I know I’m not exempt to spelling errors but I intended that title to say “holey” rather than “holy”. Holey, after all, is defined as “a hollow place in a solid body or mass.” You might be remembering my most recent post; it was a genuine open letter to my husband but I didn’t write it because we are doing awesome. It was a public reminder to him that even though things are super difficult right now, I still think he’s pretty great.
Center for Intercultural Training in North Carolina is where Nick and I spent a quick and intense month of our lives prior to leaving for Ethiopia. I now follow CIT on FB and they post the most enlightening, encouraging, and honest articles concerning mission work. One recently that seems to have lit up and caught the attention of missionary couples is one titled “You see that missionary family smiling out of the postcard on your fridge? Their marriage is probably hanging by a thread.”
It’s true that some missionaries get put on a pedestal but I hope I’ve been honest enough to make you laugh at that idea. Although, I suspect that their marriages are still seen as “iron-clad” in some form because, well, how else could they get all the way over to another country to serve God so selflessly if they weren’t always on the same page and just awesome communicators? Plus, they just take the cutest pictures and say the nicest things to eachother on FB. On the field, with lack of outlets, perhaps too much time together, no family, stress in other areas, and the enemy on our tails, when he sees an opportunity he seizes it.
In the article previously mentioned, the missionary details several things that cause marriages to fall apart on the mission field and how you can take action on your missionaries behalf. I’m going to write about some that are true for us.
Think of the typical things that stress you out. Well those things get to us as well but then there is all these other things. For instance: managing staff in your own home- the sheer weight of that alone is enough sometimes. When that person breaks your favorite perfume, when they forget to close the baby lock on the poison cabinet, when you lose your temper at one of your kids and they heard the whole embarrassing weak moment. Trust me, it’s hard. Let me just share the state of our home right now… 2 rooms where fuses have blown and lights no longer work. One is the bathroom which is a hidden closet and its super dark. That toilet also doesn’t work (For the 2nd time this month) and the laundry happens to be in that room as well. Our power can be out at any given time and God forbid the gas to the stove run out at the same time as well. Not to mention our car after weeks of waiting on an imported part has something ELSE wrong with it now…
All of these amount to “I’m done!” by the time your spouse returns home after a stressful day on the outside…
What can you do?
Pray and ask. Seek what you or your church might be able to do to help with some of these things. Rather it’s financial, or advice on a great marriage retreat, or offering up your time if you’re a counselor and are willing to skype.
This wasn’t listed on the article by itself but I think it’s crucial. We have other foreigners around that could technically be accountability and sometimes they are. Often, those people are just as busy, stressed out, and if you get together to chat about culture and such, it has real potential to turn into an ugly rant.
What can you do?
Offer to be accountability via the most convenient means of the missionary. Commit to those means and ask hard questions. Pray specifically about the things they don’t want to tell the general public they are suffering with. Encourage and encourage some more. Maybe even find out their love language and encourage in that way.
These are a few… but as pessimistic as it may sound, assume your missionaries marriages are struggling in some form and offer to help!