Friends with Benefits: When ministry takes your spouse for granted
This happens more often than not in ministry, and it’s possible to justify it by claiming we’re doing “God’s work” or “Kingdom work.” But too often those we love most sit at home while we “run the race set before us.” If we are to strengthen our most important relationship, we will need to be intentional about it. Here’s a quick checklist to see if you’re in danger of taking your spouse for granted:
- Do you spend more time on work, ministry, trips, camps, and youth than you do alone with your spouse?
- Do you spend non-quality time with your spouse during which you feel either bored or stressed?
- Do you share your feelings, thoughts, and dreams more easily and more openly with friends, colleagues, students, or strangers at conferences than you do with your spouse?
- Do you view going home as something you have to do between ministry gatherings and meetings rather than something you look forward to?
- Do you seldom make an effort to look your best when you’re with your spouse?
- Do you seldom play or spend spontaneous time together?
- Do you say more negative comments to your spouse than warm, loving ones?
- Do you treat your mate as a roommate or a “friend with benefits” rather than as a loving partner?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to take a serious look at the lack of balance in your life. Ministry demands a lot from us, but it should never come at the expense of those closest to us. Here are some quick and easy suggestions to remind your loved one that he or she matters:
- Stop reading this right now, and send him or her this text, word for word: “If I haven’t told you recently, I love you and couldn’t imagine doing this crazy life without you. I thank God for you. You’re my favorite.”
- Schedule a babysitter, and plan a romantic evening out. No talking about ministry!
- Coordinate a day to leave early from work and grab coffee together.
- Read a book together.
- Take a walk together at least three nights a week.
- Be vulnerable, and start a conversation about that one crazy ministry idea you really want to do together.
- Be vulnerable, and share an insecurity with your loved one.
- Sit quietly, holding hands on a park bench.
- Do the dishes together, or cook a meal together.
- Put your phone down and talk.
- Kiss and caress each other, but don’t expect it to lead to sex.
- Kiss and caress each other, and let it lead to sex.
- Be willing to walk away from ministry if it means saving your marriage. Drop it like a bad habit.
What are other ways you can honor each other while serving in ministry?
Chris Schaffner is a certified addictions counselor working with chemically dependent ’emerging adults’ and is also the founder of Conversations on the Fringe. CotF is an organization seeking creative and innovative ways to bridge the gap between the mental health community and those entities (particularly schools and churches) that serve youth in contemporary society.
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.