Category Archives: Marriage

WHEN IS IT MY TURN!

passing her byDear DW,

I’ve never said this out loud because it sounds so selfish, but I really want to know.  WHEN IS IT MY TURN!  The entire time we’ve been married, I have been submissively standing by my husband’s side while he pursued ministry.  I’ve been a great pastor’s wife.  I’ve been at every church service. I’ve volunteered for a zillion ministries.  I’ve stood by him and consoled him in every joyful and painful situation we have ever faced.  I have endured years of sacrifice while he pursued his seminary degree and now his doctorate.   But when is it my turn? 

Pouting in Peoria

 

Dear Pouting in Peoria,

Thank you for having the courage to admit this out loud!  I think that a lot of pastor’s wives silently wonder if the only purpose they have in their lives is to stand by their husband’s side and support him while he pursues all of his ministry dreams.  They throw off any dreams they may have had before they got married because ministry seemed so much more noble and godly than anything they had planned for themselves.  After all, ministry has eternal value.  “God’s work” wins out every time when you think about that journalism career you wanted or your dream of being a nurse.  And this thought is perpetuated by the voices in your head that accuse you of selfishness and neglect for even daring to think you could pursue being more than “just a” pastor’s wife.  Sometimes those voices come to life in our congregants and maybe even in our husbands.  I once had a pastor tell me that his wife’s purpose was to stay home and raise their children so that he could do ministry.  How small we make God when we limit ALL that He can purpose for His creation.

Pouting in Peoria, NOW is YOUR turn.  If you think that God may be prompting you to be more than what you define as your role as a pastor’s wife, you need to tell your husband.  Give him the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in your life.  Most godly husbands want to encourage and please their wives.  Open the discussion door and see what happens.  Our spouse often sees more in us than we see in ourselves.  And don’t negate what God may have planned for your future by making the assumption that it won’t work in the context of your ministry lifestyle.  God is very creative and He can do so much more than we could ever ask or think.

I can’t close without pointing out the tinge of resentment I sensed in your letter.  Guard your heart from bitterness.  God does ask us to sacrifice but He only wants it if it is presented with wholeheartedness and joy.  Be careful not to lay the whole responsibility of the loss of your dream solely at your husband’s feet.  It’s not selfish to want your turn unless it comes at the cost of rejecting all that you have pursued together up to this point.

Love,

DW~

Really, I’m Not a Nag!

Dear DW,donkey

I am a very supportive ministry spouse but recently I am starting to feel a little taken for granted. It seems like at least once a week my spouse springs another “activity” on me- usually one that I’m solely in charge of or one that requires me to drop everything and clean the house before people come over! Do you have any advice to help my spouse understand how I feel without sounding like I’m complaining?

NotANag in Neosho

*Pastor, if you are reading this, stop, pick up the phone, open an email, or immediately find your spouse and tell them how much they mean to you and to the ministry you do! Have you done it, yet? I meant it…I’m waiting…

Dear NotANag,

I talk with so many ministry spouses who feel just like you described; supportive towards ministry but overlooked when it comes to courtesy and appreciation. Unlike our pastor spouse, we don’t get paid to do this job but like many pastoral job descriptions say, we are expected to “perform all additional duties as assigned by the pastor”!

You are right. It doesn’t make you a nag to speak up or ask for a break from hospitality duties occasionally. It does not make you a nag to want to step aside from being your spouse’s #1 volunteer. It does not make you a complainer to want to be thanked for what you do. But I hear in your letter some doubts or maybe some accusation that you complain too much about ministry activities. Either way, this is something that you and your spouse have got to talk about. Avoiding the “Nag Tag” will be easier if you set apart a quiet, private moment to really talk about how you are feeling. No sideways comments while you are working in the church cafe for the 4th Sunday in a row because no one showed up or sighing as you are handed the preschool curriculum 5 minutes before class starts. Schedule time to seriously discuss how you feel. And, yes, I do mean schedule. It’s obvious that you are both very busy people.

