How to Have a Successful Ministry Marriage: Part 4 of 4

Debbie Hogan (Co-Founder of Standing Stone Ministry) has identified four C’s in “Sailing the C’s of Marriage” that will help effectively navigate a successful marriage in ministry. Without effectively navigating these four “C’s” it’s impossible to have a successful marriage. Amidst the challenges of ministry life, finding the time and energy to work on these will pay immeasurable dividends for both your marriage and ministry.

In this blog series, you’ll hear Debbie’s insightful perspectives on the four vital ingredients for a successful marriage. (Review the first C on commitment, the second C on communication, the third C on communion.)

The last sea we’ll be sailing today is the least fun. It’s the sea of COMPROMISE. We’ve been raised in the “ME” generation. If it feels good do it. However, Jesus tells us just the opposite. He tells us to serve others. Conflict happens in all marriages. I love this quote by Sydney Smith: “Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.” It’s the way that conflict is handled that will determine how successful your marriage will be.

When conflict arises we need to attack the problem, not each other. While Jim and I were building our home in Colorado we’d spent six months in a 30-ft. motorhome. Believe me, there were plenty of conflicts that arose, especially because he was the contractor! He is very handy. His favorite shows are “This Old House” and “The Old Yankee Workshop”. In fact I call him “Jim the Tool Man.” However sometimes like “Tim the Tool Man”, his projects don’t turn out quite like he plans. I’ve found the worst thing I can do is to criticize his handiwork because when I do, he thinks: “She doesn’t respect me.” Did you know that a man’s greatest need is to be respected and a woman’s greatest need is to be loved? In Ephesians 5:2 Paul says, “However, each of you must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.”

I knew when I got married I had married Mr. Right. I just didn’t know his first name was Always. Jim often says to me in jest, “I may not always be right but I’m never wrong.” I’m kidding of course. Believe it or not, none of us is always right. Point your finger at me. Now turn it over. How many fingers are pointing back at you? When you aren’t right, admit it and ask for forgiveness. The more often you are willing to ask forgiveness the more often your husband will offer forgiveness when he’s wrong.

In the book: The Five Languages of Apology by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, they say there are five ways we apologize and accept an apology. Number one is by expressing regret for our actions: “I am sorry”, number two is by acepting responsibility: “I was wrong”, number three is by making restitution: “What can I do to make it right”, number four by genuinely repenting: “I’ll try not to do it again”, and number five by requesting forgiveness: “Will you pelease forgive me?” Sometimes it’s necessary to do all of these things to ask for forgiveness and feel totally forgiven. Making an apology and accepting an apology can be choice that will really help your marriage.

Often we find ourselves in an “if”–“then” relationship. “If” only he would do this “then” I would do “that”. Try doing the “that” first and see what happens. He just might be more willing to the “this” too. There is a story about a woman who was in marriage counseling. She decided she wanted a divorce. The counselor said to her, “Do you really want to get back at your husband?” Of course she said “Yes!” So he told her to go home and be super sweet to him for two weeks so he’d be super sorry when she left him. He told her to come back in two weeks to tell him how her husband took it when she left. Two weeks came and she didn’t show up for her appointment. The counselor called the women and said, “What happened?” The women said, “I’ve decided not to leave after all. You can’t believe how much my husband changed in the last two weeks!”

The key to compromise is to try to find a solution with which both can live. It requires a lot of giving to come to a compromise. Even though the sea of compromise isn’t fun or easy we must learn to navigate it in order to have a successful marriage.

As we’ve sailed the 4 C’s, I hope I haven’t made you seasick. Maybe I should have told you to take a Dramamine before I started! We’ve sailed the sea of COMMITMENT, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNION, and COMPROMISE. Marriage is a very challenging voyage but it is the most worthwhile cruise you can ever take. I hope you and your husband sail happily off into the sunset of your life together and enjoy the cruise!

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Standing Stone Ministry cares for ministry couples one couple at a time by offering to form a lasting mentoring relationship, beginning with one week away in a beautiful serene location, where they are hosted with excellence and mentored with love. Learn more about Standing Stone Ministry can help your ministry marriage.

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