Archive for the ‘love’ Category

An Intimate Marriage

August 31, 2009

We did not get married in order to find a convenient way to cook meals, wash dishes, do laundry, and rear children. We married out of a deep desire to love and to be loved, to live life together, believing that together we could experience life more deeply than apart.

How can we experience this? Let’s look at the five essential components of an intimate relationship: sharing our thoughts (intellectual intimacy), discussing our feelings (emotional intimacy), spending time with each other (social intimacy), opening our souls to each other (spiritual intimacy), and sharing our bodies (physical intimacy).

Intellectual Intimacy
From the moment we arise in the morning, our minds are active. Intimacy requires that we share some of our thoughts with each other. I am not talking about only highly intellectual thoughts; they may just be ones focused on finances, food, or health. When two minds link, they build intellectual intimacy.

Emotional Intimacy
The sharing of feelings also builds emotional intimacy. Be willing to say “I’m feeling a lot of fear right now,” or “I am really happy tonight.” In making such statements, we are choosing to be intimate with our spouses, to reveal to them what’s going on in our emotional world. Learning to talk about emotions can be one of the most rewarding experiences of life.

Social Intimacy
Social intimacy has to do with spending time together around the events of life. As I share these events with my spouse, our horizons are broadened. Another part of social intimacy involves the two of us doing things together, alone or with others. A picnic in the park or even on the deck can add excitement to an otherwise drab day. The things we do together form some of our most vivid memories, and they also build social intimacy.

Spiritual Intimacy
Spiritual intimacy is often the least developed of all the intimacies of a marriage, yet it has a profound impact upon all other areas. It is fostered not only by verbal communication, but also by shared experience. One wife said, “There is something about experiencing worship together that gives me a sense of closeness to my husband. We hold hands during the prayers. We share with each other what we liked about the service.” Intimacy flourishes as we share our spiritual journey. Next week, we will discuss physical intimacy.

Love is a Choice

August 20, 2009

The Five Love Languages has helped hundreds of thousands of couples rediscover warm emotional feelings for each other. Now, this did not happen because someone decided, I’m going to have warm feelings toward my spouse again. It began when one person decided; I’m going to express love to my spouse in spite of the fact that I don’t have warm feelings toward her or him. Emotional love can be rediscovered. The key is learning the love language of your spouse and choosing to speak it regularly. Warm feelings are the results of loving actions. Love is a choice.

How can we express love to our spouses when we are full of hurt, anger, and resentment over past failures? Remember the words of Jesus: Love your enemies. “Bless those who curse you.” Why would Jesus say this? Because love is the most powerful weapon to change the heart of the other person. Love doesn’t erase the past, but it makes the future different.
If I know my wife’s primary love language and choose to speak it, her deepest emotional need will be met and she will feel secure in my love. If she does the same for me, my emotional needs are met and both of us live with a full “love tank.”
How do you create this kind of growing marriage? It all begins with the choice to love. I recognize that as a husband, God has given me the responsibility of meeting my wife’s need for love. I choose to accept that responsibility and learn how to speak her primary love language. What happens? My wife’s attitude and feelings toward me become positive. Now she reciprocates and my need for love is also met. Love is a choice.

What if speaking your spouse’s love language doesn’t come natural for you? The answer is simple: “You learn to speak it!” My wife’s love language is “acts of service”. One of the things I do for her regularly as an act of love is to vacuum the floors. Do you think this comes naturally for me? You couldn’t pay me enough to vacuum the house. There is only one reason I do it: LOVE. You see, when it doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love.
Your spouse has a primary love language, and if you learn to speak it, you will see a radical change in your spouse. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gifts.
Learn your spouse’s primary love language and you will have the key to unlocking warm feelings. You don’t have to have warm emotions toward your spouse to speak their language. Love is a choice.

Excerpt taken from The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The newly recovered and updated book, set to come out in 2010, visit to sign up for our weekly emails and stay in the loop about new Gary Chapman updates!

Is it a Driver or a Wedge?

