Published Mar 14, 2023
Jeff and I have been married for over forty-two years. As we look back, we cannot believe how fast the years have rolled by. We are very grateful to God for the lessons we have learned. We appreciate the grace of God, which has protected our marriage and used us in His kingdom, in spite of our weaknesses!
Partners in Marriage –
We started out so young. I was barely twenty, and Jeff was twenty-one. We had no idea what we were doing. We have the same values, but our personalities are very different. I was alarmed to find this out in premarital counseling, but our wise counselor said, “Perfect match!” He knew the struggle we would have over our differences would grow us into better people. He was right! God created marriage in Genesis as the first and most important human relationship in His kingdom. Here are some things we learned along the way.
- Establish a healthy partnership by understanding your value and your roles.
I was confused about my role in the beginning. At first, I thought I should be blindly compliant to my husband’s leadership. When I realized that wasn’t healthy, I went in the opposite direction, doing whatever I wanted. That didn’t work either! Then I finally looked closely at Gen. 1:27; 2:18-25. God made us both in His image, both with value and with something to contribute. My husband has the role of leader, and I have the role of helper. This is not demeaning because God calls Himself our helper, “LORD, listen and be gracious to me; LORD, be my helper.” Psalm 30:10 CSB “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1 CSB. These verses help define the term helper and how that fits my role in our partnership. He leads with my added insight.
- Prioritize time and money.
Prioritizing time and money is important as you distinguish between your needs and wants, both in family and ministry. There is plenty of time and money to meet needs, but there will never be enough to meet everyone’s wants. It is essential to discuss time and money periodically, so you will have an accurate view of how things need to be. Be patient with each other as you and your spouse may need to readjust to more realistic expectations. My husband will drop everything if someone dies, but on vacation, he will turn off his e-mail and only allow family and his administrative team to call him. This way, we are both able to take a much-needed break from everyday ministry but can respond to a serious situation if needed.
Partners in Ministry –
When Jeff speaks about ministry marriages, he tells people that there are three kinds of ministry marriages that work, 1) Shared Ministry, 2) Compatible Ministry, and 3) Supportive Ministry. Jeff and I have a Compatible Ministry marriage. We both feel called to ministry leadership, yet we do different ministries. Our ministries are compatible, doing different things but working toward the same goals. Here are a few things we have learned along the way.
- Encourage each other in learning and growing. My husband and I have supported each other through multiple degrees, recommended books to read, and facilitated the attending of many conferences and retreats. All of this has contributed to us being better people and ministry leaders.
- Participate in each other’s ministry. I have been to countless dinners and meetings where I did not know anyone or only knew a few people. My husband has been to my events as well, just because he was being supportive of what I was doing.
- Take a break from ministry and find common interests that do not revolve around ministry. Plan a day off and take your vacation time. You will save yourself from burnout and be a more well-rounded person and couple. When you have a day off, the goal is to take a break from everyday ministry work. Do something fun, relaxing, and something that draws you closer to God.