The Tragic Story of a Hurting Pastor’s Wife

I receive volumes of blog comments, emails, and social media communications every day. On occasion, one of those comments will stop me in my tracks, like this recent blog post comment.

I am providing it to you almost completely unedited. I made a few edits to protect the identity of the writer.

I respectfully request you not to lecture this lady, but to offer prayer and encouragement. The headings are mine, but the words are hers.

The Lonely Pastor’s Wife

“Please allow me to share my feelings about the last many years of being a pastor’s wife. I tried on many occasions to talk to my husband about it (loneliness, neglect, wanting at least one evening a week together, lack of dating, etc.). We’ve gone to marriage seminars, talked to mentor ministry couples, and, still, things don’t change.”

The Pastor with the Messed Up Priorities

“He never schedules time for investing in our marriage and works all week in the office and then up all night on Saturdays getting his sermon ready. He leaves early Sunday mornings for preparations for the service and, by the time he gets home in the afternoon, he’s exhausted and definitely doesn’t feel like doing anything active or fun with the kids and me. He just wants to veg out on the couch.”

The Pastor Who Does Not Listen

“When I try to talk about my feelings, I’m “complaining” and not “following the call for my life.” I’m so tired of the cycle of neglect, loneliness, rejection, and hurt that, I hate going to church, don’t read my Bible anymore, and have to fight thoughts of divorce every single day. The church definitely feels like his mistress. I’m so hopeless and feel that I’m trapped. The one place I should be able to turn to, the church, is what is killing me on the inside.”

The Plea for Help

“If anyone has a recommendation for a fair and reasonable counselor in the Houston area who is used to working discreetly with people in my and my husband’s position, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m down to my last resort before bailing.”

My Reason for Sharing This Information

Any time I hear about a marriage failing, I feel sick to stomach. It happens too often. And it happens too often with those who are in vocational ministry. Of course, it is not limited to the role of pastor. Such cries of hurt are emanating from the spouses of all kinds of church staff.

So I offered her words to you with the hope that it could be a caution for all of us in vocational ministry. Love your spouses. Love your family. Take care of them. Give them the priority mandated by Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-5).

And please pray for this pastor’s wife. She is truly hurting.

Posted on August 3, 2016

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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  • The Wife says on

    Ministry is brutal and people in the church can not see it. A pastors wife has no trusted friends. If she has a friend, then she is playing favorites. Also she can never share her struggles because if it gets out to the congregants that she is less than perfect her husband will be asked to step down. She has no shoulder to cry on, no one to laugh with or be real with in her life. The only thing being lonelier than a pastors wife is being the wife of a missionary. That wife not only takes on all the struggles of a pastors wife but sits home alone with her children most of the time. As women one of the best things you can do if you attend church is give your pastors wife cards with words of encouragement, small gifts of appreciation for all she does, warm hugs, and offering to watch her children every now and then. Every Pastors wife is human and needs the same friendships, and love in her life that you do. I wish I knew how to contact this woman and reach out to her.

  • Anonymous says on

    My dear, I pray God heals your heart, I send you love!

  • I’ve being praying and asking God for direction as a Pastors Wife in what I thought was a unique situation.
    Wow! Most of these post sounds like my story. – Please pray for me I’ll be praying for all pastor wives – I completely understand –
    You are not alone

