By Mark Dance
Pastors are the only professionals on the planet who are required to win at home and work.
Our job description has been clear about this for more than two millennia (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). Our spouses and kids do not escape the pressure of the pastorate either.
My motive for this post is to take some of that pressure off of the pastor’s family. I do not want to lower the bar of scripture, but I will right-size a few expectations since most marriage and ministry problems can be traced to unrealistic and/or unmet expectations.
Here are six of the most dangerous marriage myths I’ve seen couples buy into.
1. Sex will always be awesome in a ministry marriage.
Sex is a big deal. Not just in Hollywood or the internet—but in the Bible. Not just for the husband, but for the wife, too.
Ladies, I encourage you to read Janet’s post for pastors’ wives called Three Things I Like About Sex.
Guys, I don’t know why our wives are so different from us. All I know is my wife needs security more than sex, and affection more than provision.
The worst thing we can do is to try to change each other. Not just because it is futile, but also because it is an insult to the God who created men and women differently. My favorite book on this subject is Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Lehman.
Don’t let idealistic romanticism rob your marriage from the joy of everyday blessings.
2. Marriage is a 50/50 relationship.
Keeping score makes sense in sports where the result is always a winner and loser. In marriage, competition ends with two losers.
Jesus taught us to go the second mile for other people. Who better than your spouse to practice that principle on? Why settle for 50% instead of 100%?
3. A ministry marriage will never end in divorce.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a pastor say they would never consider divorce, then drop this old, tired line, “I’ve considered murder, but not divorce” (cue the courtesy laugh).
The truth is, we have all committed murder and adultery in our hearts if we have been married very long. If you have considered committing them literally, you would be very hesitant to share that with others.
Obviously, I’m not writing this to minimize or encourage either, but I am making an appeal for honesty to pastors and their spouses.
Ministry marriages experience the same challenges as other marriages, and statistically we trend toward the same results. Nobody will make you happier or angrier than your spouse. Your marriage will have problems, so deal with them honestly as they come up.
4. Oneness does not equal sameness.
I’ve heard people say, “There is no more me, just us.” I’m not buying it.
Instead of suppressing your differences, celebrate them! Becoming one through marriage does not mean you are losing your identity, it means you are gaining unity.
You don’t always need to be on the same page, you just need to know how to deal with an inevitable tie-breaker. You likely have painfully polarizing differences, but covenants are based on commitment, not convenience.
5. Separate budgets are easier.
If you want to be married to a queen, then treat her like one by getting on the same page. Literally.
Prevention is more efficient and less painful than intervention or cure, so invest whatever time is necessary to staying current with your family finances.
Make a spending plan that keeps you on the winning side of compound interest. Art Rainer consistently writes well on a pastor’s finances, so I encourage you to check out his blog.
6. We don’t have time to date.
Sometimes we need to disconnect from our ministries before we can reconnect with our families. Stop making excuses and make sure your calendar matches your priorities.
Our marriage is a parable of the gospel. Ephesians 5:25 tells us to love our brides like Christ loves His Bride, so let’s make sure we don’t get the two confused.