August 6, 2009

Okay so this post has nothing to do with Golf, sorry if I got any of you excited. But it does have to do with driving and wedges. Getting rid of potential wedges in your relationship is crucial to the health of the marriage. A relationship wedge is anything that has the potential to drive you and your spouse apart. The first and most dangerous wedge is pride–specifically, the pride that keeps you from apologizing. Pride turns simple misunderstandings into long-term problems.

Other potential wedges include negative input from friends and family, overbooked schedules, and indifference. You probably won’t be able to remove all the wedges from your relationship, but you can remove enough to give your love a chance to grow.

Another way to create a better climate is to look for positive things in your spouse. Your spouse may have traits and hidden talents that you knew nothing about before you were married. Look for these things and compliment your spouse. You can create a better atmosphere if you use positive words. Find the goodness in your spouse and proclaim it loudly, especially in front of other people.

Have you ever publicly acknowledged and encouraged your spouse? Has your spouse ever done this for you? Share your story, or creative ideas on how to do this in the future.

Time for a Game Plan!

July 20, 2009

If you entered marriage believing that you could merge lives

 effortlessly, the first thing you need to do is change your expectations. The truth is, living together requires many adjustments.

Remember this is not like trying to put up with a college roommate or the person splitting the rent in your apartment, where you can choose to ignore minor irritations or strange habits until the end of the lease. This is your life partner, the one you vowed to stay with until death. And not just stay together, but build an intimate relationship. This week we’ll talk about bringing two lives together in harmony.

You found out he snores like a lumberjack. She squeezes the toothpaste in the middle. He thinks Burger King and laser tag are the ingredients of a romantic evening. She sings the wrong lyrics to every song on the radio.

The key to working through such irritations is to keep them in their proper perspective.  Don’t turn molehills into mountains.  There is so much about each other that made you fall in love with each other, focus on these things when the little annoyances seem to become big annoyances.

Too many couples view marriage as the finish line of their relationship. They work and work to make it to their wedding day, then sit back and wait for “happily ever after” to begin.  If you didn’t enter marriage with a strategy for keeping the relationship alive then you’re in trouble. The wedding is the first step, not the final one. To make your relationship work over the long haul, you need to put the same kind of time, energy, and effort into it after the wedding that you did when you were dating.

How did you act when you were dating?  Did you give gifts?  Did you always make sure that you had quality time for each other?  What are some ways that you can keep that love for each other alive beyond the “in love” feelings?

What’s in it for me?

June 22, 2009

Unconditional love means that we love, and thus seek the best for the other person, regardless of their response to us. We receive this kind of love all the time. God always bestows 

(photo courtesy of

His love on us unconditionally and His challenge to us in marriage is to love each other like He loves us. This kind of love focuses on meeting the needs of the other person. It is the greatest gift you can give your spouse. It is not based on their behavior, but on your desire to love them as Christ loved you.

In a healthy marriage, we will actually give unconditional love before we realize we’re receiving it. Far too many people are waiting for their spouse to make the first move. Someone has got to take the lead. Why not you?

Let me give you a suggestion. Say to your spouse, “I’ve been thinking about our marriage, and I realize that I have loved you conditionally. I think love should do better than that, and I want to make a fresh commitment to our marriage. I am going to ask you to give me one suggestion each week on what I can do to make your life better. Whatever you suggest, I’m going to do my best to do it.”

photo courtesy of: by joemess from austin source Wikimedia and

Still want to understand love better?  Read 1 Corinthians 13, slowly, carefully and out loud.

You Complete Me

April 20, 2009

Sure it’s a cheesy line from a movie, but how often do we actually feel this way about our spouse? There should be in any marriage a oneness that is evident in all areas of life.

When God said of Adam and Eve, “The two shall become one flesh,” he was not speaking only of physical oneness. In marriage, all of life is to be shared, and communication is the vehicle by which we attain this kind of intimacy.