Just like any other church member, you should be serving in the places of your giftedness and God’s leading. Of course, there will be moments of taking on extra for the sake of your spouse, but it’s unfair to you and to your spouse’s ministry for you to always be the one taking up the slack. And that’s not nagging!

Love,
DW~

My Wife and the Green Monster

Dear DW, 

I am a youth pastor, married to my amazing wife for 10 years now (just celebrated it!) and have 2 amazing kids.   

Over the years we have been married, there have been times that my wife has been jealous of the women I work with in the churches where I have served.  Recently, she is more apprehensive than ever about the women I communicate with at church, whether it is a high school girl, a mom, or the reason I am writing today, an intern.   

I am proud to announce that I have never been unfaithful, physically or mentally, with any woman.  I don’t know what motivates her jealously.  I do know that over the years I have had an issue with being on my phone too often at home or falling asleep early during our time together in the evenings.  I also know I need to speak her love language more clearly.   

I know that she believes me when I tell her that I have stayed faithful, but she still doubts that I will remain that way because I may be tempted in the future by a woman.  Luckily, that has never been a struggle for me.  I know my wife comes first and I will never betray that.

 So what do I do?  Any help would be great. 

Thanks, 

Steady Eddie

 

 

Dear Steady Eddie, 

Each time I read your letter, whistles and sirens go off in my head that won’t stop screaming “WARNING, WARNING, WARNING!”  I feel nervous just writing back to you because I see your family walking through some danger zones that could be ministry-enders, maybe even marriage-enders, if not addressed very soon.   

I can see that you have done some serious soul searching in trying to figure out why your wife might feel jealous.  A good starting place for you would be to aggressively address the issues that you already know are a problem in your marriage.  Make a concerted effort to turn off the phone when you are at home.  Set some solid boundaries between family time and ministry time.  Organize your ministry schedule so that your wife gets you when you are most alert and fresh, not when you are struggling to stay awake at night.  And, yes, if you know her love language, speak it loud and clear.  She is definitely having trouble hearing you right now. 

Steady Eddie, instead of wondering what is making her feel so insecure; ask what it would take for her to feel more comfortable when you are interacting with other women.  Let her determine the “rules” for your interactions with women.  She may be seeing some things that you are innocent about when she is around these ladies.  Whether founded or not, it’s always a wise thing to not dismiss the insecurities of your wife.  You may be doing everything right, but it isn’t in a way that she can see it or you wouldn’t be having this issue.  My guess is that you may also be having some communication problems.  I would urge you to get some professional counseling to help navigate your way through this shaky time. 

Finally, I want to caution you that no one is above temptation.  Your wife might be ultra sensitive, but she’s right in telling you that there’s always an opportunity for a fall.  Satan loves to surprise us by turning our strength into a weakness through sin.  Remember, Peter?  It only took hours for him to go from Jesus’ greatest defender to acting as if he didn’t know him.  Take heed of her warnings.  Guard your heart and always look for that way of escape from temptation (I Corinthians 10:13).  Your wife’s apprehensions may actually be providing you with an escape that you never knew you needed. 

You’re a good guy, Steady Eddie.  It’s obvious you love your wife and kids.  It’s time to do whatever it takes to stabilize your marriage.  Make this your priority right now.  You will never do any greater ministry than the one you do for your family. 

Love,

DW

The Pastor and the Princess

Dear DW-

 Some people might call me a prima donna.  Others might call me selfish.  I prefer to think of myself as a Princess.  Sometimes I want the universe to revolve around me!  There’s only one problem, I’m married to a pastor.  When we were dating, my future husband gave me a lot of attention.  We became best friends and I never wanted to be apart from him.  I guess that’s where the selfish part comes in, I miss him.  I don’t like sharing him with so many other people.  I want him all to myself.  He’s my whole universe but I feel like Pluto in his universe.  I want to be the Sun.  I want to be sitting on the throne next to him, not waiting in his court as one of his many admirers.  I want to be his Princess again.  Am I a prima donna?  Tell me the truth.  Is it wrong to be jealous of the time he shares with all those people at church?

 The Pastor and the Princess

 

Dear Princess, 

I don’t think it’s selfish to want to be your husband’s best friend, but I wonder from your letter what you thought life would be like when you married a pastor.  A part of living with a pastor is sharing his time with other people.  There’s servant hood and sacrifice involved in this calling and you are a part of that now.  That may mean not always being the center of attention. 

 HOWEVER, in my encouragement for you to share a little of your husband’s face time with other people, one thing you should never sacrifice is “relationship” with your husband.  I am sensing that relationship and quality time are suffering a bit in your situation.  Have you discussed how you feel with your husband?  He needs to know that you are feeling like you have to “request an audience” to be in his presence.  You might not always be able to be the Sun in his universe but you certainly should be closer than Pluto!  Let’s shoot for Venus or Mercury even on the busy days in ministry.  And you should always feel confident that you are his Princess even when he is not able to spend a lot of time with you. 

 What do you need from him in order to feel the intimacy and specialness that has waned in your relationship?  Have you shared your need for attention with him?  And while you are thinking this through, are you being fair?  Are your time and attention expectations realistic?  It’s imperative that you discuss this with him.  He needs to know how you are feeling. 

 It’s not selfish for a wife to want to have the best part of what her husband has to give.  It’s biblical.  Husbands should love their wives and give themselves up for her just as Christ gave Himself up for the church.  He should cherish her just as Christ cherishes the church (Ephesians 5:25-32).  Sounds like “Princess” might not be such a far reaching title for yourself!   When you feel loved, you won’t have a need to feel jealous.  Balance this Princess thing with respect for your husband and you will not be seen as a prima donna to your congregation, instead, your marriage will become a beautiful living picture of Jesus’ relationship to the church. 

 Love,

DW

Miss Cold Feet

Dear DW,

 I’ve been dating a wonderful man for the last several months.  He is currently in school and is training for ministry.  We have casually spoken about marriage.  I really think he is a great guy and I can see myself married to him, but I’m a little nervous about the whole ministry thing.  I’ve read through some of your blogs and I don’t know if I can do this.  I want to be with this guy, maybe for the rest of my life, but I’m not sure I want to be a Pastor’s wife.  Am I just overreacting?

 Sincerely,

 Miss Cold Feet

 

 Dear Miss Cold Feet,

 You are NOT overreacting.  It is right for you to listen to that nervous inner voice telling you to pay attention and question your ability to live a ministry lifestyle.  A lot of people ignore that voice because they think marrying the man is separate from marrying the ministry.  It’s not.  Ministry is a “calling” and people are not easily separated from a “calling”.   If you get sick of church people and you beg him to become a plumber instead, it will never change what he believes God has asked him to do.  If he gets fired from a church and decides he never wants to be in ministry again, it will not change what God has asked him to do.  If he has truly been set apart for ministry, there’s nothing you or he can do to change God’s call on his life.  It will affect every aspect of your marriage.

 You need to seek God’s will for your life before you get any more involved with this man.  Fast and pray.  Have other people pray for you.  There’s only one question that you need to be asking of the Lord at this time and it’s not, “Can I make it as a pastor’s wife?”  You need to ask God, “What is my calling?”  If God has called you to ministry, He will give you all you need to be a pastor’s wife.  He will equip you and shape you into the woman He intends for you to be.  He will give you a heart to sacrifice so that people can hear about Jesus.

 You are fortunate that you still have a choice whether or not to marry this guy.  Many women marry the man of their dreams and then years later find themselves shocked to learn that their husband wants to be a pastor.  (But that’s a letter for another time.)  You still have a choice.  Choose wisely, Grasshopper.  This is the rest of your life. 

 What’s your calling?

