Twelve Reasons Pastors’ Wives Are Lonely


Church Answers began as a source of information for pastors, staff, and other Christian leaders. I have been incredibly blessed to discover a subgroup of my readership that has much to offer: pastors’ wives. Many in this group have also shared a common plight: they are very lonely.

Indeed the transparency of these pastors’ wives is amazing. Many have shared with each other on this blog about their battles with depression. My desire to offer help to pastors’ wives has increased greatly. My respect and admiration for them has also grown significantly.

For this article, I assimilated the hundreds of blog comments, Twitter and Facebook messages, and general conversations I’ve had with pastors’ wives. My focus was on the number one challenge they have shared: loneliness.

Here are the twelve most common reasons pastors’ wives have offered to explain their loneliness.

  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.”

While many pastors’ wives share that there are blessings in their role, many do suffer severe loneliness. I would love to hear from more of these wives. And I would love to hear from others about them. The words I have heard from these women have prompted me to be more intentional about praying for them.

Posted on February 15, 2014

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Rebecca Stephens says on

    Agree with each of those points, sadly. It gets even worse when the pastor dies young/unexpected. The love and “friendships” last a short time and then she is on her own.

  • Madelie Etienne says on

    My husband is the pastor and founder of our church. I get lonely all the time, suffer anxiety and mild depression. When I let him know my feelings that I needed some time alone with him and his emotional support he told me that its the flesh asking me for those things I should think more of guetting closer to God. I only see my husband very late at night.

    • Madelie Etienne says on

      Onother problem is that when I try to be fried with some of the ladies in the church, we have a women pastor in the church who buys friendship with money, once the ladies start guetting closer to her, I back off because I can’t trust them anymore, they will start talking behind my back even if I have been good to them.

    • This is refreshing to read. I never quite understood why I felt the bitterness from many pastor wives until I became one. Although my husband prioritizes family, the church we are at does not. They claim that they do, until he’s staying until 10pm to help with Christmas decorations, and then having events on the weekends, and then of course late night events as well. The pastor over him told him that I need to get used to the fact the he is “called”. If you are reading this and your husband is a pastor-just know-YOU ARE CALLED. To me it sounds like a lot of self-absorbed men become pastors…telling their wives that they need God more because they’re seeking their husbands companionship. This is a lie. If your family is a mess at home, what business do you have pastoring to other families about family life. Pastors: you WILL be replaced when you die by another pastor..your family will never have another YOU. I push back at home and put a bit of pressure on my husband to uphold the values that he promised me on our wedding day. “Family before Ministry”. I have desires and dreams too. My life matters too. And so does yours-to the person who is reading this. You are called, you are worthy of your husbands time, and you are NOT second best. I really don’t know what else to day, because I’m having my own struggles right now. Pray-God does care about you too ( before you go on a week trip somewhere). Love to you, lonely reader.

      If you are a pastor and you’re reading this….don’t forget about the people who matter most.

  • Cynthia Jacobs says on

    Hi Thom,
    Found your blog tonight concerning the loneliness in serving as a Pastor’s wife. I’m grateful for this as I relate to many of the items listed. It’s much like reading my story being told back to me…weird and wonderful, because they’re others like me . I used to think maybe I should step forward and speak to these women who struggle as I have with the loneliness, but I realized it’s paramount to every Pastor’s wife that she’ll have support if she finds herself brave enough to say the truth and her loneliness is real. Having you speak to this issue may somehow encourage Pastors to recognize, encourage and support his wife’s need to say she’s lonely and help her and himself towards a healthier balance. Anyway, my husband and I have been on this road awhile and maybe there can be more real support for such an epidemic within the heart of the called!
    Thank you.
    Cyndi Jacobs
    Pastor’s wife for 24 years

  • Roxanne says on

    Im a pastors wife of 6 years. I feel like I cant get close to any of the ladies. I have been hurt so many times. I feel like my kids get talked about bad all the time, blamed for everyone leaving the church. I hear do much negative talk about my husband as well that it makes me want to just leave and give my all to my kids. I feel we get left behind and that he is married to the church. I feel like if he finds that im not doing something “pastor wifey” being myself personality wise that he will be quick to leave me because Ill be going to hell….im a miserable pastors wife but hold on only because it makes her husband happy.

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