Gary Chapman: Have you ever tried this, sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other? It can be scary at first. (LAUGHTER) And talking to each other – powerful communicator – or taking a walk down the road just the two of you and talking or going out to eat, assuming you talk to each other.
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John Fuller: Well, for some of us, sitting face to face and actually talking with our spouse, that can be really scary, but we’ll hear why it’s important to try doing that. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family . Your host is Focus president Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, we’re listening to a great presentation from Dr. Gary Chapman from his DVD series called The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. And last time, Dr. Champan talked about how infatuation, what he calls “the tingles,” can lead a person into an affair that can start with seemingly innocent conversations with someone you’re attracted to, maybe at work. Dr. Chapman also challenged us in our marriages to show Biblical love to one another using that famous passage from the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 13 starting at verse 4, and I’m paraphrasing. Love is patient, kind, humble, courteous, not selfish, not quick to take offense, and not intend on keeping score.
John: And with that, hear now Dr. Gary Chapman on Focus on the Family.
Gary: Love is unselfish. Love does things, not because you necessarily enjoy doing them, but you do them because you know they’re beneficial for them. This is really the heart of love.It’s a willingness to give and do for the benefit of the other person, not for what you’re getting out of it, but for what they’re getting out of it. It’s the same kind of love that God gave us when He reached out to us. Not because we were good but because He is good. Now, let me come back to the emotional aspect of love because there is an emotional aspect. We are emotional creatures. I believe because we’re made in God’s image, and you will read of God all the human emotions are in God and- and, et cetera, thus seen in us. And we do have an emotional need to feel loved. If you feel loved by the significant people in your life, life is pretty beautiful. But if you don’t feel loved, life can look pretty dark. I like the picture inside every child there’s an emotional love tank. If the love tank is full, that is the child genuinely feels loved by the parents, the child grows up normal. But if the love tank is empty, the child does not feel loved by the parents. The child grows up with many internal struggles, and in the teenage years is likely to go looking for love in all the wrong places. But I believe that adults also have a love tank. And if the love tank is full, that is you genuinely feel loved by your spouse, then life is good. But if the love tank is empty and you feel like they don’t love me, they wish they weren’t married to me, life can begin to look pretty dark. You see, the person who has an empty love tank, will be far more tempted at the coffee pot than the person who has a full love tank.
And that doesn’t excuse them just because they have an empty love tank. Doesn’t excuse their behavior if they follow the tingles. But what I’m saying is if we can learn how to keep each other’s love tank full after we come down off the high of the ‘in love’ experience, then we’re creating an emotional bond between the two of us that’s going to affect everything else we do, how we process conflict and everything else.
What I discovered years ago is that what makes one person feel loved doesn’t make another person feel loved. And this is where we get into trouble. I remember she sat in my office and said, “Dr. Chapman, I, uh, we don’t have any money problems, and we don’t argue.” She said, “But I just don’t feel any love coming from my husband. We’re like two roommates in the same house.” Well, I looked over at him. And he said, “I don’t understand her. I do everything I – I know to show her that I love her, and she says she doesn’t feel loved.” I said, “Well, what do you do?” He said, “Well, I get home from work before she does, so I start the evening meal.” He said, “After it’s over” – he said, “I normally wash the dishes.” And he said, “I help her with the laundry, and I – I do the vacuuming. And I wash the car every Saturday, and I mow the grass every Saturday.” And he went on. I was beginning to wonder, what does this woman do? (LAUGHTER) Sounded to me like he was doing everything. And he said, “I do all these things to show her that I love her, and yet she sits there and says she doesn’t feel loved.” He said, “Dr. Chapman, I don’t know what else to do.”
I look back at her. And she said, “He’s right. He’s a hardworking man.” And then she started crying. She said, “But Dr. Chapman, we don’t ever talk. We haven’t talked in 30 years.” You understand what’s going on? A sincere man who is loving his wife, but she’s not getting it because he’s not speaking it in her language.
