One Very Good Reason Not to Put Others Before Your Marriage
A healthy and fulfilling marriage is an intentional marriage- a marriage where both husband and wife prioritize their relationship before all others, including their kids, their extended family, friends, work, and ministry. But if we’re not careful to walk in discernment and wisdom, the marriage will start to experience some cracks. This is what’s happening in one marriage…
Dear Eric and Jolene,
My wife is a worship leader. She is very sought after… BUT ALL SHE DOES IS PUT THAT FIRST.. At home we fuss, cuss, fight, yell and scream at each other and she will run to church to sing because that is her ministry… If people knew how we lived at home we wouldn’t get invited anywhere. I know our first ministry is at home but if that ministry sucks, then can we still be effective in other ministry outside of our home?
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Eric Engle: Hi I’m Eric Engle with my wonderful wife Jolene. On this episode actually, I guess this is a guy. Well tell us what happens when you put other before your marriage and he writes:
My wife is a worship leader. She is very sought after but all she does is put that FIRST. At home we fuss, cuss, fight, yell and scream at each other. She will run to church to sing because that is her ministry. If people knew how we lived at home we would not get invited anywhere. I know our first ministry is at home but if that ministry sucks then can we still be effective at other ministries outside of our home.
Jolene Engle: Well I’m going to hand this over to Eric because it’s not biblical for a woman to teach a man because Eric is on the show with me this is the reason why I put this question in here. I believe that the premise of the question will certainly help women. Whether you are a single gal it will give you a little bit of a foundation on how to be a wife in the future. Whether a wife, I know that for me, I try to be mindful of all the different roles that I have in my life. Anyways go ahead, Love.
Eric Engle: Well he named something correctly that your first ministry is at home. And certainly I agree with that, you agree with that, and here’s the deal. There’s a crack in the marriage. If they come home and they are cussing and yelling at each and everything else, in spite of whether she’s a great singer or not, that does not matter. God doesn’t care if she’s a great singer and he doesn’t care what she can do at church if she doesn’t do it at home. So bottom line: they have to fix their relationship first. I would say that even comes to the point you are not doing the ministry until we fix this at home. Because the bible lays down guidelines at least for a man if he is going to be a bishop or elder in the church that his home has to be in order. If the home is not in order and since the two are one, her ministry is his ministry.
Jolene Engle: Absolutely!
Eric Engle: Even if he is not singing. She’s singing and he’s not, that is still part of the ministry and they can’t do that unless the home is in order. And some might say and how is that done? How is that done, my Love?
Jolene Engle: Well as a wife I would be most concern about what your thoughts are in everything that I do. Obviously, there is a lot that I do in the ministry here and it just keeps growing. So I do go to you. What do I do with this? How should I handle that? I get so many things, I get so many emails from different requests. But I want to honor you. Where that is not taking place, sounds like it’s not taking place in her part. To me, it sounds like she is a contentious woman that she is not following her husband’s headship. And that is a problem because the bible talks about it in,
Galatians 6:7: Do not be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.
In other words, you reap what you sow. There’s going to come a time when that ministry is going to do one of two things. Either absolutely crumble because she is outside the will of God or it will flourish. But one of those things will happen depending on the choices she is going to make. And because she is outside of God’s will in regards to the priorities of her home life, marriage and so forth. She will not continue on with having this huge ministry because you can be singing to God all day long and worship but know what just took place half an hour earlier at home.
Eric Engle: Well and here’s what is interesting he says we fuss, cuss, yell and scream at each other. So he places blame necessarily on her for that. They are both a part of that. Then he says can we still be effective in other ministries outside our home. Well here is the deal…
Jolene Engle: NO! (Laughter)
Eric Engle: Well here’s the deal I would say yeah because God can use anything and anyone. Are they going to feel affective? Are they going to feel the spirit of the Lord?
Jolene Engle: No
Eric Engle: But God can use them as he used Balaam’s donkey.
