This article is part two 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.
'And they lived happily ever after!'
Are you kidding me? I'd venture to say that any of us who have been married for any length of time have figured out that creating a good marriage takes work! But here's my question: who are you married to? I mean, let's just get really honest. Who consumes your thoughts, your time and your energy? Whose companionship do you seek? Who has your heart? Who are you married to?
OK, OK, I know the 'Sunday School' answer is Jesus, and obviously, in order for any other relationship to be healthy and God-honoring, Christ must be first. We have to seek Him first, and as ministers, it's all too easy to let the business of the ministry we do crowd out the One we serve. Our relationship with Christ should be our priority, and if we aren't giving Him the place in our lives that He deserves, we have to start there.
But what about our human relationships? It's hard, isn't it? There is always someone calling on us, another need pulling at us. Important, even urgent needs. Someone struggling, someone hurting, someone lonely. And, oh my, our calendars are full! It's so easy to let our spouses take a backseat to squeakier wheels. When we consistently put everyone else before our spouse, however, we risk damaging the most important human relationship we have, and ultimately, we miss an opportunity to reflect Christ to the world.
So how do we start getting our relationship priorities back in order?
Be intentional! Be intentional! Be intentional!
Schedule time together. Make appointments on your calendar, and guard your time carefully. Find ways to reconnect. Try spending 15 minutes together on the couch each evening, with the TV off, phones off, and kids occupied. Look each other in the eyes. Ask questions, and listen carefully! You would do all of that for someone else who walked into your office. Your spouse deserves your focus, too.
Don't keep secrets!
Obviously, we shouldn't be dishonest with each other, but what about when we try to 'protect' our spouses from the heartaches of ministry? Aren't there things that they don't need to know? I would argue that when we don't trust our spouses enough to allow them to help carry our burdens, we are missing a chance to increase our level of intimacy. Keeping secrets, ANY secrets, breeds division and distrust. Be transparent with each other, especially in the hard things.
Don't just preach it. Do it! Pray together, out loud, every day. Open your mouth and say out loud what you are praying inside. Intercede for each other. Thank God for your blessings, starting with that precious person sitting next to you. We are commanded to 'pray for each other so that you may be healed' (James 5:16). There is no more powerful way to serve each other and to create unity in your marriage than by joining together in agreement with the Creator of our hearts and the Author of our story.
It's simple, but it sure isn't easy. And it's work. But it's the important work of creating a very good marriage.