This article is part four of the Marriage in a Fishbowl series, focused on encouragement and helpful marriage tips for ministers. It is written by Cory and Amy Brand, a ministry couple serving in Corsicana. Click here to read part one, part two, and part three.
“So, what do you do in your free time?” (We’ll give you a minute to stop laughing…) We have found that, even when we do have a free minute, we don’t really even know what we enjoy doing anymore. So much of our time is scripted for us that we can’t even imagine having a choice of activities!
I read an article recently by Pastor Chris Hodges called “How to Make Your Marriage Ministry-Proof.” In the article, he used this analogy:
“Who doesn’t enjoy a warm fire on a cold night? But that crackling fire doesn’t just happen by itself. You have to remove the ashes, set the kindling, go outside to the log pile, brush off the snow, bring the wood inside, and keep logs on the fire. It’s a lot of work. And before you know it, the embers are burning low and you need to put another log on the fire.”
Our relationships don’t just stay red hot. I’d even suggest that, in ministry, there are more things burning that can reduce those logs to ashes before we know what’s happening. We have to be intentional about regular maintenance and attention. Choosing to spend time together in recreational activities can infuse our relationship with laughter, conversation, connection, even romance, and can help keep those flames alive!
I could spend all day browsing the aisles of Hobby Lobby, and Cory, while he might join me, would likely be quietly looking for the closest exit! He, on the other hand, loves to spend time in a hunting stand. I’m a sucker for creature comforts and would be too hot/cold/hungry/you name it, and I can guarantee that neither of us would enjoy the time together!
We can choose to ‘gift’ ourselves to each other and sacrifice our preferences, maybe even finding a compromise to make the time enjoyable for us both. I could take a blanket and a good book into the stand, or he could browse the aisles of the craft store on the promise of a good meal when we are done. Or, if we have a willingness to try something new and give ourselves a chance to learn necessary skills, we might just find that we have a lot more in common than we think!
Finding activities that we both enjoy requires creativity and most likely a bit of trial and error. Some activities may ‘click’ as soon as we try them, but others may take a while to discover if we can make adjustments to both enjoy our time together. Maybe you are both creative…try a painting or woodworking class! Like to be outdoors? Fishing or hiking might be a good fit. Athletic? Tennis or swimming might be your thing! Need a little culture? How about a play or concert? Craving time at home might call for some gardening or a fierce game of checkers!
Many couples find themselves drifting apart, when they’ve simply failed to consider each other in selecting recreational activities. Of the thousands of activities that you can enjoy, why not find those you can share? Keeping a marriage alive and healthy through the demands of ministry takes work. Make the effort, and you’ll reap the benefits!