This is a great Topic that I’m sure will be viewed with many differing opinions and many different experiences. I’m not sure my insight is the perfect one but I believe it has helped our church in the area of marriage.
First a caveat: I have a few guiding principles that I try and live by that have helped me survive in Ministry. As the discussion of marriage and ministry comes up I think it best to set the stage first.
- Save something for yourself: Not everything is your life is for the church. If your not a pastor and your reading this you don’t have a right to 100% of the pastors life and family. Healthy living is not sharing everything on sunday mornings and its certainly not sharing everything with the leadership. In order for your family to feel safe and have a sense of privateness you have to save something for yourself. Have inside jokes, have quiet times just have times that are separate from church.
- Don’t let anyone use your wife: People in ministry want to use your family to get to you so never allow that to happen. Make sure that you have good boundaries when it comes to your wife and children. Remember its you that has been hired not your family.
- Sometimes your family needs to stay at home: Demonstrating good boundaries when it comes to work and home is crucial. If your family feels like they need to be everywhere all the time it will be very draining on them and set up a false expectation for the church.
So what does it mean to demonstrate a healthy marriage. Many would say that this means putting on a great face. Showing how healthy you are in all areas. Having the happy wife and smiling kids. I would say just the opposite. I think demonstrating a healthy marriage means having these following qualities ever present.
- Transparency: There have been times when we as a family are dealing with things and my wife is struggling with God. She doesn’t want to worship or she ends up just crying through service. This is OK in our church and allowing our marriage to be transparent in our feelings will allow others to do the same.
- Conflict Resolution: Not pretending everything is “Just Fine” has helped our relationship and others at our church. Letting people see when things are a little rough around the edges and letting them see you resolve it is healthy. For many years parents have had the idea that fighting in front of the kids is bad but it is just the opposite. Letting kids see healthy conflict resolution provides them with a blueprint for when they get older. The same is true in Church. Model healthy conflict resolution and it will be contagious
- Honesty: We all have sexual issues and admitting them to people is healthy. I have heard my wife tell women who are struggling with not wanting to have sex. “Good your just like me”. This type of honesty is crucial to letting people know they are not alone and helping marriages come together. When I talk to men and we can deal with the shame and guilt of our sex lives it only strengthens our marriages.
- Laughter: Someone once told me that a sick church can’t laugh and I believe the same thing when it comes to relationships. Find ways to laugh together with your wife in church, whether its laughing at yourselves or situations, lets people know that you enjoy each other in spite of the issues. This can go along way in demonstrating a healthy marriage.
To sum it up I think showing a healthy marriage is showing your own brokeness and loving each other through it. Remember that we are not called to live perfectly we are just called to live publicly.