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The 700 Club

Dr. Gary Chapman on "Life Lessons and Love Languages"

Building A Foundation

Gary Chapman spent the first 27 years of his life getting an education. After he received his Ph.D., he went into ministry working as a professor (Piedmont Bible College, now Carolina University) and associate pastor (Salem Baptist Church) for three years. In 1971, he joined the pastoral staff at Calvary Baptist Church and has been there for over 50 years. 

Marital Issues 

When Gary and Karolyn were married on August 12, 1961, they were deeply in love, but the honeymoon phase had already worn off since they dated for over two years before marrying. After moving in together, they realized how different they were. Karolyn’s habit of leaving cabinet doors and drawers open drove Gary nuts. His obsession with her closing them, drove her nuts. Their love languages couldn’t have been more different. 

They were married 20 years before Gary discovered the five love languages (Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, and Receiving, Gifts). He explains, “I will never forget the first time I encountered the reality that what makes one person feel loved does not make another person feel loved.” This realization happened when a couple came into his office who had been married for 30 years. The husband showed his love to his wife with acts of service—washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, mowing the lawn, etc. The wife’s love language was not acts of service. So, while she appreciated what he did around the house, she felt unloved. During a counseling session, she told Dr. Chapman, “He is a hardworking man, but we don’t ever talk. We haven’t talked in 20 years. He is always washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, mowing the grass, or walking the dog.” Gary admits, “I realized there was a man who genuinely loved his wife, and here was a wife who did not get it.” 

Applying the five love languages in his marriage, made a difference. Gary shares, “We had worked through the pain of the earlier years, and both of us would say we had a good marriage...However, when I discovered the love language concept, our marriage took a giant step forward.”

They have been married almost 60 years, have two grown children, and two grandchildren. Karolyn has battled cancer and won, and their marriage is stronger than ever. 

Raising Kids 

Gary kids Shelley and Derek couldn’t be more different. Shelley followed the rules and didn’t rock the boat while Derek was a free spirit who challenged his parents often. When they became teenagers and times were more difficult, Gary shares some lessons learned. “One of the things I learned from my teenage children is that dialogue is much more productive than monologue. As parents, we are still the authorities in the home. We still have the final word, but we need to hear the teen’s perspective. I have come to believe that parents of teens should listen three times as much as they talk. If we become good listeners, our teens will respond more positively to what we say,” he says.  Shelley is a successful doctor and Derek has a successful ministry geared toward the art community. 

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