 Love,

DW~

 Study I Timothy 3 and Titus 2 for insight into the ministry lifestyle

Young YP and the Roller Coaster

Dear DW-

 Just got hired as a full-time youth pastor 8 months ago…it’s my first ministry position and it’s out of state.  Also, just got married 2 months ago, so everything is still very new for my wife and me.  On top of getting married and moving to a different state, she is also finishing up her bachelor’s degree in secondary education – she is student teaching full-time. Oh and there’s this whole new thing of what it means to be a youth pastor’s wife.  

We absolutely love being married…it’s everything we dreamed it would be!  However, my wife is having a hard time adjusting to this new life.  We are in our early 20’s and like most churches there are very few people our age.  We spend most of our free time with teenagers or people who could be our parents! 

 Our biggest struggle right now is we feel alone.  We have no family within 5 hours of us and no real friends within 5 years of us.  I hate thinking my job as a youth pastor is hurting the emotional health of my wife.  I love teenagers and helping them grow in Christ, but I love my wife more – much more.  Any advice for us at this unique stage of our lives would be awesome…thanks so much! 

 YoungYP

 

Dear YoungYP,

 Yep, you have done it!  You have just invited the woman that you love more than anything on earth into the front seat of the biggest, baddest roller coaster anyone has ever experienced.  And not only do you have her in the front seat, but she’s not sure that the restraints are really locked in place.  Coming out of the chute and riding up the hill was kind of fun and exciting.  But at the precipice of the first plunge where you both can see the reality of how deep this coaster goes and how long, twisted, and harrowing your ride will be, you start to experience your first thoughts of regret.  Yikes!  Let me off!!  

I’ve been riding that rail for a while now, and let me say to you that it’s going to be ok.  Give yourselves some time to adjust.  You have experienced enough change in the last few months to overwhelm anybody.   Your sensitivity and concern about how your wife is adjusting to the ministry lifestyle is the first step to holding her hand and helping her feel secure during the ride.  But also recognize that you can’t secure her in the cart by yourself no matter how strong you are.  You can’t be your wife’s only source of support and friendship.  If you are going to survive this ride, you both have to develop a support system to help hold you in place when the ministry lifestyle turns you upside down and corkscrews you through the twists and turns of life.  I wish I could tell you that once you make it through the first plunge that everything is easy from then on, but, you know roller coasters, on the good ones the ride is usually exciting and unexpected from start to finish.  The ministry lifestyle is the same way.  Every stage of life will be filled with these kinds of loop de loops. 

 Below, I have a few questions for you to answer.  I hope that they will not only help you to find a support system no matter where you go in ministry, but also help you to figure out how to embrace your wife on the roller coaster ride of your new life together.  And if you both can figure out how to hold on tight at the beginning, you might just enjoy this exhilarating and terrifying, heart-stopping, spectacular ride that we call ministry.

 Love,

DW~

  •  Do you have a group of friends from before marriage and moving that you can connect with via Skype on a regular basis?
  • Do you have friends or mentors from your former church families that you can call up when you need to hear a familiar voice?
  • Are there any other YP’s in your area that you could invite over for dinner? 
  • Have you considered befriending a YP from another denomination?  (I bet some of them have wives that can relate to your situation!) 
  • Is there a YP association in your town, neighboring city, or state?  (Have your wife check out www.leadingandlovingit.com for a virtual ministry spouse community.  Take her to your next YP conference, and let her connect with other spouses.  www.conference.youthministry.com has an excellent spouse tract that also continues to meet on FB –“Married to a Youth Pastor-Wives Connect Group”.  You can friend the FB group even if you haven’t attended the conference yet.)
  • Is it worth one night a week of your busy schedule to join a Para-church Bible study where you can connect with others your age?
  • Is there a hobby that you both can participate in that may connect you with other people your age? 
  • Have you too quickly disregarded the support and influence of the older friends that you have in your church?
  • Have you connected with the other staff members and their spouses?  Have you considered inviting them to do something social with you?
  • Are you taking regular days off?  Are your days off truly “black-out” days from church work?
  • Are you giving your wife your leftovers or is she getting the same man that she met before you took the ministry position?
  • Is ministry occupying every aspect of your life or do you and your wife have very definable boundaries where ministry is not allowed in? i.e. day off, vacations, regular private time together
  • Have you ever discussed with your wife what she wants her “role” to be in ministry?  Are you helping her to define God’s unique role and purpose in ministry or have you and/or the church been defining that role for her?

