A strong and healthy relationship is essential for a happy and fulfilling life, but it is especially crucial for pastors who are responsible for leading and guiding their people. Unfortunately, many pastors in America struggle with marital problems, leading to high rates of divorce, affairs, and even considering divorce. As spiritual leaders, we need to lead ourselves well first. The affects of a damaged marriage will affect our own spiritual life, professor and dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions says, “an affair by a pastor can have far-reaching consequences, including damage to the pastor's own spiritual life." According to a study conducted by the Schaeffer Institute, 50% of pastors' marriages end in divorce, and 23% of pastors have admitted to having an affair*.
As rising leaders, we can do better, let’s commit to making a change!
These statistics are concerning and highlight the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with our spouse. The concept of a "love bank account" is a helpful tool to illustrate this point. It refers to the emotional deposits that one partner makes into the other's emotional account by fulfilling their needs and making them feel loved and appreciated. If the bank account runs low, there is not enough money to make a withdrawal. If the money runs out, and a withdrawal is taken, there is a penalty. The same can be said about our emotional bank account.
Watch Dr. Harley, the author of “His Needs, Her Needs” outline the 10 needs of men and women.
As you know, when a pastor's marriage is in trouble, it not only affects their personal life but can also impact their ability to lead their church effectively. Eugene Peterson says, "The effects of a pastor's affair can be long-lasting, with some members of the congregation struggling to trust future pastors or even the church as an institution." Therefore, it is essential to prioritize meeting the emotional needs of our spouse to maintain a strong and healthy relationship, not only for personal fulfillment but also for effectiveness in our ministry.
Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship requires effort, time, and energy from both partners. Love is a choice, not only a feeling. Love requires intentional action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Here are some general ways that can help you fill your partner's Love Bank Account and make them feel loved and appreciated:
- Spend quality time together.
- Show appreciation and gratitude for your partner's contributions.
- Listen actively and with empathy.
- Write and mail a note to “The Best _________ (Mom/Dad/Cook) in ______________ (your city)"
- Support your partner's goals and interests.
- Show physical affection and intimacy.
- Show acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.
- Plan date nights and romantic getaways.
- Surprise your partner with small gestures of affection.
- Give meaningful gifts and surprises.
- Provide emotional support during difficult times.
- Show interest in your partner's thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
- Share your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
- Be honest and trustworthy.
- Be responsible and reliable.
- Be respectful of your partner's boundaries and needs.
- Take time today to forgive your spouse.
- Show forgiveness and offer apologies.
- Show respect and appreciation for your partner's friends and family.
- Create shared goals and plans for the future.
- Work on personal growth and self-improvement.
- Engage in fun activities together.
- Learn new skills and hobbies together.
- Work on shared projects and goals.
- Show your partner that you are reliable and dependable.
- Show your partner that you are emotionally available and supportive.
- Be open-minded and flexible.
- Take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
- Show your partner that you are willing to compromise and negotiate.
- Show your partner that you are willing to make sacrifices for the relationship.
- Celebrate your partner's successes and accomplishments.
- Show your partner that you are proud of them.
- Show your partner that you are interested in their opinions and ideas.
- Show your partner that you are willing to learn from them.
- Show your partner that you are willing to grow together.
- Show your partner that you are willing to make time for them.
- Show your partner that you value their input and feedback.
- Show your partner that you are willing to make changes for the relationship.
- Show your partner that you are committed to the relationship.
- Show your partner that you are willing to put in effort to make the relationship work.
- Show your partner that you are willing to compromise and find solutions to problems.
- Show your partner that you are willing to learn from mistakes.
- Show your partner that you are willing to communicate openly and honestly.
- Show your partner that you are willing to put in the effort to build a strong and healthy relationship.
- Show your partner that you love them unconditionally and consistently.
Remember, every relationship is unique, and what works for one couple may not work for another. It is essential to communicate with your partner to understand their emotional needs and to work together to build a strong and healthy relationship.
1) Choose one of the numbers above and do that for your spouse today.
2) Share this list with your spouse and ask them to choose their top suggestions.
3) Share with an accountability partner which actions you want to take to make investments in your spouses love bank.
4) Pray for (and with) your spouse.
The 4 areas of romantic needs (Worksheet)
His Needs, Her Needs (book)
XO Marriage Conference
Bridge Builders Marriage Ministry (coaching and counseling)
The Couples Adventure Challenge (date ideas)
52 Cheap Dates at Home (cards)
The Love Dare (a 40-day challenge)
* The study by the Schaeffer Institute is titled "Marriage and Family Trends Among Pastors" and was conducted in 2011. It surveyed 1,050 pastors and can be found on the institute's website here: https://www.schaefferinstitute.com/marriage-and-family-trends-among-pastors/.