Author visits KMC, discusses languages of love

by Tech. Sgt. Markus M. Maier
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

More than 500 men and women from throughout the KMC filled the Ramstein Officers’ Club’s ballroom Oct. 30 to hear from a man who has devoted his life to educating couples about how to improve their relationships.

Dr. Gary Chapman, award winning author of “The Five Love Languages — How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” spent the day sharing his thoughts on healthy relationships as part of a marriage seminar hosted by the 86th Airlift Wing Chapel.

Learning Love Languages
Dr. Chapman said positive communication is the foundation of a good marriage and is especially important for military families.

“I think the stress factor of deployments is something you don’t face in the civilian world,” he said. “There are business people who are gone a week at a time. To be gone for several months, that’s the unique part of the military, as well as the stress that they are under while they are deployed. So, I think the pressures on marriages are greater in the military than they are on the civilian world.”

The author started the six-hour seminar with Communication 101, where he talked about the importance of being able to solve differences without arguing.

“All of us know what arguing is,” Dr. Chapman said. “It doesn’t lead anywhere. In fact, if you win the argument, your spouse lost the argument. Who wants to live with a loser? What I try to (teach) is that we can respect each other, respect our ideas, respect our feelings and look for answers rather than trying to convince them to think the way you think.”

He then moved on to how to understand and express love. That, he said, is where “The Five Love Languages” comes in.

“Everybody speaks a different (love) language, and you have to learn to speak the language of your spouse if you want them to feel loved,” he said. “All of us want to feel loved. And in marriage, the person you would most like to love you is your spouse. Understanding how to do that has helped a lot of couples stay connected emotionally.”

Dr. Chapman also talked about the physical aspect of marriage.

“You would think in our society with so much talk about sex so openly that this would not be a problem area,” he said “The reality is, it is a problem area. Many couples struggle in this part of marriage.”

He then talked about how even the smallest issues can create tension in a marriage.

“Squeezing the toothpaste in the middle instead of the bottom,” he said. “Those kind of things. How to get your spouse to change those things and how do you come to accept the things they either cannot change or for some reason they choose not to change.”

Throughout the day, Dr. Chapman, who’s been married for almost 50 years, used a lot of humor and examples from his own life experiences to illustrate his messages.
“My wife and I went through severe struggles in the early years of our marriage,” he said. “So, I’m very empathetic with people who are struggling with marriage. I know what it is to be miserable in a marriage and I know what it is to find answers. I think this highly motivated me to help others because I feel their pain.”

And Dr. Chapman’s message has been shown to resignate with couples, thus landing him an invite to the base for the second year in a row.

“After last year’s event, we had maximum attendance,” said Capt. Bradford Phillips, 86th Airlift Wing chaplain. “So, we asked Dr. Chapman if he would consider coming back again, and he graciously accepted.”

This year’s event was equally successful.

“You can call it marriage maintenance,” Chaplain Phillips said. “We do maintenance on our cars, we do maintenance on our airplanes — this does the same thing for marriages.”

The chaplain also echoed Dr. Chapman’s thoughts on the role a healthy marriage plays in a deployment.

“Positive communication is absolutely key,” Chaplain Phillips said. “If you leave with your communication skills at 20 percent, things are not going to go very well. And lots of things come up during deployments that could be bad. You want to have the healthiest marriage possible before you leave so you can go downrange, do your job and not worry about your marriage.”

The chaplain said he sincerely believes in the principles of love languages and has seen it work for couples in the past.

“When people understand what each other’s primary love language is and then begin to apply those principles, they immediately change the dynamics of their marriage,” the chaplain said. “If they start doing that on Day One after leaving my office, that afternoon they go home and they start improving their relationship immediately.”

And for those in attendance, it was a message well received.

“It puts marriage counseling into kind of a humorous manner,” said 1st Lt. Kate Smutok, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center nurse, who attended the event with her husband Dave. “We are newlyweds and we are here just to be proactive because we’ve read one of his books while we were dating and it was beneficial, so we thought that we would take the opportunity to come here. It’s nice how he puts it into a humorous way. He mocks men and he mocks women and he kind of makes fun of both sides and everyone is laughing because they know it’s true.”