By Rob Hurtgen
I have a confession. I am a poor participator in Valentine’s Day. I’m not a fan of the made up holiday or paying three times the normal rate for flowers. But I have come to know—often by grave mistake—how important it is to celebrate Valentines Day, especially in a marriage marked by ministry.
Allow me to share some lessons I have learned as to why you really should celebrate Valentine’s Day with your wife. (This is written from the perspective of a husband to other husbands. Guys, we’re all in this together.)
You don’t tell your wife how much you appreciate her as much as you should.
I know I don’t.
No matter how many times you say, “I appreciate you” it is not enough. She has followed you around from place to place, church to church. While her friends have rooted themselves and are raising their families in communities they were born in, she moved. She followed you from this ministry, to that ministry, from this town to that town. She went to the city with you for seminary and the country with you for ministry. Ministry has made you both more mobile than you ever expected.
Sure you are a team. Yes, you are following God’s will for your lives. Yes, the kingdom is being advanced because of your commitment to make much of the name of Jesus. Yes, you both have sacrificed. But, how appreciated does she feel? Do you really need to take the chance of finding that out the hard way?
Let her know how much you appreciate her. Not just on Valentine’s Day but throughout the year. Create a reminder on your calendar to tell her and to show her how much you appreciate her. It is so much easier and better for your marriage to show your appreciation for her than to try to make up for the years you did not.
Being a ministry wife is harder than you realize.
When Peter wrote “live with your wife in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7 ESV) he could not have imagined the pressures that not just a twenty-first century woman faces but the additional weight on a woman whose husband is in ministry. But the Lord did. This is why men are commanded to be a student of their spouses. To proactively study them, figure out who they are, and understand them.
Your wife—even if she never voices it—is under constant pressure from others in your church. Even if your church has the most tolerant, understanding and compassionate people on the planet, she feels pressure to not just be a woman, but a mom, your wife, and the pastor’s wife. All of those unique roles carry with them tremendous expectations; even if she is the only one placing those expectations on her.
Being a ministry wife is harder than you realize. You will never understand that, but she needs to know that you value her. She needs to know you are trying to understand.
My girls need to know how their husbands should treat them.
I started buying my girls Valentine’s gifts after the known but terrifying revelation that they are going to leave my house, marry, and have families of their own. I knew this, but I did not realize this immediately. Now, what that means is that I am setting the standard by which they will judge all men by both how I treat them and how I treat their mother.
When I go out of the way to show their mother how much I love, appreciate, and value her I am not just engaged at the moment but creating a legacy. My girls need to have an image engraved on their hearts as to how a Christian husband should treat them. I want those boys who come sniffing around to be terrified of the role they are about to assume in those girls’ lives. Every action and inaction ripples throughout generations.
I know that I have not shown my wife how much I appreciate her. I am certain that I will need to re-read this in the future and get back on track. And I am certain I am not alone.
A ministry marriage is harder than you or anyone else realizes. Make certain your wife knows that you are trying to understand that. Show her how much you appreciate her.
Rob lives in Chillicothe, Mo., with his wife Shawn and their five kids. He’s the pastor of First Baptist Church. He also blogs at robhurtgen.wordpress.com.