If we don’t feel that oneness with our spouse maybe we aren’t communicating with them the way we ought to be. We cannot read each other’s minds. If your spouse is to know your thoughts, feelings, and desires, then you have to communicate them. A marriage without communication is like trying to win a million dollars without lifelines.

It may seem silly but even talking about the mundane can improve communication. The easiest level of communication is simply sharing day-to-day events. You are one! Don’t you want to know what your other half did that day?

Questions are so important for communication. If a husband comes home and his wife doesn’t simply ask, “How did things go?” she may communicate, “I don’t care how things went.” If her husband never inquires about her day, she may feel rejected or unloved. Asking questions about the day-to-day events is the easiest and best place to begin. And, it will make communicating easier over all, especially when it comes to discussing important things.

What are some other questions that you could ask besides the age-old, “How was your day?”

Wise Men Say…Only Fools Fall in Love

April 3, 2009

Falling “in love” feels foolish sometimes. When young couples come to me for pre-marital counseling, I often ask, “Now let’s see, why do you want to get married? Whatever else they tell me, they always give me the big reason. “We love each other.” Isn’t that sweet. Then I ask a very unfair question, “Now what do you mean by that?”

What does it mean to “fall in love?” It all starts with what I call the “tingles.” Before long, you’re obsessed with them. They are the most wonderful person you have ever met. In your mind they are perfect. But this is hardly the bedrock for a healthy marriage. Why? Because its average life span is only two years.

In the textbook of marriage, the in-love obsession is the introduction. The heart of the book is rational, volitional love. This is good news to the married couple who have lost the “in love” feelings. The fact is, we can learn to meet each other’s emotional need for love.

How has your love in your marriage matured? What ways did you transition from the “in love” feelings to real love?

Speaking Love through Physical Touch

March 16, 2009

Keeping emotional love alive in a marriage makes life much more enjoyable. How do we keep love alive after the “in-love” emotions have evaporated? I believe it is by learning to speak each other’s “love language.” This week we will focus on physical touch.

For some husbands, when they hear the words physical touch, they immediately think of sex. But sexual intercourse is only one of the dialects of this love language. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, back rubs, or an arm around the shoulder are all ways of expressing love by physical touch.
Physical touch can make or break a marital relationship. Do you know how to speak this love language? To the spouse whose primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than your tender touches. You may give them words of affirmation or gifts, but nothing communicates love like physical touch.

Touches may be explicit and call for your full attention, such as a back rub or sexual foreplay. They can be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee. Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination. Kiss when you get in the car. It may greatly enhance your travels. Give a hug before you go shopping. You may hear less griping when you return. Remember, you are learning to speak a new language.

When you reach out with tender touch, you create emotional closeness. This is especially true if the primary love language of your spouse is physical touch. You may say, “What if I’m just not a toucher? I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely family.” The good news is that you can learn to speak this love language. It can begin with a pat on the back, or putting your hand on their leg as you sit together on the couch.

Almost instinctively in a time of crisis, we hug one another. Why? During these times, we need to feel loved more than anything. All marriages will experience crises. Disappointments are a part of life. The most important thing you can do for your wife in a time of crisis is to love her. If her primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries. Your words may mean little, but your physical touch will communicate that you care. In a time of crisis, a hug is worth more than a thousand words. Physical touch is a powerful love language.

Have you ever had a time when you were in need of a hug? What do you do to let others know that you need a gesture of physical touch? What do you do if your spouse’s love language is physical touch, but you’re not “touchy-feely”?

The Power of Affirming Words

February 2, 2009

The Power of the Tongue

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Good for Mark Twain, but I don’t know many husbands and wives who can survive on six compliments a year. Solomon, author of the ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other. Verbal compliments are powerful communicators of love.

Encouraging Words

One way to verbally affirm your spouse is to give encouraging words. Allison always wanted to be a writer, but after receiving her first rejection slip from the publisher, she gave up. One evening her husband Keith came into the den and said, “I hate to interrupt your reading, but I have to tell you this. I just finished reading your article. Allison, you are an excellent writer. This stuff ought to be published! Your words paint pictures that I can visualize. You have got to submit this stuff to some magazines.” “Do you really think so?” Allison asked. “I know so,” Keith said. “I’m telling you, this is good.”

