A Note To Preacher’s Wives

I’m a preacher’s wife. It has a few drawbacks with which I’m sure all preachers’ wives can relate but overall it’s a blessed and exciting life. It’s not something I planned for my life—in fact there was a phase I went through in which I next to swore I would never marry a preacher. I got over it, obviously, when I fell in love with a sweet guy that happened to be a preacher.

Anyway, my handsome preacher husband delivered a lesson tonight at church that got me thinking.  The topic was gossip and, while he was diplomatic as always in not making it a lesson for women, let’s be honest, it was a lesson for women. I say that because we all know that women struggle with gossip 110% more than men do. Not that men don’t or anything, but if they do, I’m not really aware of it, God love ‘em.

I’m not going to write a blog about gossip and why it’s wrong. If you don’t know gossip is wrong, perhaps this isn’t the blog for you. What’s on my mind is gossip as it relates to preachers wives. I discussed this over dinner at Los Palmas (our Sunday night tradition—a good one) with Husband and he said that he doubted very much I was alone in how I felt about this, so if you’re a preacher’s wife, humor me by reading this and letting know what you think.

Here goes:

I struggle with gossip. As much as the next girl—I really do. But I don’t think it’s the same kind of struggle for me as it is for most girls. I think the fact that I’m a preacher’s wife makes it harder for me than it should be.

Bear with me.

What most people don’t know about preacher’s wives is that close relationships don’t come easy to us. I don’t know if it’s in the How To Act Around Your Preacher’s Wife For Dummies book or if preachers’ wives just have an ugly green alien aura about them that repels people, but generally speaking, I think it’s hard for us girls to form close, intimate relationships with other women. I know you’re thinking I probably feel that way because I’m just socially awkward, and well, you’d be right, but I think it’s more than that. I think preachers’ wives crave real, solid friendships with other women with whom they can relate. They crave it because it’s a precious rarity for whatever reason.

Okay, what does this have to do with gossip?  Let’s think about why gossip is a struggle for girls in general. Because it gives us a feeling of power to know something other girls don’t know, because it makes us feel important, because it makes us feel popular, because we feel like it helps us make friends. Bingo. That last one is why I think preachers’ wives struggle with gossip.  It’s not a popularity trip for us, or just because we can’t shut up, necessarily. It’s because we’re so hungry for intimate conversation with someone we can sincerely call friend that we feel compelled to gossip, creating a counterfeit feeling that true, warm camaraderie is taking place. For me personally, I want so badly to hear, “Oh, I know just how you feel,” that I grasp for the one big thing we might have in common—which, in this scenario, is a general dislike for someone else, meaning my selfish desperation for intimate conversation is at some random person that’s not even here’s expense. (Ignore the horrendous grammar—blogging is for writing exactly how you would say it out loud to a girlfriend, right? But of course she’s just hypothetical for obvious reasons.)

I’m only a little bit bitter about not having close girlfriends that I can call up at 11 o’clock at night because I finally figured out how to clean my baseboards with dryer sheets or how to put my hair in a bun with a sock (all Pinterest inspired, of course). The beef that I have is with myself. How shallow does a girl have to be to fall prey to the temptation of gossip simply because she wants to feel close to someone other than her husband?

I guess I just want to know…am I the only one? Do other preacher’s wives struggle in this way or am I just a freak? My husband thinks I’m not the only one. I’d like to think I’m not the only one. And if I’m not, I just want to make you—preacher’s wife reader—aware that just because we’re relationship deprived (in our heads, anyway) doesn’t mean it’s okay to instigate fun, intimate conversation at someone else’s expense, no matter how substantiated it makes us feel.

I’m determined to ask myself, with any given information I’m tempted to share, three questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?

If not, it’s not my business to share it—preacher’s wife or not.

After all, Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Now that I’m aware of the temptation, maybe that whole keep-your-mouth shut mental note will get easier.


4 thoughts on “A Note To Preacher’s Wives

  1. Hannah, you are insightful in so many ways! I used to have an abundant number of friends. I could call and talk, go out with, stay in with, etc… However, since becoming a preacher’s wife, life has changed. (we were married 8 years before we left our secular jobs to work with the church) I think all the reasons you mentioned are valid, but here are a few reasons that I think we struggle with having close intimate friends.

