Reading Discussion Guide

Now You're Speaking My Language: Honest Communication and Deeper Intimacy for a Stronger MarriageNow You're Speaking My Language: Honest Communication and Deeper Intimacy for a Stronger Marriage
Gary Chapman
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Dr. Chapman shows how communication and intimacy are key points in developing a successful marriage by focusing on the principles of lasting answers to marital growth are found in the Bible and communication is the main way two become one in a marriage. Couples will be encouraged to offer steadfast loyalty to one another, forgiveness, empathy, and commitment to resolving conflict, thus encouraging one another in spiritual growth.
     
These questions are meant to be conversation starters. They have simple answers but can easily be used to create a safe environment for those who are seeking a change in their lives. No one wants to be threatened or embarrassed by their honesty. The questions can be used either before or after reading each chapter. They could be used for personal journals or private home study as well as group discussions.

 
Chapter 1: Communication: The Road to Intimacy

1. What does a healthy marriage look like? Do you consider your marriage to be healthy?

2. How is your relationship with God? How does it affect your relationship with your spouse?

3. Is the level of communication in your marriage where you want it to be? What, if anything, is lacking?

4. Has the lack of communication in your marriage ever caused a problem? Does it happen often?

 

Chapter 2: Unhealthy Patterns of Communication

1. Do you recognize any unhealthy patterns of communication in your marriage? What kinds of problems have surfaced because of these patterns?

2. What are the most positive ways you communicate with your spouse?

3. Are generational patterns from your parents repeating in your marriage?

Chapter 3: Five Levels of Communication

1. Can you recognize different levels of communication within your marriage? Do you feel safe when you express your feelings? Do you remain silent to avoid conflict?

2. Do you share anything with your spouse beyond cordial everyday talk? When was the last time you had a truly intimate conversation?

3. How do you react when your spouse starts talking to you? When do you stop listening?

Chapter 4: Contract Marriages

1. Do you feel you have a marriage based on contracts or a marriage based on covenant? In what ways do you see contracts between you and your spouse? Daily chores? Parenting roles? Money matters?

2. How do you describe a covenant marriage? Does it mean that “anything goes”—no matter what you do to each other you’ll hang in there?

3. Does a covenant marriage include contracts? Can you think of ways contracts benefit you in your marriage? Does your spouse live up to their part in the contracts?

Chapter 5: Covenant Marriages

1. What are some of the covenants God made with man? Did man have to fulfill a certain condition for the covenant to be valid? Who initiated the covenant?

2. We say that Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and established the new covenant. What does that mean? How does this apply to the marriage covenant?

3. In a covenant marriage who is number one? Is it a two-way covenant or a three-way covenant? What enables couples to keep their covenant?

4. Have you made an unconditional promise to your spouse and to God? In what areas of your life do you need to recommit? Does 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 provide guidelines for you?

Chapter 6: Covenant Marriages: Dream or Reality?

1. Does it appear in your case that a covenant marriage is honestly just a dream or do you think it can be, if it isn’t already, a reality? How would you rate your marriage on a scale of one to ten with dream being one and reality being ten?

2. Have you read the life of Jesus lately? What could you apply in your marriage that you missed before? Do you make demands of your spouse? How could Christ’s attitude of servanthood change your attitude?

3. Do you really want to be like Jesus? Have you come to a point where you will try anything if it makes your marriage better? Where have you drawn the line that you “won’t do that” no matter what? Have you asked your spouse how you could become a better spouse?

 

Chapter 7: What’s So Important about Intimacy?

1. Is intimacy a word that makes you uncomfortable? Do you even know what your spouse would think was intimate? Are you lonely? Is aloneness a problem in your marriage? Does your spouse feel alone?

2. Is anger the only emotion you share with your spouse? Does you spouse feel included in your thoughts, plans, desires, and feelings? Do you feel included? Is your spouse “so emotional”?

3. Have you avoided being close to your spouse because they hurt you? Have you avoided being close to your spouse because you feel rejected? Have you avoided being close to your spouse because you have a lifelong habit of keeping people at a distance?

Chapter 8: Getting to Know Yourself: Experiences and What They Mean

1. Do you feel valuable? Are you gifted? In what ways are you using those gifts? If you haven’t recognized your value and don’t feel you have anything to offer as your gift, then it’s time to seek the Lord! Being made in His image means more than you may have realized.

2. Are you afraid of what you might discover about yourself if you look deeply into the closets of your life? Perhaps you have covered up or hidden treasures you have been given. What if you found out something about yourself you had pushed aside and forgotten, and it was really good?

