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Culture

3 Relationship Lessons From Doug & Cathy Fields

Jacob Eckeberger
February 9th, 2015

Original photo by Nick Page

The first time I heard Cathy Fields share about being the spouse of a youth worker, I knew I had underestimated how my wife’s staff position at a church would affect our relationship. My spouse, Katie and I are celebrating 1 year of her taking a church staff position and it has been a great experience. Katie has the privilege of working with a great staff and the best volunteer crew imaginable. But as I listened to Cathy and Doug Fields share their story in the NYWC Intensive “Building a Successful Marriage and Youth Ministry”, I realized that there are three things I could learn from their experiences.

1) “The number 1 issue we see in ministry and marriage is busyness.”

Doug shared how easy it was for their schedule to be filled with good things. It took overloading themselves to exhaustion before they realized you can’t have a busy life and a healthy marriage, even if the busyness comes from ministry. In that time, Cathy mentioned struggling with guilt when she wanted Doug to say “no” to some ministry opportunities.

She felt that questioning Doug’s overly busy ministry schedule was the same as questioning Doug’s own relationship with Jesus.

I’m grateful that she passionately and eloquently argued against that idea, which gave me a sense of freedom for those times when I ask Katie to turn down some good, even holy ministry opportunities for the health of our own marriage.

2) “Communicate about the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In the midst of their busiest ministry seasons, Cathy described how important it was for her to see an exact date on the calendar that signified the light at the end of the busy tunnel. It was Doug’s way of letting her know that it’s going to get crazy for a while but that the craziness won’t last forever.

For Katie and I, this is a really practical way for us to plan our family calendar, helping us be flexible with our time and energy during the busy seasons. We can look forward to the exact date when the busy tunnel will end and know we’ll be able to recharge, regroup, and refocus our relationship.

3) “Schedule non-ministry and non-negotiable date times.”

When it comes to sheer numbers and resources, there is a vast difference between the world of ministry that Katie and I know and the worlds that Doug and Cathy Fields have lived in. We are in a church of about 100 members total, in the middle of mid-west farming culture. I can’t speak in definite terms but I would imagine that the culture of our community runs at a much slower pace than the Fields’. So if Doug says he can schedule non-negotiable date times, then we have no excuse.

He encouraged us to think outside of traditional evening dates.

Forget nights if you need to and schedule date days or even date hours.  

That simple idea of creating intimate spaces for Katie and I in whatever days or times might work, ruined any excuses we might come up with for skipping our weekly dates. If a volunteer gathering or a small group takes up the only night of the week we have open, then we’ll get up early and have a breakfast date. Or we’ll have an extended lunch and coffee date. If you think outside of evenings, there really are a ton of opportunities to connect for that much needed alone time.


Jacob Eckeberger is the Content and Community Manager at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, the spouse of a church planter, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him at jacobeckeberger.com.

Jacob Eckeberger

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.

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