What kind of wife are you? (Why do you ask?)

I’ve been thinking about how I’m a pastor’s wife again.

Why are pastor’s wives labeled that way?  You never hear someone introduced as a “salesman’s wife” or a “janitor’s wife” or a “truck-driver’s wife”, but if you are a pastor’s wife, you are a Pastor’s Wife first and yourself second–if anyone actually can get past the fact that you are a Pastor’s Wife.

My husband has always tried to shield me from the icky parts of his job, but it doesn’t matter to most people.  They can’t see me past the giant flashing letters that announce PASTOR’S WIFE. I’m not the person you hang out with or the one you make inappropriate jokes around or the one you want to get to know.

But you should.  Really.  If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m just a regular person, like you.  I happened to marry a man who is a pastor, but we do not sit around and discuss theology or spend hours on our knees in prayer.  (I’m ashamed to admit that, because I have expectations for a Pastor’s Wife, too, and I fail to meet them.)

He doesn’t tell me everything about his day–especially if it’s confidential.  Just so you know.  If you tell him something assuming that he’ll tell me, you are so wrong.

If you really knew me, you’d know things about me that I am afraid to type on this blog, things that might cause you to judge me because a Pastor’s Wife doesn’t watch that show or read that book or skip church for no good reason.  A Pastor’s Wife does not yell at her children or have children that balk at going to church.

I’ve done this pastor’s wife thing at four different churches.  Each time I’ve blamed myself for my failure to really connect with people.  I was too young, too busy, too shy, or I had a new baby . . . but I have felt excluded and judged and on display everywhere I’ve gone.  Maybe that’s my own perception–I do have a little problem with taking everything personally.   Okay, it’s a big problem, but awareness is the first step!

And now I’m a Pastor’s Wife again.  I hope I will be brave enough to let you see behind the curtain.  I want to drop the shield and just be a normal person and hope that people I meet will want to be my friend.

(I feel like I’m in fourth grade when I say that, so I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.  We all just want someone to play with at recess and to know that someone will save us a seat at the lunch table.)

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What kind of wife are you? (Why do you ask?)

15 thoughts on “What kind of wife are you? (Why do you ask?)

  1. Loved what you wrote. I have just finished being a Pastor’s wife (as I wrote before) for the second time around. This time was hard, I was in the ‘I have a young baby’ category both times but this time was added to it ‘I also have a toddler’. Very hard work and very difficult to always be yourself. I hope you are able to this time too.

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  2. Kristen says:

    I don’t attend church so would never know you were a Pastor’s Wife unless you told me. But I would definitely be your friend.

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  3. Yvonne says:

    “We all just want someone to play with at recess and to know that someone will save us a seat at the lunch table” – boy oh boy, how true is that!! It’s so much harder to make friends at our age, but it is possible if you remember that quote of yours above. Just get involved in one small area of your community, and it will happen. Remember, you are Mel before you are anything else!

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  4. Sharlene says:

    Great post, thank you for sharing. My husband and I were just talking about the higher standard that we seem to hold our religious leaders, our priest just passed away and was no a nice man, he didn’t even meet the regular standard that we keep for our peers. I’ve read your blog since you “dieted naked” at Club Mom and honestly, never even think of the “Pastor’s Wife” aspect of your personality anymore.

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  5. being a pastor’s wife has to be hard. i will pray God will provide you with a loveing church family. our pastor’s wife is very shy…i think many of the ladies think different…i always try to say hello each sunday and give her gifts of appreication.

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  6. Seeing as I’m Mormon and I live in Utah, I’ve never actually 1) met a pastor’s wife or 2) given the subject much thought. In my church we have a lay leadership so there isn’t a pastor. Usually our Bishops serve (unpaid) in a pastor-like position for about 5 years. There is still the stress of being a Bishop’s wife. Thankfully, in 5 years–give or take–the stress is over and onto someone else.

    I had never thought about how it would be if that pressure never ended. Bless you for that. And I’d be your friend, too.

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  7. Julana says:

    My dad was a minister for 17 years. I would never marry a minister.
    Although in the big churches, people seem paid to do jobs pastor’s wives used to do.
    In fact, people are paid to do many things lay people used to do freely.

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  8. Krys Rockwood says:

    Mel~ It’s so refreshing to have a “real” person as the pastor’s wife. I am the daughter of a Pastor who has also been a missionary for many years. One thing that I have always appreciated about my parents is the fact that they are so “real”. Your congregation will love you for being real! 🙂

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  9. Lesli says:

    I can feel for you, not because I am a pastor’s wife (I’m an “info-tech guy’s wife”), but because a good friend is one, so I have heard about what it’s like from her. We met through our kids at a public school, so I got know her first just for her (as it really should be.) I met her husband, who is first to me the husband of a back-to-school for an advanced degree Mom who has a wicked sense of humor, second. 😉 Some people won’t be looking to judge and/or categorize you, and those people will include ones you’d want to befriend, anyway. Good luck with it all.

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  10. Julie says:

    You know – every so often you mention that your husband is a pastor, and I remember that you are a pastor’s wife. But mostly, I think of you as a smart – open – genuine – caring woman who is a great mom, wife, and writer. I hope the folks in the new place you will move to get to know you in those ways. I echo others who have commented when I say your “realness” is an amazing quality. It’s what draws me to your blog again and again.

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  11. Sometimes I think my walls are permanently erect, and made out of indestructible materials.

    I remember when my husband was first in the ministry, an older minister advised us to NEVER have friends that went to the same church as us or even lived in the same community. Said it would always come back to bite us. I think that scarred me for life.

    I know it kept me from developing relationships deeper than surface deep with our members.

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  12. Kimberly says:

    I so understand what your saying…in fact, I had to chuckle as I have used the very same phrases. I’m glad I’m not alone! I get it! we are at #3 church but have been in ministry almost 17 years. This one is the most difficult, by far! but God hasn’t given us permission to leave yet (and I ask every day..maybe when I stop asking that’s when He’ll give the go ahead!) We live in a small community so I found it difficult to make friends outside the church because I was the ministers wife from “that church” (we inherited a bad rep with the job..so nice). It’s taken 7 years to break down walls and have people see me as me. For a lot, I don’t think they like what they found. But for others, they like it a lot! I try to just concentrate on them. Many of them would never darken the door of our church….that’s okay. Opportunity to love and be loved are all around, from my kids teachers to coworkers to neighbors.

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