Written by Joanne Beckley
For a number of year I have become very concerned about the increasing numbers of preachers’ families in trouble. As I sit and think about what areas give us the most problems, I think the one area that suffers the most is a lack of intimate communication. (Even though I will be addressing wives of preachers, the following is applicable to all marriages.)
Marriage was instituted to provide companionship, Gen 2:18. A married couple is to be intimately united in thoughts, goals, plans, efforts, and bodies–whatever is needed to eliminate loneliness. Love between a husband and wife is giving each other undivided attention. Is there any preacher or preacher’s wife who doesn’t find this a challenge? I hear wives tell me they are married to a man with two wives–herself and the congregation her husband works with. Her husband seems to find deep fulfilment in his work and his wife begins to think he doesn’t need her. She wants her husband. She wants intimate communication. She wants quiet togetherness–and she wants him to offer it without having to beg for it.
To the extent that two people reveal themselves to each other, to that same degree they will be able to have an intimate relationship with one another. On every level (physical, intellectual, emotional, etc) they should be “naked and unashamed” (Gen.2:25). But then I ask, wives, before we cast our eyes askance, are we honest with ourselves; are we willing to communicate with our husbands concerning what we need?
Peter commands husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way, 1 Peter 3:7. Do we wives hinder our husbands in this command? Are we afraid and hide our true selves? Is it because we realize the sinfulness of our own hearts and do not want our husbands to think less of us? We would be wise to step back and consider our own willingness to be open with our husbands.
Our preacher husbands literally fill their days and evenings with service to others. Because this is so true, there is nothing wrong with scheduling time for each other. Our husbands can literally block out mutually chosen time to spend time together. We wives can can put up with almost anything for six days, because we know our day/evening with our husbands is coming a certain time during the week.
Listen to each other! When this is missing, sexual temptations become mine fields. When a husband or wife stops listening, it is the easiest avenue Satan can use because both men and women desire intimacy of mind and heart. When this is lacking we are strongly tempted to seek someone else’s ear. The next step is to fantasize, and before we know it, the bed follows.
There is an old axiom: you can’t do two things at once if listening is one of them. We wives need to confront our husbands with their preoccupation–“Hey, I know you are there; talk to me! Please put those papers down. You’re hearing me, but you are thinking about your next sermon or something. Look at me when we talk. Look me in the eye.” And wives, if we are not careful, our children, hobby, outside job, and even our service to others will sidetrack our responsibility to listen to our husbands.
One other thought. We preachers’ wives need to watch out for that woman (and she WILL turn up some time in your husband’s life) who will deliberately, even without her realizing her intent, try to knock our husbands off their perceived “pedestal”. Why do they do this? Hidden anger masking their own neediness? To get even with men? I don’t know. But you and I must take a tough line and guard our marriages. If and when our husbands are tempted, let us make a royal scene! Save the day by stating unequivocally that we will not put up with it. Jealousy is part of the character of God. We are made in his image. We can be jealous in protecting our own! Let it motivate us to help our husbands stop and think, to help our husbands realize the path they are taking.
Wives, listen to your intuition. Don’t ignore it. Your husband needs you. Husbands, listen to your wives. Ignoring their needs can destroy you. Preachers and their wives, need to exercise constant vigilance from many enemies. Many of our foes are in fact quiet. Action based on truth is what it will take to hold our marriages together.
As with any strong effort to protect our marriages, our spouse can let us down and the spectre of divorce may become the end result. We are all sinners striving to live for Jesus. May God have mercy as we work diligently on our marriages.