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How Your Marriage Can Survive (and Thrive) During Demanding Church Service

The Lord will bless us when we strive to fulfill his calls and still try to keep our family a priority.

Many years ago my husband was called to serve as the bishop of a seriously struggling ward. He spent many hours at the church, late nights visiting troubled members, and endless hours on the telephone. I felt our marriage wouldn’t survive.

During a time of deep despair I attended a professional seminar with other Marriage and Family Therapists. This was a seminar where they arranged for some small group interaction where we could be therapeutic resources to one another. There was one woman at the seminar who wasn’t even a therapist and I kind of eyed her with suspicion and wondered why the presenters had allowed her to attend. But before long I was extremely glad she did.

One day we were sharing our concerns and I mentioned that I was married to an over-worked pastor (the phrase non-members understood) and I felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of supporting him, and I felt like I was last on his list and I dare not say anything because he was engaged in such an important work. And then I burst into tears.

The woman I had been so suspicious of, rose to her full height over six feet tall, walked over and scooped me up and sat me in her lap, lay my head on her ample bosom and rocked me like a baby. I’m a tiny woman, barely five feet tall, so I truly felt like a child being cradled in a mother’s arms. She didn’t offer words of advice, but she made me feel loved. I felt like God was sending me an angel in these bizarre circumstances and it gave me courage.

I had to do something about the toll church service was taking on my marriage. I couldn’t ask my husband not to serve, or to serve with less commitment. I believed in what he was doing and I knew it was important. I had to find a way to save our marriage and still support my spouse in his calling.

My extensive soul-searching resulted in a book, Side by Side: Supporting a Spouse in Church Service, which Deseret Book published in 2002. The solutions that came to me have enabled me to enthusiastically support my spouse in a number of church callings, including his call to serve as a Mission President beginning this coming July.

The things I learned can help any couple who are anxiously engaged in a good cause that competes with their marriage.

Lead image from Deseret Book
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