So what I discovered is that there’s fundamentally five ways to express love emotionally. I want to – I call them the five love languages. I want to share them with you briefly. Many of you have read the book. This will be a review for you. If you haven’t, it’ll be an introduction for you. Love language number one we’ve already talked about, and that is words of affirmation, using words to affirm the other person. I won’t belabor this point, but I will illustrate it. My wife and I were visiting our daughter and our son-in-law and our two grandchildren. If I’m gonna be totally honest, I would have to say we were visiting our grandchildren, and the parents happened to be at home. (LAUGHTER) But at any rate, after dinner that night, our son-in-law took the trash outside. And when he came back in the house, our daughter said to him, “John, thanks for taking the trash out.” And inside, I said, “Go, girl!!” (laughter) You see, I can’t tell you how many men have been in my office over the last 30 years and said to me, “Dr. Chapman, I don’t ever hear any words of appreciation. I can do all kind of things, and I never hear any words of appreciation.
If she says anything, she’s critical about something I didn’t do.” And I can’t tell you how many wives have said the same thing – “I give it all I’ve got every day, and he acts like I’m not even here.” You understand why the book of Proverbs would say, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue?” You can kill your spouse, but you can give them life by the way you talk to them.
Now, I mentioned earlier I met a lady who said to me – she said, “Dr. Chapman, I know it would be good if I could give him positive words.” She said, “But honestly, Dr. Chapman, I can’t think of anything good to say about him.” And I said, “Well, does he ever take a shower?” And she said, “Well, yes.” I said, “Well, how often?” She said, “Well, every day.” I said, “If I were you, I’d start there. I appreciate you taking a shower.” (LAUGHTER) I said, “There are men who don’t.” I’ve never met a man or a woman that you couldn’t find something good to say about ‘em. and what I’m saying is, if you give them a positive word – ladies, if you give him a positive word, something inside of him wants to be better. You give him a critical word, and something inside of him wants to shoot you. (LAUGHTER) Words of affirmation. (:19)
Love language number two is gifts. My academic background is anthropology. After going to Moody Bible Institute, I went to Wheaton College and majored in anthropology. Later, I did a master’s degree in anthropology at Wake Forest University. We have never discovered a culture anywhere in the world where gift-giving is not an expression of love. It’s universal to give gifts. The gift says, “He was thinking about me. She was thinking about me. Look what they got for me.” Now, the gifts need not be expensive. Haven’t we always said it’s the thought that counts? But I remind you, it’s not the thought left in your head that counts. It’s the gift that came out of a thought in your heart. You know, guys, you can get flowers free for probably four or five months of the year. Just go out in your backyard and pick one. That’s what your kids do. How many mothers have ever received a dandelion from your kids? Yeah. Now, guys, I’m not suggesting dandelions, OK? (LAUGHTER) You don’t have any flowers in your backyard, your neighbor’s yard. (LAUGHTER) Ask them. They’ll give you a flower.
Gifts. Number three is acts of service, doing something for the other person that you know they would like for you to do. Such things as washing dishes, cooking meals, vacuuming floors, walking the dog, changing the baby’s diaper – oooh, big act of service. (LAUGHTER)
Anything that you know the other person would like for you to do. Number four spending quality time, giving them your undivided attention. I do not mean sitting on the couch watching television. Someone else has your attention. I’m talking about sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking to each other. Do you all have couches? What do you do with those things?
Have you ever tried this, sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other? It can be scary at first. (LAUGHTER) And talking to each other – powerful communicator – or taking a walk down the road just the two of you and talking or going out to eat, assuming you talk to each other.
Incidentally, have you ever noticed in a restaurant, you can almost always tell the difference between dating couples and married couples. Dating couples look at each other and talk. Married couples sit there and eat. (LAUGHTER)
You see, if I sit on the couch with my wife and give her 20 minutes, looking, listening, interacting, I have given her 20 minutes of my life, and she has done the same for me. It’s a powerful communicator when you give someone your undivided attention.
Number five is physical touch. We’ve long known the emotional power of physical touch. That’s why we pick up babies and hold them and cuddle them and kiss them and say all those silly words. And long before that baby understands the meaning of the word love, the baby feels love by physical touch.
