A while back I wrote an article on “How to Protect Yourself from Moral Failure on the Mission Field”, but I failed to include something important. After reading my post, a missionary colleague many years my senior wrote to point out that my “how-to list” should have included “nurturing your marital relationship”. He was right. And in light of recent news of Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation due to infidelity, I thought it might be a good time to make a few observations on missionary marriages and longevity on the mission field. I don’t want to comment on Tchividjian’s case in particular, but rather the broader issue of protecting your marriage, as it relates to missionaries.
As with anyone in full-time ministry, there are lots of stresses and demands upon missionaries, including language and culture stresses that are a much smaller factor when you are working in your home country. And in the midst of various pressures, the marriage relationship is easily neglected. And if the marriage is neglected, that relationship is no longer the joyful, life-giving fount that God intended it to be. A good marital relationship can be a shelter and refuge from the stresses and demands of the outside world. It can be a place to laugh, to cry, to rant, to debrief, and to share all those things that would cause you to be virtually tarred-and-feathered if you shared them on social media.