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Let's face it-even the best of marriages hit an occasional bump in the road now and then. The secret to marital bliss lies in how you and your spouse handle those bumps.
In Happily Ever After, Dr. Gary Chapman, the man who wrote the book on how husbands and wives can effectively love one another, shows couples how to successfully navigate the six most common problems they face: fighting fair, negotiating change, managing money, raising kids, maintaining a healthy sex life, and getting along with in-laws.
Drawing on more than 30 years of counseling experience, Dr. Chapman provides real-world examples and practical, battle-tested advice that will help you and your spouse better understand and communicate with each other … and grow as a couple for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of the bestselling The Five Love Languages (more than 6 million copies sold) and The Four Seasons of Marriage. He is the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc.; an internationally known speaker; and the host of A Love Language Minute, a syndicated radio program heard on more than 200 stations across North America. He and his wife,
Karolyn, live in North Carolina.
Read an Excerpt
Happily EVER AFTERSix Secrets to a Successful Marriage
By Gary Chapman
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Gary D. Chapman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT ARGUING
Let's start at the beginning. In the dating phase of your relationship, chances are that you and your spouse were enamored with each other. You liked what you saw. You enjoyed spending time together. You could talk for hours. He or she was the most wonderful person you could imagine. In short, you were smitten. The courtship may have been long or short, but your positive feelings led you to the marriage altar, where you made a commitment "for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, so long as we both shall live." The promises you made to each other were colossal, but at the time you fully intended to keep them. You were caught up in the current of love and it all seemed so effortless. You knew that you and your mate had differences, but you never thought that someday those differences would become divisive.
Unfortunately, the euphoric feelings of being in love have an average life span of two years. Then we come back to the world of reality, where theoretical differences become actual. Some of these differences we come to view as assets. Alan likes to cook; Nancy doesn't. She likes to clear the table and wash dishes; he doesn't. These differences make for a harmonious mealtime experience. Alan and Nancy work together as a team, each using his or her expertise for the benefit of the other. They experience the pleasure of harmony and may even express it with statements such as, "We were meant for each other," "We are a perfect match," "Life could not be better," and "I'm so glad I married you." When differences are viewed as assets, and husbands and wives work together in harmony, life is beautiful.
Other differences may become divisive. Bob likes sports and spends every Monday night watching football. Jill says, "Football is fine for the players, who are making millions of dollars by bashing their bodies against one another, but why would people want to waste their lives watching other people play a stupid game?" Surely the man she married is smarter than that.
"It's just my way of relaxing," Bob says.
"It's just your way of wasting your life," Jill replies.
"You have got to be crazy. Every man in the world watches Monday Night Football."
"Only the losers."
"Look, I work five days a week. Give me a break and let me watch football on Monday nights."
"Sure you work. So do I. But how about us? Why can't we spend a night together? It's football, baseball, basketball, car races. And if nothing else is on, you watch that dumb wrestling. There's never any time for us." Jill starts to cry and walks out of the room. Bob turns off the TV and now the real fight begins. Monday Night Football gives way to a verbal boxing match. Before the evening is over, Bob and Jill will argue themselves into an intense state of unhappiness.
What did an evening of argument accomplish? Some might say, "Nothing," but that answer would be naive. The argument accomplished a great deal. For one thing, it created greater emotional distance between a husband and wife who now view each other as an enemy rather than a friend. Each feels the other is unreasonable and, perhaps, irrational. Not only that, but they have also stimulated feelings of hurt, anger, and resentment, and troubling questions are rushing to their minds:
"What has gotten into him?"
"What is her problem?"
"I can't believe the things she said."
"How could he be so cruel?"
"What happened to our love?"
"Have I married the wrong person?"
They may even end up sleeping in separate bedrooms that night, or lying stock still and rigid in the same bed as they silently replay the argument in their minds. Yes, the argument accomplished a great deal. Unfortunately, the accomplishments were all destructive.
Perhaps the only positive thing that came from the argument was that Bob and Jill identified a point of conflict in their marriage. He discovered that she intensely dislikes his watching Monday Night Football, and she discovered that he finds great pleasure in watching football on Monday nights. But because the argument did not resolve the conflict, it now stands as an emotional barrier between them that will affect the way they process their relationship. Now, every Monday night, Bob will watch television with a conscious awareness that he is displeasing his wife. And every Monday night, Jill will say to herself, "He loves football more than he loves me. What kind of husband is that?"
We'll come back to Bob and Jill later, but first let me clarify what I mean by the word argue. It is a word that is best known in the legal arena, where attorneys present arguments to show that a defendant is either guilty or not guilty. These arguments are statements made by the attorneys based on available evidence. They are designed to appeal to a jury's sense of logic and reason. The implication is clear: Any reasonable person would agree with my argument. On occasion, an attorney may also appeal to the emotions of a jury by presenting aspects of the case designed to stimulate empathy for the attorney's argument.
