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Married, Spiritually Single, and Called to Lead

Managing tension between marriage and ministry

As a married woman in leadership whose husband doesn’t share her faith, I’ve learned that managing the tension between marriage and ministry is hard. Navigating competing values and priorities, cross-gender relationships, and loneliness can be frustrating and discouraging. But if you and your husband are willing to invest time and effort, you can make it work.

Recently, my husband and I faced a difficult decision that allowed us to see the fruits of our efforts and just how far we’d come.

A few weeks ago, as I was finalizing preparations for a retreat I was leading, we received a call from our nephew. My husband’s brother had died, succumbing to the cancer that had ravaged his body for months. His family and their spouses agreed to meet the next day to plan the memorial service—the same day I was due to begin the retreat.

My heart was with my husband, and I wanted to be him as a source of support. However, knowing the hours of preparation I had put into this event, my husband urged me to follow through with my commitment to lead the retreat, assuring me he would be fine. “As long as we’re together for the memorial service in a few weeks,” he said.

Our hard work had paid off. We each had the other’s best interests at heart. I was at peace with our decision.

But things don’t always go so smoothly.

Last spring, I planned to fly to the Midwest to spend time with a client, a Christian man I had started working with a few months before. He invited me to stay at his home with his wife and seven children rather than book a hotel.

It seemed like a great idea to me. But not to my husband.

“You’ve just started working with this man, and you’re staying at his house?” my husband asked. “How do you know he’s not a criminal or something worse?”

Despite our new business relationship, I had known my client for years. His reputation was stellar, and I had no doubt that it would be a gift to stay in his home and to get to know his family.

To put my husband’s fears to rest, I offered to stay at a hotel. After seeing my willingness to compromise, my husband agreed it would be better to stay at my colleague’s home—for convenience’s sake.

Despite the frustration we both felt as we worked through our differences of opinion, we negotiated the situation with ease because we had invested significant time and effort.

We have chosen to build our marriage on an unyielding commitment to each other, and we have learned practical skills like healthy communication and compromise. But in my experience, it takes more than that.

April13, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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