I am sure you will agree that being married to a pastor is a unique life experience, filled with both joys and challenges. If you find yourself struggling with your husband’s call, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Let’s be real: you will not find another religious marital role that will challenge you and tax you as much as this one will. Sister, if there is any solace or comfort and hearing someone say “this is indeed hard”, please relish in it. I want to be the one to tell you that if you feel like you hate being a pastor’s wife at this moment, it’s ok.
I’ve been a pastor’s wife for many years now. Look, I haven’t figured it all out by any stretch of the imagination.
But one thing I do know is God will carry you through it and give you the strength to face anything that comes your way.
In my experience, during my lowest moments – some of them often brought on by my husband’s calling – I have learned a great deal about myself and a great deal about the Lord.
Strange as it sounds, I can also say I’ve learned a great deal about my own relationship WITH the Lord during too. I honestly learned how strong it was or how weak it was. Really.
One reason you may hate being a pastor’s wife
Let me just put it out there: people can be really mean.
They can say things that they would never say to anyone else on the planet- yet they say them directly to you.
It is so annoying.
Also, they stare at you, judge you, and some folks might even try to mess with your kids. Christian bullies are real and they love to try the pastor’s wife.
Make no bones about it: it can be so incredibly difficult at times.
So, yes I found myself saying “my husband is a pastor and I hate it” before.
To be clear: I’ve never hated the people because I have amazing people in my church.
But I have hated the times my husband was pulled away from me or the times we’ve had to cancel our vacations or even our dinner plans because the church came first.
Whether you believe that is right or wrong doesn’t matter.
I just want to share my experiences in case you can relate to them.
Let me be honest…
My husband and his approach to ministry is not necessarily the healthiest because it lacks balance. Maybe you can relate.
However, he has a love for God’s people that actually inspires me. It is very sacrificial.
And it made me shift my focus from what I was missing toward what I am gaining as his wife.
Besides, I love him. Madly. I’ll stand by him no matter what.
For me, personally, because of him, I am gaining an amazing church family who loves me, prays for me, and energizes me every time I see them.
Yes, I miss my husband sometimes. But, I would not trade my church family for all the gold in the world.
Enough about me.
Let’s get back to you.
My first encouragement for you, Sister:
Pastor’s wife, focus on the blessings that you are experiencing in your role.
As with anything, there are pros and there are cons to being a pastor’s wife. In fact, I wrote about those here.
I challenge you to try to focus on the blessings this role provides. There are actually many, you’re just not concentrating on them right now.
You may not believe this, but I believe it with all my heart: there are people inside your congregation God has assigned to pray for you. God still uses intercessors.
If you open up your heart and shift your focus from the negative to the positive, the Holy Spirit will show you those people.
I’m not kidding. I really believe God puts folks in position to encourage us pastors’ wives.
Warning: What you look for you will find.
What you think about, you all also encounter.
For example, right after you buy a new car, have you ever noticed how many of them are on the road? It’s wild!
This happened to me. Right after I got my new car, it shocked me how many people drove that same model!
That’s not magic, it’s the reticular activating system in your brain showing you what aligned with your current awareness.
As a result, Think about the blessings of your church family and your role as a pastor’s wife.
Focus on those things.
It will make it easier for the Holy Spirit to show them to you and spotlight them for you.
If you continue to think about the negative things that is where your brain will go and you’re not giving the Holy Spirit much to work with.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
My second encouragement for you, Pastor’s Wife:
I think you need to communicate openly and honestly with your husband about exactly how you feel.
One of the most important things you can do when coping with your husband’s role as a pastor is to talk to him about what you need.
I think it is important to find a balance between supporting your husband and being true to yourself. Don’t fake or hide your feelings. You deserve to be heard just like anyone else. You also deserve your husband’s compassion – just like anyone else.
By having open and honest communication, perhaps you can work together to find common ground.
Don’t tell him “I hate being a pastor’s wife!” That will shut him down.
Instead, try my AMAZING idea for having that tough conversation:
Someone gave me the wisest tip about having a conversation like this. Let me share it with you.
Here it is:
Say something like:
“Honey, I want to speak with you about someone having a very difficult time at church. They are feeling desperate and I think you need to get involved.”
When he asks “who?”
Say: “It’s me.”
Whew! I am giving you some of my experience and my secrets here. 🙂
No, seriously someone shared this with me and it was one of the wisest pieces of advice I could’ve received.
However, the key is to do this at the right time.
Caveat: don’t approach him after a long day or during a tense moment.
Let the Holy Spirit lead you went to have this conversation.
Again, you matter. Your feelings matter.
Not only do your feelings matter to the Lord. But they matter to your husband as well. Talk to him.
