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Healthy marriages take time for talkingcomment (0)

January 20, 2000

By Kelli Samantha Hewett

Steering clear of problems before they arise is the key to successful marriages, according to a respected Christian author.

Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages,” said many marriage pitfalls can be avoided before they ever happen. He said the secret is to look to the Bible for examples of the level of intimacy God intended for marriage.

“Couples who lead independent lives and live separately find marriage to be empty,” Chapman said during a two-day seminar, “Toward a Growing Marriage,” Jan. 14-15 at First Baptist, Dothan.

Chapman said one of the most common problems he hears from couples of all ages is that they simply can’t find time for marriage.

“Everybody is so busy, whether they have children or they don’t,” he said. “Their dreams and visions are lost — not because of problems but because of a lack of time.”

Chapman said couples also have to re-evaluate how they spend their time.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the sweep of things,” he said. “Then we miss out on a solid marriage relationship, which is the foundation for other ministries.”

The main decision couples need to make is what things they are willing to give up or cut back on. Chapman said those activities range from television, club meetings, time with friends, etc.

“It’s not just hobbies,” Chapman said. “Some men say that since the kids came, they don’t have a wife anymore.”

Communication is another area Chapman said is essential for a marriage. Couples need to learn how to talk before they are married, he noted. He said couples should consider issues that may cause arguments such as household chores, spending habits, bringing up the children, worship, etc.

One of Chapman’s favorite homework assignments for engaged couples is to have them make separate lists of household chores they imagine will need to be done. Each one writes down who will likely do that chore.

“On about 50, 60 or 70 percent of the things, they agree,” Chapman said. “The other 30 percent, well, he thought she would do it and she thought he would.”

Chapman said working through those differences before the wedding can build the foundation for talking and solving problems that will last a lifetime.

“Communication is basically an act of will; it’s something we choose to do,” Chapman said. “It’s not a matter of personality. A lot of us have used our personality as a cop-out for a long time.”

Tips for growth (sidebar to healthy marriage)

-Talk about at least three things that happen to you each day.

-When conflicts happen, give each other the “time-out” signal and cool down.

-Try to find out why you are mad and then verbalize it.

-Use a 1 to 10 scale. Ask a question, then have your spouse respond with an answer based on 1-10.

-Pray together.

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