Building Marital Honesty In Hard Times


God’s first call for married pastors and their wives is to protect and nurture their marriage. We have to be able to trust each other, and therefore we have to be able to be honest with each other. How do we care for one another in ways that are receivable, so we build bridges and not barriers? By keeping our eyes fixed on Christ.

The hardest times in my ministry marriage are when others attack Ray. We have to learn how to fix our eyes on Christ more than our husband or the problems surrounding him. We really only believe one of two things: either Jesus is enough and I can trust him with everything my husband is going through and my heart is aching with, or he’s not really enough and I have to make up for what he’s not doing for my husband, his reputation, his ministry, or our family.

If I say God cares for me and is sovereign over my life in mercy and love yet am held captive by fears, I don’t really believe God is good. It’s only an intellectual concept; it hasn’t been forged down into my heart. As our belief in God’s good sovereignty becomes more than an intellectual concept, our delight in God’s love grows and we can communicate in ways that won’t crush our husbands. We have to learn how to fix our eyes on Christ more than our husband or the problems surrounding him.CLICK TO TWEET

Entrust Yourself to God

When I’m stung, set back, or hurt, or my husband is, I can come to God because he’s the one who redeems my life from the pit. And as I come to him, I find in his Son that sympathetic High Priest who was brutally tortured and murdered—why? Because men brought false reports about him. Jesus was crucified because of slander. In it all, he entrusted himself to his Father. And Jesus says, “Follow me! Follow my way!”

We serve the God who remembers. Our labor is never in vain and God’s grace will enable us to embrace and fulfill his call, blessing even those who curse us. It’s so important to cling to the truth that God will bear a true witness about you and your man. It’s not always immediate, but God remembers. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And his sufficient grace caused Paul, for the sake of Christ, to be “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9–10).

That’s ministry, isn’t it? Ministry is a life of losses, weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. What do we have left? Jesus. And he proves to be enough so that we can look at those hardships as his gift to us because he’s giving us more of himself in them.

3 Suggestions for Honest Communication

So, wife, let me speak to your heart when you see your husband suffering—when you’d like to say something, when you’re wondering how you can be honest (if you should be honest), and how you can bring it up.

1. Remember your unique privilege. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” You are God’s favor to your husband, so bring him good as best you can. Under Christ, you are God’s greatest blessing in your husband’s life!

2. Respect your husband’s work. He needs your respect. When I’m wondering whether I should mention something to Ray, I think of Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” I ask myself, will this conversation build Ray up? Are my words suitable, are they timely? Are they filled with grace or law? Grace says, “I will absorb and embrace the difficulties.” Law says, “You better do this and be like this, or else something bad is going to happen.” We want to be Mrs. Grace with our husbands. When I’m stung, set back, or hurt, or my husband is, I can come to God because he’s the one who redeems my life from the pit.CLICK TO TWEET

3. The thing that helps me most is praying before the Lord. Lord, how can I best help Ray? You’ve got to help me, so I can be his helper. Malachi 2:15 describes husband and wife as “one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union.” The Holy Spirit can teach you exactly what you should and need to say to help your husband. Ephesians 5:10 tells us to try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t you love that first verb? Try to discern! We don’t have to be perfect. Try to discern—pray for insight. What will happen if I say this or that or keep quiet? What will bring a smile to Jesus’s face in your interaction with your man?

As wives in ministry, we have to learn how to fix our eyes on Christ above all else. As we do, may God give us grace to comfort, support, and help our husbands in loving honesty.

Written by: Jani Ortlund