Now, in marriage, I’m talking about such things as holding hands, arm around the shoulder. I’m talking about, driving down the road, you put your hand on their leg. I’m talking about kissing. I’m talking about embracing. I’m talking about the whole sexual part of the marriage. Physical touch is a powerful communicator.
Out of those five love languages, each of us – married or single, young or old – each of us has a primary love language. One of the five speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other four. Now, we can receive love in all five languages. But if you had to give up one, you’d give up this one or this one, but not this one. This is the one that really makes you feel loved. It’s very similar to spoken language. Every one of us grew up speaking a language with a dialect. I grew up speaking English, Southern style, but every one grows up speaking a language with a dialect, and that’s the one you understand best. The same thing is true with love. It’s not that you don’t appreciate the others, it’s just that one speaks more deeply to you than the others. That’s your primary language.
John: You are listening to Dr. Gary Chapman on Focus on the Family. Just a quick reminder, in his book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, to make a donation of any amount to Focus today. Our number, 800. the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or, you can donate and request that book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s good ahead and return now to more from Dr. Gary Chapman.
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Gary: In a marriage, almost never does a husband and wife have the same love language. It happens, but not very often. And even if they have the same language, they’ll have different dialects within the language. And by nature, we speak our own language. Whatever makes me feel loved is what I will do for my spouse.
So if my love language is words of affirmation, if that’s what makes me feel loved, what will I do when I get married? I’ll give my wife words of affirmation. I’ll tell her how good-looking she is. I’ll tell her what – how nice she looks in that outfit. I will express appreciation to her. I’ll probably tell her that I love her a dozen times a day. It just – it’s just natural. I – you know, “I love you.”
But if – if words is not her love language – let’s say acts of service is her love language, but I don’t ever do anything to help her – it’s just a matter of time she’s gonna say to me one night, “You know, you keep on saying, I love you. I love you. I love you. If you love me, why don’t you help me?” And I will be blown out of the saddle because, in my mind, I’ve been loving her. But in her mind, I have not been loving her.
So the key is we have to learn to speak the language of the other person. Now, someone says, “Gary, OK, but wait a minute. What if the love language of your spouse is something that just doesn’t come natural for you?” And my answer – “So?” You learn it! My wife’s language is acts of service, OK? One of the things I do for her is vacuum the floors. Now, you don’t know me well. But I want to ask you, do you think that vacuuming floors comes natural for me? (laughter) My mother made me vacuum floors. All through junior high and high school, I couldn’t go play ball on Saturday until I vacuumed my house. In those days I said to myself, “If I ever get out of here, one thing I’m not going to do, I am not going to vacuum floors.” You couldn’t pay me enough to vacuum floors. There’s only one reason I vacuum floors, L-O-V-E. You see, if it doesn’t come natural, it’s a greater expression of love. My wife knows every time I vacuum the floor it’s nothing but 100 percent pure, unadulterated love. And I get credit for the whole thing. (LAUGHTER)
You know what I believe I believe there are literally thousands of couples who are sincere. In their minds, they are loving each other. But they’re not connecting, and they live with an empty love tank. And because of that, the conflicts get bigger and look darker. And if they don’t ever learn to connect with each other and solve those conflicts, then they live – they don’t have what God intended marriage to be – a deeply, intimate, loving, supportive, caring relationship.
You understand why I would say that what I’ve just shared with you could literally save thousands of marriages? Every week people say to me, “Dr. Chapman, we were that close to divorce, and somebody gave us your book on The 5 Love Languages. It’s like lights came on. And we tried it. Totally changed the whole climate of our marriage.”
You see, because – because the need for love is so deep within us. And if you’re married, the person you would most like to love you is your spouse. And when that need is met and you feel that they love you and you know – particularly, if you know it’s not their language and they’re really working at doing this, I mean, it fills the love tank, and then all the rest of life is processed much easier.
