What about high-functioning addicts? We seem to have disagreements on things. Should I go through a divorce or just separate from him? I have been speaking my husband's love language.
Nothing is changing. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . It's time for our Dear Gary broadcast for the month of April featuring your calls and questions for this trusted author and speaker. There are love language questions ahead. There's a great call from a single who's looking for advice and a whole lot more.
If you're looking for simple ways to strengthen relationships, you can visit us online at fivelovelanguages.com. Gary, we're going to start with an encouraging call that we're just going to call Big Time Out. You have to hear this, and I want to hear your response. Here we go.
Hi, Gary. I'm sure you hear this all the time, but "The 5 Love Languages" changed mine and my wife's life. With what we had been going through, we was ready for a divorce. We had both give up on the relationship. She was seeking consolice with another man, and I wasn't loving her as a man should love, not as Christ should love the church or a husband should love his wife. We had both made a commitment to try to work on our relationship. We purchased the love languages and the devotion. We have went through it, and it has brought a new level of intimacy in our relationship. I now love my wife more than I have ever or thought possible to love her. We have a great relationship with Christ and an amazing relationship with each other. So I just want to thank you so much for your book and your Word. Well, Chris, that's an encouraging phone call.
I love it. I never tire of hearing those kind of calls, and I don't know if he was by the ocean, but it sounded to me like the waves were in the background of that call. Oh, yeah, that's so encouraging. And you know, Chris, I've heard that over and over again that a couple have said, we were really next to divorce, and somebody gave us the book or we bought the book and we read it, and then we took the quiz and we discovered each other's language, and with God's help, we started speaking it.
And it literally turned our marriage around. I think it's because, Chris, this need to feel loved is so central to our emotional well-being. And whether we're Christians or not Christians, we're made in the image of God, and God is love. One of the great characteristics of God is love. And so we're built with this desire, this need to be loved by the significant people in our lives. So, yeah, that's always encouraging.
There's a couple of things that I heard in there, other than the noise of the ocean, or maybe it was you just driving down the road. But it was that she had gone toward another relationship. You know, she was looking to somebody else for love. And once you get to that point, you know, you think, well, things are over.
There are a lot of hopeless things, you know, in the situation they were in. But he said, we were both committed to trying to work on this. And have you found that to be one person can't do it all, right?
I mean, it has to be two. Absolutely, Chris. Ultimately, that's true.
One person can start it. You know, I have another book entitled Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away. And that's to people where the other person is not willing to work on it right now. But, you know, you're going to choose to love them in a meaningful way over a period of time.
And then let's see what happens. So I think sometimes we give up too soon. But if one of us is willing to read a book, ask God to help us, how can we be an instrument in His hand on influencing the other person in a positive way? Often God will do that. He will use that person to touch the heart of the other person.
But ultimately, it takes two people. And when they sit in my office, Chris, I don't ever ask, do you want to work on your marriage? I say, will you work on your marriage?
Because see, sometimes they've lost the want to. And in this case, like when if she's turning to somebody else, you know, for attention, she may not want to work on the marriage. So the question is not, do you want to?
That's an emotional word. The question is, will you work on your marriage? And if you will, then there's every chance that things can be turned around.
There's an awful lot of hope here. And you are quick to say as well, this is not prescriptive. You know, this is not the magic pill. Read this book and everything will happen like the fellow who just called us. You can't guarantee that for everybody who's listening. However, however, when you hear the story like that, it gives you hope.
So keep telling that story. Thank you for your call. Let's take one more before we take a break. Gary, this next caller, listen to her voice. You can hear the struggle that's going on inside of her marriage.
Hi, Gary. I'm just reading your book, loving your spouse when you feel like walking away. And mostly because I am dealing with a spouse who's an addict in the book. It talks a lot about how like this person is overrun, but what about high functioning addicts? Because my spouse is a high functioning addict, they don't do it every day.
It's like, you know, every weekend kind of thing. I don't know how to deal with someone who is a high functioning addict because they're not ruining their lives. And the statement was made to me that if I can't accept them for who they are, then I'm not happy that I should leave. But I love my spouse and I want to see change. And I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on that. Anyway, thank you.
Bye. Well, you know, when we're living with someone who's an addict, it's very, very difficult. Even if they are what you're calling a high functioning that is able to do lots of things and carry on their work and so forth. It's painful for you to know that they're addicted to alcohol or drugs because you know the ultimate, the ultimate is going to be downhill. It's not going uphill if they continue in that lifestyle. And I think someone from an outside can look at a marriage like that and say, well, you know, you just need to get out of that.
