Category: Relationships

Investing your Time and Energy Properly

This is a good day for reflection. We stand on a threshold of new opportunities. Are you pleased with the way you invested your time and energies last year? Are there changes you need to make in your life as you move into 2014? Do you need to add some activities and drop others? Family, church, vocation, and neighbors are all important. The greatest satisfaction in life comes from investing your life in the lives of others, but you also need to take care of yourself. Proper diet, sleep, and recreation keep the body strong. A daily quiet time with God and weekly involvement  with other Christians energizes the spirit. Could a minor change in your life make a major change in your effectiveness?

Q&A: Past Girlfriends

Q: Is it still ok to maintain contact with past girlfriends now that I’m married?

Dr. Gary Chapman: The short answer is no. The long answer is maybe. It depends on the nature of those relationships. Sometimes someone you’ve dated in the past may be a co-worker or go to your church, making interaction with them unavoidable. However, I don’t think you should be spending individual time with that person: not even coffee, lunch, or extended conversations. Many people have been pulled from their marriage back into past relationships by doing such things. I think it should be minimum contact at most, and that only if it’s necessary.

Q&A: Long Distance Quality Time

Q: I’m currently in a long distance relationship, but our love languages are Quality Time. What things can we do to make it work?

Dr. Gary Chapman: I would suggest several things. Extended phone conversations and internet conversations are helpful, genuine quality time. Try reading the same thing and then talking about during these conversations. I would also suggest old fashioned, hand-written letters, which communicate to the heart of the person for whom Quality Time is the primary language. The recipient sees it and knows that the author spent time on it and put thought into it. It may be difficult, and it certainly isn’t the same as being together in the flesh, but Quality Time is still possible with distance.

Q&A: Are some Love Languages more Common than Others?

Q: What are the most common Love Languages? Are they all distributed equally? 

Gary Chapman: Our research shows that they are distributed pretty equally among people; not exactly 20% in each one, but pretty close. I do know that a man or a woman can have any one of these languages as their primary love language. One is not more predominant in one gender than another. What is important is that you learn the love language of your significant other and speak it regularly.

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: Bringing the Spark Back to Your Marriage

Q: How can I bring back the spark into our relationship? It feels like we are just brother and sister.

Gary Chapman: I believe that the spark can come back if you learn to speak the love language of the other person and start doing it consistently. By speaking the other person’s love language you touch their heart and cause them to think, “What’s going on here? You’re responding differently to me.” Then they begin to respond differently to you. I don’t know anything that has the potential of stimulating the spark in marriage faster than learning the love language of your spouse and speaking it on a regular basis. Almost every week people to say to me, “When we read your book on the love languages, and we spoke the right language, it literally brought new life to our marriage.” I hope you can do the same and have the spark return to your marriage as well.

Q&A: Winning a Person Back into a Relationship

Q: How can I win back my girlfriend after a short break?

Gary Chapman: We seldom fall out of love on the same day, and consequently the one who falls out of love often breaks the relationship. The other person is deeply hurt because you are bonded to that person with an emotional warmth and excitement. “Win” is a good word because it does mean you can make efforts, you can try to influence them. Ultimately, however, you cannot make them come back. You have to be open to the possibility that they’re not going to return to the relationship and that it’s not the end of world. God knows what’s going on, God has a plan for your life. Whether they come back or not, he will guide you in the future to accomplish his purposes for your life. After all, that is the most important thing.

Q&A: A Wandering Eye in Marriage

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 (coauthor, 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 other’s 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!

Q&A: Topics that Apply to Couples of all Ages

Q: Your books on marriage seem to be geared toward younger people. Do your principles apply to older people as well?

Gary Chapman: Well, I agree that some of my books are geared more toward younger couples, but many of my books are geared to couples of any age. For example, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been married 2 years or 30 years, learning how to speak each other’s love language is extremely important if you want to have an ongoing healthy relationship. In my books I also address topics like learning how to apologize and how to forgive each other. So I really think that the basic concepts that I seek to share in all of my books can apply to all ages. Now there is one book of mine, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, that is written specifically to singles or engaged couples. In it I try to help them have a healthy marriage from the start. However, even couples that have been married for many years have shared with me how they have benefited from that book. No matter when you start applying the concepts I teach in my books, I believe they will help you work towards a healthy marriage and/or relationship with others.

Turn Them Over

Must I continue to forgive when a person hurts me again and again? Jesus once said, “If a person sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4) The important word is the word repent not the word seven. Peter later asked Jesus, “seven times in a day?” And Jesus said, “70 times 7”. It’s not the number that’s important it is the repentance. We forgive as often as people repent. If they don’t repent, we turn them over to God. God will bring punishment to the unbeliever, and discipline to the believer. It is not our place to seek vengeance. We release our hurt and anger to God and we put the person in His hands.