You have half the power to keep your marriage. And all the power to ruin it. In most Western cultures, losing your marriage is easy. It’s staying married that’s the hard part. And in cultures where divorce is anathema, staying happily married still requires a lot of work.
I know God called my husband to be a pastor. Since God also let me marry him—I choose to believe God called me to ministry too. I don’t think God would bring us together and then only call one of us. Ministry works best when the whole family is on board. God doesn’t make random mistakes—so if your husband is called to ministry, and you’re his wife, then God has called you too.
“No thanks,” I hear you saying. “That’s my husband’s job. I’ve got my own career, my own interests.”
Yes. Well. Good for you. You are truly a liberated woman.
Except, that kind of liberation tends to endanger marital satisfaction.
Good marriages thrive on common interest. Strong relationships grow out of shared passion. Lifelong commitment comes easiest when there is mutual respect.
Yes, you can be your own woman. Go ahead, enjoy your career. Or you might be choosing to stay at home and raise your babies—which is a worthy career in its own right. But antagonism (or even casual disinterest) toward your husband’s ministry will bring guaranteed repercussions.
When you can’t find something, anything, to love about life as a pastor’s wife, you’re effectively making your husband choose between pleasing you and obeying God. He faces a crisis of decision.
Who does he value more, you or God? Whose daily wrath can he endure most easily? Sooner or later, he’ll wonder if he’s failed as a husband because you’re so unhappy and disinterested. This kind of tension can become a dark cloud over your home.
That feeling of failure is definitely going to affect your married life. Sure, it might stay contained in the realm of general misery and discontent. Or it might spill over into something worse.
I’m not writing this to make you feel threatened. It’s not about changing who you are just so you can save your marriage. Or maybe it is. I guess that all depends on who you are, and on the direction your marriage is headed.
I wouldn’t urge you to pretend to be someone you’re not, just to make things peaceful. Be who you are. But, if who you are is a woman at odds with your husband’s identity and calling, if who you are is causing stress and friction in your marriage—then maybe God wants to transform you into someone new.
I freely admit that being a pastor’s wife isn’t the easiest of identities to embrace. We don’t get regular weekends off. We share our husbands with an entire congregation. We pick up the ball when it’s “family day” and a church member calls from the hospital needing an emergency pastoral visit. We spend evenings at home alone with the kids while other families are eating supper together. We sit through the sermon alone, managing the babies as best we can. (I’m getting a lot of practice with this right now!)
But take a moment and look at the big picture. Are all these inconveniences worth risking your marriage? What if God has an incredible plan for you that includes this reality of life as the pastor’s wife? What if you are just one heart-change away from experiencing something amazing?
If you ask me, the hardships are a small price to pay for the adventure of being married to a leader of God’s people. Oh sure, I’d like more uninterrupted family time. Yes, I would enjoy not having to pinch every penny, and he could make far more money doing something else. Of course I’d love to be able to sit with my husband in church. Some days it’d be really nice to blend in with everyone else. But who wants to just be normal, anyway?
When I was a newlywed, one wise older pastor’s wife told me that her dearest friend was married to a doctor. She said they could relate in ways that other women didn’t comprehend. Both shared their husbands with large audiences. Both endured time alone at home while the men worked unusual hours. Both had learned how to cook and entertain groups in their homes because of their husbands’ jobs—not because they naturally loved being a hostess. Both had fallen in love with men of influence who lived to serve other people.
Every woman married to a man of influence has unique duties that come with her role. Senators’ wives. Lawyers’ wives. Executives’ wives. Doctors’ wives. And yes, pastors’ wives too.
How often do you stop to think of your husband as a “man of influence”? How often do you treat him with honor? The health of your marriage depends greatly on how you express your support to this man you chose to marry. Sure, he could do something horrid that would destroy your relationship, but so can you. Steady nagging or silent antagonism over his pastoral identity will erode your marriage just as surely as something big and flamboyant like adultery.
You are the wife of an influential man.
Even if he’s young. Even if he’s quiet. Even if he sometimes forgets that you (and your kids) should be his top priority. Next time you see him walk through the door, pause a moment and just look at him. Remind yourself that this man is called by God.
It’s that very calling that makes your husband different, special. It’s what makes him the man you love.
How much is that worth to you?
Tips for Discovering (And Embracing) Your Calling As A Pastor's Wife ...
- Mentors - Find a pastor’s wife whom you admire, and who enjoys her role. Ask her questions about her journey. Ask if she would pray for you or mentor you. be humble enough to accept advice from those who have made it work.
- Write - sit down and make a list of the good things that come from being a pastor’s wife. You may not be able to sit in church together as a family, but are your weekdays more flexible than other families? Or maybe you can’t spend evenings together because of your husband’s church meetings, but can you get quality time in the mornings?