Many of you have sent us comments about the challenges of protecting our married lives from the demands of our husbands’ ministries and seemingly bottomless pit of parish life needs.
Though we may have heard the oft-repeated mantra, “family first, job second, diaconate third” during the formation years, for many of us, this quickly spirals out of control soon after. But we know that our marriage is a precious sacrament, and that too much wear and tear (and time apart) can weaken it and affect our entire family. So what can we do to restore the sanity to our union?
What has your experience been?
What do you need help with?
What ‘lessons learned’ can you share with us?
What has worked for you?
What mistakes can you help others avoid?
What do you do to keep your marriage strong and the romance alive in the midst of everyday life?
4 Thoughts on “Marriage and family first?”
Wonderful, Suzanne! Kiss the marble floor – I LOVE IT.
It takes a leap of faith to sign up for this journey. My husband was ordained last year – we just went through a season of first Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter – it was so powerful for both of us, even though we were often apart, we talked about what it meant to us both – our experience was so enriched by his being a deacon. We have been enjoying the ride and climbing back up each time….expect the unexpected!
Joanne, thank you for your insightful, and honest reply! Doing more than your share around house and yard to preserve your husband’s time with the children – is a wonderful faith-filled gesture. Rick and I have an empty nest now, so our needs are a little different – but I will say I have learned that in addition to his time at the parish and actively doing ministry actions, he needs quiet time at home to reflect, write RCIA lessons, homilies, etc. When he’s not home it’s more evident, but both are important. Finding time to pray together is a challenge for us, as we keep different schedules. We’re still trying to work this one out….
In the seven years that I’ve been a deacon’s wife, I still feel like we’re learning so much about this vocation.
I think there is definitely a honeymoon stage of the diaconate that for us lasted about a year, then we settled into a routine. At about the five year mark, I started struggling as “I” wanted a break from his ministry. Not a long one, maybe two weeks or so. I admit that I just got tired of him always having diaconal work to do. I know that many of the wives from my husband’s class felt the same way as I did. When you reach that point, you need to be able to turn to God, especially as a couple. Your cross to bear as a deacon’s wife is to understand that you share your husband with the Church. Your husband has two families: yours and the Church. Remembering that will help you immensely.
What has also helped our family over the years is for me to handle as much of the domestic responsibilities as I can so that my husband can spend what little free time he has with me and our children. That means that I cut the grass more than he does and I’ve also learned to use tools that I never thought I’d use! Reducing his stress level helps him with all of his responsibilities.
Every deacon’s ministry is different. Some deacons have minimal responsibility, others have a lot. For my husband, he rarely has a day where he doesn’t spend some time in ministry work. Remembering that he has another family that isn’t going to go away helps all of us long term.
Sitting on a precipice. At the top of the slide. The steps have been climbed, the assignments completed, the announcements are in the mail. In exactly one month my husband will recite his vows. The Archbishop will lay hands. He will kiss the marble floor (as his brothers like to tease). God willing – he will be ordained.
Five years ago, my husband walked into our church and asked our deacon if it was possible that he might be considered to join the diaconate. What would it entail? How much time would it take? What is involved? Am I worthy? Am I smart enough? What does it cost? Five years pass and it is still a world of the same questions.
I have been with him, and I have been without him. I participate in the classes and I watch with wonder as he studies for endless hours, takes tests, prepares reflections, and struggles and succeeds. It is the time for graduation, and the time for ordination, and, as is always the case with these things, a time for new beginnings.
At the top of the slide, have faith. Push off. Enjoy the ride! Climb again…