WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (BP)–Gary Chapman enjoys getting love letters.
But not all of them are from his wife. They come from people who have attended one of the marriage conferences he has led.
One such letter came from a man who gushed about his revitalized marriage and how Chapman had helped him love his wife again. The man credited Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages,” for helping improve his marriage in one weekend.
Chapman shared how couples can apply these love languages to their marriages — quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch –- during one of the 15 Fall Festival of Marriage events sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources.
Though workshop topics vary from event to event, many of them include sessions related to communication, love languages, intimacy, keeping passion alive, affirmation and sexuality.
The gatherings provide a comfortable environment with experienced leaders, most of whom are lay couples familiar with leading marriage classes through their churches, Chapman said.
Chapman, in addressing a fall festival in Nashville, Tenn., shared how couples can keep the emotional love experience alive in their relationship. In a second session, he discussed the biblical view of sexuality.
Chapman integrated the five love languages into the sessions to teach couples how they can energize a struggling marriage and communicate love to their spouses.
The key, he said, is to find the love language that your spouse responds to best and communicate it in the marriage.
Problems can occur for couples when they continually communicate in the love language that they, not their spouses, respond to the best.
“Just because one spouse feels love by being complimented and praised, doesn’t mean that the other spouse will feel loved by words of affirmation,” he said.
“I think couples are very sincere because they’re reaching out in their own way,” he said. “It’s not a matter of sincerity. The problem is that what makes one person feel love isn’t necessarily what makes the other person feel love.”
No couple sets out to have a bad marriage, Chapman said. Most try to make their relationship work, but over time, both spouses become emotionally drained. Chapman referred to the problem as having an “empty love tank,” adding, “If people never feel love, their love tanks eventually will run dry, leading them to find it wherever they can.”
Some people don’t feel comfortable saying words of affirmation, Chapman said. “They may feel uncomfortable saying even simple things like, ‘You look nice.'” But if they learn that this is what their mates respond to, Chapman said they usually want to do it, and then it becomes a matter of putting the information to work.
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE
Chapman admitted he and his wife struggled in their relationship during their first few years of marriage. He attributed some of their struggles to not having access to the resources like the ones that are available today.
Chapman said he enjoys helping other couples avoid the same struggles, noting, “I have a passion to help couples with their marriages. It’s a calling that God has given me.”
He encourages couples to attend some type of marriage festival or conference at least once a year.
“I personally encourage couples who have never been to a fall festival to go,” Chapman said. “If you just pick up one idea, it’s worth the investment of the weekend. Many people say to me the lights came on when they learned what they were doing wrong. You can keep love alive if you can learn how to speak the other person’s love language.”
For more information about the Fall Festival of Marriage events, check lifeway.com/events.