Ten years later, Allison has had several articles published and has her first book contract. She credits her success to Keith’s words of encouragement. Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words.

Focus on Your Spouse

There is a difference between encouraging words and nagging words. Encouraging words always focus on something your spouse wants to do, not something you want them to do. A nag is anything you tell your spouse more than three times.

“It’s Not What You Said. It’s How You Said It!”

If we are to express love by words of affirmation, those words must be kind words. Kindness has to do with the manner in which we speak. Sometimes our words are saying one thing, but our tone of voice is saying another. Our spouse will usually interpret our message based on our tone of voice, not the words we use. The same words expressed with a loud, harsh voice will not be an expression of love, but an expression of condemnation and judgment. An ancient sage once said, “a soft answer turns away anger.”

Keeping the Love Tank Full

October 29, 2008

Love is the most important word in the English language – and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. We are told that “love is a many-splendored thing” and that “love makes the world go round.” Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are peppered with the word “love.” The apostle Paul said that in the last scene of the human drama, only three characters will remain: “faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Yet, love is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. We say, “I love hot dogs,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother.” We speak of loving activities: swimming, skiing, golfing. We love objects: food, cars and houses. We love animals. We love nature. We love people. We may even love God.

Our purpose is not to eliminate all the confusion, but rather to focus on the kind of love that is essential to our emotional health: the need to feel loved.

I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it: “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’” I was listening to Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist who has treated hundreds of children and adolescents.

As I listened, I thought of the hundreds of parents who had paraded the misdeeds of their children through my office. I had never visualized an empty love tank inside those children, but I had certainly seen the results of it. Their misbehavior was a misguided search for the love they did not feel. They were seeking love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.

I also realized that many of their parents were suffering from an empty love tank and that much of the misbehavior of married individuals was growing out of an empty love tank. This week we are visualizing this tank, inside all of us and talking about how to fill it.

The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires. A man said to me recently, “What good is the house, the cars, the place at the beach, or any of the rest of it if your wife doesn’t love you?” Do you understand what he was really saying? “More than anything, I want to be loved by my wife.”

Material things are no replacement for human, emotional love. A wife says, “He ignores me all day long and then wants to jump in bed with me. I hate it.” This is not a wife who hates sex; this is a wife desperately pleading for emotional love. Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another.

I believe this need can be met in any marriage, if each of them will discover the primary love language of their spouse and speak it regularly. There are only five love languages. Your spouse desperately craves one of them. Make it your goal to discover it and speak it, and their love tank will be full.

Marriage is designed by God to meet our deep need for intimacy and love. Yet this emotional love often seems elusive. I have listened to many married couples share their secret pain. Some came to me because the inner ache had become unbearable. Others came simply to inform me that they no longer wanted to be married. Their dreams of “living happily ever after” had been dashed against the hard walls of reality.

Again and again I have heard the words “Our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Their stories bear testimony that their emotional love tanks are empty.

Can these marriages be reborn? Absolutely! Because love is learned. My files are filled with letters which say: “Dr. Chapman, we have read your book: The Five Love Languages, and we have finally learned to love each other. We can’t believe the difference it has made. We actually feel excited about being with each other.” Love is a language waiting to be learned.

Could it be that deep inside hurting couples exists and invisible “emotional love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of the empty tank? If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that opens the door to a satisfying marriage?

I believe the answer is “Yes.” God made us with a capacity for giving and receiving emotional love. He also made each of us unique. Which means that what makes one of us feel loved will not necessarily make the other feel loved. [Thus, we must learn the primary love language of our spouses if we want them to feel loved.]

Nothing is more important to the emotional climate of your marriage than asking God to teach you how to effectively love your spouse. Learning his or her primary love language and speaking it regularly will make you an effective lover.

Was this post helpful to you? Feel free to share your thoughts.

-The Gary Chapman Team