Dear Hurting One

sorry_hurting_heart_Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_10130239_broken-ice-heart.html'>vikasuh / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Welcome to my blog. I’m a psychologist and the co-author (with Gary Chapman) of When Sorry Isn’t Enough. I share tips about What to Say When challenging conversations arise. I’ll check back in frequently to chime in on the conversation here.

“I wish I could get a simple “I’m sorry” from being mistreated especially from my family. My family does not apologize nor ask for forgiveness and the issues linger and it gets swept under the rug. They expect that I just forgive. They do not take any responsibility for their actions. Sending me gifts and calling me …with an attitude is not helping. This is no good and does not even begin to heal and restore the relationship.”

Can you relate to this woman’s feelings?

Here is my message to any woman in her shoes:

Dear hurting one,

Your family should not have mistreated you. Your home should be your castle, a place in which you feel safe and protected. A man has violated your trust. Whether it was a relative who abused you or a husband who left you, your pain is unimaginable. You try to put it out of your mind and move on with life but you are tethered to the millstone of pain. You are not alone in asking questions like these:

Why did he do this?

How could he be so selfish?

What is going to become of me?

Will anyone ever really love me?

Whom can I trust?

Am I safe?

Must I forgive?

How can he stand to live with himself?

How can he bear the guilt he should be feeling?

Why are others friendly with him?

To any woman whose husband has cheated, I’d like to say this:

He should not have acted on his impulses. He should have kept his marriage vows. You have done that for him. He should have kept his promises to you and to God. Please know that I understand your unanswered questions:

How could he ruin our intimacy for cheap thrills?

Aren’t I enough?

What can I do to regain his love?

Do I even want him back?

Why did he gamble with our security and health?

Am I a fool if I accept his apologies and forgive him?

What will others think of me if I work on this mess?

He talks a good game but is he really going to change?

Will I ever trust him as far as I can throw him?

What about our kids? I want to protect them from hurt.

Can I bear to stay with him at least until our kids go to college?

Can we ever be truly intimate again?

To everyone who is hurting, I wish I could collect the pieces of your broken heart and fix them. I wish I could turn back time and make things better. The answers to your important questions will come with time.

You might be tempted to withdraw into your shell but I hope you’ll reach out instead. Ask others for counsel. Ask people to pray for you. Reach out to friends, especially upbeat people who have survived their own hardships. Please accept my blessings, friend, as you continue on life’s journey.

Your Turn:

Does this letter strike a chord in you?

If you are recovering from any hurt, what has helped you?

Leave a comment and be entered in my monthly drawing for a FREE copy of my book.

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Two Simple Things Your Relationships Need For Survival

Welcome to my blog. I’m a psychologist and the co-author (with Gary Chapman) of When Sorry Isn’t Enough. I share tips about What to Say When challenging conversations arise and I welcome your thoughts and questions. I’ll check back in frequently to chime in on the conversations here.

“Good relationships are four parts liking each other and seven parts forgiveness.” Quote by Jennifer Thomas

Gary Chapman is known as “The Love Language Man.” His New York Times book, The Five Love Languages, selling over 9 million copies, has become a classic. To have blissful relationships, showing love is a must.  To have happy friends and co-workers, showing appreciation is essential. Recently, Dr. Chapman has embraced a second necessary ingredient for healthy relationships: dealing with offenses through apologies and forgiveness.  In May, Gary Chapman and I released When Sorry Isn’t Enough, which tells readers how to make things right with anyone. We believe that these two books fit together like a hand in a glove. Both sets of tools are needed to make relationships work.

Today, most engaged couples know that they need to learn each others’ love languages.  Yet they will not be fully equipped for their journey without the matching insight: their languages of apology.  Whether in love relationships, friendships, or the workplace, love languages and apology languages are practical tools for cementing your relationships.

Since our book on apologies was released, we’ve gotten very positive feedback. One person who emailed me gave me permission to share her thoughts with you:

Jennifer,

Do you remember me telling you that I taught on apologies from your book at adult Sunday school at my church?  Well, I had an opportunity yesterday to put your techniques to work.  Someone at church was deeply offended about something that was partially my doing.  I talked with the person one-on-one, and did my best to incorporate all five apology languages.  Whether this person will forgive, I cannot say.  But I was soooooo glad to have had the information from your book to fall upon. I thought you might want to know,

(From my friend)

Also, I received this email from an astute man:

Thanks again for your time at Kiwanis last Thurs.  Really great insights for managing relationships.  My wife and I have had significant arguments about whether or not the other apologized.  I haven’t apologized unless I make it very clear that I was wrong, and she hasn’t apologized unless she makes it clear to me that the future will be different.  Appreciating our different attitudes at least gives us the opportunity (whether or not we take it is another story) to apologize to the other in language they understand and appreciate.

