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Dr. Gary Chapman
Love in the Time of COVID-19
reveals insights about his latest book, "5 Simple Ways to Strengthen
Your Marriage... When You're Stuck
at Home Together."
COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it much uncertainty and loss, and
that combined with outcries against social injustice, has left many
feeling enraged and misunderstood. That same insecurity and fear
provoked by current events also play out on a personal level when
couples see each other's faults amplified during stay-at-home
protocols and social distancing.
Renowned marriage counselor and #1 best selling author Dr. Gary
Chapman calls on couples to consider "stop throwing bombs" at
one another and find constructive ways to speak to the heart and
work as a team. Dr. Chapman wrote this simple guide titled, "5
Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage... When You're Stuck at Home
Together," to help couples navigate through this unique time in
In this conversation with the "Fight for Good" podcast team, Dr.
Chapman reveals insights about this new book.
You took the time to write something very appropriate to help
people, especially people in marriages, during the COVID-19 crisis.
Why did you write this book?
This time has been super different. It changes the whole playing
field for couples, and I knew that a lot of them were struggling
because they were in a routine, and that routine has shifted. I
wanted to give practical ideas on how couples could positively use
this time. I was fully aware that many couples were coming into this
pandemic already with a fractured relationship. That is, they were
not doing well beforehand. This heightened everything and the
pressure and stress was causing them to say and do very destructive
But then I knew other couples had a fairly good marriage. They read
my book on love languages and they were loving each other, and I
thought that they are going to be okay, but it can still be
enhanced. Marriages are either growing or regressing - they never
stand still. I was trying to help couples grow during this time.
What trends have come out of the COVID-19 experience? Are the
predictors true? Are marriages shattering or do you see a
it depends on what the couple does during this time. Couples who
take action and try to do things differently can have a healing time
for their marriage. I have said to couples, "If your marriage was
already fractured and now you are together and you find yourself
seeing the worst in each other and often expressing those words, why
not call a truce on throwing verbal bombs at each other?" That is
what happens in a troubled marriage because each of them thinks the
other person is the problem.
I had a lady last week on the phone say to me, "My husband told me that I
was lazy because I did not put the plastic bag back in the trash can
when I took the trash out." I'm thinking to myself, what is wrong
with this guy? She took the trash out. When you throw a bomb like
that, it explodes in the heart of the other person. This lady was
Maybe for those couples, the place to start is to sign a truce and
say, "Honey, here we are at home. We do not know how long this is
going to go on. Let's have a truce to not throw any more bombs at
At least that creates a better atmosphere. Then if you can do that for a
week and say, "What about next week? Now that we are not throwing
bombs, what if we try to give a compliment to each other every other
day this week?" You are replacing the criticism with compliments.
You start doing that, and you create a very positive atmosphere
between the two of you. You have to start where you are. I know some
couples are already in a combat mode, and I am just trying to say,
let's sign a truce and not throw bombs. Maybe in a week or two, we
can sign a peace treaty. It will be moving in a positive direction.
Loneliness is at epidemic proportions in our society, and this
period is certainly exacerbating loneliness for some. In your book,
you point out how couples can seize the opportunity in this unique
time to build up their life together.
While under stress, we are prone to
react to things emotionally. What advice would you give about
handling our emotions?
think so. We are emotional creatures and I think it is a reflection
of the nature of God because God has emotions. The Bible says God is
angry every day with the wicked, but often in our culture, we have
exalted emotions. We say I must be true to my feelings although you
do not have to follow them. We have both negative and positive
feelings and they are determined by the circumstances around us. You
can love your spouse and choose to love them even if you have
negative feelings toward them. After all, God loves us, even on our
worst days. The scripture says the love of God is poured in our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, but we can have outside help.
While speaking to one woman, I was encouraging her to give her husband
some positive comments. She said, "Well Dr. Chapman, I would love to
do that, but to be honest, I can't think of anything good to say
about the man." I replied, "Well, does he ever take a shower?" And
she said "Well, yes." I said, "How often?" She said, "Every day."
And I said, "Well if I were you, I would start there. 'Honey, thank
you for taking a shower.'"
The thing is, if you speak the other person's love language, even if you
have negative feelings, and you do it consistently over time,
something happens inside that person because you are touching them
at a very deep emotional level. When they feel that you sincerely
love them, they are far more likely to reciprocate. It is just like
the Bible says, we love God because God first loved us. We just
responded to His love.