Now I want to give you what I believe is the greatest challenge you will ever hear, comes from the words of Jesus. Listen to these words. “If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Now, put that in a marriage. If you love your wife and your wife is loving you, big deal. Anyone can love a lovely woman. Now listen to this. “But I say unto you, love your enemies.” Anybody got a husband that qualifies? “Bless those who curse you.” Your spouse comes home and curses you, you just turn and say, “Bless you, my dear.” I didn’t say it. I wouldn’t even thought it. “Do good to those who hate you.” Your spouse tells you they hate you, find something good and do it for them. “Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” You feel used? Pray for them. And I don’t think He means pray that the wrath of God will fall on their head. (LAUGHTER) Love’s ultimate demand is to love the unlovely.
Now, folks, I don’t have to tell you that there’s a lot of unlovely people in the world. I’m talking about harsh, mean, cruel, self-centered, brazen people in the world. And most of them are married. Have you not met people and wondered how they got married? Have you not met people and felt sorry for their spouse? Have you not met people and thought to yourself, “and to think somebody has to live with them?” I’m telling you, folks, some people have a hard life, and they live with very unlovely people. The greatest challenge you will ever give anyone is to love an unlovely spouse.
I could give you scores and scores of stories. I’ll give you only one. A lady showed up at my office. “Dr. Chapman, I don’t know you and you don’t know me. I’m on my way downtown to the attorney’s office, and I’m going to start the papers to get a divorce from my husband.” She said, “We’ve been married for 20 years.” And she said, “I’m absolutely, utterly miserable.” I said, “Well, tell me your story.” She said, “Well, my husband is a mechanic. He has a full-time job. And then he has a little shop in the backyard where he works on cars at night.”
She said, “He works every night of the week. After dinner, he goes out there and works till 10, except Thursdays.” “Thursday,” she said, “He goes and drinks with his buddies.” She said, “Doesn’t get drunk. But he goes out on Thursday with his buddies.” She said, “He expects me to have all of his meals ready, expects me to keep his clothes clean and expects me to have sex with him whenever he wants to.”
She said, “There’s nothing coming back my way. It’s just total give, give, give.” And she said, “I’d done it for 20 years and I just don’t think I can go on.” And I said, “Well, I’m very empathetic with what you’re saying, and I can certainly understand how you would feel what you’re feeling.” I said, “But since you’re here, let me share some things with you.” So I shared with her – among other things – I shared the concept of the love tank and the love languages and that we speak different love languages. And I said, “It’s pretty obvious to me that your love tank is empty.” And she said, “My love tank, gosh,” she said, “I think has got holes in it everywhere.” And I said, “I don’t know but my guess is that your husband may not feel loved either.”
And I said, “Well, would you be willing to do an experiment with me? If you and I can sit here and talk and figure out what your husband’s love language is, would you be willing to – with the help of God – to try to speak his language at least once a week for the next six months, and let’s just see what happens?” And I said,
She said, “Well, I guess I could do that.” I said, “Well, it’s your choice.” You know, I said, “Look at it this way. If six months from now you still want to go to the attorney, you can still do that. But would you be willing to try this and see what happens?” And she agreed. So she went home, and she spoke his love language. The first four weeks there was nothing. He didn’t say a single word. But at the end of four weeks, he said to her, “What’s going on with you?” (LAUGHTER)
She said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you’ve been awfully nice to me lately.” And she said, “Well, if you want to know the truth, I’m going over there to that church and I’m trying to get some counseling on how to be a better wife.” He said, “I knew something was going on,” and he stormed off. Three or four more weeks went by, he was silent. And then he came back after three or four weeks and he said to her, “I don’t know what you’re trying, but it’s not gonna work.” And she said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you know what I mean.” He said, “You’ve been awfully nice lately,” said, “But it ain’t gonna work.” He said, “You might as well stop, it’s not gonna work.”
