Dr. Gary Chapman: Couples Need God's Word ... Together
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - Over the last twenty years, Dr. Gary Chapman and his book, The Five Love Languages, has become synonymous in family counseling circles to the tune of seven million copies sold.
With a simple message of love, hope, and the undying power of God’s grace, The Five Love Languages, has transformed marriages, improved relationships between parent and child, and has gently guided individuals to a better understanding of who they truly are in God’s eyes.
Now, just in time for Christmas, Dr. Chapman has released The Love Languages Devotional Bible. With a straightforward approach to reading scripture, the devotional Bible is complemented by brief devotional readings designed to draw couples closer to God and into deeper relationships with one another.
I recently sat down with Dr. Chapman to discuss why it is crucial for couples to study the Bible together and strategies on how to draw an uninterested spouse to God’s Word.
In a recent online survey conducted by your publisher, when people were asked to associate words with Dr. Gary Chapman, they came back with, “He’s helpful.” “He’s practical.” “He’s relevant.” What word would you associate yourself with?
Well, those are certain things that I try to do. Years and years ago, I said I did not want to write academic books. I want to write books that are in the language of the common person, so that Joe, who didn’t even go to college, can sit down and read my book, and get it, and apply it to his life. So, my deep desire through these years—I’ve been involved in marriage counseling now for forty years—has been to meet people where they are, and try to help them become more like Christ, because to me, that’s the key of marriage. If we can develop the character and work with God, then let him develop the character of Christ in us, we’re going to become the best possible husband, the best possible wife. I don’t know what word to use, but it’s a deep desire to help people not simply become Christians, though obviously that’s the first step, but to help them move toward becoming like Christ. Because I believe that’s what God has in mind for all of us. It will enhance marriage, it will make us better parents, we will accomplish more in life, because we are closer to him and walking with him, so, that’s what motivates me.
The statistics on divorce are staggering. Every day they seem to get worse. Why do you think it’s so crucial to bring couples together, to get them into the Bible and into prayer?
The reality is that often, one of them is more motivated to do spiritual things than the other. One of them may be having a personal devotional time every day, they may be going to a Bible study once a week with other ladies or sometimes other men, but the other spouse is not nearly as engaged. They go to church on Sunday with them, but they’re not nearly as engaged personally, and I believe that marriage has to do with intimacy. God said, “They will become one flesh.” And that’s not only a sexual intimacy, that’s intellectual, and emotional, and social, and spiritual intimacy, and I believe that this is one way to build spiritual intimacy. If we can come together to the scriptures, and read the scriptures, one of us reading, maybe one of us listening, and then read a devotional that tries to take that passage and apply it to our marriage, and we have a chance to talk about how that works for us, and then pray together, I just think it will go a long ways in terms of building spiritual intimacy and helping us process the normal flow of life, applying Biblical principles to our personal lives. So, that’s my hope and my desire.
Let’s take the scenario that you just described and add a wrinkle to it. Let’s say one spouse just can’t get the other one involved. Do you have any advice for those people who can’t get the other person in the relationship to do it?
One of the things I say is, “You cannot control your spouse, but you can influence your spouse.” And one of the ways to influence your spouse is to make sure you are meeting their need for love. And so, I say, if you will learn their love language, and give them heavy doses of their love language so that their love tank is full, then you can make requests of them, and they’re far more likely to respond to your request. Don’t see it as nagging, but see it as a request. So, if you focus on that—let’s just say for six months, you don’t mention getting them involved and reading the Bible, because they told you, “I don’t want to do that, I don’t feel comfortable doing that.” You focus on meeting their need for love, communicating love in a language that they understand, their primary language, then in six months, you say, “You know something that would really make me happy?” Or, “Would you do me a favor this week?” And you ask for one thing. It might be for them to simply on Mondays, “Let’s read this passage together.” And because they have sensed that you really are concerned about them, and you’re really trying to meet their needs, there’s something inside of them that emotionally draws them to you, and they’re more likely to respond to that request.
Can you describe how The Love Languages Devotional Bible is structured?
What we’ve done, we’re encouraging the couple to read the Bible. They can read the whole Bible, there’s a plan for reading the whole Bible, or they can simply go to the passages for that day. But the way it’s structured, is there’s a devotional five days a week, Monday through Friday, that’s tied with the scripture. We start in Genesis, and we work right through the Bible. So, they’re going through the whole Bible, whether they read all of it or not, they’re going to be reading portions through the whole Bible. And for five days a week, there’s a devotional that’s tied in with a particular passage that they will have read in the Bible, it’s all right there together. And then on the weekends, for those couples that are really into it, there’s an exercise, some things for them to do on the weekends together. And then we’ve also dropped them some other just helpful articles in the Bible, and at the beginning of each book, we give a little introduction to that book, so they understand the nature of that particular book.
How much time in a given day should a couple devote to The Love Languages Devotional Bible to get the full benefit of it?
I would love to see people spending twenty or thirty minutes together, but I know not all couples are going to do that. But if we can just get started, even if we simply read the passage, and read the devotional, and pray together, and not even discuss it. That alone is going to help us, because we’re thinking about something now, that we weren’t thinking about before we read it. And I think the thing of praying together also, has a powerful way of helping us, not only come close to each other, but we’re coming to God with regard to our marriage and life, and it’s going to affect the way we treat each other.
What’s your greatest hope for The Love Languages Devotional Bible for couples?
My vision would be that literally thousands of couples would find this as a journey they would take with each other and with God for a year, because it’s a year-long devotional Bible. Of course, they could read it every for that matter, because as you know, the scriptures are always fresh. I think it could be a tremendous year of growth in their lives, and it would also be a tool that they could share with other couples who are expressing a desire to have a better marriage. So, that’s my hope. The scripture is to be applied, it’s to be lived, not just simply read.
To purchase The Love Languages Devotional Bible
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