Seven Things Pastors’ Wives Wish They Had Been Told Before They Became Pastors’ Wives

April 6, 2013

I am especially grateful to have the opportunity to hear from pastors’ wives since much of my focus is on pastors. Our recent, informal survey simply asked the open-ended question: “What do you wish you had been told before you became a minister’s wife?”

Thank you to the pastors’ wives who were willing to give us such great feedback. And thanks to Chris Adams for doing the survey and to Amy Jordan for assembling the data.

The responses are in order of frequency. A representative comment follows each response.

  1. I wish someone had told me just to be myself. “I am a people-pleaser by nature, so for me, not being prepared to handle being a pastor’s wife with my personality was a heavy burden to carry early in our ministry.”
  2. I wish someone had prepared me to deal with criticism of my husband and me. “It was hard to deal with negative experiences, conflicts, or criticisms, especially in relation to my husband and our area of ministry. So I would harbor feelings of resentment when it came to ministry and my man.”
  3. I wish someone had reminded me that my husband is human. “I wish someone had told me that my husband could not be God for me. I was disillusioned at first to find out that he indeed is just a man.”
  4. I wish someone had told me that others were watching us (the glass house syndrome). “Even though they are watching us, we don’t need to be controlled by what they expect of us.”
  5. I wish someone had told me there are some really mean people in the church. “I was really surprised. I had to learn not to pay too much attention to them or they would get me down.”
  6. I wish someone had told me how much my husband needs me to build him up. “I need to be his cheerleader. Dealing with critics in the church is difficult. He needs to hear that I respect him now more than ever.”
  7. I wish someone had told me that my schedule will never be normal again. “Your husband will be very busy. Expect that. But come alongside him in the areas of time management and organization.”

One pastor’s wife told us that her role was like getting a job for which she never applied. She wrote this funny script in her response:

Husband: “Honey, I got you a job today.”

Wife: “Really? Okay, but I wasn’t looking for a job. I have plenty to do here running the household and raising the kids. That was our plan, right? Me stay home with the kids so you could fully dedicate yourself to the ministry.”

Husband: “Yeah, yeah. But I really need you take this job for me.”

Wife: “Well, okay, just tell me what to do and when it needs to be done by, and I will do everything I can to make it happen.”

Husband: “Well, right now there are no specific responsibilities. Basically, it’s just doing anything at church that no one else steps up to do or wants to do.”

Wife: “Oh my, that is a tall order. Okay, I’ll do it. I guess we could use the extra money anyway. Things are always tight around here on a pastor’s salary.

Husband: “Well, actually honey, there is no salary . . .”

What do you think of these seven responses? What would you add?


Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at ThomRainer.com. Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at [email protected]. We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process.

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357 Comments

  • Agnes Lupo Otimu N says on

    Shalom my dears. Am just here wondering. How can I be a good pastor’s wife??.
    A good mother to the church members??.
    It is hard to make every one happy.
    Being a good mother to Church and home,
    A good wife at home and good employe at work.

  • Jewel Bonifacio says on

    Hi, My husband is a pioneering pastor. But I and my son was getting hurt sometimes because if we did mistakes in his sight or if we can’t do what his desires for us to do, he easily judged us accused us and most of the time cursed us because according to him he is a man of God, and the bible says don’t touch my anointed. Specially sometime if I argued to him, he always said the cursed is my own way, because I argued the man of God. I was hurt and confused now, my love with him was slowly gone. I want to left him and bring my son with me, but I don’t have the courage to do it, because I am afraid.
    He was easily angry with me and to my son.

  • I wish someone had told me that people honestly think a pastor’s wife should do anything at all different than what she would do anyway. Because I have read a zillion articles that make this apparent and it’s completely unhealthy. 100% Unhealthy. Read the book “Boundaries” and tell me that any obligation a woman has to her HUSBAND’S (or anyone else’s) job is appropriate. It isn’t.

  • Felicia Scott says on

    I am dealing within my marriage, at the moment, a disconnect from my husband and his life as a minister,husband, father etc. We have been married for 32 years, 2 beautiful daughters (who are not married),and 1 grandson. Our marriage it seems is over.

    After the first year of our marriage, I have felt abandoned, alone in every aspect of it. My husband is very close to his seven sisters, who seem to give him more advise (whether spiritual or other ways) than we discuss as husband and wife. I have dealt with this over 32 years. I have been faithful in being a submissive wife, but in the past two years I have grown tired. I have given in to everything that he has proposed to do. Which half or more of the time, I was informed about his adventures as he was doing them.

    Just a few examples within the last 5 years:
    – Left home church were my husband had been Associate Pastor for 5 years, to pastor a church who really needed a pastor. I admit it was hard work for us there, but the church grew from 4 members to 20 members to 70 members in not time. My husband and I worked as a team. But after two years, he decided God was leading him to another church outside the denomination.

    -We went to ministry at this church with an understanding they wanted us there. This church was full of very cruel members, who had been given the choice of deciding who or what should be done.
    We were there for two years, very bad experience for our young daughters.
    He then decided to start a store front ministry, which did not last but a year. We returned to our home church, because he said God had led him back there, yet he did not return, I and the girls did. I was there going to church for 4 years alone, he was at home being ministered to by a TV evangelist.
    He has now for the past two years returned to the church were the member were so cruel. He was voted in as Pastor, I was not informed by him but by others.

