12 Secrets About Pastor’s Wives

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 in Uncategorized | 176 comments

I recently came across a list of “10 Secrets About Your Pastor”.  It was great.  After reading it, I was somehow  compelled to write this one about pastor’s wives.  I know these are not true in every case, but I believe they are true much of the time.  I welcome your feedback.  Are you surprised?  Do you disagree?  Would you add any?  What about staff Pastor’s wives –  What would you add or take away?

12 Secrets About Pastor’s Wives

  1. We don’t always know whom to trust.  People have tried to get close to us for many reasons and some have betrayed us.  When we meet new people at church  we wonder whether they are safe, how long they will stay, and whether or not they have their own agenda. We take our time getting to know people and figuring out what their intentions really are.
  2. Our marriage is not perfect and we are both utterly human.  Remember that we are two separate people with our own opinions and passions.  Some of them merge;  some of them don’t.  Do not envy our relationship.  We are working at it as hard as you are working on yours.
  3. We know a lot, hear a lot and see a lot, but most of it we keep to ourselves because it is not appropriate to share it.
  4. We may have public visibility and the expectations that go with it, but we often have little control over decisions that affect our family and our future.
  5. We long for uninterrupted time with our husband and our families.
  6. Many of us are  lonely.  Even though we are around people all the time and we are very grateful for loyal friends, there are some things we can’t talk about.  Sometimes we long to shed our role and the expectations that go with it.
  7. Money is an issue.  However, our challenges with finances are difficult to share because we do not want to appear ungrateful or like we looking for handouts.
  8. We worry that our children find a healthy balance between their spiritual life and church life. Even in the best of circumstances we are protective of them because church life takes its toll on children.  We will stand up to defend our children from criticism and unfair expectations.
  9. When we are at church we are “on”.  Whether we like it or not, people notice and comment:  if we greet them, seem friendly, look good or not and whether or not we respond appropriately.  This is exhausting and sometimes we don’t feel up to this  scrutiny.
  10. It’s difficult to interact with people who have left our church awkwardly.  When we run into them around town they are often cold and avoiding or overly gushy about their new church.  Most often we are subtly treated differently by these people than you are.  Running into them at  a social event requires a concerted decision to be a grown up.
  11. We feel defensive when our husband and the church is critiqued and criticized.  We feel defensive because this is our life and we know our husband is doing his best.  Most of the time the critics  don’t know the whole story and speak naively or ignorantly.  (See #3).
  12. We love to hear that people are praying for us.  Knowing that loving, supportive saints  are praying for us warms and encourages us in a way that little else can.  We like to hear about it…..frequently.



  1. Very true – good reminder that when we take our focus off our calling, any or all of the above become flaws and stumbling blocks. We look at the waves rather than the one who calls us to walk on the water.

  2. hmmm. I guess to whom much is given much is also required. Not a lot of comfort I am sure.. but it is what keeps me back from praying for ‘a world wide ministsry’.

    I would never want to be Joyce Myer– or heaven forbid.. Brittany Spears- or anyone under the public eye.. No thanks- not me! Yet, I do want significance- and to make a difference in this world. So that puts me and those I love under a microscope- and the microscope is not kind. Today I spent the better part of 2 hours talking with a friend who is a missionary working with an older missionary– and who is of the old school. What I mean about that is that they hold their cards very close to their chest.. and wall themselves off from the possibility of hurt and derrision… This protects them- but it also keeps them walled inside that protective place.

    It is not easy to be vulnerable.. It is downright painful. YOu will be misunderstood… and people aren’t kind and often love to go for that tender place… Yet– I would rather choose to be more transparent. Folks say I wear my heart on my sleeve– at least I know where it is. I don’t have to worry about do I share or don’t I– I do.. about me.. I can choose about me. now choosing for my kids– that will have to be their choice.. Dave and I are both transparent folks– and it hasn’t always worked out well for us.. But I do know that we have loved deeply, and honestly and without regret– but not without pain.

    I think the biggest compliment I have ever had was when someone said to me– that when they watched our lives- we were the ‘real deal’ wow that was a mouthfull. People see my flaws- see me fall on my face before Christ- hear me tell them I am sorry- see me hunger and thirst.. and see my heart break.. and rejoice with me when I get to reap a harvest!

    Hey but you know what– sometimes– I still feel alone– I guess that is the human state – no one can love us like we really ‘want’ to be loved– not here.

    so yes, I get your 12 points– and have felt them all. both as pastoral staff and as a lay person.. They are not uncomman to man….all people.. really– it has been a blessing to see it from this side of the pew again.

    much love to all my sisters in the ministry– may you continue to open your hearts to pain– and to love…


  3. Well written over the many years I have been a Christian and no matter what flavor of church I am in I have seen so many Pastors wives slandered, brutalized and spit out and thrown away. I am using very strong words because it is such a travisty. As a Christian counselor I have talked to so many Pastors wives on the phone and only phone because if churches get wind of their Pastors or Pastor’s wives are getting couseling…need I say more.

  4. I think you nailed it, Gabriele. Thank you for saying what so many of us have been thinking for years. You are a blessing and a champion for Jesus and those who are “in the trenches” of service to Him. Keep up the great work, my friend!

  5. Gabriele: my long lost friendn nicely said. Understanding really only comes from walking in our shoes. Blessings to you and yours.

  6. I admire your courage to tell it like it is Gabi. You have accurately described the challenges and fine balance it takes to walk in the shoes of a pastor’s wife.

    After living 29 years in those trenches, reading your words reminded me of my own story. I continue to admire pastor’s wives. I especially love those who deal with all the issues you mention yet somehow find enough grace and joy to remain emotionally healthy.

    Keep speaking the truth in love my friend. We need your voice.

  7. Full time ministry has ruined me for any other kind of life. Shepherding the sheep is my great passion! Every single one of the 12 secrets I have known well in varying degrees. Having a Pastor/husband is a wonderful joyous adventure…but as with all adventures there are pitfalls, setbacks and the occasional traps. I would only add that if you have other staff members who serve alongside you that they can bring the most joy and the most heartache often at the same time. Thanks Gabriele for you very perceptive insight & allowing meto share.

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