One of our GLD Michigan PWs, Tamra Barbieri, shares her insights from Resilient Ministry chapters 11-12.
"I have experienced both. My husband was in the corporate real estate world, climbing the "ladder" for 17 years, but God. He had other plans to lead us into the life of ministry. And…I wouldn't change it for the world! I have loved serving the Lord with my husband, and it is so different from the corporate world we inhabited. I wasn't involved in his secular work, it was the job he did, and it did not impact my daily life all that much. However, the ministry is a family affair! It is not just his job—it is our life. His job now impacts all of life, and the people at his work are now part of our "extended family."
Every marriage faces difficulties and even strife, but when you add ministry to marriage, this adds a unique set of challenges to navigate. Resilient Ministry's research identified several challenges that ministry couples face. The 24/7 nature of ministry can create emotional stress felt by the entire family. When true friendships are scarce, your spouse can become the emotional dumping ground, and the children can begin to sense the tension adding to the turmoil in the home. Families can often be sidelined or put on the back burner because the ministry feels it demands center stage. Not only can this stress impact emotional intimacy, but physical intimacy may begin to suffer as well. Even our personal spiritual growth can become more duty than true intimacy with our Lord.
To combat these unique challenges in ministry, we need to set aside focused time, communicate in healthy ways, and be intentional. Here are some suggestions:
- Have regular check-in times with your spouse to assess how you handle the "normal" pressures of life and the ministry; expectations in the home and ministry; how and what they share with you regarding church difficulties; and how you each handle this information.
- Be intentional about fostering safe friendships outside the church where you can be honest and real to process the ministry's emotional toll.
- Raise your awareness of how ministry impacts your children and check in with them about how they feel and process the ministry life.
- Be intentional about your sex life. Yes, intentional!
- And most importantly, Pray together. Make your family's spiritual growth a priority, starting with you. No one understands the challenges of ministry better than our Lord. Ask Him to grow you in maturity in the areas you need most.
Healthy communication is the key to a thriving marriage. Learn how to communicate well. Hint: The Bible is full of verses on communication; look them up and ask your spouse how you are doing according to the verse. Choose to listen to understand rather than to get your point across. James 1:19 says, "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." If we would just put this one verse into practice, it has the power to revolutionize our marriages.
Our Marriage and Ministry prayer verses:
Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
- Ephesians 4:25-26,29 "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."