3. How aware are you of things around you? Do you actually use all five senses to experience life? Since our experiences lead us to interpret things differently, have you interpreted your spouse incorrectly on at least one occasion?

Chapter 9: Getting to Know Yourself: Emotions, Desires, and Choices

1. Is your outlook on life generally positive or negative? Is the glass half full or half empty? What about your spouse? How do you interpret their outlook on life?

2. Do your emotions control you? Since we know God gave us all our different emotions and they do serve His purposes, how do we need to control our emotions? Do you experience mixed emotions?

3. What do you desire more than anything else? How do your desires control you? When you have evil desires, do you quickly recognize them and bring them to the Lord or do you hide them and perhaps savor them?

4. Does your spouse have a certain behavior that “gets on your nerves”? Do you have one that gets on their nerves? How is it that we can be blinded to our own behaviors and see those of others so quickly? Have you noted good behaviors that you really like?

Chapter 10: Learning the Art of Self-Revelation

1. How well do you know your spouse? Do you know their favorite things? Do you know their worst nightmares? Why is it so important to know each other well?

2. How “private” are you? In marriage where “two become one,” can you still be private or do you need to say everything you think or feel?

3. How well do you communicate your interpretation of your spouse’s behavior? Do you accuse or do you start first by stating your own feelings? Are you aware of your spouse’s reaction—defensive, apologetic, indifferent?

Chapter 11: Getting Ready to Grow: Priorities and Goals

1. How do you approach growth in your life? Is it painful or does it evoke relief and joy?

2. What are your priorities? What are God’s priorities? Is there a difference? Do you and your spouse have the same priorities? Have you taken the time to list your priorities and compare them or at least become aware of them?

3. Would setting goals together as a couple and seeking God for direction in establishing those goals be possible considering the way you relate now? Are you seeking a change of heart? If you are familiar with Dr. Chapman’s “five love languages,” do your goals reflect ways to show love to your spouse?

Chapter 12: Making Time for the Important

1. What takes the most time in your life—your job, your family, your church, or maybe even your favorite recreation? Does your relationship with God get more than a meager last place? How about your spouse?

2. If you have set priorities and goals, are you actually reaching those? Have you identified the things that are stealing your time and energy that are not at the top of your list? Have you learned when to say “no”?

3. Is making time for what is important impossible? Have you tried eliminating at least one thing in your life that keeps you from your goal? Are the “good” things in your life robbing you and your spouse? What needs to be eliminated? Do you and your spouse agree on those things?

Chapter 13: Identifying Our Differences

1. Did you marry your complete opposite? Have these differences become a source of conflict? What have you done to resolve some of these differences? Are you tolerant or is it more than you can take?

2. Before you were married, did you admire characteristics in your future spouse that were opposite from you? If the theory that opposites attract is valid, what drew you to your spouse in the first place? Have these things now become the stumbling blocks or the building blocks of your marriage?

3. Have you considered yourself more spiritual, more mature, more reasonable on the basis of your characteristics versus those of your spouse? What makes your way best?

Chapter 14: Making Differences an Asset

1. Why would Jesus choose twelve different men with way different personalities to be His disciples? Did He stress out over their differences or did He use them to bring about unity? Would that work at your house?

2. Noting your differences, is there a way that you and your spouse could actually benefit from each other? It takes lots of different ingredients to make a good cake, so is it possible that God would show you how your different ingredients could make a delicious marriage? Are you willing to look on the positive side of your differences?

3. Is resentment a key factor in your attitude toward your spouse’s behavior? Are you concerned that your spouse is being abused or mistreated by someone? Will your spouse be harmed physically by their behavior? Why does their behavior really bother you?

Chapter 15: Why Do I Get So Defensive?

1. Have you noticed that you become defensive when certain subjects are discussed? Do you feel your self-esteem, your worth has been challenged? Are you aware of your own emotional hot spots? Are you aware of your spouse’s emotional hot spots?

2. Are there conflicts in your marriage that just can’t seem to be resolved? Do you see yourself getting defensive every time something even remotely touches on this topic? Have you found it easier to never discuss certain things ever again?

3. Are there times when physically you just can’t take any more? Does this become your excuse for being defensive? Have you seen your spouse become more tense, more stressed, and therefore more defensive?

4. Do you have a typical defense? Retreating? Lashing out? Involving your children in the conflict? How would you counsel someone else if you were watching your reaction being played out by another person?

Chapter 16: Overcoming the Barriers of Defensiveness

1. What is your typical reaction to your spouse’s comments about something you didn’t do exactly their way? What did your defense look like? Or did you hear the heart of what they were saying and continue to communicate in a productive resolution?

