Category: Engagement

Q&A: Cultural Connection

Q: “My boyfriend and I are engaged, though we are from very different cultures. What areas should we address before getting married?”

Gary Chapman: This is an excellent question and I wish more people were asking it. Cultures are different and the more diverse the culture the greater the potential for conflict in a marriage. I would suggest such practical things such as spending time in your respective families and observe how they “do life”, traditions, expectations, and points of difference. Also, learn about each other’s culture. Discuss these things with each other and identify the potential areas of conflict. Be honest, yet open to one another’s point of view and heritage. Please note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t get married across cultural lines, but rather you just shouldn’t do it blindly.

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: He Doesn’t Say “I Love You”

Q: “My boyfriend and I have been dating for 16 months. I have told him that I love him but he won’t say it to me and it bothers me. Does this indicate a problem?”

Gary Chapman: If he is not willing to say he loves you, it means either he is not attracted to you emotionally or he is not willing to commit himself to your well-being. The foundation stone of marriage is a commitment to love each other. I’m not talking about feelings—I’m talking about a commitment to seeking the well-being of the other person. That is what marriage is made of. At this point you may want to reconsider your relationship in light of this. However, if you want to continue the relationship to see if he warms up, or if he is willing to make positive steps in that direction, then my suggestion would be to begin to work through one of my books together entitled Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. The discussion that will come out of it will help you make a wise decision moving forward.

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.

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?

Q&A: Bad Relationship with Father

Q: My fiancé has a bad relationship with his father. My friends say that this can be a big problem after getting married. What do you think?

Gary Chapman: If a fractured relationship with one’s father has never been dealt with—yes, it’s going to show up in his behavior and very likely be a problem. Ideally, everyone needs a father with whom they had a loving relationship as a child and now as an adult they can reach out and seek advice from time to time. However, we don’t live in an ideal world and he didn’t choose his father. He may or may not have been the one to cause the fracture, but I would encourage him to work through the difficulty, seek to reach out to his father, and rebuild that relationship. Additionally, I think it is important enough to delay a marriage while this process takes place.

Q&A: Advice For Engaged Couples

QI’m getting married this spring.  What’s the best advice you can give my fiancé and I?

A: First of all, congratulations that you’re getting married. Marriage is a wonderful institution that is ordained of God and is His plan for most people. I would suggest that in a very practical way, you work through my book Things I Wish I’d known Before We Got Married. It’s twelve things that I know now that, had I known before I got married, would have made my marriage much easier. I think if you read the chapters and do the assignments at the end of those chapters, you’ll be far better prepared for marriage. I highly reccomend that you spend time learning the skills that will make your marriage successful.

Q&A: Stimulating Growth In Marriage

Q: My fiancé has struggled with homosexuality in the past but says God has changed him. I’m still nervous about marrying him. Can you help?

A: There are certain individuals who have same sex attraction. Does God have the power to change that? I believe He does and there are many who give testimony to the reality of that. But there are others who have not experienced that change and still have the same desire. I would encourage both of you to get counseling and to work through the dynamics as to where he has been in the past and to what the future can look like for the two of you. I wouldn’t go into marriage without first getting counseling.

Q&A: Wedding Budget How Much Is Too Much?

Q: My fiancée and I are at odds over our upcoming wedding budget. We don’t have much to work with, but she is willing to go into debt. How much is too much?

A: In our culture, we’ve tended to exult the wedding and minimize the wedding. The marriage is far  more important than the wedding. The wedding is one moment and one day. The marriage is for a life time. I would say, don’t ignore the dream and desire of your bride to have a beautiful wedding. But talk with her and perhaps some of her friends about how they can cut down the cost of the wedding. Many times friends are willing to pitch in to help you with the wedding. You want it to be nice to be sure but I don’t think you ought to go greatly in debt. It’s far better to spend your time and money preparing for marriage rather than simply for the wedding.

Q&A: Do Relationships Need The “In Love Experience”?

Q: You talk about “in love euphoria.” What about relationships that start without this “feeling” and are more “intellectually based” Is this healthy?

A: I think that’s perfectly fine. I do think, however, that the in-love experience is an important part of the relationship. I find that couples who never have that—they simply have a common interest, build a friendship and later get married—often they are tempted outside the marriage when they do have an in-love experience with somebody else. And because they didn’t have it in the original relationship they are more likely to bail out of that relationship. It’s important but it doesn’t have to be the first thing on the agenda. It may come after they developed a friendship.