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Five Ingredients You Need for a Healthy Family (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 25, 2023 2:00 am

Five Ingredients You Need for a Healthy Family (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 25, 2023 2:00 am

Dr. Gary Chapman shares about creating a nurturing environment in your family. He will unpack five important traits: families serving together, the husbands and wives relating intimately on a physical and emotional level, parents guiding, children obeying and honoring parents, and finally, husbands loving and leading. You’ll be inspired to help your family thrive. (Part 1 of 2)


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Hey, Jim Daly here. If you like the Focus on the Family broadcast and haven't grown tired of this voice just yet, you'll love my Refocus Podcast. On Refocus, I take a deeper dive with a respected thinker on different aspects of culture. I ask those hard questions that maybe they don't get that often, and I don't shy away from challenging topics to help you share God's grace, truth, and love with others.

So listen to Refocus with Jim Daly on your favorite streaming app today. In a healthy marriage relationship, we will share emotional intimacy as well as social intimacy. We do things together with other people as well as spiritual intimacy. All those things go together in a healthy family. That's Dr. Gary Chapman talking about how to create a healthy family, and we'll be hearing more from him today on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, every day here at Focus on the Family, we want to come alongside you to help you in your journey, whether that's marriage and parenting or any facet of life, really, that touches on the family. That's our core mission. And we're going to be talking today about marriage, parenting, and raising respectful kids. Everybody just went, how?

How do you do that? I know Gene and I were saying that when we had the boys at a little stage, like six, seven, and eight. Oh, yeah, yeah. And it'll all be clear when we're done with the show. Okay, let me ask you this, John. I mean, I feel like I told the boys at that age, say please, say thank you, like 10,000 words, and you never think they're going to get it. And then sure enough, boom, it starts happening when they're older. It's a wonderful thing. And you hear him saying it.

You're going, it's stuck, it's stuck. And so much more important things than just please and thank you. But his latest book lists five traits of a healthy family, and those are families who serve, husbands and wives who relate intimately. I think that's both emotionally and physically, parents who guide, children who obey and honor their parents, and everybody said, hooray, and finally, husbands who love and lead. And our conversation today will address some of those traits, and we'll cover even more tomorrow with Dr. Chapman. Indeed. And Dr. Gary Chapman is probably best known for his books about the five love languages, and he's written a number of other titles as well, including, as you mentioned, Jim, five traits of a healthy family.

And he and his wife, Carolyn, have been married over 60 years, and they live in North Carolina and have two grown children. Welcome back, Gary. Well, thank you. Always good to be back.

It is so good, and man, I tell you, you're just a great guest and love your content, and Jean and I have read it. Okay, so this book, Five Traits of a Healthy Family, I think, if I'm correct, started with a college student who wanted to move into your house to kind of learn what it looks like to have a healthy family, to which you probably thought, do I really want somebody that close? Well, you know, this young guy had finished college, University of North Carolina, because I live in North Carolina, and he had come to our city and taken a job to teach in the public school. And he came to me that summer, and he said, I grew up in a very dysfunctional family.

He said, my father was alcoholic, et cetera, et cetera, and I have no idea what a healthy family looks like. And I wonder if you would allow me to move in with you and Carolyn and your children and just live with you this year so I could see a healthy family. And I said, what every wise husband would say, well, John, let me talk with my wife about it.

Let me check. I'm in, but. So I talked with Carolyn about it, and she said, well, you know, that might be an interesting thing, and it might even be good for the kids. So I said, well, let's talk to the kids about it.

So we shared the idea with the kids, but they thought it would be good to have a big brother in the house. And I said, but, Carolyn, where will he sleep? We only have three bedrooms, and they're already full. And she said, well, the basement's empty. We could just put a wall down there and make a room. I said, well, yeah, I guess we could.

You thought you had the answer. I wasn't super, super excited about it, but, you know, we prayed about it, and we thought, okay, let's do it. So you get into this situation, and his name was John, the college student. And, you know, it sounded like a noble desire on his part to see how a real family, a healthy family, should function. What did you learn from that experience? Well, I learned, first of all, that when you have someone else in the house, it's like an anthropologist. And remember, I did an anthropology background. Who moves into your village, and you're wondering, what is this guy really doing here? Looking for the buried bodies.

That's what an anthropologist is doing. But it was really a good experience. I had lived in the home of Jim Merck my senior year at Wheaton College with four other guys. And he focused on leading us and what it's like being in a family. So we all had jobs. I mean, you know, we washed dishes, we mowed the grass, you know, we helped the kids and all that.

