The Brutal Truth About Ministry and Loneliness in Marriage

This Post: Loneliness in marriage isn’t something we like to talk about, but we need to.

This post didn’t come easily.

Maybe I simply didn’t know what to say.

Maybe I didn’t necessarily want to share the words I knew I needed to say.

Whatever the reason, these words came slowly.  And now, when I should be sleeping, my heart is burning and my mind is full… and the words are here, waiting to be spilled onto the pages of this blog.

How on earth does a pastor’s wife write about loneliness in marriage?  

How does she even dare to go there?  To that quiet, tucked away place in her heart where expectations die on the altar of reality?  Where disappointment silences ideals, and the mundane swallows up joy?

I’m not sure where or how or why we women bought into the lies about marriage, but somewhere along the way we did.

Marriage must always be beautiful (never messy).

Marriage must always fulfill my longings and meet my expectations.  

HE must do and be the things I need him to, and, above all, he must provide security:  Emotional security. Financial security.  Spiritual security.  

For the pastor’s wife, he is the man who appears spiritual, wise, and perfect… to everyone else.

In reality, he is a man who has a flesh, a past, and a limited humanity… just like everyone else.

And there is no way on God’s green earth that he can be everything you ever needed in a friend, lover, listener, communicator, soul mate, nurturer and leader.

It just isn’t possible.

And yet, we expect…

We hope…

We dream and need and compare and control…

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And we embrace loneliness like an obtrusive companion who wasn’t invited, and yet who refuses to go away.  

I just spent a few minutes scrolling through my Facebook feed before I sat down to write this article.  Ladies, do you know what conclusions I would come to if I took most people’s social media posts at face value (no pun intended)?

I would decide that everyone but me has the perfect marriage, the perfect husband, the perfect life.

Don’t tell me you haven’t battled those same thoughts after spending a few minutes browsing social media feeds… or after a few chick-flicks or romance novels.

The message taunts us: You deserve the perfect marriage, the perfect man, the perfect life… everyone else has it, and you’re missing out!

Let me share a really honest fact:

Nothing about my life is especially photogenic or romance-novel-worthy.

I don’t have the picture-perfect marriage; but Jeremy and I have a history of thirteen years together that we wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. We have five children who wear us out, fill us up, and keep us on our knees.

We are friends, and we’ve learned to let a lot of things go.  We’ve learned to appreciate.  To give each other space.  And grace.

That kind of life doesn’t put an exciting face on social media, but it’s the kind of life that endures the long haul of reality.

Not in the lime light, but in the daily, mundane moments.  The ones that no one sees because we don’t always feel the need to share.  But they are there, and they are the fiber and strength of our lives and ministry together.

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The boring stuff,

the funny stuff,

the hard days and story lines that would never make a best seller or chick flick,

the shared smiles that are often more weary than dazzling,

the tears,

the desperate prayers,

the surrenders and sacrifices,

the moments when life feels like anything but a “selfie” moment…

Those are the realities that fill my life and crowd out loneliness, disappointment, unhappiness.  

What do expectations and chick flicks and social media have to do with loneliness in marriage? 

Simply this: 

Ladies, let go of the impossible expectations.

Refuse to chase after a facade of perfection that doesn’t exist.

Turn off and tune out the chaotic hubbub of unhappy humanity around you, and decide- choose right now- to embrace your imperfect reality.

This is life.

This moment, this day, this man who comes home to you, provides for you, loves you in his own very-un-story-book-way.

This is marriage.

Choose to cherish it.  Choose to be grateful.  Choose to invest deeply in the person that your man is without expectation of what he should accomplish or become- either in his ministry, personal life, or elsewhere.

Your life doesn’t have to read like a storybook romance, and it doesn’t have to “look good” on social media. 

Your man doesn’t have to be invincible or “spiritual.”  He doesn’t have to always know how to share or listen or love at the right time and in the right way.

Just love him.

Respect him.

Let him be the man God created him to be.

And let God become what He always intended to be for you…

Enough.   

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Loneliness in marriage is a painful reminder that our human hearts are longing for more than a mortal man could ever hope to do and be for us.

Instead of longing for the impossible, start desiring the Super natural.  

Turn your expectations toward Christ and hope in Him. 

 So how on earth does a pastor’s wife write about loneliness in marriage?

Slowly, because transparency doesn’t always come to the surface easily.

Honestly, because I know you might need to hear that I struggle too.

Confidently, because I know that Jesus Christ really, really is enough:

Enough to fill the empty, unseen places.

Enough to satisfy the unmet expectations with Himself.

Enough to make the imperfect places so much more than just enoughto make them beautifully whole. 

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