2. Have you searched your heart and mind to find the root of your reactions? Was it something in childhood, some insecure place, a failure that you couldn’t change? What emotional experiences that wounded you long ago now surface in your defensiveness?

3. Are you able to listen to your spouse without reacting negatively so that you can learn new positive ways to communicate? Are you willing to humble yourself and ask forgiveness for your reaction or behavior in order to find a better solution, a greater intimacy?

Chapter 17: Intimacy: Naked and Unashamed

1. Have you discovered your mate yet? Has your mate discovered you? Realizing that it takes time and effort to discover something or someone, have you set aside the time to make that happen? Is intimacy a process or simply a euphoric state of being?

2. As you consider your differences, have you recognized your similarities? Are you ready to relate more openly? Where do you continue to compete rather than complement?

3. Do you have a sense of laying aside all fear and allowing yourself to fall in love with and be loved by your spouse as if you were starting all over again? Are you willing to be transparent and allow God to heal past wounds? Are you seeking your spouse as your lover? What feelings do you remember having in those first weeks of courtship?

Chapter 18: Then Came Clothes

1. How is your relationship with God? Is it open and ongoing or has it taken a turn and a wall has been built? Is there sin and shame that you need to confess to tear down the wall? Is trusting God a barrier in your life?

2. Since we know our relationship with God affects our marital relationship, is there anything that needs to be confessed in order to open up communication between you and your spouse? If you admit to each other that something needs to change, are you willing to put your pride to the side? Blaming each other won’t solve anything, but accepting responsibility for allowing things to degenerate is a good starting place.

3. Rebuilding relationships takes time—whether with God or your spouse—but the sooner you start, the better. What is one thing could you do this day to strengthen your relationship with God? With your spouse? How can you be a spouse that is trustworthy?

Chapter 19: Emotional Intimacy

1. Do you think your spouse feels loved, respected, and appreciated? Do they act like it? How do you feel? Does your spouse make you feel loved, respected, and appreciated? Has the perception of your actions given a false impression?

2. Do you believe the worst about people or do you believe the best about them? How does that apply to your spouse? Do you feel they are always against you? Out to get you? Do you quickly jump to conclusions?

3. When you or your spouse experience negative emotions about each other, how do you work through them? Considering the five love languages—words of affirmation, giving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch—how does your behavior demonstrate real love? Does your behavior reflect what makes you feel loved or what makes your spouse feel loved? Do you actually know what makes your spouse feel loved?

Chapter 20: Intellectual Intimacy

1. How free are you and your spouse to share your thoughts with each other? Do you fear you’ll be misunderstood no matter what you say? Are you afraid to let your spouse know your thoughts because they might think you are really dumb or your thoughts are just plain wrong?

2. Do you and your spouse live in different worlds? How free are you to share in each other’s arena? Are you even interested in what your spouse does?

3. Do you “tune out” when your spouse tries to share thoughts with you? Do you have a negative response or reaction? How can you cultivate the art of listening? Does your spouse feel “safe” to share things with you? Do you stop what you are doing to give your spouse your full attention?

Chapter 21: Sexual Intimacy

1. How much has our culture distorted your view of sex? Do you recognize how the enemy has influenced your thoughts about it? What do you see as the purpose for sexual intimacy?

2. Why did God intend sex to be enjoyed only in the context of marriage?

3. How do you and your spouse cope with your different sexual needs? Has this become a problem? Have you taken time to discuss each other’s needs and find a way to fulfill those needs? How does feeling loved and respected factor in?

Chapter 22: Spiritual Intimacy

1. How do you share your spiritual growth with your spouse? Do you feel superior or inferior when you try to relate spiritually? How willing are you to be open in sharing your spiritual successes and failures?

2. Are you and your spouse active in the same church related activities? Does this enhance your relationship or does it bring in more stress? Are you both growing spiritually in these activities or are these simply things that take your time away from each other?

3. Do you and your spouse help each other make individual time for being with the Lord? Do you have some time when you worship and study and pray together? If not, has this become a problem in your relationship?

4. Perhaps your spouse is not a Christian. How has this helped or hindered your marriage? Does your spouse resent your relationship with God? Does your spouse reap the benefits of Christ’s love in your interaction?

Chapter 23: Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me?

1. Has this study of marriage made a difference for you? What do you see as the main thing you can do to enhance your marriage?

2. Have you made some promises to God and perhaps even to your spouse that you now need to follow up on? How can one thing make a difference?

3. If your spouse did one thing today that would improve your marriage, what would you want that to be?

4. How can your church make a difference in your marriage?

 

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