The same principle works in human relationships. If one person in the
marriage takes the initiative with God's help to speak the other
person's love language consistently for six months, I can't
guarantee you that they are going to reciprocate, but I can tell you
there is a pretty good chance they will because love stimulates
Often in relationships, the hurt runs so deep that one or both dig
in their heels and refuse to change because they think it is
undeserved. What can one do in those situations?
face it. It might well be undeserved, but that is what grace is all
about. We are following the example of God. We did not deserve what
He did for us, and what Christ did for us on the cross is
undeserved. So, you think that you have a spouse that does not
deserve to be loved, but you are God's agent. Let God pour His love
into your heart, you be His agent for expressing love to your
spouse. And if you do it in a meaningful way - which is where the
love languages help - you are going to stimulate something inside of
them and you are going to feel better about yourself. Anytime you
extend grace to your spouse, you feel good about yourself because
you are doing a godly thing.
You point out our basic need is to be loved and appreciated. That
seems so simple and sincere. Why do we have such trouble
making this a priority?
by nature we are all self-centered. If we have a disagreement in a
marriage, each of us thinks the other person is the problem. If the
marriage is troubled, maybe the place to start would be for you to
sit down with God and say to God, "Lord, you know my marriage and
you know my spouse, but I know that I am not perfect. So, what I
want to know is where am I failing in my marriage? What have I done
wrong through the years?"
That is a prayer God will answer. You get your pencil ready and start
writing them down. He will answer that prayer. Then you ask God to
forgive you and He always will. Then you go to your spouse and say,
"Honey, I have been thinking about us, since we have been here
together in the house. I know we have had a rough journey, and I
know that I blamed you so many times, but I have asked God to show
me where I have been failing you, and He gave me a pretty good list.
If you have a minute, I would like to share these with you and ask
if you can forgive me for all these failures."
I cannot tell you they will forgive you automatically, but I can tell you
this, they are going to walk away and think, "Wow! This is
different. All I have heard for years is criticism. Now they are
apologizing to me."
use your action to touch their heart, and maybe in a week they will
come back and say, "Honey, I am the one that needs to apologize."
will tear the wall down. You will do something really good and
positive. But see, one of you has to start it and by nature, we do
not want to start it, because in our mind we know that they are the
problem. If they would change, things would be fine. Maybe you are
only five percent of the problem, but if you start with your five
percent, you are beginning to create a different climate. You are
tearing the wall down on your side. Then we will see what God does
in their heart.
You write that everything that has ever happened to us is stored in
the human brain and sometimes even after we have forgiven, the
memory comes back.
What do we do with those memories
an old saying, "If you have not forgotten, you have not forgiven."
That is not true. These things are stored in the brain, even if your
spouse apologizes and even if you choose to forgive them.
Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling, to remove the barrier. Even
if you do that, the memories will still come back.
When the memory comes back, the emotions often come back. Take those to
God and say, "You know what I am remembering today, and you know
what I am feeling again, but I thank you that I have forgiven that.
Help me to do something good today."
You acknowledge what you are thinking and what you are feeling, but you
do not allow that to control your behavior. You go out and do
something positive towards your spouse and you continue on a growth
What role does our attitude play
in practicing and living out the
plays a huge role. We don't control our emotions. Emotions grab us
and become our emotional response to circumstances. We do not choose
them, but we do control our attitude. Our attitude is our fixed way
of thinking, and there are fundamentally two attitude extremes. One
is an attitude of love and one is the attitude of selfishness.
Selfishness is that the basic attitude that says, "What am I getting out
of this?" That is when people say, "I'm not happy in this marriage.
You are just not making me happy." Their attitude is self-centered.
It is selfish. Love is the attitude that says, "I'm in the world to
bless the lives of other people. I am in this marriage with an
attitude of helping my spouse become the person that they believe
God wants them to be."
That attitude of love is looking for opportunities to reach out and help
that other person. The attitude of selfishness is often demanding of
that other person. Just like the guy who was complaining about the
trash bag. That is selfishness! She did not do what he thought she
ought to do. Human nature is selfish, but we choose either to be
controlled by the old sinful nature or to be controlled by the
spirit of God, which is a spirit of an attitude of love.
In the last chapter, you emphasize a routine of love; a routine of
just sitting down and listening to one another
in the marriage.
How do you envision that?
call this is, "let us have a daily sit down and listen time."
Normally we say, "Let us sit down and talk," which means I have some
things on my mind I want to tell you. By calling it, "a sit down and
listen time," you change the dynamic of the conversation. You offer
what you each want to say and then you both listen.
People say, "Well, we have been together all day. I know what they have
done." But you do not know what they have been thinking or feeling
throughout the day. So, what do we say, "Honey, listen. Tell me some
of the thoughts you have had today and tell me some of the things
you have been feeling."
When they are talking, you are listening. You are not sitting there
wondering "how am I going to respond?" You are the listener. I am
listening to you trying to understand what your thoughts have been
today, what your feelings have been today, and I listen long enough
that I can honestly say, "You know, honey, I can see how you would
feel that way. That makes sense."
Then you get to share your thoughts and your feelings and they listen to
you, and they share with you an affirmation of your thoughts and
feelings. This builds emotional bonding between the two of you.