  • Being married to a pastor is or can be a wonderful thing as long as it’s with the right man. But when you are married to someone who loves the other women in the church more then her loves you as his wife or lusting after them. And putting them first above you, trusting, believing, and considering them more then you. Or having all the confidence in them and not in you as his wife. Or making the women in the church his world putting high value on them and nothing on you as the wife. Or disrespectfully On the phone with the women in the church day and sometimes all night. And they are not discussing problems but gossiping and bonding. And then he talks to them more then he talks with the wife and she live in the same house with him. He’s Out of control with wanting full control of you as the wife. He wants to control what you say, how you say it, who you can talk to even if it’s you’re kids, And he not wanting you to talk with your kids because he don’t have a relationship with them. He has behaved his self in an evil way toward your kids. And he not wanting you to have no life except what he premits. And all this while being a bully and a manipulator and uncovering you even with lies behind the pulpit. And also exposing your whole life at home and in your marriage behind the pulpit and in the presence of the whole church. Even getting on the phone talking bad about you to the members which is predominantly women. And they believe in everything he say because he’s the pastor because he’s the prophet. And there’s nothing you can do about it but sit there and be in so much hurt, pain and embarrassment. Cause if you speak up then you can’t be trusted as a wife if you speak up then you are the liar if you speak up you are out of order as a wife if you speak up you risk getting a divorce. And then having a couple of the women get in the phone speaking bad about the wife to the husband. The women trying to bring a division. Cause they want that affection and attention and praises that they get from you the pastor. And while all this going on the wife is still supporting, and covering him as the husband cuz he’s the pastor and the prophet. He’s made the women in the church his property women that belong to him so the wife she’s just there or invisible. When the wife pray she gets no support from her husband the pastor but when one of the other women pray or read a scripture they get his support they get the pastor’s amen they get the pastoral approval. So the wife just sit there and let the people (meaning ) the women in the church think that she is everything that he the husband is preaching about her is right when it’s not. I mean what can she really do. And when he’s angry he lashes out over the pulpit at her even if he don’t say your name everyone knows he’s talking about you because he’s talked about you individually to them. And there are certain things that he say that let them know he’s talking about you. You can’t trust no one in the church they all believe in him no matter what. Hurt and embarrassed is all an understatement of words. Words cannot express the feelings that are felt. Women are inspired to be in your place as a pastor’s wife or first lady they want to sit in your seat living your house where your clothes drive what you drive even look like you but have no idea of what you’re really going through what is costing you mentally spiritually and even physically to be in your position. But you sit there keep your mouth shut say amen and support smile and try to carry on like a normal woman like everything’s okay. When you’re hurting so deep within and you feel so alone cause you know you have no one to turn to to talk to to just vent out to

    • Amen…you have just described the life I’m living. Everything from beginning to end is to a “T”! We’ve been married almost 22 years, and for the last 9 years, my pastor husband has formed a bond with a woman (non member of our church) and it’s an emotional affair, which although he emphatically denies, I know it’s probably a sexual relationship too.
      No more touching me….God will deal with them both!!!!
      Pastors who are guilty of this cannot continue to use the excuse of being “human”…that’s why Paul put such great emphasis on the office of a bishop/pastor qualifications….if you know you have a lustful Spirit…don’t play with God while leading His people!!!

      • Janet Youngblood says on

        Hello, oh my! I have said this exact same wording & was told, I was wrong. I know vengeance is the Lord but sometimes, the carnal man want to rise up but I know God has blessed me temperance. I have no excuse not to be whom God has call me to be… Every man works out his own salvation, but I’m ready to see the hand of God move, and see my enemies me scattered in Jesus name.. I hope that ok in the Holy Spirit to request. Amen. Thank for the sharing of the pastors wife daily endeavors.. God Bless All Pastor’s Wife to endure as a good soldier. I am grateful that Grace & Mercy Shall follow us All the days of our Lives in Christ Jesus..

  • Well just saying pastors are out running around over there wife with side chicks getting them pregnant taking them to the very same seafood are steak house you been to. Smiling taking your picture at the table. Are snapping your picture in the very same Bentley that his side chick been in. While your at home playing with the little kids trying to lose the weight that he paid so you could get the fat off you he’s examine someone else body. Seriously it happens but that side chick finds out to that she got pregnant now pastor wants to hide at home with his family. It’s a shame because pastors know they are wrong don’t use the pain and hurt that comes from a women when she is hurting and y’all make y’all move that cause more pain. So what going to happen now he calls and talk for a minute just to tell her off. Very abusive

  • John Madlock says on

    Christ wasn’t married! Peter left his wife. Paul too left his wife. I feel the loneliness of these testimonies and experiences. But, some of us, “Christians”, need to read the bible and then ask God for the understanding. We are to do greater works as God the father does the work through us. God can use couples to do his work. Some of us are too selfish to be used of the Father. How misspoken is the scripture references you all are using to self gratify rather than to pray an or edify one another. The bible says we will be set apart sanctified for His use. My wife and I work for God together. I appreciate her and love that God have given me a partner in ministry one that choses to work for God herself. Maybe our friends, pastor wives who identify
    with the hurts of being a pastors wife or the pastors who have reprobated minds of chauvinist ministries need to ask in pray if ministry is a calling on their lives. God is not the author of confusion or have a desire for His people to be of difference minds. I truly hope pastors and their mates, rather male or female come unto the unity God wants us in. This is a trick of the enemy the devil to divide the family and set us at odds with one another. We all need to be doing God’s work not our own. I appreciate this story but I see the devil working all through it. The Blood of Jesus be on this blog.