Best wishes,

(From an attendee at one of my seminars)

Are you in a pickle with someone today? Here is a “Cliff Notes” version of both concepts for you to use. Relationships at home and at work can be very challenging. Don’t give up. Use these practical ideas for getting out of any jam with others.

Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages:

  1. Gifts- For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.
  2. Acts of service- Remember that for some people, actions speak louder than words.
  3. Words of affirmation- Say, write, or text encouraging words to other people.
  4. Quality time- This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
  5. Physical touch- To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.

NEW! Our 5 Languages of Apology:

  1. Express regret- Say “I’m sorry for the hurt I’ve caused.”
  2. Accept responsibility- Say “I was wrong.”
  3. Make restitution- Ask, “What can I do to make things right?
  4. Genuinely repent- State how you will change so you will not do it again.
  5. Request forgiveness- Ask, “Will you please forgive me?”

Your turn:

Which do you think needs to come first: Love languages or apology languages?

In your experience, what part of an apology do too many people omit?

 

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What to Say When… She Shops Too Much

Scenario:

Henry believed Anne was perfect when they dated and got engaged. They shared common interests, similar friends, and really enjoyed going out together. However, a few years into their marriage, Henry felt that the only thing “perfect” about Anne was her manicured set of gel fingernails. Plus, she had a habit of going shopping and bringing home bags of new items for herself and their home. When Henry received their monthly credit card statements, he wondered, “Does she think money grows on trees?” When he mentioned the need for both of them to watch their spending, Anne didn’t seem to take him seriously. Henry couldn’t decide what was worse: stressing out over their finances or feeling like the heavy in their relationship.

What to Say:

Henry: I just looked over our latest credit card statement, and our monthly balance isn’t getting any smaller. Could we sit down and talk about our spending?

Anne: I know we had some big expenses pop up this month. But, I’m sure the bill won’t be that high next month.

Henry: I’m not so sure. Let’s look at these credit card statements together. I’m uncomfortable with how much we are spending each month. I’d like to break down these expenses and make a plan for cutting back.

Anne: Do you mean a budget? I don’t really like those. Besides, I know our credit limit and how much money we’ve got.

Henry: I’m not concerned with our credit limit. I’m concerned that we’re spending more than we’re making. Plus, we aren’t saving much money for future needs. I’d really like for us to get on the same page with our finances. How about if we just start by reading a book or taking a class together on money management? What have we got to lose?

Anne: Don’t make me feel like the “bad guy.” Remember, I’m not the only one who spends money around here!

Henry: We’re in this together. I just want us to get on the same page so that we manage our money wisely and prevent bigger problems down the road. I’ll research some books or classes that might be a good fit for us. How soon could we set aside time in our schedule?

Why This Works:

Henry took the bull by the horns and addressed the need to find a new financial plan. He used collaborative words, such as “I” and “we,” instead of making accusatory “you” statements. Sharing responsibility in the discussion helped keep Anne’s defensiveness at bay. Even smarter, Henry suggested that they follow a book or take a class as their guide. That step allows the author or presenter to act as “the heavy,” which takes Henry out of that role with his wife.

What Doesn’t Work:

If you tell your spouse to stop spending money altogether, get ready for a fight. That’s because money is like food – you can’t swear off of it cold turkey. It’s more effective to make adjustments and set goals in smaller steps that both parties agree are reasonable. As you build momentum, spending changes can happen more easily without feeling like a shock to the wallet.

Try This Activity:

Financial problems can turn into a major marriage killer. Take active steps to prevent money issues from stealing the joy from your relationship. Try these activities:

  1. Collect some recent receipts and review them with your spouse. Talk about what items are the most and least necessary. Bonus: If your spouse rarely shops, looking at current prices on the receipts can bring a dose of (shared) reality.
  2. If you feel that spending habits need to be curtailed, discuss setting a price limit to purchase certain items. For example, if you want to buy an optional item that costs more than $50, agree to call or text your spouse first and talk it over.
  3. If personal debt is robbing your peace of mind, consider enrolling in Dave Ramsey’s popular money management course called Financial Peace University. For details, visit: www.DaveRamsey.com

What to Say When He… Breaks His Promise To Be On Time

Scenario:

Kate had the babysitter settled in for the evening with her three kids. There was only one problem. Kate’s husband, Jon, was running late…again. He comes from a family of people known for running late. In fact, his mother is jokingly referred to as “the late Mrs. Brown.” Kate silently fumed while waiting for Jon to get home. She had reminded him to leave work in plenty of time to meet friends for dinner. Their lateness made her feel embarrassed when they were typically the last couple to show up. Would he break another promise to arrive on time? Fifteen minutes later, Jon rushed through the door blaming traffic and saying he was sorry for running late. They jumped into the car and sped off to their event.

