Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. There’s even a song about it. Couples in ministry usually find extra opportunities for ministry over the Christmas season. So you would expect ministry couples to feel their closest to each other at Christmas.
Statistically speaking, however, Christmas is a tough time on relationships. December 11, exactly two weeks before Christmas, is the day couples are most likely to break up. Many unmarried couples break up then because their relationships aren’t going well and they can’t bear to go through the holidays pretending everything is all right. Even for married couples, the Christmas season with its many family expectations and social gatherings can be hard to get through when your marriage is struggling.
We expect ministry marriages to be bullet proof, but couples in ministry have the same sort of problems as couples in the pews. Added to the normal stresses of life, ministry couples often deal with the struggles that other couples face as they seek to counsel and help Christians in crisis. Just as ministry couples try to plan more time for family traditions and social gatherings, they are often expected to produce extra services and ministries at Christmas. Each activity may be fun and rewarding, but added all together they can put a strain on their own family relationships. And then the global pandemic has added its own challenges this year.
Personally, I find my marriage is the easiest part of my ministry. I thank the Lord for that. But I’ve found that many marriages struggle in ways no outsiders would ever suspect. Here are some tips for these last few days of the Christmas season:
- Be kind to everyone. You don’t always know who is struggling.
- Don’t let Christmas get out of control. If traditions or obligations are stressing you or your family, take some activities off your list.
- Spend time with family and friends doing simple things you can enjoy.
- Tell your family you love them, that you’re proud of them, and why.
If you get past Christmas and your marriage is still struggling:
- Make working on your marriage a top priority.
- Talk out your problems with your spouse.
- Become accountable to a trusted person outside your marriage. Activities you keep secret can kill your marriage before you even have a chance to work things out. If you’re not okay, you need to tell someone who can help.
- Make space for quality time with your spouse and your children.
- Determine to find a good balance between your ministry and your family.
I hope your Christmas 2020 will build your relationships and not tear them down. May God bless your marriage and ministry this Christmas.