In a courtroom, arguments are perfectly permissible. In fact, cases could not be tried without arguments from both sides. Both attorneys present evidence and their interpretation of the evidence, seeking to convince the jury that their position is the correct one. Witnesses can be cross-examined, and implications can be challenged. The judicial system is based on the assumption that by means of argument and counterargument, we are likely to discover the truth about guilt or innocence.
We all know that the cause of justice is not always served in the courtroom, but at least the case is resolved. Defendants who are found not guilty go free. Defendants who are found guilty may pay a fine, be placed on probation, or go to prison, depending on the severity of the case. Or the case might be appealed to a higher court, whereupon more arguments would be presented at each level of appeal until a final judgment is handed down. In every case, somebody wins and somebody loses. Occasionally, one might hear an attorney make a statement such as, "I thought our arguments were good, but apparently the jury was not convinced." Or the winning attorney might say, "We made our case. The arguments were solid, and I think the jury recognized the truth."
When you choose to argue with your spouse, you are electing to use a judicial system to convince your spouse of the truth or validity of your position. Unfortunately, what works fairly well in a court of law works very poorly in a marriage relationship, because there is no judge available to determine whether you or your spouse is "out of order." Arguments quickly become charged with emotion and you may end up yelling, screaming, or crying; pouring out words that assassinate your mate's character; questioning his or her motives; and condemning his or her behavior as unloving, unkind, and undisciplined.
When you argue, your objective is the same as it would be in a courtroom: You want to win the case. You want your side to be vindicated and your spouse to be found guilty of your accusations. This is what is so gravely harmful about arguments. They ultimately lead to one of three results: (1) You win and your spouse loses; (2) you lose and your spouse wins; or (3) you argue to a draw. When an argument ends in a draw, both spouses are losers. Neither one is convinced by the other's arguments, and both parties walk away disappointed, frustrated, hurt, angry, bitter, and often despairing of hope for their marriage.
None of these outcomes is good. The winner may feel good for a few moments or a few days, but eventually, living with the loser becomes unbearable. The loser walks away from an argument like a whipped dog that goes away to lick its wounds. It's not a pretty picture, but it's a common experience. In fact, it's so common that we have a saying for it: "He's in the doghouse." Being in the doghouse means that one spouse has incurred the displeasure of the other and must live at a distance until he or she can once again find the spouse's favor. When conflicts are not resolved and both spouses walk away with stinging words of rebuke and condemnation ringing in their ears, they will typically withdraw from each other emotionally and hope for a better day. If a better day does not come in time, they may eventually seek a "better partner" or resign themselves to the coldness of a winter marriage.
Any victory won by means of an argument will be short lived. The loser will eventually come back with a new argument (or an old argument restated) in an effort to persuade his or her spouse. But the renewed argument will also end with a win, lose, or draw verdict. So you see, arguments never resolve anything; they only reveal conflicts. Once a conflict is revealed, a couple must find a way to resolve it with dignity and with respect for the other person. I believe there are thousands of couples who would like to learn how to resolve conflicts without arguing. That is the purpose of part one, "Everybody Wins."
* * *
Putting the Principles into Practice
1. List three issues you and your spouse have argued about within the past year.
2. What do you find most painful about arguments?
3. What have arguments accomplished in your marriage?
4. On a scale of 1–10, how strongly are you motivated to find a better way to resolve conflicts?
Excerpted from Happily EVER AFTER by Gary Chapman Copyright © 2008 by Gary D. Chapman. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Everybody Wins: Solving Conflicts without Arguing 1
Chapter 1 What's So Bad about Arguing? 7
Chapter 2 Why Is It So Important to Resolve Conflicts? 13
Chapter 3 It's All about Attitude 19
Chapter 4 Conflict Resolution Requires Listening 27
Chapter 5 Listening Leads to Understanding 37
Chapter 6 Understanding Leads to Resolution 43
Chapter 7 Resolution Leads to Harmony 53
Closing Thoughts on Everybody Wins 58
Some Ideas Worth Remembering 58
Part 2 Home Improvements: Negotiating Change with Your Spouse 61
Chapter 1 Starting at the Right Place 65
Chapter 2 Learning the Power of Love 79
Chapter 3 Requesting Change 93
Closing Thoughts on Home Improvements 108
Some Ideas Worth Remembering 108
Part 3 Profit Sharing: Making Money an Asset in Your Marriage in Marriage 111
Chapter 1 It All Begins with Attitude 117
Chapter 2 Work Is a Noble Endeavor 123
Chapter 3 In God We Trust 129
Chapter 4 Giving Is an Expression of Gratitude 137
Chapter 5 Saving Is a Sign of Wisdom 143
Chapter 6 Creative Spending Enhances Profit Sharing 147
Chapter 7 Live within Your Means 153
Chapter 8 Who Will Keep the Books? 159
Closing Thoughts on Profit Sharing 162
Some Ideas Worth Remembering 164
Part 4 Now What?: Marriage after the Children Arrive 167
Chapter 1 Making Marriage a Priority 175
Chapter 2 Taking Control of Your Schedules 181
Chapter 3 Taking Control of Your Money 187
Chapter 4 Learning to Effectively Discipline Children 193
