It is encouraging to have a wife that is on your team instead of on your back when times get tough. When Job had all of his problems, his wife supported him by saying, "Curse God and die." How would you like to be married to Mrs. Job? What happened to that relationship? I believe that it is the same thing that happens in today's Christian marriages. They assume that once they have children, making an investment in family is the same as making an investment in marriage. But it is not.
Many families are like Job's. When the crisis hits, they discover they no longer have a good relationship. When does life begin? When the kids leave home, and the dog dies! The empty nest can be the best time of your relationship. Unfortunately, many couples are making investments in the family and not the husband-wife relationship, while expecting the same dividends they once experienced in their marriage. So hear me clearly — your responsibility to your mate is separate and distinct from your responsibility to your family. Marriage is your primary relationship and keeping it strong is the foundation of raising your kids and fueling your ministry.
I was speaking at a banquet with Bobby Bowden, the great coach at Florida State. He said that his wife once asked him if he loved her more than football, and he asked her, "College or pro?" One of the primary needs of a wife is security. There are many ways that your wife asks you if you love her "more than …." When Penny and I were first married, she felt like I loved golf more than her. We fought almost every time I played. I discovered it was a security issue, and my goal became to convince her that I loved her more than golf. Once she was convinced of that, golf was no longer an issue … she actually encouraged me to play. Your wife will resist whatever she thinks is more important than she is. If she perceives that your church or ministry is more important than she is, then that will become a battleground area.
One of my pastor friends said he and his wife were leaving the house for a long anticipated date when his wife shocked him. She didn't ask him if he still loved her, but if he still enjoyed being with her. She was asking him if she was still "number one" in his life. When I was pastoring, we had staff retreats. One of our staff members never wanted his wife to go along, yet one of the things he did was conduct marriage seminars. It seems to me that going to him for marriage counseling would be like asking a man that is bankrupt for financial advice.
The healthiest thing you may teach your church is that you love to get away from them and spend time with your wife. What areas come to mind that she might consider more important than her to you? If you can't think of anything, ask her. You may be surprised, and you may lose your remote.
Life is a series of renewals. February is a great time to make your marriage top priority. Don't end up like the man who asked his wife what she wanted for Valentine's. When she replied, "A divorce," he responded that he hadn't planned on spending that much. This February expend the effort necessary to convince your wife that she is number one in your life. I can assure you it is not buying a kitchen appliance — and don't call me for counseling — I'll be in Hawaii for our thirty-fifth anniversary.
One of my favorite stories is about the little boy who tugged his mom's blouse in church and asked what the lady next to them was singing. She replied alto, and he said no wonder she sounded funny, they were singing Joy to the World. Nothing sounds sweeter to God than a husband and wife who are singing the same song. Make security the song you sing to your wife, and God will bring joy to your world.