How Much Should Pastors Share With Their Spouses?
Five real-life principles for determining what's helpful to share with your spouse about church and ministry.
How much of what happens at church should be shared with our spouses? The short answer: What builds trust in marriage, and unity of heart in ministry.
Looking back, I did our young marriage no favors by sharing everything that happened at church with Emily.
I would come home, and she would ask how my day was. My response on a bad day was to lay out all the frustrating or hurtful stuff that happened. My response on a good day was, “fine.” This influenced Emily’s view of the church and ministry as a whole — though she’s always had her own mind on the subject
This is still a work in progress, but, I’d like to think I’ve gotten a bit better at discerning what and how to share ministry with Emily.
Here are some observations.
1. Share what will help build trust in marriage.
I’ve learned not to share every critical email, every tragedy and every burnout I’ve got with Emily. To do so would add my stuff to her stuff and force her to carry both of our “stuffs.”
However, she deserves to know everything that registers a 5.0 or higher on the ministerial Richter scale, or anything that is going to give her a different husband for a period of time. If I’m coming home all wound up about something and she and the kids are going to have a tense dad for the first hour I’m home — tell her. Or, stay away until it passes to the point you can manage yourself.
2. Share when you aren’t wound up, broken-hearted or fresh out of a conflict.
Time heals. Use it. Even 10 minutes of calming down time can do you wonders. Time is your best friend.
I actually now try to live 10 minutes away from the building so I can better check ministry baggage on the commute home. When I lived on the same street as the church, this was much harder to do — in part because I passed the building coming and going from the house.
Generally, a little space + a little time = a little more patience.
3. Find a way to “boil down” what happened.
It’s one thing to share with integrity. It’s another to share ad nauseam. I’ve also learned that sharing every word and every thought on a matter often communicates an importance that isn’t really there. I’ve learned to communicate better what happens in an abridged format … amplifying if necessary or requested.