    1. Some people assume we have so many friends that they don’t try to become close.

    2. Here something that recently happened to me when we moved where we are now. They had gone through several preachers, each leaving after about a year (either by choice or being asked to leave). After 1 year and 11 months, several women mentioned to me that we have almost been here 2 years and that their fear of us leaving is going away. I noticed at this same time those women, and others, seem to be at least closer friends with me than before. No, none I can make that 11pm call to tell them what just happened in my world, but at least I feel more accepted.

    3. Just wait until you have kids! I know you have been there as the PK, but for me I watch my kids try to fit in, trying to be accepted as “normal” when they aren’t the run of the mill youth at the congregation. Not that they are better, Bible smarter, etc… But, they are homeschooled, they dress much obviously more conservatively, they talk and act different. Some of which is because they belong to us, but I really like to think it’s because they truly know and practice that they belong to Him.

    4. Although I truly LONG for a close 11pm type of friend, I have come to realize that’s not probably going to happen with anyone that lives close by. I have made a very special friend in Texas whom I have actually never met. She writes “church material / Bible class material” and we met through her work. We are each other’s confidant and person to call. I can talk to her about anything. How I feel, what is happening here at this congregation, about home life and whatever else comes up. We don’t talk real often, but enough to KNOW she is there. I find as a PW, it’s working really well for me. I fear people thinking I favor certain people at church, that I like some and not others, that others might be afraid to come to me if they need something in fear of me telling a close friend. … I believe these are the reasons that keep me from making deep friendship.

    We are blessed with incredible husbands who give their lives fully and completely to God, which makes them unbelievably wonderful men and husbands. Having other friends is important also, but I think you’re right. It’s a tough thing to have as a PW.

  2. I stumbled across your blog and just had to comment. I’ve been a youth minister’s wife for 11 years and this struggle is real. Please know that you are not alone! My advice is very simple, but was life changing for me: I began to pray for a friend. A best friend that I could call in the middle of the night when I go into labor, when I learned the trick about how to clean the baseboards ;), when someone at church said something nasty about my husband and I had to cry, a yardsaling buddy, a thought-reader, someone to plan my funeral with in case my husband is too grief stricken to remember my instructions (hey, it’s a valid concern). I am blessed and overwhelmed to be able to say that He has answered loudly, perfectly, and faithfully. Blessings, and I hope you find her.

  3. Little late to the party but I’ll comment anyway. I moved here from another country and fell head first into being a “preacher’s wife”. I’ve been married to a preacher for 8 years and we have been at 3 congregations. At each congregation I work hard to develop an identity outside of my husband. My general rule when we go to a new congregation is to not be in charge of anything for a year. I stay very involved but not in charge. I believe that we can do a congregation a great disservice by trying to step in and act the “typical preacher’s wife.” I also make sure people see my flaws and my let your hair down fun loving side. People relate better when they realize you are a normal person. Hugs to you though, it can be hard.

  4. *Sorry this is so long…I got carried away!*

    I second Caroline’s thoughts. I have been a preacher’s wife for 11 years, and find it a great blessing. I did not grow up in the church, and never saw myself becoming a preacher’s wife…Sounds like a common theme! My now-hubby was a business major at a public university when I fell for him. Maybe that “outsider” status made it easier for me, but I’ve never had trouble making close friends at the congregations where my husband has preached. I also always had my own career which gave me the same “real world” experiences as the other women. I loved my work-friends, but nothing compares with time spent with my Christian buddies, who share my values and goals so completely.

    I don’t see myself as different from the rest of the ladies in my congregation. I don’t hold myself to any separate set of standards, as I don’t see any listed in the Bible. Some of the pressures put on preachers wives come from the denominational invention of the “pastor” and “pastor’s wife.” If my hubby ever becomes an deacon or elder, I will embrace those special roles. As far as I can see though, a preacher’s wife is just a Christian. There’s no reason to feel that you can’t or shouldn’t have close friendships with other Christian ladies, as they are your equal in every way.

    Now that we are in the mission field, the girls I was especially close to in the church are the friends I miss most. I was eager to make a “bosom friend” (Anne of Green Gables fans will get me!). I am so grateful to God that she appeared…the first person my husband baptized here!

    For those of you struggling with your role as a preacher’s wife, I do not say this to put you down AT ALL. I have heard other wives talk about the same problems, and you are clearly not alone. I tell you this only to give you hope that it doesn’t have to be this way. I don’t have some magic formula worked out. Maybe I just got really lucky to worship with congregations who didn’t put me through the things you describe. Every situation is different. Keep praying and looking. There are Christian ladies out there praying to find you too!

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