chapman: It sounds like they’re offering you a loan rather than simply giving you the money for the downpayment. I can understand the hesitancy of your boyfriend; he doesn’t want to feel like they’re controlling the marriage. This is a  worthy concern, and I don’t have a right or wrong answer for you. I think it depends on the nature of the relationship. There is nothing morally wrong about accepting money from your in-laws, but if it’s something that will cause contention then it may be wise to politely decline.

Q&A: Significant Age Differences in Relationships

Q: My boyfriend is significantly older than I am. Will this create problems for us if we get married?

Gary Chapman: That depends on how old you are. If you’re 16 and he’s 26, that has the potential to be a major problem because you’re in two different worlds. However, if you’re 36 and he’s 46 there is not as much potential for a problem related to your age because you’re both in a similar stage of life. It’s not necessarily about age in general, but rather young age, middle age, or older age. At 16, you’ve got a lot of developing to do–high school, college perhaps, the ability to legally work–you’re in a different world. This is not the same for someone who is 26 or 46. Find someone in a similar stage of life.

Q&A: The Importance of your In-Laws’ Blessing

Q: How important is it to get your future in-law’s blessing before marrying their daughter?

Gary Chapman: It is ideal, but you may not always get it. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the two of you shouldn’t get married. There are some in-laws for whom no one is ever going to be good enough for their daughter or son. But you can try, you can reach out, you can make an effort. If they say no, you should slow down and find out why. Listen to what they are saying and be realistic. Don’t let their opposition push you to marry each other. Consider it and make sure you know what you’re doing. However, I wouldn’t say you always have to base your decision on the blessing of your in-laws’ blessing.

Q&A: What Does it Mean to be In Love?

Q: What does the phrase, ‘in love,’ mean?

Gary Chapman: Different things to different people. For some people being ‘in love’ means “We’ve got what it takes to have a good marriage. We’re in love and we’re gonna get married.” For others who have a little different perspective they recognize that the ‘in love’ experience means “We have heightened emotions; we’re deeply attracted to each other physically, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually.” The difference is that this second group wouldn’t necessarily think that meant they should get married. There are a lot of other things they would look at in terms of intellect, emotions, values, spiritual walk, just a large number of things that need to be considered before they make the decision to get married.

Q&A: Past Physical Relationships

Q: Should I be concerned about my fiancé’s past physical relationships with other women?

Gary Chapman: I think you should be concerned because it’s a matter of reality. It’s not a part of his life that he can erase. That’s why I encourage couples to share with each other their past sexual experience. Because if he’s been involved with other women before marriage, and particularly multiple women it’s going to be far more difficult for him emotionally to be committed to one person after marriage. Let’s look to God for deliverance from that pattern so that he can indeed be committed to you. I think also, you have some things to work through in terms of your feelings about what he has done in the past and we have to learn how to experience and express genuine forgiveness if we’re going to have a healthy marriage.

Q&A: Being Pure Before Marriage

Q: My fiancé and I are finding it difficult to stay pure before marriage.  Do you have any suggestions?

Gary Chapman: It is difficult. When we deeply love each other, we have warm emotional feelings for each other and the natural thing is to get physically involved. But when we do the physical part of the relationship becomes the predominant part of the relationship. We cease to get to know each other from that point and it simply becomes a physical thrill. That’s not the foundation on which to build a marriage. So I think you have to set boundaries. The two of you have to agree to not have sexual intercourse before you get married (or to stop if you already have). Figure out some guidelines that you can follow to keep you from falling into that trap. As you set boundaries and ask God to give you the power to follow his teachings, you will be successful.

Q&A: Living Together Before Marriage

Q: Is living together before marriage a good idea?

Gary Chapman: It sounds like it, doesn’t it? That’s what many young people think. That’s also what many older people think. The reality is research indicates it’s not true. I think the reason is that you cannot simulate marriage. We think we’ll give it a trial run, but you can’t try marriage. Marriage has to do with commitment, and when you’re living together without commitment you both know that any day of any week, one of you could walk away. So even though it seems like it would be a good idea, all research and certainly scripture indicate that it’s not a good idea. So I would challenge you to seek to live a life of purity before you come to marriage. I believe that God’s way is still the best way.

Q&A: Long Distance Love Languages

Q: My wife and I are in the military. How can we speak the 5 love languages while we’re apart?

Gary Chapman: All of the love languages can be spoken long distance. I have just released a book with Jocelyn Green called The 5 Love Languages Military Edition in which we talk about how to speak the love languages long distance. For example, despite what most people may assume, Physical Touch can be spoken when you’re apart. You can say to them in an email or phone call, “If I were with you I would give you a big hug you would never forget.” Emotionally they’d feel your arms around them. You can learn to keep love alive while you’re deployed with the five love languages. I’m hoping this book is going to help thousands of military couples learn how to stay emotionally connected even while they’re deployed.

Q&A: Teaching Children How to Choose a Good Spouse

Q: What are some things I can teach my son about how to choose a good wife?

Gary Chapman: I wrote a book entitled Things I Wished I’d Known Before We Got Married that deals with this topic. In the book I deal with such things as personality differences, religious differences, and learning how to negotiate and solve conflicts. Because people grow up in different homes they develop different ideas. Therefore, I talk about the influence of parents. There are many other topics I also address. I think if you take the time to read this book you will find it a helpful and useful tool in guiding your adult child towards choosing a good spouse.

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.