Confessions of A Pastor's Wife
I have been contemplating this blog for some time. But I have been hesitant for many reasons. For one, the subject matter is controversial for some and downright offensive for others. But I don’t care. There is an error of silence orbiting around this issue and someone needs to talk about it. I think some headlines even are related to this secret issue. Only in the most intimate of social circles will women in this situation share feelings and struggles. Then others just grin and bear it hiding behind their faith, their pretty clothes and wearing their synthetic smile when they really want to weep.
I have been the wife of a pastor for a relatively short amount of time, just a few years. On the surface, our lives look pretty good. We have a nice home, HE has a nice car (long story), our kids are well behaved – by most summations, we seem pretty “perfect” to the naked eye.
But that is not the reality.
At home, my husband barely interacts with me or the kids. The lion share of his time is devoted to his church and the people that comprise it. He gets up every Sunday in his pretty robe and smiles a beautiful contented smile. Sometimes, he may even look over at me and the baby, or mention us, but that is rare. We are virtually invisible to him. Each Sunday, I go along with his hypocrisy. I smile and laugh at his jokes, right along with his adoring congregants. I pretend that I am happy when in truth, I wish I could run to the alter and cry until I throw up. But I don’t. I just sit there in my pretty little “pastor’s wife” suit and ask the Lord how long I must endure this superficial existence.
At one time, I was much closer to the Lord. That closeness ended when I married. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is still strong. However, like so many Christians, I allow my mistakes to distance me from the Lord. My mistake, in this instance, was getting involved in a marriage that has turned out to be such a mess, such a farce. I know what you are thinking. God forgives our blunders. But there is a part of me that is so sorry for marrying my husband that I feel like I have let the Lord down somehow. Maybe I should have prayed more, longer or harder. Either way, I messed up and failed the Lord.
Soon after my wedding, I knew that I had likely made a mistake. It wasn’t that he didn’t touch me on my wedding night- although that concerned me. It wasn’t that he didn’t sexually respond to me for almost a week during our beautiful honeymoon. Later in the marriage, it wasn’t even the twelve and thirteen hours days that he spends at the church. What it is, is a simple, nagging reality. It is the distance both physical and emotional. The strongest indicator of my error was the guarded emotional existence in which he lived. I tried time and time again to reach him. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t until a recent sermon that it became perfectly clear. He said that his heart is with his congregation and they are his “number one priority”. Now, I get it.
Even after I had the baby, he remained distant. Life grew maddening and was lonely. When the baby was small, I cried as he closed the door and slept in another room so that baby’s crying wouldn’t disturb him. Why? He slept in the other room-behind the closed door- because he needed to go to the church early in the morning. The church was his priority then but I didn’t connect the “dots”. It hurt me so much. Especially when in church, he would smile and dote over the same baby that he would not hold at home. You know, I thought it was something I was doing – or not doing to make him treat us this way. In fact, I worked feverishly to keep the home immaculate. He was never satisfied. I tried several hairstyles and hair colors, but he didn’t notice me. I don’t argue, I don’t yell. I try to be agreeable. That doesn’t work either.
As I type these deep secrets in the computer keyboard, it feels liberating but excruciatingly painful. The cleansing tears fall with each tap onto the keyboard. As I cry, my toddler gazes at me with more sympathy a toddler should be able display. “Mommy cry” he says “Mommy cry”. Well, his toddler English makes it sound more like “Mommy die”, but I know what he means. He tries to wipe my tears with the bottom of his pajamas. It has been no secret that I always wanted to raise sensitive, loving young men. This is the first indication that I might be on track.
Also as I write this, my husband has not has sexual intercourse with me for almost a year. He has not kissed me on the lips or even intimately for longer. I’m sure that there is another woman, but my logic refutes it. Because my husband loves his church so dearly, I doubt he would do anything to threaten this critical part of his identity. I don’t know. In case you are wondering, I have worked out desperately to return to my pre-baby size. I think I am doing my part.
We tried counseling. But, once the counselor discovered who my husband was, it became a dance of the egos. The counselor was so impressed with my husband’s credentials that he lost all objectivity. He wasn’t mean to accusatory to me. Instead, all conversations gravitated toward my husband’s thoughts on various articles and schools of thought. That soured my husband on the whole counseling thing. Now he won’t go to ANY counseling sessions-with anyone. “I AM a counselor, with the credentials. Why should I go to someone else?” He doesn’t get it.
I plan to write more entries in hopes of encouraging other women married to pastors. It’s important that women in my situation know that they are not alone. I hope for prayers. But more importantly, I hope this blog will be forwarded to individuals that can benefit from our pains and struggles. Maybe some young pastor can learn a valued lesson. Perhaps, a pastor’s wife can read it and get encouragement. I hope to make a difference as I heal my own wounds. We have enough failing and bad ministry marriages due to the silence. It’s time out for that.
Post note: Even while I type this note, my husband just called to tell me that sadly one of our congregants has passed away. I’m so sorry. But what it also means is that come home so that we can buy groceries. This would not be a problem ordinarily, but my husband maintains the checking account with the money. I don’t even know how much he makes.
I do not make enough money on my part-time job to buy groceries for the household. Soon, I’ll be graduating with my college degree. Maybe, I could even get my master's.
Thank God, there is hope at the end of the tunnel for me and my kids. It feels good to have hope sof taking control of my life. At 38, I am thrilled say that I will never, ever, ever consider marrying again.