Chapter 5 Discovering the Key to Intimacy 205
Closing Thoughts on Now What? 213
Some Ideas Worth Remembering 214
Part 5 Making Love: Making Sex an Act of Love 217
Chapter 1 Love and Sex: The Perfect Combination 221
Chapter 2 Making Love Requires Patience 225
Chapter 3 Love Gives but Never Demands 231
Chapter 4 Love Is More than a Feeling 235
Chapter 5 Love's Most Effective Language 241
Chapter 6 Love Inflicts No Pain 253
Chapter 7 Love Forgives Past Failures 259
Chapter 8 Making Love Is a Lifelong Journey 263
Closing Thoughts on Making Love 267
Some Ideas Worth Remembering 267
Part 6 In-Law Relationships: Becoming Friends with Your In-Laws 271
Chapter 1 Listen Before You Speak 279
Chapter 2 Learn the Art of Showing Respect 291
Chapter 3 Speak for Yourself 309
Chapter 4 Seek to Negotiate 313
Chapter 5 Make Requests, Not Demands 323
Chapter 6 Grant the Gift of Freedom 331
Chapter 7 Above All, Love 341
Closing Thoughts on In-Law Relationships 346
Some Ideas Worth Remembering 347
Additional Tools 351
A Resolution by Which Everybody Wins 351
How to Get Your Spouse to Change without Manipulation 352
What I Wish My Wife Would Change 352
What I Wish My Husband Would Change 355
Traditional Wedding Vows 358
What Husbands Wish 359
What Wives Wish 362
Suggested Resources 369
About the Author 375
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I recently read Happily Ever After by Gary Chapman. The book is by an author that I have enjoyed many titles from. I read this book looking forward to more good advice. I was not disappointed. I feel this book is a culmination of all his other great books. It had highlights from his other books along with more great new advice to benefit anyone no matter what season of marriage he or she is in. The book is broken up into chapters that each deal with a different area of marriage and family. One can skip to the section that would be of most benefit at the time or can read the whole book to get oodles of good advice. I like how each chapter has a review of the concepts shared and also has action steps that one can start applying right away. I have taught marriage classes to a military ladies groups for the last 10 years and this will be a great book to teach in the near future because of how all inclusive it is in dealing with situations that all married couples face. This book is a must for anyone. I think it would even be great to give as a wedding gift to a newly married couple. I will be purchasing a few copies to share. I have already purchased the audio version so I can share it with my hubby when we are riding in the car. The audio version has a pdf file with it that contains all the additional tools and resources that make the book so wonderful. I was given a copy of this book to review by Tyndale.
Do you want a Happily Ever After? First, this book is so long, has many parts and lots of chapters. Sure a person who is studious or meticulous might read this through from cover to cover, but for most couples, this book is best used as a reference on particular topics. The book covers several topics including conflict resolutions, the five love languages, financial advice, intimacy and respect/love. Overall, the book is great for a newly wed couples and offers good advice on marriage. I really enjoyed Gary Chapmans book on the five long languages, but this book offers a lot more. Although I enjoyed this book, I would probably not read cover to cover again. This is a book I would use for reference. It is very overwhelming and I felt the chapters on finances could have been handled in a more in-depth matter. For someone who has read Dave Ramsey and believes in a debt-free life style, I didn’t feel like the book gave solid financial advice to the newly married couples. I think this book has good intentions and I believe Gary sincerely wants married couples to love and respect one another. I would give this three stars. I would like to thank Tyndale for allowing me to review this book. This is my opinion and I was not compensated for my review.
Happily Ever After is a book written by Gary Chapman. It is a book about newlyweds and the first year of marriage. This book offers "how to's" and tips on keeping your marriage running smoothly and how to get along and nice things to do for each other here and there. It is a rather large book, but being that I was just married last year, it was definetly a relative subject for me and I read it rather quickly. The pages flowed nicely because every page kept my attention. Turn by turn of every page was more informative and more interesting. The author writes in such a fashion to keep the readers attention and keep him or her interested in topic/subject at hand. I recommend this book for any newlywed couple. It makes a great wedding gift as well, or why not purchase it for your spouse? Either way, it is a good read and an informative book.
Let me start by saying this book is a whopper. There are sooo many parts and chapters. Sure, a studious person can get through the entire thing. However, for couples, I think this book is best used as a reference. That being said, the book covers several topics. It is published from a predominantly Christian publishing house, but, in all honesty, this book is more of a well-written self help book on counseling with some Bible verses and God words thrown in every so often. The conflict resolution and five love language explanation parts are excellent. The in-law advice is also astute. The financial advice is useful but vague. For couples looking for solid financial advice, I suggest they get a book that is more in-depth and focused on just that with more economics words and bank terms. I'm not going to lie. The part of the book that talked about--um, er--intimacies did make me uncomfortable. However, overall, it seems that Chapman wants couples to sincerely love and respect each other.