By Robert White

Dr. Robert White was raised in central Florida and completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida. After college, he completed the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. For more than 40 years he has served as pastor of churches in Florida and in Massachusetts. In October 2016, Dr. White joined Care For Pastors as a Pastoral Counselor/Coach. Robert currently resides with his wife, Kaye, in Leesburg, Florida.

    Eight Elements of a Healthy Marriage

    Wednesday, July 03, 2024

    Healthy ministry flows from a healthy marriage. Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul placed such an emphasis on the home life as a qualifier for the office of pastor. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)

    Unfortunately, the demands of ministry place immense stress on the Pastor’s marriage and family. The needs of the congregation cry out for more time, more attention, more energy, and more compassion from the pastor. At Care for Pastors, we often see pastors who give themselves fully to the needs of the congregation and do not have anything left to meet the needs of their own families.

    Healthy marriages do not happen by accident. They are the result of intentional investments of time and energy. Here are eight elements of healthy and growing marriages:

    1. Communication. In a healthy and growing marriage, there is regular and clear communication. This includes sharing our thoughts and feelings, listening to understand, and keeping each other informed. Communication helps us to stay on the same page.
    • Good communication takes time and effort.
    • Good communication requires me to pay attention to my spouse.
    • Good communication involves intentional listening.
    • Good communication includes eye contact.
    • Good communication considers the context.

    Hinderance: Pastors tend to communicate all day long. When they get home, they often do not want to talk anymore. Beware of this tendency.

    1. Oneness of spirit. My wife defines “oneness of spirit” as “being on the same page.” It is that sense of mental, emotional, and spiritual unity.
    • God is always building oneness of spirit. The enemy is always seeking to destroy it.
    • God is seeking to bring us together. The enemy is seeking to drive us apart.
    • God promotes understanding. The enemy promotes division.
    • God leads us to mutual respect. The enemy leads us to mutual dishonor.

    Hinderance: The biggest hinderance to oneness of spirit is busyness. Maintaining oneness of spirit requires intentionality and effort.

    1. Building and guarding trust. Trust is the basis of relationships. Trust is built when we do what we say we will do.
    • Honesty and integrity enhance trust.
    • Lies and manipulation destroy trust.
    • Being reliable builds trust.
    • Keeping promises builds trust.
    • Following through on commitments builds trust.
    • Trust is built when it is respected and guarded as essential to the relationship.

    Hinderance: Taking trust for granted or treating it carelessly.

    1. Intentional care for one another. In a marriage, it is easy to become complacent about caring for the needs of your spouse.
    • Intentional care means paying attention to the needs of my spouse.
    • In a healthy marriage, each spouse cares about the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the other.

    Hinderance: Weariness from stress, overscheduling, overwork, and daily duties, will drain of me energy and make it difficult to pay attention to my spouse.

    1. Prayer together. Praying together is a spiritual discipline that yields good fruit in my marriage.
    • Praying together is something any couple can do.
    • Praying together gives us access to spiritual grace and power.
    • Praying together enriches all aspects of our relationship.
    • Praying together builds protections into your marriage.
    • Praying together enhances oneness of spirit and intimacy.

    Hinderance: The enemy does not want you to access this source of grace and power. He will do everything he can to hinder praying together as husband and wife. (Distractions, weariness, busyness, offenses, etc.)

    1. Appreciation of the unique contributions each spouse brings to the marriage. Your spouse brings unique gifts, talents, education, experience, aptitudes, interests, and abilities into your marriage. Wise is the spouse to shows deep appreciation for those unique contributions.
    • God has called me to receive, accept, and appreciate the ways He has created and gifted my spouse.
    • Adam received his wife as God’s perfect gift to him.
    • I should receive my spouse as God’s perfect gift for me.
    • God designed my spouse to complete, compliment, and contribute to my well-being.
    • This is part of God’s plan to grow me up in Christ, build my character, deepen my faith, and broaden my impact in His kingdom.

    Hinderance: Selfishness and pride.

    1. Courtesy towards my spouse. We often treat perfect strangers with more courtesy than we do our lifelong marriage partner.
    • Common courtesy should be a habit with my spouse.
    • My spouse deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect.
    • This is another way to show love and honor for my spouse.

    Hinderance: Laziness.

    1. Hope for the future of your marriage. The practice of the previous seven principles yields hope for the future of your marriage. Healthy marriages are the result of intentional investments of time and effort by both spouses. Consistent investments in my marriage will bring a legacy of hope for me and my spouse.

    Hinderance: Neglect.

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

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