  • This is 100% me. I was so “happy” to read this, and at least not feel alone. But it’s a hard hard road, and I don’t see the end of it.

  • This is my life too. I feel the same way often!!!

  • Down trodden says on

    I totally relate to your situation. I am a pastor’s wife for 21 years and I feel totally trapped. Three years into our marriage, my husband was “called” to the other side of the world, Australia to minister. My husband has thrived in his “calling” but I feel so lonely, empty, rejected and neglected. I have nowhere to turn to when the going gets tough. I have no family here. His family live just down the road and he sees them regularly but they have rejected me on many levels; accused me of having affair (all untue), they say I have the spirit of death over me, told me I shouldn’t be working or have my own career and worse but I can’t say publically. . However, I have submitted to my husband in every way but I just feel psychologically abused and stamped on. He comes from a very patriarchal, misogynistic background and I don’t know how I can stand up for myself.
    My teenage daughter is starting to experience some of the inappropriate attitudes to women that we are subjected to and I just want to protect her from it but I just feel weak and helpless. She wants to leave home as soon as possible.

    My whole life revolves around the church so there is no one outside of church I can confide in. I feel I cannot share this with anybody in the church. I feel like I am living a lie so have slowly been withdrawing from church and life.

    I too battle with the thoughts of divorce every day.

    What do I do?…..

    • Hi, I am a pastor’s wife in Australia too, in Brisbane. I wish I could connect with you, I too am from another country and don’t have anyone here. Been through similar things and still go, though things have somehow improved only after standing up to my husband in a strong way.

  • Reginald Curry says on

    I am a man who has a wife who is a Pastor , and today I was told to leave my job for Ministry or lose her. So I can understand where she is coming from, I was married to her before all this and we were good. Now I am always alone, now I am told how can 2 walk together.

  • Marriage is the very image of the church as the bride of Christ. Many say they are serving God but are just busy “trying” to serve Him. Your spouse is the first ministry. As wives we think that we need to be submissive even among abuse. From experience, rocking the boat is where God’s strength is revealed. When my husband put me at the bottom of the list, I picked up my stuff and left. I told him, when you are ready to be the man of God and husband that you need to be, give me a call. I did not settle and my marriage changed. He never took me for granted again. I love the man God changed him and me. I now know he loves me with actions not just words and in turn we are stronger. I stepped out of the way when I was at my lowest and God took care of the rest.

  • Icarusjun says on

    I stumbled upon this page, and sadly I’m realizing that for being a pastor and married for 23 years now, I’ve been struggling with my wife for a little bit over 5 years already. Reading this as well as the comments of the women (not to mention pastor’s wives) here brought me now to a wake-up call to fix my own life and marriage. I realize that I’ve hurt my wife and have not treated her the way she deserved. For a number of times I don’t know now, I’ve even told her she’s made my life miserable for the past 5 years. People look up at us and see a good example of married life (result of social media), but I realize that my wife’s been living a nightmare all these years. Two nights ago (before the time of writing this) we’ve had an ugly fight, and I’ve even used words no pastor or even a respectable man should utter. We’ve not been talking to each other since then, and I think I’ve just had it with her that’s why I locked myself up in the study for 2days now until I was able to see this article. I ask for forgiveness and ask you to pray for our marriage to be restored. I’m sorry for all the pastor’s wives out there who suffered because of those stupid pastors like me.

    • Praying for your marriage so many times the Word of God tells us about hardness of heart …most important to place our lives once again in the Potter’s Hand as Jesus is powerful working within His servants with the Power of God to revive restore renew the heart of man. I completely understand as have been in this heart ache too!!

    • I lay here on a friends couch while my Pastor husband prepares to go live for FB. I say that to say I can relate. I’m so sorry for the both of you. You’re not alone. I pray you both can find common ground, be restored individually and rebuild as one. Lots of work to do. Praying. Don’t give up. To God be the GLORY.

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