Over the years, lots of people have asked Tim and I about working together, pastoring together, being landlords together…we have a lot of together going on! I’m a little sensitive when this topic comes up because it touches on all sorts of insecurities for me. First off, we were told in our early years of marriage that spouses could not pastor together because that was nepotism and it would never work. I’m sensitive also because I know that a lot of couples should not and could not work together, and so I never want to send the impression that this model is for everyone. Third, I am sensitive because although we work together in a lot of domains right now, it might not always be what we want to do, and so I want to protect the choice for either or both of us to bow out or change vocational focus someday. But for now, Tim and I work together and we really like working together. I get to see a side of Tim in our small business that I never knew he had until we started that venture – who knew that Tim could paint?!? We have both changed so much in the 5 years we have co-pastored and it is thrilling to be growth partners with each other in ministry everyday.
But co-leading and co-pastoring is not what makes us married. Marriage is so much more than running a business together or running a household together. Marriage is about writing a love story together. It is about walking hand in hand down the street for breakfast on a Monday morning (a pastors Saturday!). It is about surrendering my self-imposed need to cook everyday and ordering carry out to eat on the front porch instead sometimes. It is about choosing to talk to each other and finding the space to really listen. It is about realizing that getting the dishwasher loaded can always happen later, but some sort of daily investment in each other needs to happen every day. It is about giving up the urgent in favor of the important. Marriage is about making time for each other every day – small little investments that add up over a lifetime. It is not about just talking business (although we do plenty of that!). It is about talking and listening from your heart – hearing about the small details, the hopes, the fears, the dreams and the mundane. Tim and I have a lot of time together, but we have to fight for the time that really builds the sort of marriage we want to have. I think that is true for every couple, whether you work together or not. It is easy for us to just slip into all business – Who is speaking? Who is watching Russell? When are we having those people over? Can I book that private event at the studio next month? Can I buy a new truck? (No! The answer to that last question is no.) There is a never-ending list of schedule-coordination, to-do-lists, and logistics to discuss.
Prioritizing is never easy. It means saying no to the good stuff in order to build the great stuff. Important relationships are worth prioritizing but it will mean the laundry sometimes goes undone. It will mean eating leftovers so we don’t give each other the leftovers of our attention and energy for another day.