Jolene Engle: Yeah but I’m looking at the end result. You reap what you sow. If you are planting a harvest of beans, are you going to reap potatoes later on? I mean they can’t have the mindset of, Oh, we are going to go do this for the Lord when our own house isn’t in order.
Eric Engle: Right and this is very usual. We see this all the time.
Jolene Engle: All the time…there’s times where I have even stepped out of ministries. It was our own ministries we need to shut this down because it’s consuming too many aspects of our lives. I knew that my priorities are my Lord, my husband, my children and my home and then the outside ministry. So for me if it got to the point where it was consuming obviously my main relationships we need to shut this thing down.
Eric Engle: Right and I have to say that is all always, always, always the case where if your home relationship is not in order, you can’t do other ministries. You cannot! Marriage was the second institution that God set up. The first institution was a relationship with him. Whether you call it church or whatever but that’s the relationship with him, the church and then relationship with each other. We see, we heard a lot of stories where people say they forsake their family for the ministry. Frankly it is out of order and it’s wrong. I’ll tell you right now its sin. You forsake your family for another ministry it does not matter how fruitful that ministry is it doesn’t matter how wonderful the Lord works in that ministry. You are for forsaking the first ministry that God gave you and he entrusted to you. By the way if you can’t be trustworthy in the little things how can you in bigger things?
Jolene Engle: Well and I look at this woman and I think she is very well known. What is going to happen if the marriage crumples? You know what is going to happen to her ministry if there is a divorce because if she is willing to go out of the will of God. What‘s to say that she is not willing to divorce or have that emotional affair, or whatever? There is a reason God has priorities lined up in his Word. It’s for our protection. So I look to the end result. If she is doing these things today and a little bit of leaven going on, a little bit of sin in the camp. That is just going to make matters worse. The man is frustrated. He reached out to me, a women’s site, and maybe he hears the podcast or maybe he knows that Eric shows up. But he is here wondering, What do I do with this? So what would you say to this man?
Eric Engle: Well No 1 he has to fix his relationship with his wife. He has to lead her. It’s his job to lead her. He has to come to her in gentleness and say look we have a problem here. I love the fact that you want to be in ministry at church, but we have to fix our first ministry. That means fixing our relationship and I would recommend that she stop the other ministry until that is fixed.
Jolene Engle: Absolutely! And sometimes women have the tendency… I’m not a big advocate, I would never advocate for a young mom to be immersed in ministry that is ongoing. It’s one thing to be in ministry for just a season, a 6-month period where you will lead a bible study but it gives you that out it, gives you a break, it gives you a breather. But to be in an ongoing ministry right now I’m in ongoing ministry but my kids are older. When they were young, no way I would have taken on this project because it just gets bigger and bigger. You can be in ministry for a season but I think this gal should stop booking all these dates and being this important singer going here and going there, cause look to the end. What is going to happen if the marriage crumbles? Her testimony weakens.
Eric Engle: Well after you use you as an example you have a large ministry here that you minister to a lot of women and yet since I’m in the marking and sales part of not only what you are doing but what I do. A lot of times I can tend to push you and say hey let’s do this or let’s grow that. And what is your answer to me?
Jolene Engle: No I am not in full-time ministry and it’s not my season, it’s not my season. I think I say that almost every single day.
Eric Engle: Probably every single day. You say, “I’ve got the boys, I’ve got husband, a family.” Maybe after the boys are out of the house you might have a little more time for that. We have priorities.
Jolene Engle: Right we have priorities and that’s not to say that I don’t want to minister to women because I do. Of course, I do. God has put that in me just like God has put it in this woman. But I think she …I think her husband has to woo her back. I certainly think he needs to say we are out of balance her. And really we want God to bless the ministry. Ok? We want him to bless it but the way he blesses us is through our obedience.
Eric Engle: Right and just a final thing I’ll say, is that he’s got to build up that relationship with his wife. He has to bring her back in, in a gentle way. Otherwise, she is just going to rebel and say forget it I’m going to church all the time.
