This past October had my mind and heart extra-focused on my husband and the weight of his job. My husband is a pastor, and October is Pastor Appreciation Month. So many people in our church made an extra effort to show him they appreciate all he does for them. And it made me pay extra attention to all the things he’s responsible for.
As Peter’s wife, I see daily his work as a Pastor. I see the late-night phone calls. I see the pressures, responsibilities, and expectations that never seem to end and never seem to get met. And to be honest, I can be a bit of mama bear when it comes to others and the way they treat my husband.
But you may be saying, “I am not a Pastor or a Pastor’s wife, how does this apply to my life? Here is what I would offer in answer to that question. Pondering these things has challenged me in several ways – and these may also challenge you as you think about your spouse.
First, what do I personally do at home to support Peter. Do I add to the never-ending stress with my own list of unmet expectations? Honestly, yeah, I think I do. While I see all he has to do as a Pastor, I also see all that isn’t getting done around here.
Secondly, do I tell him or show him regularly how much I appreciate all he does, both at home and for our church? It is important to recognize when our spouse is doing things, but we need to make sure we verbalize that in words of gratitude toward our spouse.
Pondering these things has also reminded me that, since the Fall in Genesis 3, we each have in us this sinful desire to have things our own way. To be in control. To have a self-centered view of life. So God, in His mercy, continues to instruct us throughout Scripture how to treat each other: to put others first, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and some specific instructions on our God-given role as a husband or wife.
So what are some practical ways we can live out these God-given instructions? Four things I would offer for you to consider. And please keep in mind that this is not just for us wives.
Each one of us has our roles and responsibilities, both inside the home and outside of the home. And there are so many things coming at us. For my husband, he has a lot of critics, a lot of people who expect a lot of him. How do I add or take away from that?
Each one of us has our own love language that speaks to us, and that we tend to speak to others. Make it a point to learn what your spouse’s love languages are. For my husband, they are physical touch and words of affirmation. Sometimes simply putting my hand on his shoulder, or holding his hand when he’s discouraged, speaks volumes to him. With my words I can encourage him, listen to him when he’s discouraged, and above all, pray for him.
Each one of us can see things around the house that need to get done. And we can choose to do them without nagging our spouse. You can also look into getting help, when possible, from outside sources, or even learn a new skill (thanks, YouTube!). One thing I chose to do for Peter was I stepped way out of my comfort zone and painted his office at the church. It was once a storage space and has patched together sheetrock on the wall. But the church was having new carpet put in, so everything was moved out and I had an opportunity as he was away for the day. Keep in mind that I’ve never painted before. But I knew it would bless him to have it done and not be asked to do it himself. He didn’t look around and nitpick all the ways I’d done it wrong (and he definitely could have done that). He simply appreciated it.
Each one of us can take some time to think about the pressures your spouse faces outside the home. If you aren’t sure, why not ask them? Then ask about any pressures they may feel at home. How can you encourage your spouse this week? What can you do to ease some of the burden they’re feeling? You may have little to no influence on the pressures they face at their job, but you absolutely have influence on the pressures they face at home. And the support and encouragement you give them at home will stay with them when they head to work.
I’ll bring this to a close by reminding all of us of a Philippians 2 passage that fits well into what I’ve been sharing in how we live with and support our spouse. With God’s help, may we live this out with both our words and our actions: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
Written by Johanna Zipp for Abiding Marriage 2023. Johanna and her husband, Peter, live in Missoula, Montana and help lead the Outdoorsman Church. They have been married 29 years and have three grown sons.
Image: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Abiding Marriage Blog, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org any comments or questions.