Q: What do you consider to be the greatest challenge facing ministerial marriages?
A: In many ways, ministerial marriages are presented with the same challenges that all marriages face. Challenges with lapses in communication, unhealthy boundaries, and disappointments are universal. There is, however, one dynamic that is particularly magnified in ministerial marriages: lack of quality time together.
Most marriages are time-challenged. However, the spiritual, emotional, and physical demands placed upon ministerial marriages make the issue of "together time" paramount. Unfortunately, ministers are often deceived by their own "good work." In other words, a minister's tireless "acts of service" for others often leaves her own marriage in an attention-starved state of mediocrity.
Ministers with victorious marriages have learned to prioritize time with their spouse as an act of stewardship to God. They understand that their most important act of service is their willingness to take the time to give "first fruit" to their spouse. This is an "offering" that requires intentional and consistent attention. It involves catering to the mutual needs, desires, and goals that a couple has in both marriage and ministry.
Q: In your opinion, what do men need most from their wives?
A: Research, with hundreds of couples, has yielded a consistent answer to this question. Men most need respect from their wives. Respect, however, is a multidimensional construct. Respect is about feeling valued, needed, and supported. Each one of these facets is important in order for a man to feel respected. Feeling valued means that the husband has a sense of importance to his wife, and that she makes him feel special. When the husband feels needed, he believes that what he contributes is vital to the well-being of his wife and family. His role is not tangential or inconsequential. Rather, his physical, emotional, and spiritual contributions are central to his wife. Lastly, men need to feel supported. Husbands feel supported when their wives encourage their dreams and push them into purpose.
Q: Why is sexual intimacy so important to men?
A: Intimacy is important to men and women. However, for most marriages, there is a gender difference in the path to intimacy. It is important to understand that intimacy can only be fully grasped by understanding that it has spiritual, emotional, and sexual dimensions.
Wives tend to find sexual intimacy through spiritual and emotional intimacy. In other words, for women, sexual intimacy is typically an outgrowth of the emotional connection that is nourished with her husband. Husbands, however, tend to find emotional intimacy through sexual expression. For men, the visual and physical connection of sexual intercourse creates a sense of belonging —“this is my wife.” The emotional connection is then an outgrowth of this physical union. Most men will not be emotionally intimate with their wives if their relationship lacks healthy (consistent, engaged, and satisfying) sexuality.