    My concern is this:

    I have not followed him as pastors wife. I am praying, fasting, reading the word, tormented by the thought of returning. I know the scripture has indicated I am to submit to my husband, he is the head. But I am tired of not being informed, that I don’t need to know his business. I feel really bad I am not at the church with him. My husband has become a tyrant, a dictator, someone I don’t know. There has been a great stress placed within our home. It was bad before, but it has gotten worse.

    My husband is a good man, but never communicates with me. He communicates with family members (sisters). The church he returned to could not find a pastor, most of the members left 1 year after we left. It was a mess there.

    I read one of the post of a previous ministers wife, as she stated that her husband was married to his ministry. My husband is to his ministry and family. My girls are 30 and 27. They are not close to their dad, they feel he forsake them for others. He never did dad things with them. I feel sad, helpless, etc.

    I want to do God’s will and be in His will. I have prayed about this situation. Do I just go on to church where he is pastor and him being the spiritual leader? Our children will never return. There is nothing going on there for children,because there is none. All the young families left.

    Please help me see the light.

  • Alecia O'Byrne says on

    So, it is February, 2019 and I sit here reading so many comments from lonely sisters in Christ who have the blessing of being pastors’ wives as I am and have been for 40 years. I decided to google the topic and see what I found. It is unfortunate that what I found is what I have been living with for 40 years. Church people are mean, especially the women.
    I have watched my godly husband lead boldly for 19 years in our first pastorate, 9 in the second and 10 in the last. It is the last because 10 months ago the leaders/deacons decided for the church that it was time for a change, someone younger. They said he hadn’t done anything wrong but 10 years was long enough.
    I needed to explain the situation so that I can explain what I am going through. I do not want to ever be back in the position of pastor’s wife again. But my husband does not feel released to do anything else. Fortunately he has been unable to find a church to hire him in our town, which is not the small town where he was pastoring. We moved to a larger town near by.
    I do not trust any of the people though I am sure many are trustworthy. I hurt all of the time. My husband is still hurting and trying to support our family by working in a Christian bookstore. The pay is not enough, nor the hours. That is another issue.
    It was a couple(mostly the wife) who spoke to the deacons and pastors(my husband included)urging them to have him resign and then find someone younger and not so boring. She cried and told him she loved him and his family but 10 years was long enough. The deacons listened to her, not all of them but enough.
    My faith in God is still strong but I do not know how to move past the hurt and betrayal. I don’t think there is a magic formula to do that or at least I haven’t found it. I know what the Bible says about casting all your anxiety on him, about forgiveness, about seeking first the kingdom of God, etc. But again there is no magic formula, prayer or routine that will give me peace at this time. I have no one to talk honestly and openly about my pain and lack of trust. I feel that I need counseling but have no idea who to go to and really don’t have the money to pay for it.
    I do not believe anyone I have talked to has been able to comprehend the depth of pain and distrust I have for church people.
    I still go to church or rather churches because we have yet to find one where we all 4 feel a part or even want to commit to. My mama raised me to “forsake not the gathering of believers”. I know the enemy would love it if I got to the point where I quit. I will not.
    I really don’t think I have more to say, I believe you will all understand if you are pastor’s wives. If you don’t then you better be so grateful to God for the church you are in. But watch your back!!!
    If anyone has anything to share with me i will happily read it and hopefully receive some hope from it. I thank you in advance. If you want to just give me Scripture that probably won’t be helpful. I also don’t really need someone to sympathize with me. I need to know how to deal with the hurt and betrayal and lack of trust.

  • Emily Macaluso says on

    I am currently dating a pastor. I am 28 and completely new to this world as I was born and raised Catholic. I work full time as a teacher in the Catholic school system and do not plan on ever being a stay at home wife because I feel called in this way. So far, I have laid low and kept a low profile. I am just trying to learn as much as possible from many people to help me out and see what to expect. I feel my experience is so different and I don’t know church culture. And apparently…most people are married young so there is not anything I have found to relate to in my search.

  • Precious Steve says on

    just began ministry a week ago with my husband, i’m already regretting being a pastor’s wife. in my next life, i wouldnt try it. it’s almost so so hard

  • Auma Margret says on

    please pray for me am pastors wife and my husband leaves all the issues of parenting to me.He does not have time to talk to his children he only quarrels and bucks at them. the children have now grown but they recent the church.

  • thank you for all your stories and encouragement. I been engaged with a pastor, we’ve been 2 years in our relationship, trials and challenges are always in our way. We want to settle down in marriage but there are still issues in my family that needs to be solved. But I think my fiance pastor dont want to make a move to settle his issue about my family. I need your prayers. Thank you. God bless us all.

  • This is an older post, but applies to my church today. This week our church staff was informed that volunteers are ditching on children’s ministry lately, so all staff spouses are now REQUIRED to volunteer in children’s ministry until we have more volunteers come in. The pastor will be following up to ensure this is happening as directed. This strikes me as not normal, and perhaps really quite bad. Is this even ethical? Thoughts?

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