My Husband's Secret Life – CMN Women

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My Husband’s Secret Life

By Lisa Ulmer

Go on, admit it. When you’ve had a long, stressful day and you finally get that last kid to quit resisting bedtime and stay in his room, and you still have to clean the house because your in-laws are coming into town, the last thing you want to do is talk to your spouse about your day. So, you ask him about his.

“Hi honey, how was your day?”

And the last thing he wants to do is rehash his stressful day as a church planter. And there you have it. You’ve stumbled down the slippery slope of living two separate lives.

Welcome to church planting.

Being emotionally absent from one another can come all too naturally during this crazy season of growing a church and raising a family. Both spouses are busy. Both carry the same dream of starting a thriving, Jesus-centered church. Both want to bring up thriving, Jesus-centered children. But as the primary responsibility for those separate roles will likely fall to one spouse or the other, it’s easy as wives and mothers to feel left out at times from what’s happening with the church plant.

I remember advice I received from my friend Holly, a wiser church planter’s wife who had embarked on this journey several years ago. It went something like this:

“I believe wholeheartedly that one of the best things we can give our church is the model of a healthy marriage and family. Our marriage is a living example of Christ’s love for the church, and we don’t take that lightly."

So, in the pursuit of healthier marriages, here are some marriage empowerment skills we’ve learned throughout our years of church planting while raising small children. This has helped us avoid the trap of living secret lives:

  1. Go back to the start. Remember when you and your spouse first met and you couldn’t get enough of each other? You intentionally invested in your friendship and learned who each person was. Return to pursuing your spouse and speaking to them with as much care, grace, and love as you would to your best friend, because, after all, that’s what they are.

  2. Date each other. Have regularly scheduled dates where you and your spouse can have dinner, get away for a few hours kid-free, and reconnect. It’s worth budgeting for and making the necessary sacrifices to prioritize. An investment in your marriage will pay dividends in your future.

  3. Be proactive, not reactive. How many hours do we spend per week talking with our spouse about the calendar, meal planning, pick-up and drop-off schedules, and church duties? I would venture that a large percentage of our communication is reactive, simply responding to the needs of others and problem-solving as conflicts arise. Set aside some time, perhaps on those date nights mentioned earlier, to proactively communicate with each other. Be playful, talk as friends, and share who you are with one another.

  4. Give each other what only you can. Physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy create a connection that no one else has the privilege of creating with your spouse. Shave your legs and get after it, ladies. There is never a good reason for someone to have an affair. However, withholding intimacy can make the temptation stronger.

For a successful marriage, you need to be spiritual, emotional, and physical partners. Although life can be busy and stressful in ministry, your relationship will thrive if you can remember the best thing for your ministry is a healthy personal walk with God and with your family. If you find yourself in a season where you feel left out of the work of the church because of the demands of the home, remember that no church can thrive if the pastor’s family is failing. You are helping to plant the church even as you strengthen your home.


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Lisa Ulmer and her husband, Preston, pastor Discover Church in the Highlands, located in Denver, CO. They moved to Denver in 2015 as a part of Urban Islands Project, and started holding Doubter’s Clubs, a dialogue-based meeting led by a Christian and an atheist. They launched the church in 2016, and Lisa leads worship and helps with administrative duties. She loves reading about relationships, being outdoors, and spending time with her husband and two amazing daughters, Piper and Brennan.