How to Meet Our Deepest Emotional Need

We don’t have to be clueless when it comes to giving and receiving love, according to pastor, speaker and author Dr. Gary Chapman. In this conversation with Editor–in–Chief Major Allen Satterlee, Dr. Chapman draws from his best selling books and expertise on marriage, family and relationships to explain where much misbehavior in marriage comes from, how to keep the love tank full and How to Meet Our Deepest Emotional Need.

The 5 Love LanguagesWar Cry:Why did you decide to write The 5 Love Languages?
Dr. Gary Chapman: I decided to write this book after using the five love languages in my counseling for twenty years. I realized what a tremendous change it made in couples who learned how to speak each other’s language. I thought if I could write a book in the language of the common person, leaving out the psychological jargon, I could help a lot of people.

WC: Why is the concept of five love languages important in marriage?
DGC: By nature we tend to express love in our own language; whatever makes us feel love is what we try to do for the other person. We’re sincere, but if it’s not what makes the other person feel loved then we miss them emotionally. Sincerity is not enough. If we learn how to speak their language then we are going to be successful in loving them as we mean to.

WC: Explain what a “love tank” is.
DGC: There’s a gasoline tank on a car. If it is full you drive a long way. If it’s empty you’re not going anywhere. I use the picture of an emotional love tank. If the love tank is full and the person feels genuinely loved, life will be beautiful. But if the love tank is empty, and a person doesn’t feel loved, the world looks pretty dark. A lot of misbehavior in marriage grows out of an empty love tank.

WC: How can we discover our spouse’s primary love language?
DGC: The easiest way would be to go online to 5lovelanguages.com and take the quiz. It will tell you what is primary, secondary and so forth. Here are three additional ways you can discover your spouse’s love language:

• Observe their behavior. How do they treat other people? They are likely speaking their language to other people. If you hear your spouse always giving other people encouraging words, you can assume that “words of affirmation” is their language. They are doing to others what they wish others would do to them. If they are looking for occasions to give gifts, you can assume “gifts” is their language. Observe their behavior.

• What do they complain about? The complaint reveals the love language. If a wife says to a husband, “We just don’t ever have any time together,” she is telling him, “My language is quality time.” If you return home from an out–of–town trip and your spouse says, “You didn’t bring me anything,” he is telling you that gifts is his language. If a wife says to her husband, “I don’t think you would ever touch me if I didn’t initiate it,” she is telling him that physical touch is her language. If he says, “I can’t ever please you,” he is telling you that words of affirmation is his language. We tend to get defensive when our spouse criticizes us, but they are really giving us valuable information. Listen to what’s behind the complaint. It will tell you their love language.

• What do they request of you most often? If they say periodically, “Can we take a walk after dinner tonight?” they are asking you for quality time. If they say, “Could you give me a back rub?” they are asking you for physical touch. Listen to what they are asking of you because that is a clue.

WC: Does love language adapt to other relationships besides marriage?
DGC: I wrote the original book for couples. I teamed up with Dr. Ross Campbell, a Christian child psychiatrist, and wrote the book The 5 Languages of Children, written for parents, helping them discover the child’s love language and how this relates to the child’s anger, the child’s learning, and to discipline. Later on I wrote the book, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, also for parents. With teenagers, the love language doesn’t change but you have to learn some new dialects because what you have been doing they now consider childish. It applies in work relationships. I wrote The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Work Place. We don’t call it love in the workplace but appreciation. It’s the same five languages. In the workplace people need to feel appreciated, but one size does not fit all. You have to learn what makes your colleagues feel appreciated. It applies in all human relationships. Our deepest emotional need is to feel loved.

WC: What is the most frequent question you are asked? What is your answer?
DGC: “Does the love language change over the years or does it remain the same?” My answer is, it remains the same. A child who is very organized will be organized when he is 35 or 40. Having said that, there are certain circumstances or stages of life in which another love language might jump to the front. A mother who has three preschool children whose primary love language is not “acts of service” will find that anything her husband does to help her with those children will speak to her very deeply. It may appear during that time that her language changed to “acts of service.” But when that stage is over it will go back to the original language.

Dr. Gary ChapmanWC: If “falling in love” lasts no more than two years, is it good or bad?
DGC: It just is. It’s not something we choose. Falling in love is a positive experience, a super emotional high. It draws us together, gives a sense of euphoria. Some say it makes us crazy enough to make a lifelong commitment to marry. It is a wonderful experience. But because it lasts an average of two years and we come off the high, it is not the foundation for marriage. That is why we have to communicate. I entered marriage with the idea that these feelings that I was having for her would be there forever. When I came off the high soon after we got married I was disillusioned. I thought I’d lost it. What happened? Our differences emerged and we found ourselves arguing. Before long I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me very much. We have to understand that this is normal. That’s where the love language becomes so helpful to couples. It helps them learn how to keep emotional love alive in the relationship.