What to Say:

Kate: While we’ve got a few minutes together, I need to talk to you about something that is important to me. When we show up late, it makes me feel embarrassed.

Jon: I said I was “sorry.” What’s the big deal? No one seems to care when we arrive a little later than anticipated.

Kate: I don’t want you to be “sorry.” I want you to be here when we you say you will. I understand that it can be hard to break away when important things come up at work. But, I feel like we’re rude to others when show up late to events.

Jon: Gosh. I know you think I always run late. But, you are too uptight about being on time.

Kate: I’m not uptight. I just think it’s polite to arrive on time, and I enjoy having more extra time to talk and catch up. So, here’s what I’d prefer to do in the future. Next time you know you’re running late, call me ahead of time and I’ll drive myself. That would make me feel better.

Jon: Why? Driving two separate cars seems like a waste.

Kate: When we arrive late, I feel like we waste other people’s time.

Jon: OK. I didn’t know that you felt that way. I’ll try to leave work earlier next time.

Kate: Thank you. This means a lot to me, and I have no problem driving myself if you get stuck at work.

Why This Works:

By initiating the conversation, Kate refrains from giving Jon the dreaded silent treatment. Nobody likes to be in a tension-filled position with someone who says through clenched teeth that everything is “just fine.” Kate puts Jon on notice that he should arrive when he agrees to arrive. And, she offers a positive solution to drive herself without him if he’s late in the future.

 

About this blog

 

Our book

 

Gary Chapman is well known as the ‘love languages guy’.  His New York Times bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, has become a classic in the field of relationships.   In 2006, Gary Chapman and I released The Five Languages of Apology, which illuminates the steps for removing barriers in any relationship.  Our book is not a marriage book.  You might want to hop over to my website (www.drjenthomas.com) for a list of our book chapters, which include “Apologies in the Workplace” and “Teaching Children to Apologize.”

We believe that The Five Love Languages and The Five Languages of Apology fit together like a hand in a glove.  Both concepts embody ‘vital statistics’ for making relationships work.  Today, most engaged couples know that they need to learn each others’ love languages.  Yet they will not be fully equipped for their journey without the matching insight: their languages of apology.  Whether in love relationships, friendships, or the workplace, love languages and apology languages are practical tools for cementing your relationships.

In this blog, you’ll find posts about these two essentials:  love/appreciation and handling offenses. I’ll also be talking about apologies in the news and tips for great communication

 

The Forgiveness Service

 

My most popular post concerned my former pastor who recently made a startling apology.  I’ve titled that series of May posts “An Unprecedented Public Apology.”

If you’d like to receive updates on Facebook about my activities and events related to Gary Chapman, you can join our new fan group.

 

My co-author, Dr. Gary Chapman

Dr. Jen Thomas

 

 

Learning Styles and Love?

Here is a one-sentence history of learning styles:

Neil Fleming of New Zealand developed theVARK system of learning styles, which was based upon Bandler and Grinder’s VAK system and Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

V,A, and K stand for these learning styles:

Visual

Auditory

Kinesthetic

I’ve heard it said that a person’s learning style may be revealed by their word choice.  For example:

Visual- “I see what you mean”

Auditory- “I hear what you’re saying”

Kinesthetic- “Lets get moving

As I counsel clients who have lost loved ones, I’ve noticed a pattern of grief being expressed in similar terms.  I wonder if we feel (and miss) love in Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic terms that relate to our learning styles.  For example:

Visual- I’d give anything just to see my mother’s smile one more time.

Auditory- I long to hear my Dad say my name with excitement as he always did when I called.

Kinesthetic- How I wish I could have my mom’s arms around me again.

I’d like to give credit for my “Visual” example above.  I was struck by a comment that my friend, Melissa, made while remembering her dear mother in her blog post about Mother’s Day:

“I started to remember how much I loved sharing life with my mama. And how much she would love seeing me as a Mama. Giving her kisses. Using her petnames and phrases. Laughing her laugh. Making her recipes for my children, the same way she did for me. Even using a Kitchen Aid mixer, just like she did. And I just wish that I could pick up the phone and call her. Or see her smile one more time.”

Well said, Melissa.

I’ve never read about this love/grief application of learning styles anywhere and I’d be interested in what you think!