It’s easy to get so busy in the ministry that you neglect your marriage relationship, but that relationship is foundational to your ministry. A man may be a powerful preacher or able administrator, but if his marriage relationship is in chaos, his ministry will be greatly hampered. Harmony in the relationship is key to a harmonious ministry.
Remember when you were first “in love”? When he looked at you, you felt like a beauty queen. When she looked at you, you felt like lightning was coursing through your body. After several years of marriage you begin to understand that a lot of that physical attraction is just hormones. Yes, a good sexual relationship will help a marriage and protect it from outside attack, but there’s got to be more to a relationship that that. In time libido will wane, and then what will you have left?
Art and I have been married more than forty years. More and more I see that the biggest hunk of marital love is friendship and companionship. You may change ministries. You may move away from family. But a marriage should last a lifetime. If your marriage relationship is weak, your ministry will suffer too. So how can you protect and nurture your marriage relationship?
Proverbs 31 says of the virtuous woman, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her.” (NKJV)
Your marriage partner should be able to completely trust you and you should be able to trust him. That means you don’t sneak around behind his back and do things you know he wouldn’t approve of. You make decisions that fit with agreements you have already made. You don’t undermine his authority. You know her well enough to know what she’ll like or won’t like and try to please her. You honor joint agreements. You know what your spouse wants to be consulted on and when he doesn’t mind if you make decisions for him and you honor that.
If you can’t trust your marriage partner totally or you can’t be trusted, your relationship will suffer greatly.
Art often quotes 1 Peter 3:7 to married men. “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them (your wives) with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (NKJV)
That means a husband needs to consider the needs and desires of his wife. When he makes decisions he needs to consider what’s best for his wife and delight in making her happy. His decision shouldn’t run over her needs.
At the same time a wife needs to consider her husband, how to help him and make him happy.
Simple kindness and consideration for each other is a big part of what makes a marriage relationship strong.
One thing I love about Art is the fact that he takes care of my silly but precious things like dolls, teddy bears, or collectables. If they are important to me, they’re important to him.
Your marriage partner should be your best friend for life. That means you need to nurture that friendship. You may have separate interests that you like to pursue, and that is healthy, but you should also have things you like to do together.
What do you like to talk about? Are those things encouraging to you, or do they discourage? Can you read or view something together that gives you more to talk about? Is one person doing most of the talking and the other mainly listening? Encourage each other to share the things that mean a lot to you. Thank each other for sharing even when you don’t agree. Instead of censuring your partner, listen to understand his or her viewpoint.
Develop common interests. You may encourage each other in private pursuits, but you should also have things you enjoy doing together. After a while boredom may step in, so consider breaking the mold and beginning a new joint venture.
Art has always been a fast distance runner. He picks up any sport naturally and well. I’m hopeless at sports but love creative crafts and writing. We’ve each pursued our own interests, but we also learn from the other. I understand more about sports than I used to. Art will sometimes talk about writing issues. But we both like to rummage around garage sales and second hand stores. Sure, our house gets full of silly collectables sometimes and we have to restrain ourselves or recycle things we have previously loved. But looking for bargains brings us closer together. I don’t know just why.
Of course, we both love to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef as well. (Who wouldn’t?)
Life is busy for everyone these days. Follow a diet. Spend time with your kids. Increase your skills. Keep up with social networks. Excel at your job. But in your busyness, don’t neglect your marriage relationship or it will affect your ministry and almost every area of your life.
Part Four will discuss managing your finances.