Now that the new year has begun, you see stores decorated for Valentine’s Day, with aisles filled with candy and cards. The month of February is here, bringing thoughts of love and romance. Perhaps you will go to dinner with your husband this month, just the two of you. Maybe you have planned to have a candlelit dinner at home after the children are in bed. Your children might be excited to visit their grandparents overnight. This holiday celebration is a good occasion to enjoy your spouse and assess the health of your marriage. 

Dedicate some of your special time together to considering “how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Paul urges the Thessalonians to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). As you think about the blessings of your marriage, prayerfully think through some ways you can improve it. I have seen marriages functioning on a surface level, but the relationship doesn’t go deeper. Husbands and wives perform their household tasks, but their closeness has waned. This situation is difficult for any couple, but it is a serious problem for the couple in ministry. Here are some ideas for building a closer connection with your husband to become a better team as you both serve the Lord.

1. Remind your husband that when he makes your marriage a priority, he is filling the requirements for leadership in the church

These qualifications include being the husband of one wife, managing his household well, and having a good reputation by loving his wife as Christ loves the church (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6-8, Ephesians 5:25-33). I imagine that you are married to a very busy man who does a good job caring for his congregation. He feels the tension of always having more tasks and being unable to do everything. Needy people fill his congregation, some more demanding than others.

Unplanned crises arise that stretch your husband even further. Help him by letting him know his family needs to be a priority in his schedule.

My husband and I counsel many pastors and wives with unbalanced time investments. We have discovered one of the biggest marital problems is the wife who feels neglected for the sake of her husband’s ministry. My husband Jim and I see that danger and strive to ensure our busy schedules include time to be together. This commitment might feel like competition with the ministry, but it actually keeps your husband qualified for the ministry.

2. Profitably use your time together

Watching television in the evening doesn’t count. My husband and I have learned that spending time together in our house can be distracting. Many tasks call out for attention. When our sons were younger, we made sure we had a short time each day to “debrief,” as we called it. When my husband came home from the church office, I would follow him into our room to catch up on his day and tell him about mine. This made me feel loved and heard. I was also able to listen to his concerns and joys, which made him feel loved and heard. Now and then, we would set aside an evening to have a meal away from the house. In our present stage of life, we walk together for about an hour each day. This allows us to connect without distracting phone calls and enjoy God’s creation. Ministry couples need this connection even more intensely because of the stressful nature of serving the Lord together in a fallen world.

3. Seek a spiritual connection with your spouse

As Christians, we think spiritual conversation should naturally occur between the saints. But most of my readers realize this requires effort and planning. Your husband might need a nudge from you in this area. I have been a pastor’s wife for more than 40 years, and my experience only increases this craving for spiritual unity. Here is an example of what I have learned: during the first decade of our marriage, we were inconsistent in praying together until we faced a crisis in our church. Jim and I began praying aloud out of our heartache and weakness. A church crisis affects the pastor’s family in many ways—friendships, ministry, and potentially vocation. We felt these effects, which increased our desire for the Lord’s help. We strengthened our marriage by approaching the throne of grace together.

Hebrews 4:16 exhorts us to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Since that tough season, we have often shared each other’s burdens by lifting up our needs before God (see Galatians 6:2).

Jim and I counsel many ministry couples who need to grow in spiritual unity. It can be difficult to establish new habits and humbling to admit the need for change, but it is worth the effort. We have seen ministry couples become better equipped for future trials. In addition to praying together, we advise couples to read through a simple, easy, short devotional. You might already have an unopened one on your bookshelf. Start reading it together. Sharing a daily devotional will bless you individually, and reading and discussing spiritual topics will help you grow closer to each other.

These are only a few suggestions to build stronger spiritual connections in your marriage. Perhaps you can think of other ideas to add to this list. I urge you to take time this month to institute positive changes in your marriage. You can be the wise woman of Proverbs 14:1 who builds her “house.” May the Lord bless your marriage and your ministry this month.