I just got home from a dinner with four other church planter wives. It was an amazing night because I felt so privileged to hear about other women’s stories. We ended the night discussing ways to protect your marriage on this wild ride called church planting.
In church planting, it is possible to be busy all the time. You and your husband could constantly be going in two different directions in the name of ministry. Many wonderful things can come from this, but in ministry it is critical to strike a balance between God’s work and time for other important things, like marriage. Besides, marriage is a place where we do God’s work. Sometimes it can be the most challenging place to minister, because you’re so close, and emotions are so raw and real.
I’d like to share with you some tips discussed around the dinner table that might help you in your life. These tips just might help you feel like you and your husband are moving forward along a parallel track in life, so you don’t end up miles apart.
- Set aside time to date your husband. We all know it’s important to do this. We probably tell other people to do this. But, are you doing this? Do you take a regular date night, or date breakfast? At our table, one wife shared that she and her husband take a date night every Thursday night, even if the kids are sick. She and her husband love knowing they can count on this. One wife shared she and her husband have committed to taking a walk every night after dinner. Every night they debrief about their days, and doing this has helped them to draw closer to one another. Choose something consistent where your husband knows he is important to you, and where you know you’re important to him.
- Be honest about how you’re doing. It’s easy to put on a good face and look the part of ministry. Some may call this, oh, I don’t know, plastic. When you put on a good face to make your husband’s life easier, what usually ends up happening is a big pot of bitterness starts simmering on the back burner of an imaginary stove. Believe us, it will boil over, so don’t simmer with negative emotions. Be honest about how you’re doing at church, and how you’re doing at home, and try to do it with a loving heart. If you don’t wait until the pot is boiling over, it is easier to be honest in a loving way. For example, if your husband, the world’s happiest social butterfly, wants to have five events at your house every week, and it is too difficult for you, suggest instead he find a way to scale back to two nights a week. Most of all, tell the truth in love.
- Take time to connect with other women like you. We know it’s important to spend time with people who are different from us, but it’s okay to also spend time with people who get you. Other women who are in the same boat as you can help you. It is freeing to hear other women’s stories that may sound eerily familiar to your own situation. When you can see that someone else has gone through what you’re experiencing now, you have renewed hope you can get through it, too. When you have the support from other women, you may come home less burdened and be able to have more to put back into building your marriage.
- Synchronize your calendars. This might sound like a really boring way to draw closer to your spouse, but it works wonders. If you take ten minutes every week to go over calendars, several things happen. The first thing is there are no surprises or double scheduling for the week. This means less opportunity for conflict, and that is always great. The second thing that happens, is you feel more important to each other. When I know John has set aside time to pick up my daughter from drama practice on Tuesday night, I feel valued. You can also use this time to dream about what you would like to see happen. If you’re at home with little ones all week, why not ask for a break somewhere in there? That would give your husband more time with the kids, which is good for him and the kids, too. Take time for calendars. I can’t imagine how you would ever regret it.
Lord, please help build the marriages of church planters and their wives. Help men and women to work together in honesty and love as they do your work. We ask that as women, we can be there for one another through the celebrations and the difficulties. We thank you for our marriages, and trust you to bring us through whatever it is we are going through now. We love you Lord,
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV