I love the black and white decisions, like the time I got the call that my 3 year old daughter was in the hospital with a broken leg. It was a no brainer; drop everything and go. One phone call on the way mobilized my volunteers to cover the ministry event I had starting in just a few minutes.

We live in the grey. Sitting at your desk finishing the one task you’ve been fighting all day to complete and the clock ticks toward dinner time. You told your spouse that you would be home for dinner, but what’s another five minutes, you are on a roll and you work for Jesus after all. Is it o.k. to finish up?

When the wedding bells were ringing, the sacramental yes in ‘I do’ was the only thing that mattered in life. Now it seems that every yes we say to the ministry competes with this ‘I do’. Ministry is meant to bless the couple and yet we can often find their marriages stressed or even broken due to their commitment to ministry. How do we navigate this tension? How can we discover God’s plan and allow our service to Him be a blessing to our marriage?

Here are 8 ways to bless your marriage as a minister.

Minister at home first. Our primary ministry is to our spouses. It is our task to get them to heaven. Each of us have learned how to lead others to Christ through our experience in ministry, use that leadership at home. Next, consider utilizing some of the ministry tricks we learn at home too. Break the ice with your spouse with one of the goofy questions that work so well in the small group you lead. Bring in the music you us to set the atmosphere for prayer time in your ministry to your home.

Minister together when possible. If you have a family and are in youth ministry, let the youth group know your kids, your spouse, the dog. If need be, use tithe money to pay the babysitter so your spouse can minister next to you. It not only gives you the chance to be a living witness together, it also allows others to see love in action.

Acknowledge the sacrifice. Publicly and privately acknowledge the sacrifice you spouse makes to support your ministry. Let them know in advance if you are entering into a busy time and then take a posture of gratitude during the busy time. This allows you to be a team and make the impact together.

Set clear boundaries. Here are just a few rules I seek to use: No email on my phone, no work calls or texts after 9pm, honor a consistent day off, only work 2 evenings a week and 1 weekend a month with 1 floating evening per month for meetings, and finally, worship away from your home community when needed. Do what is needed to defend happily ever after.

Acknowledge your failures. An apology can bring healing. Awareness of a fault or challenge is the first step toward resolving it.

Acknowledge your limits. You cannot be all things to all people. This goes for ministry and marriage. You cannot be everything your spouse desires nor everything the community you minister to desires. Strive for bettering yourself, but say ‘no’ often to defend the limits of your time and marriage.

Most Importantly, Pray Together. Be united as a couple on a mission. Constantly ask God what His plan is for you and find common ground in accomplishing God’s plan together.

Embrace the Adventure. My favorite quote of 2015 came from a song from the band The Counting Crows. In John Appleseed’s Lament, Adam says “The Circus is Everywhere.” It challenges me to be awaken to the excitement, the thrill ride of God’s grace active in our life. Marriages will have their ups and downs, but all are opportunities to love. Even as I look around my house, the kids are all in bed and yet I see endless signs of life. Toys resting in corners of the room, fresh artwork on the fridge door, and scrapes or marks on the wall that tell me the circus was here. Life is full and life is good. It’s not always fun to clean up after the circus, but it’s so much more fun than no circus at all.

So squeeze your spouse’s hand for a bit tonight and laugh at the 3 ring act that God has blessed you with. Then next time you find yourself wanting to stick around at the office later than you should head home and remember, you’ve got tickets to the circus.