My husband and I know that for us to have a good relationship, we need to understand each other's needs and expectations. Dr. James Dobson wrote a wonderful book — explaining women called What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women. Here are a few additions — especially for pastors.
Love Me. The apostle Paul wrote, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church" (Ephesians 5:25). I need to know I am more important to my husband than board meetings and men's gym night. I appreciate Mark making time to spend with me, doing things we can enjoy together.
Love Our Family. There are many ministers, but our kids have only one dad, and they need him to make time too. Every morning Mark drives our children to school, giving them a chance to talk, laugh and have a few minutes of undivided attention from Dad.
Know My Limits. Contrary to popular belief, pastor's wives are not auditioning for the role of Superwoman. Mark and I try to set goals and priorities together and then work to achieve them. We pray before committing to anything to make sure God is leading us more than our own desires. We've learned we can say no to a certain task and God could supply the right person.
Protect Me — physically, spiritually, emotionally. When our ministry began, deacons' wives would sometimes ask me about some juicy tidbit of information their husbands had told them after a meeting. The other wives were shocked to realize I had no clue as to what they were talking about. It wasn't that Mark was leaving me out; he was protecting me.
Laugh With Me, Never at Me. Though my early efforts at "tuna-spaghetti casserole for two" could have helped Jesus feed the 5,000, Mark waited until I laughed first before he joined in and turned the situation into one that we could laugh at together.
But there are some things I'd rather the congregation not know about. I don't want to be the subject of a sermon illustration or joke if it will hurt my feelings or humiliate me. And I never want Mark to use a story from our lives without first asking my permission.
Pray For Me. I struggle not only with my own battles, but also with the awareness of my husband's burden for the flock. I know how much it hurts when someone strays, the energy he expends with a family in crisis, the hours he spends preparing to feed the sheep.
So I want Mark to pray that I will be sensitive to his needs, that I will be wise in my counsel, that I will be gentle with my tongue and that our home will always be one where he is happy to return. And while he's at it, I also want him to pray just for me, personally.
If you want to make your kids famous due to your well-honed pulpit pontification, then at least have the decency to reimburse them for the free publicity you give them. Call it the price of embarrassment.