Sometimes I get asked, "Matt, why do you write about things like this?" My response is generally the same each time. I want to help prevent other leaders from doing the same things in their life and ministry as I have done. So, below is a bit of our story.
In 2003, I somehow convinced Amber to marry me. I guess it was my humor - cause I had no money nor looks. And to top it off, I am a preacher.
Either way she married me and I am glad.
During our first 4 years of marriage, there were ten awful actions that I did that could have ruined my wife forever as well as our marriage. I want to share them with you now.
Here are the 10 Ways I Treated My Wife Like A Dog
- I tried to force her into the model pastor's wife. I expected her to dress and act or present herself in a certain way. When she did not, I reminded her of her place.
- I treated my church members better than I treated her. I gave them my time, money, and heart. She got the left overs.
- After we left the pastorate, I pressured her to attend a church in which she did not want to be a part.
- I pressured her to speak publicly. She would get nauseated and sweat. I didn't care, it made me look good.
- I brought home the issues, sin, struggles, and bad decisions I made as a leader and dumped it on her and never took responsibility for my own actions.
- I constantly criticized her for not "supporting me" in the ministry.
- I lashed out at her for questioning my judgement on ministry and money matters. We got into debt and shut down a church.
- I abused her paycheck and work ethic while I loved "on faith."
- I caused her to be bitter toward the ministry and the church. It has taken 10 years for her to heal.
- I moved her 5 times in the first 5 years of marriage. I'm just glad one of those moves was not her moving out permanently.
Before you send a lynch mob to Nashville, know this: I am a totally different man. That old guy does not even exist. I promise that he is dead and we are glad.
I have made the following decisions in my life for the sake of Jesus and marriage: (These correlate to the ten things above)
- She is not a preachers wife. She is an individual with hopes, dreams, and life of her own. She is my best friend and lover. She is also an incredible nurse and a rock star mom.
- I will never give the church a place higher that I place my wife. The church has survived 2000 years without me and will do just fine with or without me. But, I must be a husband committed to serving my wife, son, and daughter first.
- If she chooses to never go to church again - I will love her and probably stay home with her from time to time. Thankfully, she loves to attend Cross Point, Dickson.
- She will never be asked to even answer my phone if she doest want to speak.
- My past sin, struggles, and bad decisions as an individual and leader are between me and Jesus. She is not my dumping ground. The Cross is the place for those things.
- She was then and still is today the greatest support system a human could need or want in life and ministry. I would not be in the ministry today if it were not for my godly wife. She rescued me from religion, legalism, and self-destruction.
- I go to her now for discernment on most matters. Teamwork is feels better than failure.
- I respect and adhere to our budget and we work as a team to make this happen.
- Through much forgiveness, prayer, and attending and working at an incredible church - we are both in the healthiest place of our lives. I do not want the greatest entity that has hit planet earth (THE CHURCH) to be the one thing that breaks my wife's heart ever again.
- We are in Nashville and we are staying here. The only way we move is if we are both in agreement to do this for the sake of our livelihood or our children.
Leaders, don't treat your spouse like a dog you can kick around. They are your partner for life. They are yours forever; a gift from the Lord Jesus.
If I were to write a letter to Amber and allow you read it this is what it would say:
You have healed me from religion and legalism. You have rescued my life from destructive and ridiculous thought patterns. You have been the only steady thing in my life. You should have left - I am so glad you didn't. I am forever indebted and committed to you.
I am wildly in love with you and I thank you for sticking around. Thanks for your unreal patience with my process of change and repentance. Thank you for not withholding forgiveness when I ask for it. Thanks for always making me feel special even when I fail. I fail more that not. You are always there to help me keep going.
A wife is supposed to be a helper. You are so much more. You are a sustainer. You are still my girlfriend, pal, and hot date.
Also, thanks for our red-headed son and gorgeous little girl. They are perfect - just like you.
Your mess of a husband,
Two things you should know: I tell her these things all the time, not just on a blog. And, Mamber is her nickname. It's a combination of Matt & Amber - Mamber
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