WC: How does love being a choice explain arranged marriages?
DGC: Inasmuch as it is a temporary experience anyway, it’s not that important that you have the euphoric experience of falling in love. What is important is that you learn how to love each other. You have the same task before you as the one who had the “in love” experience but lost it. It is not any worse or more difficult. You face the same challenge in learning how to stimulate emotional love in the relationship.

WC: Which language is the most difficult for people to learn?
DGC: There isn’t one particular language for everybody. But the one that tends to be most difficult is your personal number 5. If you rank them in order 1–5 in terms of what is important to you, the one that doesn’t mean that much to you is going to be the hardest one for you to speak. If you find out that your number 5 is number 1 for your spouse, then there will be a learning curve. If you have never given gifts and you find your married to someone and gifts is their language, it will be difficult. You are going to have to work at learning how to select and give gifts. The same thing is true of all of the other languages on your list.

WC: Does Christian faith have any affect on healing marriages?
DGC: A profound effect. Our relationship with God shows us what love is all about in the first place. The Scriptures say we love God because He first loved us. He initiated it. He reached out to us. He sent Christ because He loved us. Christ came to forgive us, allowing us to become children of God. Not only do we get the concept of love from a relationship with God, we get the ability, the power, the motivation to reach out and love others because we have been loved. Christians are representatives of the love of God. We are His hands and feet. The Salvation Army represents that as well as any segment of the Christian church.

WC: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
DGC: Every couple has conflicts, but conflicts in and of themselves won’t destroy a marriage. Unresolved conflicts destroy marriages. If you love each other and you feel secure in that love, you process the conflicts, the difficult places in life much easier. It’s not the answer to everything, but it is one of the foundation stones for creating a healthy marriage.

Elizabeth’s Story

A loud knock at the door woke Elizabeth from a sound sleep. Who could be calling in the middle of the night? she wondered. She stumbled to the front door and asked, “Who’s there?”

“Ma’am,” came a man’s muffled voice through the closed door, “I’m Lt. Blackstone from the United States Navy with some very important news. I’m here with Commander Belmont.”

“The Navy?” Elizabeth questioned. “What time is it anyway?”

“It’s ten in the morning; may we come in?”

Ten o’clock! Elizabeth never slept in so late, and even though she wasn’t dressed she was eager to hear what the men had to say.

“C’mon in and make yourselves comfortable while I freshen up a bit.”

Elizabeth opened the apartment door and the men stepped inside and sat on her sofa in the living room. The lieutenant was in his 20s and the commander in his 50s. They looked strangely familiar to Elizabeth, as if she might have seen them while volunteering for The Salvation Army at the Fresno Veterans Administration Hospital. Both men were in full Navy dress uniform, reminding Elizabeth of that visit so many years ago when two Navy officers explained how Fred and the entire crew of the USS Pompano submarine were missing in action and presumed dead. What could her unexpected visitors want? Elizabeth’s heart jumped into her throat as she went into the bedroom to change.

The two new officers talked between themselves in low voices while Elizabeth finished getting dressed.

“So tell me what’s so important,” she asked as she returned to the living room.

“We’re here with news about Electrician’s Mate Fred J. Kirschbaum,” said Lt. Blackstone.

“My Freddie?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“What about him?”

“Well, ma’am… Elizabeth… as incredible as it sounds, just today he’s been asking for you.”

“What! He’s alive? My Freddie is alive? How is that possible?”

Lt. Blackstone glanced over at Commander Belmont, gesturing for help.

“Elizabeth,” the silver-haired commander said, “in September of 1945, just a few weeks after the war ended in the Pacific, your husband Fred was found with 39 other servicemen in a Japanese prison. You were never contacted because Fred had no I.D. so we didn’t know his identity.”

“Why didn’t you just ask him who he was?”

“Fred had amnesia when he was found. For the past 47 years he has been living as patient John Doe at the San Francisco Veteran’s Hospital.”

Despite her shock about hearing this fantastic news and being overwhelmed with emotion, Elizabeth struggled to regain her composure and was determined to get some answers, finally, after all the years of not knowing. She stammered for words, “But… how? Why? When did you finally learn Fred’s true identity?”

“Like I said, Fred had amnesia, until yesterday. He has regained his memory and now he’s asking for you.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears, not of sadness, but of joy. Freddie was alive and he was asking for her! All of her hopes and dreams of love, true love, rushed through her heart in a tremendous flood of happiness and contentment.

“I want to see my Freddie, right now!” Elizabeth said.

“Yes, of course,” the commander replied, “but there is something you should know before we take you to him.”

Just then Elizabeth imagined that certainly a good man like Freddie, even with his amnesia during all those years, would have found a good woman to love.

“Is he married?” Elizabeth asked, trembling.

“Married? No ma’am, he never married.”

