Category: Marriage help

Q&A: Speaking Gifts is Hard for Him

Q: “My love language is gifts, but he has a hard time speaking it. Because of this I feel misunderstood. I give specific suggestions, but he’ll instead bring something home for me from the hardware store and it just doesn’t cut it. Can you help?”

Gary Chapman: Maybe he doesn’t understand. Either you or someone needs to sit down with him and communicate the love language concept. Just like he would want you to speak his love language, you would like him to speak yours. You say you give him suggestions—that’s good. You might even want to write those things down. I might even suggest he take his sister shopping with him when he goes out to buy you a gift. This could provide him with the proper insight from a woman’s perspective allowing him to fare better than he would on his own.

Q&A: Refuses Sex?

Q: “My husband and I are in our 50’s and he refuses to be intimate with me physically. My love language is touch and it hurts me when he stays away. Is there anything I can do?”

Gary Chapman: First things is to inquire “Why?” — Does he not have the physical ability? Or, is he involved with someone else? Or, is he involved with stimulating himself privately? There are many reason why a spouse might refuse to be intimate, but since it is serious to the health of your relationship you need to inquire about it. You see, if you can get to the root of the problem, then you can look for an answer. But without understanding why he doesn’t have that desire, it is most likely not going to resolve itself.

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: Married Yet Tempted

Q: “I’ve been married to my best friend for 10 years. I’ve never had a wandering eye but I’m suddenly finding myself drawn to a new co-worker. Is my marriage in danger?”

Jennifer Thomas (co-author of When Sorry Isn’t Enough): You’ve asked an important question. We know that it takes 100 or more steps to begin an affair. Avoid taking the first steps and you’ll prevent a world of pain. Simply ask anyone who has lived through an affair and they will tell you it is unspeakably tragic and regrettable. Be on guard for these earliest signs of an affair:

  • Noticing a magnetic pull towards someone who is not your spouse
  • Daydreaming about them
  • Spending extra time with them
  • Sharing confidences with them
  • Devaluing your own spouse in your mind if not also in action

If you notice these signs of a crush, take note. You are on the road to an emotional affair. First, do not mention your attraction to your co-worker. To do so would multiply your risk because he or she might also be feeling the spark. You must FLEE and seek support. Take steps today to re-focus on your spouse and make sure that you are speaking each others’ love languages. This is the only way to keep your love tank full. Read our Practically Speaking newsletter for useful tips to speak any love language while having fun!

The Power Of Positive Influence

When in a bad marriage, people often think they have only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery or get out. This limits one’s horizons to two equally devastating alternatives. In my book, Desperate Marriages, I talk about how to be a positive change agent in a difficult marriage. It is true that you cannot make your spouse change, but you can influence your spouse. One husband said, “I used to have rage in my heart toward my wife, but now, I realize what a wonderful wife I have.” Her positive actions stimulated positive emotions in him. With warm emotions his behavior also changed. Learning the power of positive influence could radically change your marriage. You need not be miserable forever.

Q&A: He Won’t Open Up

Q: “I long for meaningful conversation with my husband, but it seems he is incapable of talking in a reflective way about himself. How can I get him to open up?”

Gary Chapman: There are people that I call dead seas. These people receive information, but it goes no where—much like the Dead Sea receives water from the Jordan River, but has no outflow. They receive information, emotions, experiences, yet have no compulsion to talk. It sounds like this may be the type of person you are married to. The best way to get a dead sea to talk more is to ask  specific questions.  It’s important not to condemn the answers regardless of your possible inclination to do so. Simply receive his answer by saying something like, “That’s interesting. Tell me more about that.” If  you ask specific questions and you make it safe for him to share, chances are he will learn to talk.

Q&A: Hot Tempered Husband

Q:  “My husband is quick to anger and curses and yells when we fight. I feel like it borders on abuse. What can I do?”

Gary Chapman: This sort of thing should not be accepted as normal. The best thing you can do in this situation is to is apply tough love. Say something like this to your husband, “I don’t know if you love me or not, but it certainly doesn’t feel loving when you get angry and you curse at me. I love you too much to continue to sit here and let you do that. I’m going to move in with my mother and when you are willing to deal with this issue, then I am willing to engage with you in marriage counseling. I am not abandoning you—I am loving you. However, this type of behavior is not acceptable. I think you know that as well as I.” Then, you proceed to follow through with that tough love. This is probably the most powerful thing you can do for your husband.

Q&A: Not Interested

Q: “I feel drained in my marriage. My wife no longer seems interested in me or willing to put effort into making things work?”

Gary Chapman: The most powerful thing you can do is to love her unconditionally. Learn and speak her primary love language, regardless of how she treats you. She needs love—we all do. Therefore, when you communicate love in the way she desires most—her love language—you trigger something inside her that will draw her to you. We can’t control the behavior of a spouse, but we can greatly influence them by the way we treat them. How? Look back on the areas you feel you may have failed, make a genuine confession, and let her know that with God’s help you are going to be the husband she desires. This is one of the greatest things you can do to influence her to reciprocate.

Emotional Communication

Why do so many couples have difficulty with communication? Often, the answer lies in emotions. Before marriage we had 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 negative or critical. We speak out of our anger and create even more negative feelings. The key is in learning how to share emotions without condemnation. You might begin by saying, “I feel 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?”

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.