Gary Chapman is a counselor, but he still reminds me of my old football coach. After we'd lose a game, my coach would tell us we needed to concentrate on the fundamentals. When it comes to getting your marriage out of a slump, Chapman draws up the same game plan.
In fact, there's a second similarity between Chapman and my old coach. During practice, when a player would complain about being hot, tired, or thirsty, my coach would consel: "Suck it up!" Chapman uses nicer language, but he offers basically the same advice: Do whatever it takes to meet your mate's needs, whether you feel like it or not.
In his New York Times bestselling book The Five Love Languages and his most recent book Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married (both Northfield), Chapman says you can learn to love someone, even if you feel like that person has stopped loving you. It boils down to one fundamental skill—using the language that best communicates love to your spouse.
People generally get married because they can't bear the thought of not spending the rest of their lives together. If couples start out with so much passion, why does loving each other become such a challenge later on?
Part of it is that when these strong emotions begin to die down, couples mistakenly think they don't love each other as much as they used to. They confuse emotions with love.
But isn't love a pretty emotional thing?
Sure, but love isn't dependent on emotions. Love is what you do and say, not what you feel.1