Elizabeth gave a silent sigh of relief.

“There’s really no way to break it to you gently, Elizabeth. The Japanese were not very kind to our servicemen who were captured during the war. Some of them were badly beaten, some had their fingers amputated during torture, and still others had their eyes gouged out.”

“My Freddie! Tell me what happened to my Freddie!” Elizabeth demanded.

“Fred was castrated.”

“Castrated!” There was silence for what seemed like several minutes as Elizabeth pondered the horrible news. But Freddie was alive and he still wanted her. No matter what he suffered in life, no matter what condition he was in, she was ready to accept him and love him as he was.

“Ma’am,” the lieutenant said, “a car is waiting to take you to see Fred.”

“Yes, take me to my Freddie.”

Elizabeth and the two men stood up and walked to the door.

Then Elizabeth’s alarm clock went off, startling her. It was 6 AM and she woke up in her bed, alone, to discover that the whole encounter with Lt. Blackstone and Commander Belmont was only a dream.

My mother wept.

She called me at home in Seattle and shared her dream with me. I regret now that I did not accept it for what is was—an expression of her inmost desires. Instead I analyzed the dream like a psychology student writing a college thesis.

“Mom,” I said on the telephone, “Don’t you see that your subconscious mind has devised a way for Fred to still be alive, for him to have a valid reason for not contacting you all these years, and for it to be impossible for him to have been unfaithful to you? It’s all very Freudian.”

I knew my mother’s feelings were hurt; her silence during my brief pause on the phone was all I should have needed to hear. But I didn’t stop.

“Lt. Blackstone? Commander Belmont? Come on, Mom! Those are just street names in Fresno, and your mind made those names up as part of your dream fantasy.”

More silence from the other end of the line.

“Fred is dead,” I said flatly. “He died fifty years ago. I know that it must be difficult for you to accept because there was no body, no funeral and no closure. But it’s time to accept reality. Fred is dead.”

There it was. I said what had to be said. I said exactly what Mom needed to hear. There was more silence and then finally she spoke.

“Son,” my mother said with the slightest quiver in her voice, “you just don’t understand, and perhaps you’ll never understand until you’ve loved and lost. I love Fred with everything I am, and I cannot give up on him if there is even the slightest sliver of hope that he’s still alive.”

“But what about Daddy? Does he count for anything?”

Never before had I questioned my mother’s love for my father, and I should not have questioned it then. Mom, in a measured expression of gracious restraint, proceeded to recite her love for my Daddy, telling me of the good times they shared and the awful experiences they endured, “for richer for poorer, for better for worse, in sickness and in health… ” I got the message loud and clear—Mama’s love was big enough for us all, including Freddie.

My mother’s words that day reminded me of a profound truth from a favorite Cole Porter lyric, “Until you’ve lived a lot, and loved a lot, and lost a lot, you won’t know Paree.” Maybe my mother was right. Maybe I would never understand her life, her loves and her losses until fully living my own. After this conversation, at least I gained new respect for my mother as I was only beginning to understand the tremendous depth and capacity of her love.

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By Major Randy Kinnamon

Agape: Loving the Way Jesus Loves

My original understanding of agape (ag-ah’-pay), a Greek word used 106 times in the New Testament, was that it meant “God’s own love.” When I came upon a more accurate definition, it made a dramatic impact on how I would think, live and relate to others. Agape means “love that seeks to satisfy the needs of those being loved, no matter what the cost, sacrifice, or hardship.”

Agape is the right word to describe God’s love for us. He gives us what we really need, no matter how great the cost to Him. When the word is used in the New Testament, it most often means that it is we who are told to “agape” love others. While this sets the bar extraordinarily high, we are called to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2).

Since I accepted Christ as my Savior, God has been building into me a desire to serve others. I’m certainly not perfect yet; I have a long way to go. But with this new understanding of agape, I can be more focused and cooperate more fully with the changes God is making inside me. A richer knowledge of agape helps me to choose to love as Jesus loves.

When someone hurts me or “strikes me on the cheek,” I do more than offer the other cheek as well. Now I also think, “What do they need? How can I help them? How can I serve them?” Remembering to respond as if I value others more than I value myself is not a habit quickly developed, but by choosing to relate to others with agape love I feel I am making real progress.

With agape on my mind, I was talking with someone who did not know about Jesus. “Jesus rose from the dead,” I told him, “and offers to come into your life and change the attitude of your heart to become the kind of person God wants to live with forever. If you knew how, would you take Him up on His offer?”

After he said yes, I found myself saying to this unsaved man, “He would change you to value other people more than you value yourself. You would want to give to others what they need, even if it cost you something. If someone did something to hurt you, instead of being defensive or retaliating, your response would be to ask yourself, ‘What do they need? How can I help them?’ Knowing that’s the kind of change Jesus would make in your life, is this what you want? Is your answer still yes?”

