A couple weeks ago, I (Jake) was at a Youth Ministry conference and on Friday night, I was chatting with a couple of people when the topic of our book, 99 Thoughts on Marriage and Ministry, came up. One of the youth workers got a little excited and expressed that her and her husband had been married for a little over a year, and she asked me to give her some nuggets of wisdom from the book.
I smiled and asked her how her first year of marriage had been. “Oh, it’s been great,” she replied. So I began to share that our first year of marriage had been anything but great. I was open and honest about some of the struggles and pain we went through in our first year of marriage, along with some of the subsequent lessons that we learned because of those things.
After a few minutes of sharing, this woman all of a sudden started telling me that she could relate to some of what I was sharing and that their first year of marriage actually hadn’t just been “great,” but had some ups and downs as well. The other youth worker in the conversation started sharing the same thing and we proceeded to have a great conversation about how we were growing and learning in our marriages.
It was such a great reminder for me that having perspective is so important when it comes to our families and marriages. So often, we can feel like as youth workers that we always have to have everything together, and in part that’s because there is a perception that others all have it together. But yet being open and honest about our struggles, as well as our successes, is crucial to growth – both for our marriages and for others.
At the same time I was reminded about having a broad perspective when it comes to the realities of marriage and what other people could be facing, it also reminded me of the importance of having personal perspective within your own marriage.
You see, as I was having that conversation I realized that I was actually angry with Melissa at that point, one-and-a-half days into the conference.
Why? Because I had tried to call her a couple of times, as well as texted her, and I didn’t get much of a response. I was hurt because I felt like she didn’t want to talk to me. So I started to ask the question, “What could be going on with her at home that could explain why we hadn’t talked at all?”
I quickly had a number of thoughts come to my mind:
- While I was at the conference, my wife was at home taking care of our two kids – our son who will be three in January and our daughter who is 18-months old.
- My wife is the definition of an introvert and constant noise, people, and words just completely drain her.
- Some of the times that I called or texted were first thing in the morning, meal times, or evenings. The three craziest parts of the day when you have two toddlers (at least for us anyways).
- And, once they were in bed, my wife was getting some of the first moments of peace and quiet that day and was recharging her batteries so that she could prepare to wake up the next day and do it all over again.
All of a sudden, my entire perspective changed and I wasn’t angry or hurt. I was sympathetic to my wife and was grateful for all the hard work she was doing so I could attend the conference. I knew by her actions that she loved and cared about me and I didn’t need to hear her say it anymore in that moment.
As we all strive to grow in our marriages and family relationships, this aspect of perspective is so crucial. We would challenge you to stop and ask yourself some of these questions about perspective that could lead to growth for your own family or for others:
- What situations have you dealt with in your family that you are reluctant to share with others? In what ways could sharing those things actually lead to growth for yourselves or for others?
- Are you dealing with a hurt right now in your marriage or family? Take a few minutes to think about the issue from the other person’s perspective. What could they be facing or going through that could explain why your needs are not being met?
- Is a family member mad at you for something right now? Rather than being defensive, take some time to try and figure out where they may be coming from and try to understand their hurt.