He's never going to change. There is a place for tough love. I understand that. But the message I'm trying to share in that book that you're reading is that let's try tender love. Let's try unconditional love. Let's learn their love language. Let's speak it on a regular basis over a period of time.
I sometimes just throw out six months, you know, just do this for six months and then let's see what happens. If there's absolutely no effort to move in your direction, there is a place to say, you know, honey, I don't know how you feel about us, but I really feel like that over the last six months I've done everything in my power to show you how much I love you. And it appears to me that you have no interest in really working on our marriage and freeing yourself up from spending your weekends with drugs and alcohol. I don't know, maybe I'm reading it wrongly, but I'm going to go for counseling and I would like for you to go with me. But if you don't, I'm going anyway because I've got to do something.
I love you too much to sit here and do nothing. You see, it's an act of love. And the reason I say see a counselor is because if you're going to do tough love, which is the approach that then later says after you're seeing a counselor that says to him, you know, it appears to me that you are not interested in growing in our marriage. So I'm going to, and you tell him what you're going to do.
It might be move out to an apartment, it might be moving with your mom. And I'm not abandoning you. I'm not divorcing you. I just love you too much to sit here and do nothing. And so anytime you're willing to work on the problem, I will be beside of you.
I don't know what words you use, but that's the basic idea. So I would say I'm glad you're reading the book because I think that book has helped a lot of individuals recognize that though we cannot change our spouse to be sure, we can have a positive influence on our spouse. And see when a person just criticizes the other person, you know, and over and over they criticize them for what they're doing and the addiction and all that. Then if they do tough love, the spouse will normally say, well, I'm glad you're gone.
All I've ever heard is criticism for six months anyway, you know. But when you've loved them unconditionally, that is they don't deserve it, but you're loving them in the right language unconditionally over a period of time. And then you take that step of tough love. Now they've got something to lose because they know that you've been loving them in a way they don't deserve.
So those are my basic thoughts in this situation that you're describing. Talk real quickly to the person who's listening, who is the high functioning addict, who says, I can manage this, I can quit anytime I want. It's not really affecting me and my spouse is on me for this and wants me to stop it, but it makes me a better person. You know, it's not going to hurt me in the long run.
You've got to accept me for who I am. If that person were listening today, what would you say to him or her? I would say I understand why you would say that because when you're caught up in something that gives you a momentary thrill, you know, momentary sense of joy, you hesitate to draw away from it. But listen, all of the research indicates that a person who is addicted to alcohol, by which I mean they are regularly turning to alcohol, whether it's just once a week or whether it's every day. It always goes downhill because when you follow that, you're putting your trust in the alcohol. This is what gives you your joy in life, your meaning in life.
And it always is going to be an empty jar. I mean, it's going to lead you to a place where you're going to realize this thing, you may not use these words, this thing has become God to me. It's more important than my marriage. Listen, if I know something's hurting my spouse and they know what I know about and most people know about alcohol and what it does, efforts are because they love you and they don't want to see you end up at the end of the road where alcohol controls your life.
So I would just say, talk to some folks, do some reading on alcohol and get a clear picture of where that road leads you. Our program is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, New York Times bestselling author of "The 5 Love Languages" . And this is our Dear Gary broadcast for April. If you have a relationship question, call our number, 1-866-424-GARY. This is not a counseling line.
We can't call you back. But if you'll keep your question as brief as possible, we'll try to address it here on the program. So call us today, 1-866-424-GARY. We talked a few weeks ago about our featured resource today, Making Things Right at Work. Before we get back to the calls, Gary, this book deals with the intersection of how people make a living and the relationships that they have with co-workers and customers and bosses and all of that.
I think that's a really important topic, don't you? Well, it is, Chris, and that's why I agreed to write this book with my two co-authors. You know, we wrote a book called The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, which deals with that whole concept of workers who work but they don't feel appreciated. You know, they're just working because they need the money, but they don't feel appreciated by their co-workers. But this one deals with the misunderstandings and the conflicts that come and develop in work relationships.
