Last weekend, I had the fun experience of driving 5 hours to see one of my favorite authors, Gary Chapman (the author of the Five Love Languages). If you have read anything of his, then you know what a relationship and love guru he is. As a 17-and 18-year-old working in a bookstore, I would sit in the aisle and pour over Dr. Chapman's words, take his quiz to find out what my love language was (Words of Affirmation), and take lessons to heart that I knew I would pull out again when I found a true, lasting relationship.
So, when I saw on his Facebook page that he would be in Mississippi, I knew I just had to be there. Who cares I only had 3 days to plan the trip, who cares that it was a 10 hour round-trip drive. I had to be there. This was my chance to see the author that I recommended to everyone, and taught me all the things He Wished He'd Known Before He Got Married. I was NOT going to miss this conference!
Unfortunately, Shane could not join me on my expedition, so I called my friend, Jill, who is also a Dr. Chapman super-fan. Bought the tickets, booked a hotel for Friday night, and we were set!
The conference was based on one of his books, The Marriage You've Always Wanted. Although Shane and Jill's fiance were not with us, we were thankful to get lots of great knowledge to take home and share with our significant others. (Hey, the price of a conference to get pre-pre-marital counseling? Yes, please!)
I learned so much at this conference, I could talk for days- but to save you from having to read all that, I've summed up the top things I learned from Dr. Chapman's conference. After reading them, I'm sure you will not resist the urge to go buy one or all of his books!
1. Invest in your partner's interest. Shane loves football- It's not really my thing. I still will watch a game with him, ask questions (during commercials), and find really great tailgating recipes to whip up!
2. Read a book together. When I suggested Shane and I do this on Monday night, he said, "But Dr. Chapman said that you should invest in my interests! Monday Night Football is on!" Touche... We read on Tuesday night instead :)
3. People argue for the sake of winning. Well, if you win the argument, then your spouse loses. Who wants to be married to a loser?
4. The most important sentence for any man to learn is, "Honey, What you're saying makes a lot of sense." It will make you automatically go from enemy to friend. Every woman wants to know that her feelings are validated.
5. When you get home in the evening, ask your spouse three things that happened to them and how they felt about each one. By doing this, you will automatically talk more than 50% of married couples!
6. This is very unlikely, but let's say your spouse really is 95% of the problem in your marriage. That would still mean you take 5% of the blame... so go ahead and work on what you have power over, fix your 5% and your marriage will automatically get 5% better!
7.Wisdom always seeks help. Mature people are the ones who are always trying to learn. Dr. Chapman even went so far as to say the people at the conference weren't the ones in their peer groups who needed to be there the most. The people who need marital help the most are usually not so willing to seek it out.
8. When you are in public, BRAG ON YOUR MATE! If your wife isn't a good cook, around your friends you should be saying, "Sally is the best hot dog chef I've ever met!" Not, "Ooh, Sally, she can't even reheat leftovers! The people at McDonanald's know us by name now!" She may laugh in the moment, but what she really needs is for everyone to know how much she is adored by you.
9. If you have grown to be a particularly nagging spouse (or couple), schedule a time for criticism. Each couple gets to give 1 criticism a week, but it must be preceded with 3 compliments. For example, "Honey, I really love that you always hang up your towel after you shower, you always smell so good, and you never leave the house without kissing me and telling me you love me. However, do you think you could work on cleaning out your hairs in the sink?" An overdose of criticism will kill their motivation to change.
10. Love is a way of thinking, "I am married to you... How can I help you? How can I be a better wife? How can I enhance your life?
Do any of these stick out to you? Do you have your own favorite lessons learned from Dr. Chapman (or elsewhere)?