Have you ever had any of these thoughts?
Cory and I have been in ministry full time for most of our adult lives. We have served together, raised our kids under the watchful eyes (and often vocal opinions) of our congregations, led out in Bible studies and taught classes together, fed youth and changed diapers, stacked chairs and met needs. We have seen the impact of tragedy, felt the sting of rejection, held the hands of the grieving, celebrated with the joyous, and cried with the broken. You've been there, too. The problem is, we are fighting the same battles as those we shepherd, but there is virtually no one to share in our troubles. As ministers, finding a healthy support system isn't easy. It's even tougher when the battles are happening inside of our homes.
One of our favorite things to do together is to lead out in marriage ministry. We find such joy in helping husbands and wives celebrate each other, grow together, deepen their relationships and increase in intimacy. It breaks our hearts, however, to realize that our fellow ministers and church staff members often don't feel safe sharing their burdens and bumps. I mean, how do you really get vulnerable with others, while knowing that next Sunday a church member will be distracted during the sermon thinking about how the pastor has struggled with pornography, or wondering how the music minister can raise his voice to God and to his wife, too. How does a minister's wife reject her husband and yet paste a smile on her face and welcome others with open arms? We get it. It breaks our hearts, but we get it.
Can we just encourage you a bit? You matter. Your family matters. Your marriage matters. It matters when you give your time to each other. It matters when you find the energy to listen a little more closely. It matters when you pick your spouse over others. It matters when you chose grace.
Marriage isn't easy, but the investment is so very worth it. Prioritize your time together. Serve each other. Love deeply. Communicate clearly. Fight fairly. Connect intimately. Forgive. Find a couple, maybe even one in ministry in another town, to confide in and to hold accountable. Use your resources...and your day off! Take some vacation time, and spend a few days reconnecting with each other. Pray together. The sacrifice is worth it. Your spouse is a gift, and we more clearly reflect the love of Christ to others when we love our husband or wife well.
We know you are tired. There are constant demands on your time and drains on your energy, and many times you arrive home without anything left to give. Give anyway. Create in your relationship a place of refuge and of rest, of encouragement and of peace. Your spouse needs and deserves that as much as you do. There are unique hurdles and challenges to this whole 'marriage in a fishbowl' thing, but we want to help.
You spend your lives pouring into others. Let us pour into you.