Help for marriages, pastors, counselors
Randall Murphree
Randall Murphree
AFA Journal editor

April 2012 – “I wish I had known that toilets are not self-cleaning,” writes Dr. Gary Chapman in his book Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. That quote is the title of chapter 7, which opens this way: “In the home in which I grew up, the toilet was never dirty. It never crossed my mind that someone was cleaning it.”

Two weeks after he married Karolyn, she wanted to know when he was going to clean the toilet.

“Clean it?!” he said. “… I don’t know how to clean a toilet.”

“Well, then let me teach you.”

“Can’t we just get something that automatically cleans it when it flushes?”

“Those things don’t work. They’re a waste of money.” So Karolyn taught her new hubby how to clean the toilet. And he’s been learning from her ever since.

Chapman will be one of the headliners at the Marriage America Conference April 12-14 in Orlando, Florida. As a plenary speaker, he’ll be sharing more “I wish I’d known” principles –  practical wisdom he has gleaned from 50 years of marriage to Karolyn. 

In addition to Chapman, the event boasts a virtual “who’s who” of marriage and family ministers, pastors, authors and counselors who will be there to encourage and challenge, and to offer resources and help for marriages. (See below for registration information.)

The conference is sponsored by AFA and American Association of Christian Counselors. The AACC says that scores of presenters at the conference assure that there will be something for everyone – pastors, small group leaders, marriage and family advocates, married couples, life coaches, mentors, counselors, students and researchers.

Marriages in trouble
“There’s no question about it,” Chapman told AFA Journal. “Marriages are in trouble in this country.” He said the best statistics indicate that 40% of first marriages end in divorce. For second marriages it’s 60%, and third marriages 75%.

“It’s not that marriage is out of style,” he said, “because four out of five of the people who divorce will remarry. So I don’t think we’ve given up on marriage.” He believes events such as Marriage America give people the practical help they need to have the solid marriage they really want.  

“I believe every church in the country should have a marriage enrichment ministry going on all the time,” Chapman said. If a small church cannot afford a counselor on staff, it needs to know Christian resources within the community or nearby cities. 

“A church has to put this on the front burner because it’s such a huge issue in our culture,” he added, “and if we can’t live out the Christian faith in the family, we’re never going to be able to transport it to the non-Christian world.”

He believes marriage enrichment programs can be a bridge to ministry. “Non-Christians are willing to come to something at church on marriage,” he said. “They’ll come to get help, and in that context, we might be able to point them to the real help.”

Chapman is senior associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His best known book, The 5 Love Languages, has sold more than five million copies, and Chapman leads seminars and teaches all over the world on marriage and family issues. For more on his ministry, visit or write Marriage and Family Life Consultants, P. O. Box 24053, Winston-Salem, NC 27114.  undefined 

Marriage America Conference
April 12-14, 2012
Orlando, Florida

For $50 AFA discount
Call 800-526-8673

Full-time students
Cost $99

Hotel reservation
Rosen Plaza Hotel