And how do we work our way through those? Because sometimes those are the kind of things that lead us to leave a job that otherwise was a good job. You know, we enjoyed the work, we saw it as being meaningful, but there's this person I work with and we got into an argument and this happened and that happened. And so this book is dealing with how do we deal with the hurts and the conflicts and the words that may be spoken, things that may be done that have really hurt us deeply. And obviously a part of that is going to be apologizing, learning how to apologize, learning how to forgive and work through those things. So I think this book is going to be a real help to anyone who is in workplace relationships that are not going well. Making Things Right at Work. You can find out about it at moodybooks.org.
That's moodybooks.org. I love the vulnerability of our next caller who is looking for a little bit of advice from Dr. Chapman. Hi, Gary. I have a question pertaining to my love life and just life in general. I'm a 49-year-old woman and I've been single for about three months now. I've just come out of a long-term relationship and then went into something a little more casual which lasted like a few weeks. I'd like to know how I should go about living my life now. I have good friends and family for support and I want to know what kind of activities I should do and keep myself occupied and how I should go about media possibly and other potential partner, just enjoying everyday life. I think life is beautiful but I want to know what you think. Anyways, that's my question.
Thank you very much, Dr. Chapman. Bye-bye now and have a great day. Well, that's a question that I think many singles are asking.
Maybe not on the radio but they're asking that question. How do I spend my time? How do I do things that are worthwhile? How do I do things that might someday lead me to a meaningful relationship? I would say above everything else, find a place to serve others.
See, often we're thinking, I'll never really be happy unless I have a close relationship with someone that may ultimately lead to marriage, that that's going to really make me happy. I believe the greatest sense of happiness and satisfaction comes from serving others. So at your age, with all of your background and your experience, I would say look for volunteer opportunities. To minister, to serve people in whatever capacity you have an interest in, there's always a place of service there. Remember Jesus said about himself, I did not come to be served, I came to serve and to give my life a ransom for others. So I would say that would be the mindset that you're going to think in terms of where can I serve others rather than simply focusing on where can I find someone that's going to make me happy. The second thing I would suggest is find a church that has a single adult ministry.
And that is where single adults are meeting on a regular basis, discussing issues, listening to lectures, learning together about all aspects of life. It's often in that context you're going to find someone who is committed to Christ, who is seeking to live their lives as a life of service, and that would encourage you to continue to follow in that line. So many single adults have found that when they get in a church and get involved more closely and intimately with Jesus, that they find the person who is also intimately involved with Jesus. And the potential of having a long, profitable, meaningful relationship with someone, when both of you are followers of Jesus, far greater than just finding somebody that looks nice and gives you a little attraction and you enjoy doing things with, but doesn't have a purpose in life.
If we're going to find ultimate fulfillment, we have to have a reason for living. And I think having broken up a relationship recently, you're at a good place to try some things you haven't tried before that might lead you into a more intimate relationship with God. I was going to ask you about that. It's been three months. Because I know that death of a spouse or divorce, you need to give your heart time to heal. And so she's been in a long-term relationship.
We don't know how long that was. But it's only been three months to be able to let herself heal and move on from that. And like you say, learn, that could be an important process. I think so, Chris. And see, the pattern is that if we break up and we're hurting, then we want to find someone that's going to take away the hurt. And people get involved in relationships in a deep way before they really heal from the hurt of the other relationship.
And that's why this is a perfect time for her to try some new things, reach out to, as I said, other Christian singles, and read books that encourage service to others. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find out more about the program, Building Relationships, hear a podcast, see where Gary is going to be speaking.
Yeah, he's going around the country. You can go to FiveLoveLanguages.com to find out more. FiveLoveLanguages.com. Here's a great question from a husband about his marriage. And it deals with some pretty intense feelings that he has about opinions he shares.
Hi, Gary. I'm having a bit of a communication, having conversations with my wife, whether it be educational, political, medical, everyday life. We seem to have disagreements on things and I have problems letting go of my personal views on things, on how things could change, even though I agree with other people on certain subjects.
I also would like to be heard on mine. But when I feel like I'm being shut down and nobody is listening, then I become very agitated. My demeanor changes. My attitude changes. I keep kind of trying to push it and then she'll say something and I'll feel attacked. So then my natural response is to attack back. I would like some guidance on how to keep from fighting with my wife over something that doesn't really honestly affect our personal life.
It's just our opinionations. She is truly my best friend. And I can talk to her about most things. But when it comes to my opinions or how I feel about something, if she disagrees with me and then I get shut down and I feel like I'm being ignored and I just want to know how I could overcome that personal feeling or possibly explain to them, this is how I'm feeling and this is the affirmation that I'm seeking. Could you please just listen even if you don't agree?