So it wasn't a totally new concept to me, but it was really good, and it was good for John. And we had good conversations, you know, through the family. And he was involved in our family.

I mean, he washed dishes too, and he had things to do, you know. So it was really a good experience. Yeah. In that regard, you have said, so I'm not outing you in this regard, but you said, you know, your early marriage was rough. And I don't know, you know, with the kids being this young, if you were still in that place, or you had moved along to a little more spiritual maturity by this time. But you too came from a home that experienced, I think your grandfather was alcoholic.

Yeah. So I mean, you had a sense of a dysfunctional family, at least from a distance. But how had your marriage changed, or had it changed from not being as healthy as it could be to when John moved in? It had radically changed by that time. In fact, if John had moved in with us when we were married without children, he probably would never have gotten married.

Because he would not have seen a healthy marriage. What was going on prior, you know, as a newlywed couple, I guess, those first few years, what was going on for you that was so hard? Well, you know, what happened, Jim, was no one ever told me that you would come down off that high that we call being in love. And I thought that was going to go on forever. I was always told, if you got the real thing, it'll last forever. Right. And my wife and I dated for two years before we got married.

And the average lifespan of those euphoric feelings is two years. And I came down off the high pretty soon after we got married. And in reality, we didn't know how to solve conflicts. In fact, I didn't anticipate we would have conflicts. We didn't have them when we were dating.

Right. So we ended up arguing, you know, and then with the argument came harsh words, you know, and loud voices. And I remember one night, we were in the middle of an argument, and it was raining outside. And Carolyn walked out in the rain. And I thought, man, this is bad. When a woman walks in the rain, it's bad.

Yeah, yeah. And then, not only did I lose those euphoric feelings, but then I had negative feelings toward her. Because in my mind, she wouldn't listen to me, you know, and had negative feelings. And I really was pretty miserable. And I was in seminary.

Two weeks after we got married, I enrolled in seminary to study to be a pastor. And here I am, miserable in my marriage, and asking myself, you know, how is this going to work? I can't do this. I can't get up and preach hope to people and be this miserable. And I'll never forget the day I said to God, I don't know what else to do. This was several months into the marriage. I said, I don't know what else to do.

I've done everything I know to do, and it's not working. And as soon as I said that, it came to my mind a visual image of Jesus on his knees, washing the feet of his disciples. And I heard God say, that's the problem in your marriage. You do not have the attitude of Christ toward your wife.

Hit me like a ton of bricks. Because I remember what Jesus said after he washed their feet. He said, you call me teacher and Lord, and you're right. But in my kingdom, this is the way the leader serves.

You know, Gary, we're going to get to the five, but I want to press in on this a little bit, because for some men, we tend to be a little hard-headed. So how did that translate? I mean, I hear you saying, you know, be a servant to your spouse, to your wife particularly. But what did it look like before, and what did you do to make it look different after? Well, here's what happened. First of all, I asked God to forgive me. I said, with all of my study in theology, I've missed the whole point. And I said, please give me the attitude of Christ toward my wife.

In retrospect, it's the greatest prayer I ever prayed about my marriage, because God changed my heart and gave me a desire to serve her, not demand things of her, but to serve her. And three questions really made it practical for me. When I was willing to ask these three questions, our marriage began to change.

Simple questions. First of all, honey, what can I do to help you? Second question, how could I make your life easier?

Third question, how could I be a better husband? And when I was willing to ask those questions, she was willing to give me answers. She told me, and I started doing those things. And it didn't turn around overnight, but within three months, she started asking me those three questions. That's excellent.

I mean, that really is practical. And that was the turning point. Yeah, turning toward these five traits of a healthy family. The first one is service.

So that's one of the things we found with children. Children who are learning service, volunteerism, those kinds of things, actually tend to do really well in life along the way. How does it apply in the household? Are we talking about service within the home, or are we talking about volunteer service at the food kitchen, or both?