Thinking about agape and putting it into practice fills my heart and my mind. I have found a new level of joy in discovering its full meaning.

In learning to love the way Jesus does I remind myself to consider His attitudes toward people and to keep my focus on Him!

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By Bill Chipman

Great Promises of the Bible

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Paul has been writing a theological symphony in his epistle to the Romans that finds its climax in these verses. The message is unmistakable. God’s love triumphs!

The apostle first declared that he was convinced. This word is spoken not in some rookie’s enthusiasm but from a veteran who has gritted his way through horrendous trials, betrayals and dangers, never knowing if he was to be carried on shoulders as a victor or escorted one last time to a violent death. Though the earth sway beneath his feet, Paul was totally convinced he stood on the solid ground of God’s love.

To drive home his point he reviews the powers that arrayed themselves in battle formation against it.

Death cannot separate us from the love of God. Death comes and when it does it separates. All the marshaled hosts of medical personnel, devices and cures must finally yield to its power. No determination can ultimately defeat it; no human love can hold it off forever. But Paul says that even this great inevitability surrenders to the love of God. To his audience, the specter of martyrdom with its cruel torments preceding death was a real fear. But the executioner can only do so much. Whether death’s onset sneaks in quietly or squeezes pain out of every nerve cell, its power is eventually spent. Death might beat its fists against us, but the love of God remains in each moment of our dying.

Life cannot separate us from the love of God. More Christians are defeated by pebbles in their shoes than mountains they must climb. The little things, the small irritations, the seemingly innocent compromises are the forces that cause Christians to drift away from God far more so than earth–shattering events. One of the early Church Fathers, Arles, wrote, “Spiritual souls are not separated from Christ by torments, but carnal souls are sometimes separated by idle gossip. The cruel sword cannot separate the former but carnal affections remove the latter. Nothing hard breaks down spiritual men, but even flattering words corrupt the carnal.” There is no external force that can shake us free from the love of God. In that we are secure. But not mentioned by the apostle are the personal choices people make that cause them to drift away. For Judas it was 30 pieces of silver. For too many it is a much cheaper price, like an extra hour of sleep on a Sunday morning. Paul says that none of the things that come in this life are powerful enough to separate us from the love of Christ. The sad truth is that all can be lost from making a poor choice. Adam and Eve serve as terrible examples of the unintended consequences of a selfish decision.

Neither angels nor demons can separate us from the love of God. The mention of angels seems strange to us, but in Paul’s day angels were not always viewed favorably. Bible commentator William Barclay speaks of the ancient Jewish belief that angels were everywhere, so much so that even a blade of grass had it own angel. And the angels, because they were jealous of man’s favored status in God’s eyes, were antagonistic toward humans. Demons were largely believed to be angels who had fallen when Lucifer rebelled. The demons, with their disregard for God, were the enemies of all humankind. Paul says that even these spiritual beings with whatever powers they may possess could no more hold their ground against people than the waves on the beach could fail to retreat with the tide. The child of God is protected so he neither fears the demons nor has to regard the angels.

The present and the future cannot separate us from the love of God. Whatever problems dog us, whatever weaknesses assert themselves in our everyday, whatever stands against us cannot take God’s love from us for a moment. Here is a mother whose child has wandered off in a crowded mall. Scanning everyone and everything around her, straining to hear her child’s distinct cry, she forgets everything else but that lost child. She searches until at last the child is found. And what does she do? She scoops that child in her arms and hugs him and rejoices that this one she loves is safe. Whatever your circumstances right now, be confident that God is searching through all that would stand in the way to hold and hug and cherish you in this very moment. And the future? He is already there. He knows what awaits you and knows that His love is there for those unknown moments. Height and depth cannot separate us from the love of God. These are astrological terms referring to the positions of the stars when they had the greatest and the least of their powers over people. Astrology is clearly false and is forbidden by the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:19). Paul is saying we are not to fear the stars, the bumps in the night, charms or curses offered to quell superstition. Our destiny is not written in horoscopes or found in palm reading or magic potions and spells. Our destiny is found in the love of God who stands true over the ashes of all that is false.

Any imaginable or unimaginable thing cannot separate us from the love of God. Paul now says, “Fill in the blank.” Can you think of anything else? It doesn’t matter. It cannot place a roadblock on the highway of God’s love.

Suppose that tomorrow our world is invaded by aliens, as Hollywood has been picturing for years. The love of God would flow unabated. What if the laws of physics were changed and all that is solid became liquid and all that is liquid became solid? The love of God would remain unchecked. And if our money suddenly became useless, electricity lost its power and pages could not hold print, as distressing as that would be, the child of God could lay his head upon his pillow knowing that he was falling asleep in the love of God. And no matter what the new day might bring, the love of God remains constant to carry him through.

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Major Allen Satterlee