Thank you very much for your time and I hope to hear an answer. You know, Chris, what this husband is describing is what many, many couples experience. They've never learned how to listen to each other when they disagree on something. The reality is every single married couple will disagree on things because we're human. And humans don't have the same history. We don't have the same thoughts.
We don't have the same feelings about many issues. And marriage has to do with becoming one, if I can use a biblical term. The scriptures say the two become one. It's a close, intimate relationship. And so he's indicating that she doesn't listen to him. And my question would be, how well does he listen to her? Because if we learn how to listen to our spouse, they're more likely to listen to us.
So this whole thing of learning to, the psychologists call it empathetic listening. But it simply means when your spouse is talking, you try, you're listening. You're not coming back with you to shoot down their ideas.
They're talking and you're listening and asking yourself, I want to understand first of all what they're saying and then what they mean by what they say and how they feel about this thing. And so it has to go both ways, of course. But if we don't listen to the other person and we just shoot down or try to shoot down and argue them and prove to them that they're wrong and we're right, even if you win the argument, they lost the argument and so now you're living with a loser. We don't want to do that. So I would say to him, if he could have a conversation with her and say, Honey, I realize that when we disagree on something, we tend to get into an argument. And I try to convince you that I'm right and you try to convince me.
I don't think either one of us are happy with that. So why don't we try to learn a new way of talking and listening to each other. So if there's a subject that you want to talk about or I want to talk about that we think might be a conflict, why don't we just say, Honey, let's just set down a time and maybe 20 minutes and we're going to talk about this and we're going to listen to each other. And I'm going to give you the first turn or you give me the first turn, doesn't matter, and I'll share my perspective on it and then you have five minutes and share your perspective. And I'm not going to break into you.
I'm not going to tell you you're wrong. I'm going to listen to you. I'm going to try to understand you. And then we can have as many turns as we like back and forth, but we're not shooting each other. We're listening.
Five minutes at a time, we're the listener. And after we have a few turns like that, I think we begin to be able to say, You know, Honey, I think I'm understanding you now. I think I'm seeing what you're saying.
I'm understanding why you would feel that way. And it makes sense. And listen, it always makes sense in their head. And if you listen long enough, you can honestly say, Honey, I can see how that makes sense. Now you're not the enemy. Now you're an understanding friend. And they listen to you long enough, they can honestly say that to you. Honey, I can see where that makes sense also.
Now how can we solve the problem? You've said that before, Gary, about your relationship with your kids. You have a teenager and you're always butting heads. And if the parent just says, Tell me more about that, you know, and you really listen, you can say that, Well, I can see how you'd feel that way. You're not agreeing with them necessarily about, you know, what they've said. You're just saying, I understand what you're saying.
Yeah, absolutely. And listen, we can just agree to disagree on some things, especially the kind of things he's talking about, politics and medicine and whatever, you know. We have different opinions on those things. And it's okay. That doesn't have to be a problem in our marriage.
It's just she feels this way, I feel that way, you know. But we love each other. And we're spending our time enriching the lives of each other. And yeah, maybe along the way, one of us will change our mind and go to the other side. But we're not going to be forced to do that. We're going to do it of our own will, because we've come to recognize, I think that's a better idea. So that whole issue of learning how to solve our differences by listening to each other and affirming each other rather than arguing with each other, it takes effort to do this. But I think in the book, The Marriage You've Always Wanted, I deal with this whole issue. I want every single person who's looking for marriage or hoping for marriage and every young married couple to hear that, because did you hear what he said? She's my best friend.
I could share anything I want to with her. And yet there is this part, you know, that he feels dismissed or not heard. And so when that comes up, if you do get married or you are married and you see this, don't run away.
Work it out. That's what this caller is talking about. And if you go to the website FiveLoveLanguages.com, you're going to find out more of these ways to strengthen your relationships right there at FiveLoveLanguages.com. If you enjoy Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, visit our website, FiveLoveLanguages.com. There you'll find more simple ways to improve your relationships.
You can also take a free assessment of your love language right there at FiveLoveLanguages.com. And don't forget, you can ask Gary a question at this number, 866-424-GARY. Call that number.
Leave your message. And you may hear an answer on a future Dear Gary broadcast, 1-866-424-GARY. And we were talking about a husband with a struggle with his wife.
