Help for Desperate Marriages: An Interview with Dr. Gary Chapman
- Monday, February 23, 2009
GC: Well, one that jumps in my mind is the one of the lady whose struggle was that her husband was never at home. He was a workaholic. When he did come home, Saturday was his day to go do his thing. Sunday they were at church. There was no time, never any time for the two of them or really for the family.
So, one Sunday afternoon, she told him that she would like for them to take a ride in the country. She talked him into taking a ride. She was driving. She took him to a really, really nice retirement center. They pulled in the parking lot.
He said, “What is this?”
She said, “Well, you’ll see.”
So, they walked inside. There was really a beautiful atrium; just super nice, the lawn was really great. It had a golf course and everything. He noticed this little sign.
He said, “This is a retirement center!”
She said, “Yeah.”
He asked, “Why did you bring me here?”
She said, “Well, I was just thinking about when we retire, we can come here, and you can play golf everyday, and we can have sex every night, and we can just have a wonderful time.”
He said, “What are you talking about? I am 39, and you are 37! This place may be gone by the time we get here.”
She said, “I know, and I don’t intend to wait until we retire to have a life with you. I want us to have a life now, but if you don’t want to have a life, if you want to wait until retirement, then you are going to have to retire with somebody else.”
Let me emphasize, she had done the soft love. She had done the love language thing for a long period of time, now she was doing tough love.
He said it was a wake up call for him. He went home, and he said, “Okay, I will work at making some changes.” He got another job. Their life is totally different. He takes time for his family, his kids. He has slowed down. He said he didn’t know if he ever would have done that if she hadn’t done her little thing of telling him how much she loved him and how much she wanted to have a life with him. He said he knew she was a wonderful woman because she had treated him kindly through the years in spite of the fact that he wasn’t there. He didn’t want to lose her, and he didn’t want to lose his family.
CW: Wow, so a combination of soft love and tough love helped save this marriage. Now, you have tackled some marriages that most people would say have no way of working out. Could you talk a little bit about an abusive marriage, which is one most people feel have absolutely no chance?
GC: Yeah, yeah. Physically abusive and verbally abuse marriages are very, very difficult situations. I fully understand people in those kinds of marriages who think there is no hope. I also know that the advice that is given by most people is simply... get out of there as fast as you can.
Well, the getting out part may well be true. Because if you have tried the tender love thing... typically the abuser is not going to change until they are pushed in a corner.
It is very similar to an alcoholic. Very few alcoholics get into a treatment program until they are at the end of the rope, often when they feel like they are about to lose something that is important to them, namely a wife or their family. The same is true with those who are physically and verbally abusive. The pattern often has been entrenched since childhood... they don’t think that there is anything wrong with them because that is the way they were brought up in their family.
What I say to that person in applying these principles in that situation is, yes, there is a place to apply tough love. Really, the sooner you do it in the marriage, the better. For example, the best time to help a person who is physically abusive to you is the first time they abuse you. If they slap you in the face, the next day is the time for you to say,
Recently on Marriage
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content