There are more than five common struggles that a pastor’s wife goes through but these might be among the most common and include feeling estranged to her husband as if her husband is married to the church and the activities there. This can create a deep sense of loneliness and feelings of isolation.
Married to the Church?
In the qualifications for pastor in Titus 1:5-9 and in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, the pastor is to be a one-woman man or faithful to his wife and be above reproach in that and other areas of course but sometimes, the pastor seems married to his work (the church) more that his wife. That doesn’t work well in a marriage because a man’s first earthly ministry is not to the church but to his wife and his children but frequently the church takes second place behind God. It’s like the husband who is a workaholic and is never home and doesn’t spend adequate time with his wife and his children. Since the pastorate is typically a 24/7 job, it can create demands around the clock and every day of the week. What scheduled time there is with his wife and children can be lost due to an emergency like having a member in the hospital or a death in the family. The family’s time is usually the first thing to go in the pastor’s schedule. Naturally, this creates a lot of tension and the wife can feel like a second class citizen in the scheme of things. It is even made worse when the pastor is bi-vocational and in some cases tri-vocational because now the church and a job or jobs can cut into precious time with the wife and with the children and what affects the children absolutely affects the wife.
Loneliness and Isolation
You might think that the pastor’s wife is one where she’s surrounded by the congregants wives and supported in many ways but this is far from the reality. My wife has felt so isolated at times that it became a real struggle for her to even go to services and I cannot blame her one bit. Most people might not expect this problem but many don’t feel like they can easily approach the pastor’s wife even though my wife is one of the most respected women of our community and one of the kindest, most generous people I know. My wife is so good to me and to the congregation and for so many years she sent them anniversary cards, birthday cards, Christmas cards and even made up Christmas goody plates and rarely, if ever, did she even get a thank you card nor did we ever get birthday cards, Christmas cards or anniversary cards in return or even the acknowledgement of these important dates in our life. She didn’t say much but I could tell this hurt her deeply. It was expected of her to acknowledge others but no one thought to think of her! This has been so hard on her over the years yet she never complained to anyone in the church; ever! How lonely and isolated she’s felt. It’s like a one-way street that she is expected to travel but no one else is. This has been so unfair to her and after all she has done for so many for so long and to never be acknowledged or even given thanks has hurt her very deeply. The church forgets that a pastor’s wife is every bit a part of the ministry as the pastor is. You can’t separate a pastor’s wife from a pastor’s ministry because they are a team.
A Balancing Act