I cannot help but laugh at the timing of my writing of this post. I am sitting here fiddling through a basket of fries from an order of food my husband and I picked up after an exhausting day of arguing and bickering. It reminded me why a need for a post like this exist, because being married and in seminary means that there are days with a list long of assignments to complete and even with your most detailed planning you never expect one of these kind of days to come along and hinder all productivity!
A professor of mine recently reminded my classmates and I that seminary is a severely high time of spiritual warfare. Think about it…If Satan’s goal is to pin people against God and lead them away from Him, what better place than a school where a multitude of people are coming to prepare to go out and advance God’s kingdom. In addition to that, whether in seminary or not, Satan is always a fan of hindering God’s work by attempting to destroy marriages striving to honor God. Therefore, it is pertinent we are aware of this battle, pray against it, and as always “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
Though it can be tempting to neglect our personal time with God while in seminary due to the number of Scripture based assignments, this simply cannot occur as its implications are great. These, though summarized, are the spiritual realities and truths to consider when married in seminary. However, there are several practical things that can be done to help your marriage continue to thrive in seminary. They are:
Be disciplined. A planner is a seminary students best friend. If you will strive to be disciplined with how you use your time and in your completing of assignments, then when those unexpected arguments arise you will have the freedom to be more flexible in working through things with your spouse. It also allows for an unexpected night of throwing the homework aside and curling up on the couch with your loved one. At the end of the day, your marriage always comes first. However, it really helps to focus on reconciliation after a disagreement if you are not stressing to run off and piece together a paper.
Date Night. An obvious one for married couples of any situation, however, intentional date night that is set apart away from homework is a huge blessing on a busy week of classes. Since we are both in seminary, my husband and I often visit the library together or spend a great amount of hours side by side on the couch under a stack of books. Though I count it a blessing to go through this experience alongside him, a night just focused on one another outside of homework helps us to continue to intentionally build our marriage. It is true that seminary can be a difficult time financially for many couples, however, there are many date options for couples that cost little to nothing at all if you are willing to be creative.
Discuss What You’re Learning in Class. Whether you are both in school or not, having periodic discussions about what you are talking about or learning in class helps the two of you to feel like you are going through school together. A great way to create this kind of conversation may be to pose a question to your spouse that your class had discussed or debated on recently. Ask your spouse for their thoughts and understanding on the subject and engage in discussion over the question proposed. Though seminary has grown me greatly, the majority of my growth has come from these thought provoking fun discussions and debates with my husband. It is also just one of many ways my husband leads us spiritually by continuing to engage in Christ-centered conversation with me. If possible, taking the same class or attending chapel together will also help to create more time for the two of you and will also further aid you both in feeling as if you are going through seminary together.
Mission Statement. This was recommended to me from a book How to Stay Christian in Seminary by David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell. There will be days you will wonder “Why in the world am I here?” or “This is so hard. Why should I continue?” And whether you are the one in seminary or not, your spouse will contemplate these same things. However, if on those tough days you can look to that statement posted on your fridge or encourage your spouse to do so, you can more easily look past the pain of the moment and look ahead at what God is preparing you for. This is also another great activity to work on together as it will help the two of you to be on the same page about this phase of your lives. When preparing your mission statement just think about how you answer when someone ask you why you decided to go to seminary/why you are in seminary? Let this statement align with Scripture and be drenched in it but be concise enough that you can reference it easily.
Being married and in seminary is certainly an adjustment but my husband and I, along with various others we know, have found that participation in the above tasks will help you to more intentionally develop your marriage while in seminary.
There are no better words to leave you with then these of Tertullian, “How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in home, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice . . . Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit . . . They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God’s church and partake God’s banquet, side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts . . . Seeing this Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace…”