Being a cross-cultural worker overseas is hard. Crazy hard.
Being a cross-cultural worker overseas with your spouse is even harder. Crazy harder.
Just this past week these words were exchanged: “I can’t wait until I don’t have to work with you any more!”
That is hard stuff.
Working with your spouse 24/7, being vulnerable enough to allow them to see you at your worst (which often comes out while serving overseas), learning to balance your work relationship with your marriage relationship, struggling with cross-cultural issues together, and being loving and gracious in the midst of it all, can be quite a challenge. A challenge, I will confess, that my husband and I have yet to master—as if it is a skill that can be perfected, in the first place.
Last night he and I went out on a date, our first one in months. It was taco night at a local restaurant, so what better timing? When we came home we put the kids to bed and then sat on our front porch and spent some much-needed time in prayer together. We prayed for our ministry, for our future, for finances, for our kids, and especially for our marriage.
We talked to God about our marriage prior to coming to Haiti (we thought then that we had it down to perfection). We talked about our struggles here in Haiti with one another. Knowing full well it is the devil’s desire for us not to be united, we prayed to God for protection from the evil temptations to fight, pick at each other’s weaknesses, and pull away from one another. We prayed for God to protect and strengthen our marriage, because we know that the two of us united are stronger than both of us divided.
I share this with you all not to freak you out. Truth be told, our love for each other is growing every day. There are days, however, when life here can be so complex that living in the midst of that with each other sometimes means we do not like each other. My tendency to micromanage everything I touch and my husband’s carefree personality clash pretty much on a daily basis here in Haiti. Nevertheless, that is the hard truth of being a cross-cultural worker with your spouse.
Let me just confess—being a cross-cultural worker is not all rainbows and beautiful adventures. We thought it was when we moved here, but we quickly realized otherwise. Is it life-changing and completely worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears? If you are in the will of God, ABSOLUTELY! However, let this cross-cultural worker be honest for a moment: being a cross-cultural worker is not for the weak marriage. Sometimes it can even rock the strong ones too. Being a cross-cultural worker is for the marriage that is flexible, understanding, and willing to grow at paces and in ways that one could never imagine. Being a cross-cultural worker with your spouse, I have come to learn, could be the best or worst thing you ever do in your marriage. The choice is ultimately up to you.
My husband and I? We are choosing to make our experiences here in Haiti be the best thing that has ever happened to us. This choice, I might add, is something of which we have to wake up and remind ourselves every day. It is a choice that can be easily forgotten or lost in the midst of constant stress. Nevertheless, it is one of the best choices we have ever made.
To those of you who know a cross-cultural worker couple: encourage them. Trust me, they need it.
To those of you who are considering becoming a cross-cultural worker couple: prepare to get to know the best and worst of your spouse. It is not going to be easy. Also, remember that God is over your marriage, so ask Him now to strengthen you as needed.
To those of you who are already serving somewhere together in this big old world we live in: KUDOS. May God grow you and your spouse into a powerful force for His Kingdom.
Being a cross-cultural worker with my husband is hard stuff, but I love it all at the same time. I would not want any other partner here in Haiti. Together, God is making us into better people. We are not perfect and we mess up quite often, but at the end of the day, our love is always stronger.
Question to consider: To those of you who are serving abroad with your hubby: how has being a cross-cultural worker made your marriage stronger?