When a minister stands to speak as God does on the subject of marriage, most listeners assume he and his wife practice what he preaches in the privacy of their home. Because of the stressful nature of the pastorate, the generational breakdown of family relationships and the driven nature of professional leadership this is seldom the case. Most ministry marriages are not models of Christianity let alone Christian marriage.
Emotional distance is more common than intimacy with clergy couples. The fishbowl pressures on pastoral spouses and children are enormous and they feel it keenly. Most ministry family members suffer in isolation, loneliness and silence. Few professions scrutinize and criticize their leaders and leader families like the Church does its pastors. These realities alone complicate the marriages and family life of pastors.
Family of origin issues hurt clergy couples too. Husbands and wives who happen to be in ministry come from dysfunctional families of origin just like members of their church. Many pastors play the hero role they learned as children. This may make the pastor a hero in the congregation but living out a family of origin role will hurt him in his intimate relationships. Some are black sheep making up for what they did. Others are trying to please Mother Church like they unsuccessfully tried to please their moms. All of the dysfunction dealt in a minister’s family of origin which is not healed before one’s pastorate is practiced in the Church family. The narcissistic childhood wound becomes the arrogance of the Ministry Professional.
Pastors dysfunction like parishioners.
They also struggle with the same issues as other families fight about. Money, sex, communication techniques or lack thereof, parenting styles, schedule conflicts, and all the garden variety marital issues show themselves at the parsonage too. Pastors are wonderful, flawed, precious, defective, valuable human beings.
With all of the complicated issues above and more beating like fierce winds against the homes of our Christian Leaders it is a wonder any ministry marriages thrive. When their marriages are conflicted their resources are also severely limited. When a dear Christian Leader and his wife are about to fold under weight of their own personal and marital issues and the ones imposed on them, few know of any resource which is readily available to them. A common repeated phrase to come over the CRN phone line is, “We had nowhere else to turn.” Most pastors love their denominational leaders but disclosing the depth of their marital pain to their “boss” is counter intuitive. Few risk it.
CRN is thrilled to be available to spouses, ministers and clergy kids to mentor them through their crises, including marital crises and parent/child conflicts. If your marriage is suffering it is not necessary for you to assume you just have to tough it out. If you suffer in silence you will not be better off, your spouse will not be better off and the ministry will not be properly served. Only if you get help and change will the power of Grace prevail. Getting the help you need for your marriage may seem risky but not getting the help you need is riskier.
Many desperate spouses have made the first contacts which led to a growing marriages and improved ministries. If your marriage is hurting it will not likely be fixed by a seminar, another book or merely praying. The humility required to reach for help is the beginning of the healing. If you are afraid your husband will react terribly if you tell the truth you cannot wait. At least make contact and describe your fear and your reality. Facing this troubled water alone is not necessary. You will find grace, hope and courage. Reach for the help you need no matter what your spouse may think. Go to the Finding Help page of this web site and begin a better way of living and marriage today. You are worth it.
If your wife has been saying for sometime you need help in your marriage, nothing could help your marriage more than your seeking help. You can do it. Go to the Finding Help page of this web site and make marital progress today.