Both. I think it starts in the home, and I think in a healthy family, the husband will have the attitude of service toward his wife and toward his children. She will have an attitude of service toward him and toward the children. Then they will teach the children how to serve each other and how to serve Mom and Dad. You know, Dad has a job. Look what Dad does for us. Look what Mom does for us. Now, here's your job, and we give them a job, a place to serve them in the family at appropriate ages. And so we grow up with the idea that we serve each other in our family, but then we take it outside the family, and that's when we begin to bring them into things, like taking them to food pantries where they help load food. I remember one of the things we did when the kids were about 11, 12, 13. In the fall, I'd put rakes in the back of the car, get the two kids in the car, drive through the neighborhood looking for yards that had not been raked, and I would knock on the door and say, Hi, I'm Gary Chapman. I live down the street here, and I'm trying to teach my children how to serve other people, and if you don't mind, we'd like to rake your leaves for you. And they would say, Say what?

Say what? Okay. And I repeated my speech, and they would say, Oh, I'll pay you to rake my leaves. I've been trying to find someone to rake my leaves. And I said, No, no, no, I don't want money.

I just want to teach my children how to serve other people. So if you don't mind, we'll rake your leaves. We never had anyone who wouldn't let us rake their leaves. Yeah, I'm sure. And the kids loved it, and the part they really liked is when you get them in a pile, you jump in the pile. Yeah, so it may not be neat and tidy, but we'll get the job done eventually.

I thought you were going to say, Yeah, just don't tell the kids you paid me. And so both of our kids grew up with that serving attitude as adults. I mean, they both invest their lives in serving others. And the happiest people in the world are people who serve other people. I think that's true when you look at that index of happiness that typically is a characteristic of those folks.

Back to the home, just a couple of examples again about how that service, what does it look like? I think for the children, it means you give them jobs that they're capable of doing. For example, a six-year-old can make their own bed. You don't have to make their bed when they're 12 years old.

You start them early. This is what you do to help Mommy and Daddy. We don't have to make your bed now.

You're old enough to make your bed. It's just teaching them things like that one after another. Washing dishes, for example. How to wash dishes, how to cook. Our granddaughter, for example, could cook a full meal at 14 because her father, who was a great cook, taught her to cook, and she was interested. Of course, early on, they only let her watch a few channels on TV, and one of them was a cooking channel. So she got the idea of, I love this cooking thing.

So at 14, she could cook a full meal. So again, depending on their interests and their abilities, but you find ways for them to serve in the family. When we do that, they grew up with that idea that we serve other people. Gary, this may be the question, especially for married couples, but you say in the book that in married life, couples at some point replace intimacy with isolation by burying their emotions.

That hits. That hits probably every couple because nobody does it perfectly. I think especially for men when they feel that they're not rising to the challenge, they tend to retreat.

It's what we tend to do. So speak to that idea of replacing intimacy with isolation because we hide our emotions. What I'm saying in the book is that one of the characteristics of a healthy family is there will be intimacy between the husband and wife.

And most people, when you think of intimacy, they think of the sexual part of marriage. But intimacy is far more than that. It's intellectual intimacy. It's sharing our ideas, our thoughts, our dreams, our visions with each other. Emotional intimacy, sharing our feelings with each other, whether they're positive or negative. In a healthy marriage relationship, we will share emotional intimacy as well as social intimacy. We do things together with other people as well as spiritual intimacy. All those things go together in a healthy family.

And so I think the whole area of sharing our emotions with each other, it has to be healthy for that to happen because what you're saying is exactly right. If it's not a healthy marriage, she will say something like, in fact, a guy told me last week, he said, I unloaded the dishwasher, and she said, you put that in the wrong place. He said, I can't please the woman. Can you relate to that, John?

No, not at all. That kind of hits a little too close to home, but thank you. But I think when there is a healthy marriage, you'll be able to say, you know, honey, can I just be honest with you?

I felt kind of put down when you said that, and maybe I shouldn't have felt put down, but I just want to be honest with you about how I felt when you said that. It's that kind of thing that helps us understand how to communicate to each other, how to work together, because we're not enemies. We're on the same team, and we have to learn how to share emotions with each other and be honest with each other about what certain things stimulate inside of us.

Yeah. In fact, you share the five areas of intimacy a couple should strive to grow in. What are those five areas? Well, one of them is intellectual intimacy. You know, it's sharing. You know, I was reading this book, honey, and I never read this before. Have you heard this before? You know, it's sharing intellectual thoughts and things with each other, and it's also sharing, as I said, our emotions with each other.

In fact, one of the things I suggest for couples is every day, why not share with each other three things that happen in my life today and how I feel about them. Oh, wow. They're simple things, you know. Well, honey, I stopped at the store and I got gas today. How did you feel about that, honey? To be honest, I felt angry.

