Pastors’ Wives Under Pressure …
This month, Church Executive Magazine reprinted my Typical Pastors Wife is Dead article alongside an interview with Trudy Johnson (a marriage and family therapist from Colorado working with pastors and their wives) called Pastors Wives Under Pressure.
While I wasn’t surprised by the things in the interview, I was absolutely heartbroken. You can read the entire interview here, but let me pull out a few quotes to share with you.
“The advent of exploding media makes ‘the fishbowl’ life even more immediate and pressure filled as opposed to ‘the little brown church in the vale’ of times past,” she says. “The past three years I have seen what I would call an ‘epidemic’ of pastors’ wives involved in affairs. While this may sound a bit shocking, technology is making it possible for women and men to connect in new ways.”
“Because of the problems I was facing at home with my husband (difficulty connecting and communicating) and all the demands on my time at the church, I was starting to resent the church, my husband and God. Eventually, everything just piled on top of everything. It’s too hard being in ministry. My heart isn’t in it. I just want to be a normal person and go to church and not be expected to do all the things I do. I don’t even know who God is anymore and I don’t think he knows me at all.”
“[Pastors’ wives] are held to a higher measure of perfection just by default. Sadly this happens because the man they fell in love with and eventually married is a pastor. Or even worse, their ‘dream guy’ didn’t actually decide to become a pastor until some years after the wedding day. Even though women have ‘come a long way, baby,’ for the most part, being married to a pastor means you fulfill the stereotypical image of being the perfect wife, the perfect mother and a perfect woman in general,” says Johnson.
“Even more alarming, says Johnson, is the hostility rate for this segment of clients. At 85 percent on the hostile scale, she says probably most wives of pastors are stuffing their anger and it’s coming out as depression. Another survey of pastors’ wives shown from Focus on the Family states that 88 percent of pastors’ wives have experienced periods of deep depression.”
Sad? Yes. Yes it is.
Hopeless? I certainly don’t think so.
Here are my thoughts on releasing the pressure valve for Pastors’ Wives:
1. Community. It is a must. A non-negotiable. So much bitterness, loneliness, negativity, and heartache can be bred in isolation. However, when you can link arms with other pastors’ wives and women in ministry, you receive the greatest gift … the gift of not being alone. Community brings encouragement, companionship, positivity, and uplifting prayers.
That is why we have the most amazing Virtual Community Groups. You can find a group that is a great fit for your role and your schedule and connect with other ladies once a month. You can laugh, share struggles, pray for each other, and get advice from people who walking in your shoes.
And that is why we’ve launched L&L It Local Events around the country. If you have a heart to help connect women in ministry, some of whom are in similar places as the ladies mentioned in this interview, we would love to partner with you. Please contact Lisa by email at lisa[at]leadingandlovingit[dot]com And, make sure to check out the complete list of Local Events to see if there is one in your area.
2. Protect your marriage. Talk, talk, talk to your husband. Trust me, and my own personal experience, not sharing your feelings with your husband is more damaging than withholding those feelings due to fear of hurting his. No taking one for the team. No stuffing those feelings because you feel like you have to. No good can come from that.
If your marriage is in trouble … whether struggling or in crisis … please reach out for help. Go to a counselor. Go to a mentor. Or talk to one of our ladies who are an incredible resource for hurting marriages.
3. Get equipped. Find places where you can get insight and wisdom in navigating this pressure filled journey. Yes, I know there aren’t a ton of Pastors’ Wives kinds of conferences out there. But there are a few with Pastors’ Wives tracks … Velocity (which Brandi and I will be at in February), Saddleback, and possibly others.
But that is why we have two big events coming up in the next year:
JustONE 2012 is our second online conference that will be four different sessions between January 23-February 14. We have incredible speakers confirmed although I’ll leave that for another post. But we are excited. If you missed JustONE 2010, you can see all of the sessions here.
And … our next retreat for Pastors’ Wives & Women in Ministry will be in Nashville, September 2012. We are already starting the planning, and … oh baby … we are getting pumped.
What are some other important ways to release the pressure of being a Pastor’s Wife?