High profile and nationally renowned Christian leader Bishop Thomas Weeks III painfully opened up and shed some light in his book What Love Taught Me and said:
“She didn’t want to talk to me, which was kind of putting me on a special time-out.
Well, you know what happens during that time – I simply work more focused. I get more accomplished and by the time she returns I am further ahead. I thrive off of being consistently consistent especially the more I found out over the years that this behavior was a damaging attribute that continued to happen no matter what. I grew into a workaholic. This became a pattern, feeling the rejection because she was gone, which caused me to work more, which created a train in motion that would not stop, for anyone.”
It’s so interesting to notate that “church work” was related as being parallel to being a “workaholic.” When put in its proper perspective, church work and secular work both take you away from your spouse. So, you cannot allow time being taken away from your spouse if you have not already given the time your spouse needs from you – no matter how noble the cause.
In fact, some couples avoid spending the time that God had actually meant for them to share with their spouse by spending it elsewhere – even spiritually-motivated activities – thus creating a breach in closeness and fellowship in their marriage.
They slowly decrease the closeness with their spouse, and start relying on others. While it sounds spiritual, and like this pleases God, it doesn’t! God commanded that the “two shall become one.” We cannot justify lengthy‚ alone times with God unless it is as Paul stated, with the consent of both in the marriage.
You can’t go back in time
One vital reason for knowing when to step back from involvement is that what little time you have with your spouse will make or break your marriage – whether in the short run or long run.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Therapist Deniz Ince says, "The couples we see encounter problems with not spending enough time with each other… The lack of time is part of modern life and couples are struggling to plan their time effectively and make time for one another. In many cases, this is masking more fundamental problems.”
Even the London Sunday Times newspaper was reported to write, “Couples are simply too busy for love.”
Firstly, being extra busy doing anything whether good or bad, constructive or destructive, takes the time, attention and energy away from your partner and redirects it elsewhere.
While it may sound good and noble to point your energies into helping others in some way, you also need to realize that if it is in any way detracting necessary time that must be spent for your spouse in order to maintain a closeness in your marriage, then it is not a good or noble thing to do.
The needs of your spouse must always come first. Even before others that are being helped or ministered to in some way.
Sacrificing your marriage to help someone else is not an acceptable sacrifice at all.
Research through Howard Markman of the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies has shown that “couples that spend quality time together are less likely to argue, bicker and hurt each other. They are healthier and happier in all areas of their life. Consequently, the more quality and fun time together they spend, the more time together they WANT to spend with each other.”
According to a Huffington Post article, "A third of couples spend less than 30 minutes of quality time together a day and three in 10 feel their relationship is suffering due to the lack of 'couple time,’ a study has revealed.”
Spirituality, including church attendance can actually become a cover up and a contributing factor of the marital breakdown – if you allow that. The dynamics work the same in principle with any such time-inducing activities.
Never sacrifice your marriage for ministry
Contrary to popular Christian leader’s examples, God did not call, anoint and appoint you in your ministry to be more important than your marriage. As we often say, “Your marriage is your FIRST ministry.”
We’ve seen how devastating it is for God’s people when we have high profile leaders that demonstrate their need for ministry and success over the importance of marriage. Leaders announcing divorce while promoting their “newly founded ministry.”
Ministry is obviously of utmost importance, but not more important than your own marriage!
We have found that God’s Kingdom and church-related work and ministry can often times be used as “scapegoats” to escape their faltering marital troubles at home. Helping others then becomes a temporal fix to an unwanted marital situation and lack of fulfillment in their own marriage. While helping others may appear on the outside as a noble cause, when done overboard, it’s simply a reason to avoid dealing with internal issues in the marriage; not merely motivated by a deep, spiritual burden.
What really happens to a couple at that point, is very simple. They are spending less time with each other. And because they are not resolving those issues and conflicts in their marriage, they stay apart from having to work on it even longer and slowly singe their conscience over time.
Did you know that extreme church attendance actually presents an opportunity to stay away from each other and avoid having to deal with the real issues?
We’ve heard directly from up and coming ministers how they are saddened by their marriage slowing down their momentum of success!
“If you are actively involved in either ministry job-related extra activities, and your marriage is suffering, stop some of the activities immediately and get your focus on rebuilding our marriage!” (Rev. Mike & Trisha Fox – Marriage for Today)
If you are taking time away from your marriage and family time, sacrificing that time for anyone or anything else, you will destroy your marriage and family. And the sad part about this is that after it’s all said and done, the very ones you helped while destroying your own marriage will not be there to kiss you good morning or hold you when you’re in pain. The closest relationship you should have should be with your spouse.
What needs to happen is simply a refocus on priorities. And, when we focus on strengthening our married couples in our churches, in our places of employment, in our families – we will see a SURGE of strength, power and restoration not only in our home, but also in our jobs, our churches, communities and eventually our nation.
It’s not as hard as you may think – a simple re-shifting of focus back on our spouse. And when we’re right with our spouse – then both partners can do mighty things in God’s Kingdom – but do them together, thereby multiplying their efforts and multiplying their rewards – as a couple!