In reading the title of this article you may be thinking that I have the perfect marriage and have maintained a well-balanced life during seminary. Well the truth is that hasn’t been always case and oftentimes struggled with balancing life and ensuring I am still investing in my marriage.
Reflecting back on my marriage in light of going to seminary, there have been several lessons I have learned that I hope to pass on to some of you who may be struggling with your relationships while being in seminary. The truth is, a lot of couples suffer while one of the partners are going to seminary. Oftentimes, the other may feel left out, pushed aside, unimportant, or inconsequential. Ensuring your marriage thrives while you are in seminary is crucial and ought to be a top priority for you and yes…above seminary.
Sometimes while we go through seminary we can attempt to justify ourselves and temporarily put our relationships aside by telling ourselves and others that we are doing this for God. However, I doubt God is pleased with suffering marriages that result in dishonoring God due to seeking credentials that is designed to honor God!
Thankfully, my marriage has not become a statistic as a result of seminary. There are a lot of things I wished I avoided and did not do as well as a lot of things I wish I had done. My hope is you will glean something from these lessons.
- Ensure your spouse is on board with your decision to go to seminary. Our spouses can often act as conduits for God’s voice. If you have decided to go to seminary but your spouse is strongly against that decision, then you need to resolve this before you enroll. Both of you need to come to an understanding of what it will take in terms of time, money, energy, and resources to attend and complete seminary. If your spouse is against your decision to go to seminary, then you need to figure out why and somehow come to an agreement on what is best. Ultimately, your marriage is more important than seminary.
- Pray together. As you go through seminary, ensuring that you and your spouse are praying together is the heart and soul of ensuring you are successful in seminary and that your marriage thrives. My spouse helps me by praying for direction and guidance for me as I go to seminary and consider becoming a pastor. Praying together also has the miraculous effect of calming arguments and feelings of animosity towards each other.
- Ensure your spouse is willing to be married to someone who will potentially be a pastor or someone in fulltime ministry. Working in fulltime ministry takes its toll on your life, the life of your spouse, and the health of your marriage. Similar to having a discussion about your decision to go to seminary, you have to be on the same page regarding what life in ministry will be like. Perhaps spend some time together with a pastor and seminary professor to gain a better understanding of what this will be like.
- Ensure you do things that your spouse enjoys. Remember that seminary takes a lot from your spouse. Making time to do the things that your spouse enjoys helps them remember that you are still present and that you still care.
- Celebrate! This is different from doing things your spouse enjoys. By celebrate I mean celebrate your marriage. This happens on a daily basis as well as special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays. Do things that remind your spouse of how much your marriage means to you. Also remember that the fact that you are going to seminary means that to some degree, your spouse is supporting you. Remember your spouse!
The bottom-line is to remember your spouse and be present with them. Let them know by whatever means that you care and that seminary is not more important to you than your marriage!
By Joseph Siacunco. Joseph is a Masters of Divinity Student at Denver Seminary located in Littleton, CO. He currently works at Mission Hills Church in the Finance Department and is a Certified Public Accountant. He has worked in Accounting since 2004 but also serves at his church in other ways including teaching and preaching.