We can be in the same house and still not feel bonded because you are
doing something, I am doing something, and the kids are doing
something. We are in the same space, but we are not connected. It
can be 15 or 20 minutes, but just time to sit down and listen to
each other. If there's conflict you can say to each other, "Okay, we
disagree. How can we solve the problem?" You spend your energy
solving the problem rather than spending your energy trying to win
an argument. I have sometimes said this, "If you win an argument
with your spouse, they lost. It is no fun to live with a loser. So
why would you create one?" People destroy their marriages by
arguing. We build marriages by listening to each other's perspective
and trying to understand each other and affirming it.
You point out in your book that it is a lot easier to confront the
world when a couple is in sync and working as a team. How can people
find out what their love languages are?
are three simple questions that you can ask about yourself or the
other person. One is, how do you naturally respond to other people?
If you are a person who is always giving other people words of
affirmation and encouraging words, that is probably your love
language, because we tend to speak our language. What does your
spouse typically do? Are they always giving people pats on the back
or high fives? Maybe a physical touch is their language.
The second question is, what do I complain about? Or what do they
complain about? Because the complaint reveals the love language. If
a wife is saying to a husband, "I just feel like we do not spend any
time together even though we are living in the same house," she is
telling him her love language is quality time. And the third
question is, what do I request most often? Or what do they request
most often? If your spouse is saying rather regularly, "Honey, can
we take a walk after dinner?"
They are asking you for quality time. They just want to be with you. Or
if they are saying, "Honey, you know that gift you were thinking
about getting me, this would be a good time to get it." They are
asking you for gifts. Of course, they could go online to
there is a free quiz that you can take. Over forty million people
have taken that quiz. There is one for married couples. There is one
for children. There is one for teenagers. There is one for single
adults. It will also help you discover your primary love language.
What is the secret for a couple
to work as a team?
married couple is a team. On an athletic team players have different
roles, but everyone has the same objective. We want to win! In a
marriage, our objective is, we want to win! And for Christians, we
want to accomplish God's plan for our lives together.
But the playing field has been changed with the pandemic and being at
home. The question is, who can do what? Some of us are better
equipped than others.
For example, I am not equipped to cook. I told my wife, "Honey if I did
not have you, I guess I would go to the cafeteria three times a
day." Fortunately, she likes to cook. So that is her part of the
team. We want to use our strengths to have a good team, so we can
have a winning situation out of this.
What principles in this book can be used as when returns to the "New
think that these five simple ideas can apply when we are not in a
pandemic. These are ideas that right now when we are at home
together, will help us make the most of this time with their
principles and practical ideas that can service for a lifetime when
things do get back to somewhat normal.
Gary Chapman, PhD, is the author of the bestselling "The Five Love
Languages" series, which has sold more than 12 million worldwide and
has been translated
into 50 languages.
Over 13 million copies sold #1 New York Times Bestseller for 8 years running. Words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touching - learning these love languages will get your marriage off to a great start or enhance a long-standing one! Chapman explains the purpose of each "language" and shows you how to identify the one that's meaningful to your spouse now. Updated to reflect the complexities of relationships in today's world, this new edition of The 5 Love Languages reveals intrinsic truths and provides action steps in each chapter that will help you on your way to a healthier relationship.
Also includes an updated
and Ron L. Deal
"Building Love Together In Blended Families:
The 5 Love Languages and Becoming Stepfamily Smart"
Create a Loving and Safe Environment for Your Blended Family. Blended families face unique challenges, and sadly, good intentions aren't always enough. With so many complex relationships involved, all the normal rules for family life change, even how you apply something as simple as the 5 love languages.
Gary Chapman, the bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages and national expert on stepfamilies,
Ron Deal, join together in this book to teach you how the 5 love languages can help your blended family.
They'll teach you:
* About the unique dynamics
* How to overcome fear and trust issues in marriage
* How to develop healthy parenting and step-parenting practices
* How the love languages should - and should not -
You're going to face many challenges, but with the right strategies and smart work,
your family can be stronger
and healthier together.
"The 5 Languages
in the Workplace:
repackaged: Empowering Organizations by
The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace will give you the tools to improve staff morale, create more positive relationships between managers and employees, and decrease burnout rate. How? By teaching you to effectively communicate authentic appreciation to employees, co-workers, and leaders. Ideal for both the profit and non-profit sectors, the principles presented in this book have a proven history of success in businesses, schools, medical offices, churches, and industry. Each book contains a free access code for taking the online Motivating By Appreciation (MBA). The assessment identifies a person's preferred languages of appreciation to help you
apply the book.
5 Love Languages of Children:
The Secret to Loving
Are you expressing your love in a way
your child understands? Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell help you discover your child's unique communication style, so you
can better meet his or her deepest emotional needs. From quality
time to physical touch, these 5 "love languages" hold the key to
your child's development and success.