Communication often feels like nothing sometimes – knowing in reality that it’s everything. Whether verbally, through our emotions, glances, lip quivers…we all are communicating something even when we say it’s “nothing.”
Mike and I both are natural communicators, but we communicate on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. He can talk and talk…and talk while I can listen quietly and feel that my body language and especially facial expressions can speak much louder than my words. And I’m also a writer, so I can tell you my thoughts through pen and paper best. In our jobs we daily communicate – all.day.long. So when we’re home I unload in silence while Mike could still talk a few more hours…
In any relationship communication is in the top three of dances you and your partner must learn to step in tune together… and at your own pace. What you say and most often how you say it can easily resolve or create an argument. There have been many missteps and still are as Mike and I learn what works best for us.
In this season of our ministry setting I’ve begun to realize just how magnified communication becomes…because not only are we communicating to one another – so many others are trying to communicate (even simultaneously) to each of us. From what others think we’re doing “right” to what they feel is “wrong” there are nonstop open lines of communication whether you would like them or not – and even in a much more intimate setting. Constantly sorting through and categorizing these additional lines can be and sometimes is overwhelming. How do you not take personally when someone tells you they don’t “like” your husband or were offended by how something was handled? And how do you choose what to communicate back to your spouse or not knowing that it could cause an issue between the two of you…though you’re just the messenger?
In one word it comes down to boundaries. It’s difficult to not want to take home what is very much so a part of our lives. We live.breathe.eat.sleep (you get the point) youth ministry. It’s our heart – but it’s not the crux of who we are as a family and especially our marriage. That was a hard pill to swallow without feeling guilty that we were letting our students and our ministry down. Most days we could easily come home and talk about the issues, plans, calendar ideas, and students in the ministry – but had a difficult time remember how to communicate and be vulnerable with our needs. We communicate, but not what matters most.
Having to weed through and establish times for when and where we would talk about ministry has had to put this part of our lives in its place. It is just as important as it always was; however, it has had to stop consuming us – and we’ve had to start talking about things that matter.
Communication and time go hand in hand. Because our time is limited our communication is vital. Our planning is vital. And our time together that makes us stronger and fill fulfilled after sitting and drinking coffee at 12am on a Friday night is what keeps us sane.
I don’t know how you prioritize or set boundaries with your spouse in the midst of ministry, but we are taking one day at a time to choose when and where we talk about all of the other information we’re receiving throughout the day. There is always a crisis and being available is a part of it all. Set boundaries that work for you, extend grace to each other when words don’t come out right, and cover one another because that’s all you have at the end of the day.
Communicate what’s important to your marriage – sort out the rest in between – stay connected.