I looked at the price and I thought this is right. But it's staying in each other's lives by sharing, you know, what's happening in our life and how we feel about those things. And then it's social intimacy where we actually do things with each other outside the family. You know, and sometimes it means going with our spouse to things that we don't particularly have an interest in.

Do you have an example? Yeah, one wife said to me, she said, you know, Dr. Chapman, he's into this car racing thing. I don't get it. This car is just going around and around.

I need it for hours to sit there and look at it. She said, I don't get that. I said, I can understand that. I said, you know, my wife loves the symphony and I don't know what an oboe is.

But I thought, I'm going to go with her and just listen, you know. I said, so you don't have to enjoy it. It's just you do it because they're into it and you want to enjoy it with them and with whatever friends that might want to go with you.

So it's learning to do things that maybe we don't enjoy, but we want to develop our relationship by doing things socially together. And then spiritual intimacy is essential, in my point of view, to having a healthy marriage. And I don't mean preaching to each other. I don't mean, you know, I read this in the Bible this morning and I think you need to hear this.

I don't mean that. What I mean is, you know, honey, I read this this morning and it was so meaningful to me. Let me just share this with you. Or I read this in a book, you know, and let me just share this with you.

It's really helpful to me. It's sharing our spiritual journey with each other. Or it's saying to each other, honey, what can I pray for you today about, you know. And it's going to church together.

Or small group Bible studies together, that sort of thing. And then, yes, physical intimacy. In a healthy marriage, there will be physical intimacy. But all these other areas of intimacy impact whether we're healthy in our sexual part or whether we're not healthy in that part. Because you can't isolate these other areas of intimacy from the physical part. And, you know, again, it's stereotypical, and I don't mean to express that, but men tend to struggle. I tend to struggle with how to build that emotional intimacy so that the other comes naturally. Are there some ways that you and Carolyn that you found to do that well, the emotional intimacy?

You know, I think the biggest one, and you would expect me to say this, is the love languages. You know, when you learn how to speak your spouse's love language and you meet that deep emotional need that all of us have to feel loved, then we're both far more free in the sexual part of the marriage. You know, we can't separate that sense of emotional need for love. And, you know, looking back on it, I learned that before I ever knew anything about love languages. Because in the early years of our marriage, before I came down off the high, I'd give my wife positive words because they made me feel good.

I thought they'd make her feel good. And one night she said, you know, you keep on saying I love you. If you love me, why don't you help me? And I said, what do you mean? She said, well, you don't ever offer to wash the dishes or vacuum the floors or clean the toilet.

You don't offer to do anything. And I didn't say this, but I was thinking, what are you talking about, woman? My mama did that.

We bring our history with us. Good thing you didn't say that. I know. But I said to her, well, I can wash dishes. I didn't know you wanted me to do that. I said, I can do that. And I said, I don't mind vacuuming. And I said, now, I don't know how to clean the toilet. And she said, well, I can teach you. But when I started doing some of those things, then she started giving me words of affirmation, which she wasn't giving me. So we kind of stumbled upon, you know, listen, couples had good marriages before I wrote the five love languages, okay?

But if they did, they stumbled upon what makes the other person feel loved, and they did it, you know, and that's what happened to us. I think if I recall one of your previous visits, you're still vacuuming today. I am still vacuuming. I am still washing dishes. I'm still taking out trash.

Okay, good for you. I hired somebody to mow the grass. Oh, there you go. And trim the shrubs. Yeah, that's nice. You're not raking people's lawns anymore. No, no.

I was going to put my name on the list if you can come to Colorado. Gary, you share a story, and we mentioned this at the opening, about your grandfather who was an alcoholic. What was modeled for you as a child, and how did that impact you, and where was your dad in that picture as well? Yeah, I was probably, I don't know, 11 or 12 years old, and someone knocked on our door, and my father went to the door, and the gentleman said, Your dad is up there in a ditch beside the highway drunk, and you better go help him. It was in the wintertime, and my dad said to me, Why don't you get your coat on and go help me with grandpa?

Huh. And so I went to help him, and we got there, and my dad reached down on one side, I on the other, and we lifted him out of the ditch, and we walked him home. All the time he was mumbling, I don't need your help, I don't need your help, and we put him to bed. My dad didn't say anything to me that night, but that's the night I decided never to have alcohol as a part of my life.