 

#1 Volunteer

 

Dear DW,

 My wife is on staff at a church.  Any time she needs anything, I am there for her.  I build sets, I haul stuff, I sponsor events, I even fill in when she needs a last minute volunteer to help with something on stage. I am very proud of her and I love being a part of what she is doing.  How do I tell her that I need a break?

 #1 Volunteer

 

 

 

Dear #1 Volunteer, 

When I read all that you do for your wife and her ministry, I’m almost sure I heard a collective “aaahhhh” from the ladies out there.  Do you do dishes too?!  What a blessing you are to your wife, her ministry, and your church! 

 However, no one can do it all, not even the perfect husband!  It’s convenient and easy to ask our family members to be the “fill-in everythings” at church.  It’s more difficult to ask a church member to make those sacrifices.  But, in the long run, it will be better for you, your relationship, and her ministry for her to expand her volunteer base.  At this point, you may not be able to just step out cold turkey.  I suspect that she has become a little dependant on what you do for her.  I would start by telling her that you need a break.  Let her know that you love supporting her in ministry but you need to step back.  Pick the one thing that you are most passionate about helping her with in ministry, and let her know that you will continue to do that one thing only.  Make plans with her to take a total ministry break sometime in the near future.   The break should have a definite starting time and ending time so that she knows you are not going to be gone forever!  When you come back from break, you won’t need to be her #1 go-to-guy because she will have been forced to develop alternative solutions to her volunteer needs in your absence.  This may be a little rocky to employ, but every minister wants their volunteers to be fresh and excited to be serving in the ministry.  If you don’t step back now, you may begin to resent being the #1 Volunteer later.   And that would be very disappointing for all the “aaahhhh” ladies who read this blog!

Love,

DW~

Overwhlemed Newlywed

Dear DW,

I’m newly married to a youth pastor.  He is a wonderful man and I am madly in love with him.  I’m just not so sure that I’m madly in love with being a pastor’s wife.  I want to support him, but this is not exactly what I had in mind when I dreamed about our future together.  I’m finding myself frustrated all the time- frustrated with teenagers, frustrated with church people, frustrated with our finances, and frustrated with our lack of time together.  When I said “I do”, I didn’t sign up for this. 

Help!

I’m Overwhelmed

Louisiana

Dear Overwhelmed,

I don’t really want to say this but the reality of your situation is that when you said “I do”, you did sign up for this kind of life.  Church people, teenagers, and financial struggles all come along with the “married-to-a-youth pastor” package.  However, while you do have to live with the lifestyle, you don’t have to live with the frustration.

 Some tips that might help:

 1)Set your boundaries. As a newlywed, this is a great time in your life to establish some strong boundaries between your personal life and the youth ministry.  My guess from your letter is that your personal life and your public life have been blending together.   Spend some time with your husband talking about how you are going to define your family life and how much of your private time you are going to share with ministry.   Regularly schedule time that is “ministry free”.  Yes, actually put it on his schedule.  If you don’t, someone else will fill that time for him.

 2)Find a mentor.  This does not necessarily have to be another pastor’s wife.  Choose someone who lives a very busy lifestyle and successfully maintains a close loving relationship with her husband.  Get to know her and search for the tools that make her marriage work.

3)Live on love! I Peter 4:8 says “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  This not only goes for you and your husband, but for church people, too.  Focusing on the “why” behind your sacrifice of time, money, and privacy will go a long way to helping you deal with the daily frustrations of ministry life.  Ask God to help you love these people the way that He loves them despite their faults.

With love,

DW~

 

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