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Twelve Reasons Pastors’ Wives Are Lonely

Pastor's Wife

I was very taken by the research and summary of Thom Rainer around the loneliness of pastors’ wives. I think some similar points could be made about pastors’ husbands. I copy his twelve points here. Comments could be placed on this site or on his:

  1. Superficial relationships in the church. “No one ever sees me as my own person. I am the pastor’s wife. No one tries to get close to me.”
  2. A busy pastor/husband. “My husband is on 24/7 call all the time. I just get leftovers.”
  3. Mean church members. “I guess I’ve isolated myself to some extent. I just don’t want to keep hearing those awful things they say about my husband and me.”
  4. A conduit for complaints about her husband. “Last week someone told me their family was leaving the church because my husband is a lousy preacher. Do they have any idea how that makes me feel?”
  5. Broken confidences. “I’ve given up trying to get close to church members. I thought I had a close friend until I found out she was sharing everything I told her. That killed me emotionally.”
  6. Frequent moves. “I’m scared to get close to anybody now. Every time I develop a close relationship, we move again.”
  7. Viewed as a second-class person. “One church member introduced me to a guest visiting the church by saying I’m ‘just the pastor’s wife.’”
  8. Lack of support groups. “I’ve heard that some wives have support groups that really help. I’ve never been able to find one.”
  9. No date nights. “I can’t remember the last time my husband and I had a date night together.”
  10. Complaints about children. “I really don’t try to get close to church members anymore. I’m tired of so many of them telling me how perfect our children should be.”
  11. Husband does not give the wife priority. “Frankly, the church is like a mistress to my husband. He has abandoned me for someone else.”
  12. Financial struggles. “My husband makes so much less money than most of the members. I just can’t afford to do the things they do socially.”

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13 thoughts on “Twelve Reasons Pastors’ Wives Are Lonely”

  1. Being one of the first clergy husbands in the diocese, I was asked if I minded being officially called a “Clergy Wife” as it was too difficult to change documentation etc.

  2. Morris S. Malukutu

    In Africa, generally speaking, the scenerio seem completely opposite to the one described in this article, may be to different culture or otherwise. The respect or reverence accorded to the Pastor is the same that of the spouse and his/her family

  3. Timely post because just yesterday I started to write a post for my “Life As a Clergy Wife” series…and then deleted it before posting.

    Because I’m married to a priest on an diocesan staff, I seem to be spared much of the crap that shows up on this list. Still, my conversations with other clergy spouses (spice?) almost always swiftly devolves into near-toxic church (and especially vestry) bashing and swapping Can You Top This stories about bad behavior by congregants.

    In my case, I’ve become keenly aware of what I cannot and should not write/say because of my husband’s position. We discussed all this before we married (2.5 years ago) but I still was unprepared for just how restrictive this could become — and, really, I have it better than most of the clergy wives I know!

  4. Sounds like a whole lot of unnecessary complaining to me. Yes, there are struggles unique to the position but as in any situation, work with what you have and learn to thrive!

    1. So much for “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), “if one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering” (1 Corinthians 12:26) and “love one another” (John 13:34), Maureen.

      And we dare to scratch our heads in utter bewilderment as to why so many people nowadays consider our Christianity to be a bunch of hooey…

  5. In Transylvania, the curate’s wife is adored by the women of the parish, because they don’t dare to approach him. She is the only mediatrix between women and Gog>/s> the priest.

  6. I can recognise many of those symptoms. I am a clergy person, clergy wife, clergy daughter, and clergy granddaughter. Growing up, I was aware of the expectations on my behaviour at school, and on my mother and siblings at home. My mother (now over 90) has told me of the tears shed by retired and widowed clergy wives who had never been able to share their loneliness, or let their true selves show, out of loyalty to their husbands, the community, and their understanding of God. It’s time to be (gently and appropriately) honest, otherwise how will congregations ever grow in this area?

  7. Harrison Muchenga

    I am not a clergy but leader in business world. I don’t think points raised above just affect clergy people and their spouses but all people in higher position. As clergy tend to feel it more because you are the mirror and through you the moral fiber of the society is measured. Community will always expect higher standards from you.

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