Another tip: one of the best times to have this kind of conversation is after you know what. I won’t say any more about that, as Forest would say. 🙂
Moving right along…
Get your life, Girl!
Coping with your husband’s ministry can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
You need a support system of friends and family who understand your situation and can offer you encouragement and advice.
My only recommendation here is to pass on any of your family or friends that worship your husband.
To be clear, I know people don’t really worship pastors are at least they shouldn’t do so. Yet, I think you know what I mean.
You want to find people who really are in your corner primarily. Not someone who is enthralled by your husband’s ministry gifts.
Have you noticed how some individuals act as though being married to a pastor is some sort of Cinderella story?
They think that the husband or the pastor can do no wrong because they esteemed the office so highly.
While I maintain relationships with those people in my own life, they are not part of my support system.
When I was going through my hard seasons where I felt like “I hate being a pastor’s wife”, I did not go to them for support.
You want objective and fair ladies to be part of your support system.
Another option is a support group
You may also want to consider joining a support group for pastors’ wives, where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
Having a support system can help you feel less isolated and more empowered to cope with the challenges of being married to a pastor.
Incidentally, my support system is one that is rather informal. They are my friends.
I couldn’t get through this “life” without them.
They are able to hear me without holding what I say against my husband. I can really go to any one of them and say “I hate being a pastor’s wife today” and they know I’m venting.
Finally, this is a tough one, Pastor’s Wife:
My final admonition is often hard for some pastors’ wives to hear and more complicated for them to do.
I think this is true for a lot of reasons. But I am gonna say it anyway.
If you are miserable and consistently feel like you hate being married to your husband, seek some professional support.
Find a counselor who is active in ministry or has been. If you cannot, find a Christian counselor.
Ideally, find one who is not in your denomination or from your part of town.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a counselor to share your thoughts and your views with.
I personally see a counselor and I will forever see one intermittently throughout my life.
My first time seeing a counselor as a pastor’s wife.
Years ago, I saw one for the purpose of developing stress-coping strategies.
During that time, I was having trouble handling the deaths and illnesses within the congregation. I love my church family so much.
When God would say no to my prayer request to heal and take one of our beloved members, it would affect me so deeply.
Or if there was a suicide in the church I would be intently impacted – especially if I knew them personally.
As a pastor’s wife, you learn a lot about people’s hurts and heartbreaks. For that reason, it is sometimes difficult to cast that care on the Lord.
It’s good for you to have a place to turn and get support.
As I write this, I am seeing a counselor.
Mental health is very important. It’s as important as physical health.
Stress will kill you quicker than any bullet.
Seeing a mental health professional is not a lack of faith. Anyone who tells you that it is, is full of the enemy and wants to keep you bound.
Find a Christian counselor. You can use this website to find one in your area. You’re not going because anything is wrong with you. You’re going because you need a safe place.
Additional and practical things you can do for yourself, Pastor’s Wife:
- Surround yourself with worship – especially when you feel hopeless, helpless, and hapless. Worship changes the atmosphere.
- You have to spend time with the Lord daily. Pray and read your Bible. If you don’t, you’ll for sure get downtrodden.
- Separate your marriage for the ministry. Focus on your husband as your husband – not pastor/husband.
- Set boundaries for your home. I have a hard and fast rule. We have specific times when we talk about the church or allow phone calls. That boundary keeps things separate. I think it helps to keep “home” as a sanctuary for both of you -instead of an extension of his office.
- It may sound selfish, but keep yourself on your mind. Do not become so enthralled with church things that you forget yourself.
This will sound weird, but back in the day, I used to wash my car for church, do my nails for church and buy clothes so I’d look good in church.
Now, I do my nails because I like them done.
If it was not convenient to get my car washed, then on Sunday it will look like I drove through the desert. Without a bit of hesitation, I will sport a pair of jeans if I want to do so.
One of the reasons I always felt “I hate being a pastor’s wife” was that I made the church an idol.
Once I put my church family in its proper perspective, I freed myself to love them as my family and not my “judges” or employers – neither of which they are.
- Stop making the church a prison. This one is going to be controversial. When you feel you must be in the church every time it opens, you can begin to hate it. I’m sorry, I’m going to say it.
As I type this I am caring for a mother with declining health, I am attending school to earn my master’s degree, I am raising a teenager and I am working in a very demanding career. I am not going to be at church every time the doors open. I remove that pressure from myself. I feel no conviction.
Thankfully, I can watch church online while preparing my husband’s dinner. I can’t stress myself out to be Miss Mary Homemaker, a professional, and do all the other things that I do. I won’t do that and jeopardize my own health and peace.
Well, I sure hope this encourages you. Sister, the next time you think to your self “I so hate being a pastor’s wife“, remember to focus on the positive, set boundaries, and praise God through it all.
I love you! You are not alone.