One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What is it like to be a pastor’s wife?” It is definitely something that can’t be explained quickly or easily. So I wanted to share with you some of the blessings and some of the struggles. When I was marrying Jayson, I didn’t really know a lot of young couples in ministry, but now it is more common to find them. So I am hoping this will help a girl out there, who is wondering about marrying a pastor.
I have now been married for a little over 7 years and Jayson has been a pastor for about 10 years. I knew what Jayson did for a living when we decided to get married. In fact I knew a long time before that I would be marrying a pastor. It was something God had impressed upon my heart when I was eighteen. I didn’t want to marry a pastor, because I didn’t think I had the personality to be a pastor’s wife. I thought pastors’ wives had to be meek and soft spoken, but I was always loud and opinionated. Also, I grew up in church seeing the drama and the politics, and I didn’t think it was something I could handle with grace, to put in mildly…lol. So when I was getting married, I looked around for other pastors’ wives my age to ask for advice but they were hard to find. This post is my honest response to what it is like to be married to a pastor.
1. You don’t really have weekends. So the hardest thing for me to get used to in the beginning of our marriage was the fact that weekends are not days of rest. Our couple friends wanted to hang out on Saturday nights or go out of town on weekends with us, but we couldn’t really join them. As a young newlywed in a new state trying to make friends, this was tough for me. Jayson’s days off were Friday and Saturday and I worked full time Monday through Friday and occasionally on Saturdays. By Saturday afternoon, Jayson was getting calls from volunteers cancelling or other issues related to church that required his attention. Sunday, obviously, revolves around the church. The church he worked in the beginning of our marriage had about 4 services on Sundays and had talks of adding Saturday night services. Obviously, this is a good problem to have, right? Church is growing and we need to accommodate the people that are coming by creating more worship services. This is exciting news for the church but for the pastor’s wife, it can be overwhelming, atleast it was for me. My first thought was “I am never going to see my husband!” We plan vacations far in advance where we know we will be gone on the weekend, so it wont interrupt Jayson’s work schedule and so he won’t miss 2 weekends in a row. This can be hard for long out of state/country trips, but we make it work with advanced planning.
2. I am basically a single mom on Sundays. Jayson is amazing! He is a very thoughtful husband and an involved father. He knows he has to work on Sundays, but it is one of my days off. So he is very sweet and lets me sleep in and gets most of the stuff done on Sunday mornings before church. Once we get to church, most of the time I am on my own with the kiddos. This was harder, because both my kids refused to go to the nursery and won’t go to anyone easily. From going to the bathroom to trying to have conversations with people can be challenging. The worst part is I have to sit by myself, if I get to actually stay inside the service, this depends on if my little one sleeps or talks. We don’t get to go to service as a family. I try not to bother Jayson with the kids while he is talking and meeting people before and after service, because that is an integral part of his job. Holidays are perhaps the worst for us as a family, because there are so many activities going on at church. When most people actually go to church as a family on holidays, our family is separated, starving and tired.
3. I have to be ok with not knowing everything. Obviously as a pastor, Jayson has to counsel couples and deal with difficult situations at church. It’s part of his job. I have to be ok with not knowing the details or any of it. This one is easier for me since I work in the healthcare field, and have to abide by HIPPA rules of patient confidentiality, however the reality is your spouse may be dealing with a stressful, difficult situation that he can’t fully share with you in order to protect the privacy of the congregation. Carrying these burdens alone can begin to wear on your spouse. Jayson is good at involving me in matters where I should be involved and protecting me from information that is only going to cause me to be bias towards people or situations.
4. People criticize your husband and the church. This one is tough for my personality. I am highly loyal and protective of my family and friends. It bothers me when people ask me questions like, “So is that his full time job?” “what does your husband do during the week ?” It hurts me when people leave the church and speak ill of other members. Everyone feels like they can do a pastor’s job, but don’t want to do it. A pastor doesn’t just speak on stage on Sundays, he prays with a great burden for the people he has been given authority over. He disciples the staff under him, to lead and serve to their greatest capacity. He reads and studies for countless hours. He carries upon his shoulders the weight of the finances, number of people that show up or not and souls being saved every Sunday. Every husband is criticized on his performance at work by others. For me, its different because people will tell me their opinions about my husband’s performance or tell him in front of me what he should do to improve. People we care about, love and pray for, will make suggestions and give input that sometimes no matter how constructive, just hurts.
5. You get to serve together. If you have made it this far into the post, then I probably talked you out of marrying a pastor. Here is the truth, I love it! This is why: I get to serve alongside my husband and see lives changed, prayers answered, marriages restored and miracles happen all the time. We get the opportunity to teach the word of God and pray for many people. Unlike other jobs, my husband’s job is more like a package deal. It’s not just my husband that has signed up for it, but our entire family. This may seem like a bad thing, but we are blessed to be at a church where this has been a good thing. Our church family knows our kids and loves them. Jayson and I are so blessed to lead at New Life Bible Church in Norman, Ok. We are so glad God chose us and put us together to do His work.
I hope I was able to help you understand the reality of the life of a pastor’s wife, the good, bad and the ugly. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.