My husband is a workaholic for the Lord. Now that our children are grown, he travels half the year. Even when he's here, he's busy nonstop doing "kingdom work." He seems happy the way things are, but I miss the relationship we used to share. How do I handle my loneliness?
—Name withheld, via email
Many believers struggle to find the balance between their service to Christ and their commitment to their families. The "kingdom work" seems so much more urgent and important—not to mention more rewarding and fulfilling—than the mundane, ordinary responsibilities of everyday family life. As justification for abandoning everything (and everyone else) in their lives for the sake of the kingdom, some point to verses such as Matthew 10:37, where Jesus says he is to be our first love. Those who are left behind feel they have no right to complain. How could they be so selfish?
But Scripture has a lot to say about our responsibility to our families—that we are not to neglect the primary congregation (or mission field) that God has put in our very own homes, no matter how "spiritual" our reasons. (See Matthew 15:3-6, Ephesians 5:22-33,6:1-4, 1 Timothy 3:1-5, 12-13.) What good does it do to save the world and lose our family to loneliness, bitterness, and their growing resentment toward the ministry we insist God's called us to?
You understand this struggle all too well. But until your husband has a change of heart, what can you do? First and foremost, pray—for you and for him. Without nagging, whining, or complaining, share with your husband how much you love him and miss him. Let him know that while you're proud of him and his heart to serve God, you'd really like to spend more time together. You need his ministry too. Be open to exploring ways that you can join him in his kingdom work, or suggest new avenues of ministry that the two of you can participate in together. And be aware that sometimes distance in a marriage can be a cover—an indication that there are underlying issues that haven't been addressed or resolved.
Whatever you do, don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Join a Sunday school class or Bible study where you can find friendship, encouragement, accountability, and support. And don't dismiss the very real comfort and strength you can find in pouring out your heart to God. In spite of the way it feels, he's not your competition. He's your closest friend, your strongest ally. He loves you—and your husband—more than you can ever know. And he wants you to have a happy, healthy marriage.
Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It to Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).
Copyright © 2006 by the author and Christianity Today.