Find the Support Your Marriage Needs
We’re excited to have Jim Burns as one of our NYWC speakers. This blog post is a great start to the conversations he’ll be navigating in his seminar: Balancing Ministry, Marriage, and Family. Check out more information HERE.
As a youth worker, you need to work hard to protect your marriage.
It will not only keep your marriage and family strong, but doing so will also protect the integrity of your ministry. Do you have a support system to help your marriage succeed? Every youth ministry couple should have one! You may find it difficult to talk about your marriage to others, but finding and building relationships with others you trust—those who you can discuss the aspects of your marriage with—will provide rich benefits to your marriage in the long run. Couples who have a support system in place have a greater chance of their marriage surviving and thriving! Here are some suggestions for the kind of support system that can keep your marriage strong…
Find a marriage mentor(s).
Build relationships with couples who are further along in the marriage process than you, in different stages of life. These are the people who have already “been there—done that.” These people can give you perspective, advice, and hope. If you grant them permission, they can speak to your “blind-spots” and let you know of signs of danger they may see in your marriage. If possible, have at least one marriage mentor with a ministry background, who has years of experience as a spouse and parent. (Realistically, due to the nature of conversations you may have, I would suggest this person not be on your church staff.)
Develop marriage “peers”.
Build relationships with other couples who are in the same general stages of marriage as you are. These are people who are “in the trenches” with you. They also can provide neutral perspective to what you experience in your marriage but from peer’s point of view. These couples are great for giving you a helping hand when you need it—as they know what it is like to need help from time to time themselves. Return the favor whenever you can. These friends can be a wonderful source of community; providing a network of support and encouragement. Here again, having marriage peers who are also involved in youth ministry can be a real encouragement as you navigate the delicate balance between ministry, marriage, and family together.
Share your marriage experience with younger couples.
Over time, your marriage constitutes a wealth of experience that other, younger couples can benefit from. Become a marriage mentor. Build relationships with some newlyweds, or those who have been married fewer years and become a mentor—giving the same kinds of support and perspectives to others that you have received.
Encourage marriage-building ministry at your church.
Your local church can be a wonderful source of support for your marriage. Marriage-building ministries can provide classroom type instruction through using resources such as books, videos, speakers, and discussion. Small group discussions on marriage topics can be particularly helpful.
Take advantage of Christian marriage-building seminars when available.
Ministries such as HomeWord, Marriage Enrichment, and Family Life provide regional conferences for building and maintaining healthy marriages. Support can also be found while interacting with other couples at these conferences.
Read and discuss books on marriage with your spouse.
Learning together about the things that make for a healthy marriage is another way to find support your marriage needs. There are many great, Christian books on marriage available. Let me suggest a couple:
- The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Smalley
- His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr.
Find and join a formal, marriage support group.
In ministry, you don’t have a lot of margin to participate in outside groups, but know that marriage support groups exist—and often are extensions of church ministries or professional counseling practices or mental healthcare clinics. If your marriage needs extra maintenance and care, you may find one of these groups very beneficial.
Find a professional counselor.
Some ministry couples are in more need of support than others. Many of these couples can benefit from professional marriage counseling. Where does one start in the search for a good Christian counselor? One good place to start would be seeing if your church maintains list of counselors that they have confidence in. Alternatively, you might consider asking a trusted friend, if they have knowledge of good counselors in your area.
Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord and the executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to people around the world about how to have strong marriages, be confident parents, raise empowered kids, and become healthy leaders. He’s also the author of several books, including Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, and Closer. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live Southern California and have three grown daughters.
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.