Let's flip that around. Here's a wife with a struggle with her husband. Hi, Gary.
I read your book, and it is amazing. I have been speaking my husband's love language, which is acts of service, and nothing is changing in him, and he has not given me my love language. How do I deal with that? I'm having a lot of issues with that because I feel like I cannot please him, and I just need help. Thanks, Gary.
You're great. Well, I'm assuming that he knows what her love language is. It seems to me that's probably a good assumption. And two things I would say. One is, first of all, we can't make our spouse love us in our love language. Love is a choice. Love is the choice, and it's the choice that says, I wish and I desire, and with God's help, I will learn to love you in your love language.
It's a choice. But here's what I would say. Let's focus on your asking him periodically.
Honey, on a scale of 0 to 10, how full is your love tank? And if he says anything less than 10, you say, what could I do to help fill it today? And chances are he'll give you an idea. And so then you choose. You don't have to.
He can't make you do that. But at least now you have information on what would be meaningful to him today. And it may not always be his primary language.
It may be a secondary love language. But when he hears you asking that of him about every week, let's say once a week you ask him that question, there's a chance that in three weeks or four weeks he is going to ask you that question. And he's going to say to you, well, honey, on a scale of 0 to 10, how full is your love tank?
And you can say, well, honey, to be honest with you, it's about a 2. Well, what could I do to bring it up? And so now you can tell him. Now he knows exactly what would be meaningful to you on that particular day. I would say I would try that and see what happens, because when you're showing, and you're already speaking his language, I get that, but when you're showing interest to find out how full his love tank is, that says something to him.
This girl is really trying to meet my need for love. So I think you'll find that he may well, within a few weeks, turn and ask you that kind of question. It's a little communication tool that a lot of folks have used just to keep this concept on the front burner for each of you.
So I would try that. Yeah. Let's continue with our questions here. This is our Dear Gary broadcast, and this question deals with a spiritual struggle in a marriage. Here we go. Hi, Gary. I'm a long-time listener and so appreciate your program.
Thank you for helping so many with so many different topics. I have never heard this type of question asked, and I was wondering if you could give me a little bit of insight. I've been married for over 34 years to a wonderful man who is retired military, and I believe he was saved as a child, but has since exited the church, so I'm alone at church. Anyway, when we talk about God, he breaks down, gets very upset, and says that he's too bad to be saved. That in the military, he probably participated in some war actions that involved innocent people, lots of guilt. And I've given him all the Bible scriptures of Old Testament people went to war, they obeyed God, attacking their enemies.
All he was doing was following orders. Anyway, I can't get past that. I've prayed. I will continue to pray.
I love him and I want to help him, so do you have any insight of things I could give to him to help him get over that guilt and realize that he too is loved by God and can go to heaven just like everybody else? Thank you so much for your input. I look forward to hearing from you on the radio. Thank you.
Bye. Well, I'm very empathetic with this caller, and obviously she's empathetic with her husband. That is, she's concerned. She's wanting to reach out to him. She's wanting him to realize whatever he's done, God loves him and God can forgive him, even if what he did may have been even wrong. And I think that many military couples wrestle with this whole issue, because if you haven't been in a war zone and involved in that sort of thing, it's hard to comprehend the depth of emotional pain and struggle that one may wrestle with, particularly if they're thinking in terms of, I took the life of some child's father. It can be really hard to get over.
So I think, first of all, just be empathetic and recognize that you can't remove his pain. But in terms of his relationship with God, I'm just thinking about a little booklet that I wrote with York Moore. It's called Seen, Known, and Loved. And it's just a simple, short little book that you could put in his hands and say, honey, here's a book I read that I thought was really, really interesting. If you get a chance, read it and let me know what you think about it. And it's a short enough book that chances are he'll read it. And what it's really communicating is that God sees us, God knows everything about us, and God loves us. And it's often a book like that, that a person will read and then they begin reflecting on it and they begin to take steps toward God. I would also encourage you to continue in your involvement in the church. Don't just drop out because he's dropped out of the church. And if there are things that are going on in the church of a social nature, that there's not necessarily a worship service, but something that a small group that you might be in is doing something, I would invite him to that. And chances are he may go to something on a Thursday night or a Tuesday night or a Saturday that it wouldn't be like going to a church on Sunday. But if he meets some people there and begins to identify with some people there, he may, in a few weeks or months, be more inclined to go to the church with you. And obviously, when he does, he's being exposed then to the Scriptures on a weekly basis. Not that you're sharing them with him, but he's hearing them from other sources. So don't give up.
