Married With Nowhere to Hide!
This is our first entry for the Explore Blog, and we have chosen to co-author it! For a little peek into the life of newly-wed Directors, read on:
Hannah: “What’s it like working with your spouse; Is it hard to be around one another all the time?” Since getting married and directing Explore together, this is the most common question we are asked. The question is fair, and our general answer is that “we enjoy working together,” although marriage to one’s immediate coworker does carry peculiar challenges. Our challenge is not so much that we get sick of one another, but that our relationship is often in full view of our immediate community. For example, Dennis and I were canoe partners on the whitewater canoe trip we took with our Explore2 students. Both of us have limited canoe experience, and neither of us took our friend Becky seriously when she joked, “Welcome to the marriage counselor!” and presented us with our canoe. I had no idea how stressful whitewater canoeing with a spouse could be!
Dennis: Within the micro-community of Explore (30-ish students, 8 interns, 2 Directors) exists another micro-community (our marriage) for all to see. Some situations in ministry and life provide people with opportunities to preach patience, honesty, grace and care without being held accountable by their audience. In our case, however, students were first hand witnesses when our canoe crashed head long into a very solid rock in the middle of a rapid, and to us being thrown out of our seats. Students also witnessed our initial temptations (and sometimes actions) of frustration, blame and anger over our jarring canoe experiences. Having a relationship that is so public provides us with immediate and real accountability and opens avenues for real influence when the community around us can see repentance, forgiveness and grace in our relationship with one another.
Hannah: Not many couples have the opportunity to be be observed by almost 40 students, all of whom question whether the couple is authentic in what they are trying to teach. Despite the potential public awkwardness, Dennis and I have learned to value our marriage above our appearances, and I am mostly happy to have the opportunity to live authentically with our students, and to allow students to have the opportunity to observe and learn from what we do well, and from what we are immature about.
Dennis: So in short, we enjoy working together and being married in the Explore context. It has proved to be a instrumental tool in our growth as friends, while dating, engaged and now married. This position of leadership has also been an excellent means to personal growth as it forces greater accountability to the values I profess to live out. Being married has added an extra layer of feedback and accountability to my growth as a disciple of Christ.
By Dennis and Hannah