The main reason people get marriage wrong is that they (usually) subconsciously want the marriage to be for their good.
That’s a politically correct way of saying “I want my spouse to give up the rest of their life and spend it making me happy and fulfilled”. Don’t misunderstand me… I am being that blunt. If you go into marriage in the hope that “the marriage” will somehow make you happy and fulfilled, you are placing a HUGE and UNREASONABLE expectation on your spouse!! You are demanding they live for you… Because a marriage is only made of of two people, and if it’s for one of you, it must be at the cost of the other.
You could try and do marriage for the good of BOTH of you… But then, who gets to decide if one of you is getting a better deal, a greater fulfilment? It doesn’t work.
Marriage only works when you go into it for the total good of your spouse, at the total cost of yourself. When you go into it for their fulfilment, not your own. For their happiness, not your own.
And the only way you can do that, is when you have a greater source of fulfilment outside your marriage.
Enter Jesus… The alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the one who loved you, for your good, at the cost of his life.
On one hand, married couples have a great ability to focus and influence and care and endorse. I love married couples who do team ministry. It’s great. There are certain seasons of life where this can happen more and others where it happens less.
But, it’s not always “best”. And it shouldn’t be a limiting factor in working out what you and your spouse are going to formally do with church. Why? It turns something that’s meant to be other-person-centred into something that is only thought about “on my terms”. Be very wary if you hear yourself say something like, “that’s not something we could consider because we can’t do it together.” That’s bad. In fact, I don’t even think it should be in the top 5 questions you ask to consider a particular ministry responsibility.
The married couples I’ve seen do ministry for the long term are those that encourage each other in their individual giftedness, rather than limit their serving to their overlapping giftedness. So, think about how you can encourage your spouse to serve Jesus in ways that you never could. Jesus made them for that… and Jesus gave your spouse a great helper to help them… you.
Desert-island theology is when you try to reduce a theological question down to its basic elements. This can be a really helpful activity for thinking clearly, however it need to be taken back into context. Some examples:
What is marriage? Well, if a single guy and single girl found themselves stranded on a desert island, couldn’t they make promises to Other and get married and have sex and it not be sin? Sure. At its most basic level marriage is two people in a covenanted relationship. But that doesn’t mean you and your girlfriend are married when you promise to live each other and decide to have sex. You’re not on a desert island!! The basic principles are not the only ones.
What about church? If two people find themselves on a desert island, and they read the bible and pray – yeah, it’s their church! But when you refuse to be part of a local group that has authorities and support, you’re ignoring Jesus’ people.
Desert island theology is a helpful tool for identifying important elements of ideas, but those ideas should never be left on the island.
We need different types of time with people. Your spouse is a good example.
It’s good to set aside time with your spouse each week to talk about, plan and pray for the various ministries you’re both doing. It’s also good to set aside other times where you can be together but not talk about those things.
Most small groups do something similar; prayer time, bible time, hanging-out time.
Have you thought about how this translates to your ministry team? Do you only spend “planning time” and “doing time” together? Are there other types of time that you should plan to spend together.
Marriages shouldn’t have secrets. You should never promise that you won’t tell your wife/husband. People who reveal private and personal details to you should know that those details could go to your spouse.
But “could” is the operative word there. I’d be wary of the couple who say they “must” tell each other everything. Couples should only share other people’s private issues if they think it will be really helpful for the person involved to have their spose’s perspective. But, here’s some reasons to not share other people’s private issues with your spouse:
- if you think your spouse won’t find it helpful (e.g. it will seriously damage their opinion of someone else in a way they won’t be able to contain)
- if you think your spouse won’t be able to keep it private themselves
- if you think your spouse just doesn’t need to know and them knowing really isn’t going to help you… why share it at all?
- if you’re concerned you’re tending to gossip (you could say, “I’d like to share it, but I need to consider my motives for a while first.”)
- if you’re concerned your spouse only wants to know because they like gossip (you could say, “I’m happy to tell you, but maybe in a few days, and if you still think you need to know, ask again.”)
- if your spose is under other obligations to deal with information (e.g. they might be required by law or by their work place to report any incidents of a certain nature) you should think hard if your spouse will need to act upon hearing the information – and if you’re happy for that to happen.
It’s not just as simple as “tell your spouse everything”. You could… but not only should you have a good reason, you should also make sure there’s not a good reason to refrain.