I would say that strongly. Don't give up. Continue pursuing your walk with God. And in your daily times with God, when you're reading the Scripture, ask God to give you wisdom in what to do or not to do that would be helpful to him. Don't condemn him.
Don't put him down. Don't preach to him and say, well, you've got to get over this, da-da-da-da-da. But share with him anything that you think might be helpful. But recognize that God ultimately must touch his heart and draw him to himself. And so pray that God will, in God's way, and it may be through someone other than you, that God will bring into his life that will open his heart and open his eyes to begin to walk toward God.
I love the understanding that she has for him and his struggle. And I've seen this in other people in other venues. There's this guilt and this shame that's so deep and maybe a lot of trauma, could be PTSD as well, that's going on in his life about the past. But the thing that is hard to get over is, how am I going to make up for what I've done?
That's what a lot of people feel. It's like, in order for God to love me, I've got to be able to make up for that. And there's no way that I ever can. And I always go to the thief on the cross. The only thing that he brought to Jesus was, he can't do anything. He can't jump down and get baptized. He can't join a Bible study.
He can't do any good thing. And Jesus looks at him and says, today you'll be with me in paradise, because he surrendered to Jesus. And it's Jesus' love. You can't do anything to save yourself, especially when you're on a cross, right? God has done that work for you. But even as I say that, I think, you know, you can't intellectually make somebody believe that who has this deep inside of them that, no, I can't be forgiven because of the guilt that I feel.
Yeah, I think you're right, Chris. It's difficult because you feel so badly about what you did. And we can't undo the past, but we can be forgiven of the past. And all of us have things sometimes that we say, well, this one is worse than this one. But, you know, they're all things that we all look back and wish we had not done. But we can't undo those, but we can be forgiven of those. And we can then walk with God and do what we can to enrich the lives of other people.
And that's where we find real meaning as we're serving other people now. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . You can find out more about that book and take a free assessment of your love language at our website, fivelovelanguages.com.
That's fivelovelanguages.com. Well, what do you do when your good intentions to help an extended family member get more and more difficult? Here's our next caller.
Hi, Gary. My husband and I took in our niece about 15 months ago. And at that time she had a broken arm from an altercation with her brother. And so we took her in. And she has always felt that we should have helped her prosecute her brother, which we decided not to do.
We agreed to provide a home for her to get better. She had a broken arm and we have done that. But over the course, the relationship has continued to deteriorate. I am doing the best I can to kind of – but what has happened is she's disrespectful, she yells, she screams, she swears at me. And I have, you know, set down a move-out date. And there's times when I think there's some kind of psychological problem. And then there's times when I think she's just taking advantage. I go back and forth between is she got a mental problem or should we just go forward and get her to move out.
I don't really know what her love language is, but I don't know. If there's anything you could do to help me, I'd appreciate it. Thanks a lot. Bye. Well, you have to appreciate this wife and husband who, with all good intentions, have taken in this person who has obviously been wronged by – I think it was her brother. But it's not unusual that people who are in a stressful situation with family members have a difficult time healing from that. And that's what we're dealing with here. And yes, there may be mental problems, no question about that.
Now, we don't know how old this niece is, whether she's a teenager or whether she's older. But conversations where she, the niece, has a chance to share her thoughts, her feelings, her struggles. And sometimes it's hard for them to speak.
It's hard for them to get it out. But the more we can be calm with them and ask questions, what could we do that might be helpful to you? What do you struggle with most in your past? And asking specific questions about, you know, what was your relationship with your mom? How was that like, your relationship with your dad? How long have you and your brother kind of been at odds?
Are there other children in the family? Just ask about relationships. Let her talk about her past. And then also questions about her future. What would you like to do?
If you could do anything in the world, what would you like to do in the years that are ahead? And her seeing your interest in her future and what interests she might have. Maybe she wants to be a nurse or maybe she has something in mind she'd like to do. And to think with her, well, what would be the steps to get there?
Maybe it's taking some training at a local college. But the more she can begin to feel that you're interested in helping her become the person that she would like to become. But talking before that about the past so that you get a fuller picture of what her past has been like. Not just with her brother, but with the rest of her family. Because sometimes a person just feels like over and over again they've been put down, nobody really cares about them. And even though you're trying to help them, because of the internal pain and struggle they have with other people, they kind of take it out on you. And because you didn't do what she thought you ought to do, they just prosecute her brother for what he did. That's a part of anger.