Right. I thought, I don't want to end up like this, you know. And so I think exposing children, and I don't know that my dad would have anticipated the impact that had on me, but it was just seeing reality. And there was another experience that happened rather close to that, in which we were playing in the backyard, there were some guys in the neighborhood, and we heard this motorcycle, and all of a sudden we looked up, and the motorcycle was flying through the air. It came across the highway, and it was about a drop of about four feet, and he just ran right across the highway into a field and fell, and we rushed out there. And the guy was just enmeshed and yelling and screaming. We tried to talk to him, but he was just yelling and screaming. And one of the guys ran back to the house and called the police and 911. That was before cell phones.

He had to run to the house to get to the phone. And we was out there with him when they finally came and got him, et cetera, et cetera, and they carried him away. And we found out later that he was over-drugged. And that was the day that I said, I'm not going to mess with drugs. You know, it's experiences like that that impact a child, negatively or positively.

And for me, they had a positive influence in that I saw what I did, and I saw the end of what happens when you walk that road. And I think with our children, like, I would take Derek, my son, when he was 13, 14. Once a month on Saturday night, I would go to the juvenile detention center where young men were being detained. And I'd take him with me. And we would play ping-pong with the young guys. And then we'd sit down and talk with one of them. And they would tell us their story. They were very free to talk about their story. And we would drive home, and I would say, Derek, isn't that sad, son?

They're not going home tonight. And they're your age. And that's about all I would say. And he would talk about it, you know.

And it's planning in their mind, and not just with words, but you're helping them see things, the end road when we make poor decisions. Yeah. You know, Gary, we're right at the end here for day one, and we're going to have you come back next time, if you're willing. I'll do it. And continue the discussion.

That'd be great. But let's ask this last question because it's so critical and so many parents contact focus with this dichotomy. And it's usually about the discipline that I need to apply with my kids, and yet the need to make sure that they feel loved. You know, it's like anything in life. We as parents are imperfect people, and we can lean too hard in either of those directions. You know, too much love has its own damaging effect, and too much discipline has its damaging effect.

So with regard to the love languages, how can we use that model to help do both, and especially to help our kids feel loved? Yeah. I think one thing, first of all, when we make a rule, we should always share the consequences if the rule is broken.

For example, one of the things I said to my son was, every night when you get through riding the bicycle, put it in the shed. If you don't, you lose the privilege the next day. Okay?

You agree with that? Yeah, it's fine with him. Okay. So the first time, he left it out, and so the next morning I said, oh, Derek, you can't ride the bicycle today, because remember, you didn't put it in the shed. Oh, Dad, but all the kids are going to be riding this afternoon. I said, I know, son, and I'd love for you to be able to, but you know, we have to suffer the consequences. I said, but listen, man, I love you, and usually you keep the rules, and I love you, but we have to suffer the consequences, okay? And I gave him a big hug. So what we do, first of all, we're clear on what the rule is, what the consequences are, but we wrap it in love. You know, his love language is physical touch.

So not only was I giving him affirming words, but I also gave him that big hug at the end of it. So if we wrap the discipline in love, using their love language, kind of before and after we do that, chances are they're going to receive it as being, this is fair, you know? I think the struggle for most of us as parents is slowing down enough to complete that expression. I think we do one well, and we don't take the time to do the other. In other words, here's the crime, here's the punishment, and we forget to express the love for some reason. Or we just express the love, oh, it's okay.

You can ride. And listen, discipline is an act of love. God disciplines his children. God says every child of God is disciplined because God loves us.

He wants to get us back on the right track. And that's what we do as parents. That's so good. Okay, day one is done. Come back and we'll talk more about this great book, Five Traits of a Healthy Family. And boy, I hope you realize that we're here for you to focus on the family.

That's why we exist. We want to help you be the best parent you can be. And, you know, again, it's not formulaic, but it's predictive that if you do these things, your child will be healthier. And I think that's worth the risk of doing these ideas that Dr. Chapman has laid out in his book. If you can make a gift of any amount, we'll send you the book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. If you could do that monthly, it really helps. But a one-time gift helps as well. And those monthly gifts make it possible for us to have caring Christian counselors here and to offer that service to you if you're struggling, if you're thinking, well, Dr. Chapman, I'm glad it worked for you.

It's not working for me. We're here. We're a phone call away. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. And the details to connect with our counselors and to get a copy of this book and to donate to Focus on the Family are all in the show notes. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we have Dr. Chapman here and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-28 15:44:02 / 2023-10-28 15:56:52 / 13

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