Well, three or four more weeks, he didn’t say anything. Then he came back one night and he said, “I don’t know what you’re trying, but it’s not fair.” She said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you know I’m not much of a husband. You know I don’t deserve what you’ve been doing for me. The next week he said to her one night, “Is there anything I can do for you?” She said, “Well, if you’d like.” And she told him something. He did it before he went out to work. He did it after dinner. And the next week he asked her again, “Anything I can do to help you?” And he started doing that. You understand what’s happening? She’s teaching him how to speak her love language. He doesn’t even know what’s going on. (LAUGHTER)
He’s responding to her love. Before the six months was over she said to me, “Dr. Chapman, I never would have believed that I could have love feelings for my husband again, but I do.” She said, “It’s obvious to me he’s trying. He’s reaching out to me. He’s responding to me.” I’ve never met the man but people who go to his shop tell me that he said, “Well, I’m telling you that man is a miracle worker.” He said, “I sent my woman over there, the man changed my woman.” (LAUGHTER).
Not exactly what happened. And without the help of God, you’re not likely to do this because by nature, we love the people that love us. But with the help of God, we can love a spouse who’s very unlovely. And there’s nothing more powerful you can do than to love an unlovely spouse. I cannot I guarantee you that every time the person will eventually reciprocate. I can’t guarantee you that because, look, there’s still people that spit in God’s face even when God is good to them, so I can’t guarantee that. I’m just saying, I don’t know anything more powerful that you can do to influence a spouse than to love them in the right love language no matter how they’re treating you and to do it over a long extended period of time.
I can tell you that many, many people – and I’ve seen it again and again and again – will melt long before the six months is over and began to reach out to you. Can we pray? Our Father, thank you that You love us and that You loved us when we were unlovely. And You know where all of us are in our journey, You know the quality of our marriage, help us, Father, to understand our responsibility. Teach us how to love each other. I pray this for your glory. I pray this for our good in the name of Christ, amen.
John: What an encouraging way to end this presentation called, The Marriage You’ve Always from Dr. Gary Chapman on Focus on the Family.
Jim: John, I really appreciate Gary’s point right at the end there, his final story illustrated it. It takes time and effort to save a marriage. So often we reach a breaking point in our relationship, and we want a quick fix, but that’s just not realistic. And if you can think back to why you married your spouse in the first place, what you loved about them when you were dating, you can find the motivation to work on your marriage and get some help. Let me remind you that our Hope Restored marriage intensives are incredibly effective. In fact, when we interview couples at the end of their stay, 95% say they truly believe the intensive will make a big difference in their marriage. And two years later, 4 out of 5 couples are still happily married. That is a very significant number, and let me say thank you to our financial supporters. You are helping us save marriages. Our research shows that over 600,000 couples say Focus on the Family has helped them improve their marriage sometime over the last 12 months, man that is exciting, John. Here’s a great example from Amanda in Missouri.
Amanda: We have four children which are very young. We were struggling in our marriage, financially and spiritually – in just about every part of our lives. And uh it was hard to go for support, because the people around us, their marriages were failing too. it’s been about a year now since I’ve been listening to Focus on the Family on a daily basis, and it has given me so many good tools on how to “fix” me, and to stop worrying about trying to fix him. I’m pretty sure we would already be at a divorce lawyer if, if I hadn’t found that app and been able to listen to it every single day. It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me, (sigh) and for, for our marriage. So I really really greatly appreciate this ministry.
John: I love hearing stories like that, somebody tunes in, gets the encouragement they need to do the hard thing, the right thing, it’s amazing to think about how many more people, Jim, we could reach, if we had more people donating.
Jim: That’s so true John, and that’s why we’re making this appeal to you, our listeners. If hearing the ideas in this program makes your marriage better, like it did for Amanda, or helps you in your parenting, can you please give today? When you make a donation of any amount, we’ll say thank you by sending you Dr. Chapman’s book which includes today’s content and much, much more. The title again is The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.
John: Call us today at 800-232-6459. Or, donate online and request Dr. Chapman’s book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
John: And you know, a moment ago, Amanda mentioned how helpful it was to her to listen to us on our broadcast app. You can find that at the app store or on Google Play. Well, be sure to join us next time as Dr. Meg Meeker explains the critical role a mom plays in her son’s life.
Dr. Meg Meeker: So we’re the ones who teach our young boys that women can be relied upon, that women can be nurtures, that women are compassionate and we will be there for people. We are the comfort.
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