Missionary Marriage Issues: Relationship Time

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Why write a book about issues in missionary marriages when so many books about marriage are available? The reason is because married couples living in cultures other than their passport one face some issues that make marriage more difficult than it is for people remaining at “home.”

The booklets found in this series cover many issues that married couples struggle with in the mission field. Each booklet has been read and edited by Bob & Norma Jean Erny who have read each chapter as it was written. They were each married more than 40 years to their first spouses, and after those spouses died, they married each other giving them more than century of marriage in three marriages.

To read more from the Missionary Marriage Issues series

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As we saw in the first brochure in this series, Dorothy and William certainly did not spend time on their relationship during the final dozen years of their marriage while she was mentally ill and accusing him of adultery. It is unlikely that they did during the decade before when he was a pastor and missionary. William was so consumed with pastoral and mission work that he had little time left for anyone in his family.

Most people in missionary service today are not that blatant about ignoring their family, at least not in statements about their priorities. Most missionaries say that their relationship with God is their top priority, but their priority order after that may differ greatly, some putting their ministry second while others put family second.

However, even those who say that spouse and children are their next priorities may not “walk the talk,” may not live what they say. Let us consider the real order of a person’s priorities and relationship time. Here are the “who, what, when, where, and why” of such time.

What?

Many missionaries say that their relationship with God is their top priority but do not have time for daily devotions. Likewise they may say that their relationship with their spouse is their second priority but do not have time to spend with him or her. Though people differ greatly in talent, intelligence, income, and so forth, everyone has the same amount of time, 24 hours in every day, 7 days in every week and 52 weeks in every year. One can see the real order of a person’s priorities by looking at how that person spends time.

Every relationship takes time to maintain. We may marvel at the wonderful relationship a person has with God and wonder how it happens. Then we find that the person daily spends much time in the Word and in prayer. Likewise, for spouses to have a wonderful relationship, they need to regularly spend time together. This is relationship time, a regularly scheduled time when they can do things that they both enjoy together. This is not a “problem-solving” time for their relationship, but a positive, stress-free time for them as a couple.

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