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How to keep your relationship strong during coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 3:54 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 15:54:52-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As author of the New York Times bestselling book "The 5 Love Languages," counselor and pastor Dr. Gary Chapman, Ph.D. has guided couples and individuals in receiving and expressing love for decades.

In this time of crisis, he offers words of encouragement and guidance for those struggling in relationships, and those struggling to show love to those who are distant due to quarantine and self-isolation.

"The deepest need we have as humans is to feel love by the significant people in our lives," Chapman said in an interview with WPTV anchor Ashleigh Walters. "If we feel loved, life is beautiful in spite of problems we might face. If we don’t feel loved, life begins to feel pretty dark. So it’s important whether we’re going through crisis or whether we’re not going through crisis. Keeping love alive in a relationship. Whether it’s marriage or whether it’s a dating relationship, or whether it’s a child relationship. The need for love is consistency with human nature."

WATCH INTERVIEW:

FULL INTERVIEW: Dr. Gary Chapman talks about keeping love strong during coronavirus pandemic

Chapman's theory is that there are five main ways humans express love, and each of us prioritizes them differently:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

If you are not sure which Love Languages you prioritize, take the free quiz by clicking here.

33 million people have taken the quiz.

Chapman said that when we can create a good climate by expressing love in the right ways so our partner understands and feels loved, we are able to get through crises much more easily together.

"If children feel loved by the parents, there’s less misbehavior. A lot of the misbehavior of children is to get the attention of the parents," Chapman explained. "And consequently, a lot of the misbehavior of a married couple is because they’re trying to get the attention of the other person. If we can work on the positive side, rather than let our negative emotions control the way we talk to each other and relate to each other, if we can turn that around, and look for the way that we can communicate with each other, in the most positive way, we are going to create a positive climate in the family and we can handle everything that we’re going through in a much more positive manner."

In a recent Facebook post, Chapman offered some suggestions for specific love languages during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chapman wrote a military edition of his famous book, and says we can draw from the things that have helped spouses separated by war.

"You would think for example, if you’re half a world away, in our present situation it just may be across town but you can’t go there, they can’t come here. How would you speak physical touch? When there’s physical distance? One wife said to me, I knew his love language was physical touch. So while he was deployed, I put my hand on a sheet of paper, I traced my hand and I mailed it to him with a note that said ‘put your hand on my hand, I want to hold your hand. When he came home, he said to me, Gary, every time I put my hand on that paper, I felt her. It’s not literal touch, it’s emotional touch, but that’s what we’re talking about," Chapman said.

Another woman had a jean jacket worn by her spouse that she would wear to feel his arms around her.

Chapman encourages people to use their creativity and tools to make connections, like through FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom.

When it comes to children, even under stress, Chapman suggests you consider their earliest tendencies to understand how to better connect with them.

"You can really determine a child’s love language by the time they’re 4 years old. Observe their behavior. How do they respond to you and other people? My son’s love language is physical touch. When I would come home in the afternoon, he would run to the door and grab my leg and climb on me. He’s touching me because he wants to be touched. Our daughter never did that. At that age, she would say, daddy come to my room, I want to show you something. She wanted quality time," Chapman said.

While people may be spending hours together under one roof, Chapman encourages all to consider if it’s really quality time.

"Quality time is not simply sitting on the couch talking. It can be a project that the two of you agree on. Why don’t we cleaning out that closet today. Would you work with me on that? Could we do that for part of our time? Sure let’s do that. The important thing is not the closet, the important thing at least to the person who’s language is quality time. The important thing is we’re spending time together with something that at least one of us thinks is important," Chapman said.

Finally and perhaps most importantly for Chapman, a Christian pastor, is a sense of faith.

"Life’s meaning is not found in possessions. Life’s meaning is found in relationships. And when we develop relationships, our relationship with God and relationships with our each other. We are investing our lives in things that are eternal. Because we are going to live forever, at least in Christian life, and life beyond the grave is fascinating and wonderful, you know?" Chapman said.

Chapman suggests we understand it’s a concerning time, but not to allow it to consume our lives. He finds peace in believing in Jesus Christ.

"We’re going to live our lives through this, and we’re really going to try to make this a positive experience for our family," said Chapman. "These could be great days in the family. If we think in terms of how can we make the most of this. And we could give our children such a wonderful experience during this time with our children, that 20 years from now, they could look back and say wasn’t that great when mom and dad were both were there and they were loving each other and we were loving each other, wasn’t that a great time?"