Anger wants to make that person pay for what they did. And so that's a normal response for her to have. You all are trying to think in terms of what is the best thing to do here.
And I don't know if you have any contact with her brother or not, but if you do, if you could talk with him about apologizing to her, that could be a first step in bringing some healing between the two of them. But it's a very difficult situation. And I know that sometimes you do feel like just giving up.
You know, just say, we can't help you, obviously you don't like us, you don't appreciate us, so we're just going to put you out. Well, before you do that, you need to think in terms of where would she go, what would that mean, would it be better or worse for her. And I think if she would be willing to go with you to counseling, she may or may not be willing to do that, but if she were, that could be very helpful for both of you. Because the counselor, as a third person outside the family, could ask her questions that she would share, that maybe she had not shared or maybe even would not share just with you alone. So those are my thoughts. There's no easy answer to what you're talking about because we don't know the source and how deep the pain is inside this niece.
As I listened to that call, this is the third or fourth time I've heard it all the way through, I thought the niece doesn't trust her, doesn't trust her aunt and uncle because she wanted this and they decided this. And so that's a factor in this whole thing too. And who knows, maybe the prosecution would have been the right call. We don't know all the situation there.
You have to factor all that in. Everybody's doing the best that they can with all of this. So thank you for trusting us with that question and that family. I hope that answer will give you some hope.
We have time for one more, Gary. We've talked about narcissism here on the program. This is a pointed question from a wife who's looking for some direction. Hey, Gary, my husband is a narcissist and I am going through a divorce. My question is, should I go through a divorce or just separate from him? But we have businesses that we own together, so it's not like I can go with my own income. It has to be split. So he's lied and I just feel like there's no hope.
So let me know, what should I do? Should I stay in the relationship and just be separated or divorced? Thank you. Well, obviously separation is a step either toward divorce or toward reconciliation. I think there is value in separation rather than just going directly to a divorce. You know, in North Carolina where I live, it's actually law that you have to be separated from each other at least a year before you can get a divorce, which I think incidentally is a good law because it gives you a year to think about which way you need to go. Separation is like being in a hallway and on the end of each hall there's a doorway. And on top of one door it says divorce. On top of the other door it says reconciliation. But the fact that you're separated lets both of you know this is a temporary thing here.
Now, we can either make it worse or we can make it better. And sometimes by separating and having a little breathing room emotionally, the two of you might even get to where you could go for counseling during that separated time. And a counselor can help you assess, you know, what are the real problems here and why have you come to this place where you've separated. And sometimes a separation is really just an emotional, a place for emotional release where you can just get out from under the pressure, the daily pressure of what's going on here. So, obviously a third party like a counselor who's not involved in the situation but can help each of you share in the presence of each other and the counselor what's really going on here beneath the surface. Just because a person's a narcissist doesn't mean you should divorce them.
If we did, a whole bunch of people would just go out and divorce today. All of us have a little of that in us, you know. We're all self-centered. Narcissist just goes a little beyond that.
It's always about them and they're always right. But at any rate, I wouldn't be so quick to go to divorce. I guess that's what I'm saying. I think separation holds much more hope that there might be reconciliation if you take some time apart and then try to engage while you are apart. No one answer, of course, to any situation like this. But a counselor can always be a help. And so I wouldn't hesitate to talk with a counselor if both of you are willing.
It strikes me every time we have one of these programs, Gary, there's so much that we don't know, you know. Every person who calls in here, and I really mean that, you trust us with your questions, your lives, your calls, your relationships, and you kind of reveal some of the things that are going on in your life. I think that helps other people. So you're helping others with your question, and we sure hope that we help you. And if you want to call us and lend your voice, lend your situation, just call 866-424-GARY for any question or comment you have about relationships. 1-866-424-GARY.
We'd love to hear from you. You can find simple ways to strengthen your relationships online at 5lovelanguages.com. And our featured resource is a timely and helpful book, Making Things Right at Work. You'll find that book by Drs.
White, Thomas, and Chapman at moodybooks.org, moodybooks.org. And next week, if you're too busy to pray, you're too busy. We'll hear about a practical tool to help you in one week. We hope you'll join us. A big thank you today to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Todd. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
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