Jolene Engle: Right Right and you know when a husband comes to a wife whether she is a singer or maybe she just serves in the dinner ministry, children’s ministry a wife wants to feel needed. A woman wants to feel needed. Sometimes we go off do these things and we hear people say, “Oh you are so wonderful,” and all that accolades, words of affirmation and approval where you usually don’t get thanked for making the beds that morning or doing the laundry….
Eric Engle: I’ll try to do better.
Jolene Engle: Especially if you are a stay at home mom. You usually don’t have the thankfulness, the approval from others. You have to be mindful that you are here for God’s approval and not mans. Keep that mindset to be that woman. That I want my walk and my life to reflect of that. I am a woman of the Word and not a woman who really is pursuing right priorities. Sure they are things that are honorable and God fearing but ultimately is your heart God fearing. And I think that is what it comes down to.
Eric Engle: And if it is then she would have the same priorities.
Jolene Engle: Right and maybe she doesn’t know. Maybe she needs her husband “hey back it up we need to clear the schedule for the next six months and work on our marriage so the ministry can be fruitful. But to say her ministry or his ministry there is a divide right there it’s got to be their ministry. So these are my thoughts on that.
Eric Engle: Ok great thoughts!
I’ve been thinking over this man’s situation. Isn’t there anything actively that he can do? What if he appeals to her and she doesn’t listen? Should he just sit by and watch his marriage disintegrate? What about telling the elders of his wife’s behavior and hopefully they would not permit her to lead worship anymore until she got her home in order? If there is fighting, yelling and cussing, it is usually because the wife doesn’t realize that the husband is the head of her. She is called to submit to him in everything. Whenever I hear of arguing and fighting in a marriage, it is almost always because the wife is being unsubmissive; not always, but usually.
Yep, biblically, he’s to follow the Matthew 18 principle.
That is my situation. My husband loves racing. He put going to the races before everything else. He is gone most Friday and Saturday nights. When he is home he is frequently either watching racing on tv or on his phone watching Facebook posts and videos about racing. I have tried changing myself to no avail. I’m still alone and lonely a lot of the time as even when he is home i feel ignored and unimportant. We have gone to counseling and nothing has changed. Im exhausted of feeling like the only one who is tying to make our marriage work. He is simply not willing to give thus far. What do I do with a spouse who isn’t spiritually leading our family, not meeting my needs, and is unwilling to change or sacrifice for us? I don’t like divorce as an option but I feel like I have no other options when he won’t change.
I feel for you, and I can relate, almost exactly. Don’t give up. God has a plan.
“Racing” dominated and consumed our life for years….My husband raced go carts, then dirt late models. And although It wasn’t really my thing, I supported him because I loved him and we went together as a family. But It got old and very tiresome. Our girls were young and never had any time to play with friends, swim, or do anything else, Sometimes it felt like more than i could stand, it caused a lot of arguments, it was such a struggle, with the kids, homework, the money, the bills. We both worked hard but never had any money to do anything else. He worked every spare moment on the carts/car and all nite every Friday nite in the garage getting ready for a race, and his friends were always here, We left for the race on Sat afternoon and got home about 4 am. It was a struggle getting up for church and sunday school but i made myself do it. My husband didn’t go with us regularly. I felt like me and the kids were sacrificing so much for his expensive HOBBY. I kept praying for God to help.
We survived. Our marriage survived and now my husband is in church and even preaching. Looking back over our 32 years of marriage I can see that the devil was always trying to destroy our home. He sets traps in front of us constantly. But God had a different plan. Basically for us, It all boils down to this, “how deep is your love for that person” We can go thru a lot sometimes if that love is strong enough to stand the test. With Gods help you can work through it. I feel that it is not His will for marriages to fail or homes to break up. My husband didn’t see the sacrifices I made, or our kids made.
If I can say one thing positive it is that if your husband has been willing to go to counseling with you then he must in fact really love you. Most men will not even consider going and telling someone their problems.
There are lots of resourses available to help built/restore marriages, always choose the Christian resourses, you have already reach out to one right here.
Don’t ever give up. I will be praying for you
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