Sometimes life as a preacher’s wife feel’s like an oxymoron. (Please don’t leave out the oxy.) How so, you ask? On one hand, the opportunities for meeting new people and making friends can be greatly multiplied because of being a preacher’s wife. The preacher and his family may experience living in a variety of places. Sometimes they get to attend lectureships and meet lots of people. They have opportunities to have people from near and far in their home. Over the years, our family has met a lot of people, many of whom we could say are not mere acquaintances, but individuals who have become true friends – friends that we know we could lean on in times of distress.
On the other hand, people often assume that preacher and his family have many *close* friends. More often than not, such is not the case. In fact, the complete opposite is more likely to be true. Many preachers’ wives actually feel very lonely and have few true, close friends, particularly in the congregation at which they are members. Why is that so? There are various reasons.
- Developing close friendships in the local congregation can create jealousy in some of the other women who are not included in that close relationship. It is natural to feel closer to some people than others, due to common interests, age, etc., but showing partiality or favoritism is asking for trouble. Immature Christian women have been known to try draw the preacher’s wife into their click, or will attempt to manipulate her so that she will take “their” side in a controversy.
- The preacher’s wife is sometimes looked at through a magnifying glass, also known as the glass house syndrome. Whether it be how she dresses, how she keeps her house, how she trains her children, it seems there is always some one who is not satisfied. One can hardly let down their guard if she feels she is constantly being scrutinized.
- Sometimes people are intimidated by the preacher and his wife. They place the preacher and his wife on a tall pedestal, as if they have perfected life and how to live it. They fail to realize that we are normal (okay, maybe not) regular, ol’ human beings, who have the same struggles as other folks. We don’t have it figured out all of the time! Could it be possible, though, that we are to blame for that, in part, anyway? Do we present ourselves as “always having it all together” instead of allowing people a glimpse into our hearts, allowing them to see some of our own struggles and challenges in life? Perhaps it is a subconscious defense mechanism, so that we don’t get hurt, but nevertheless, it’s something to think about.
These are just a few reasons why it may be difficult for a preacher’s wife to have close friends. I’m sure there are others.
If you, as a preacher’s wife, struggle with loneliness, then look outside of your immediate circle and look for a fellow preacher’s wife who can understand some of your struggles. I would caution you, however – if you and another preacher’s wife develop a close friendship, don’t use your time together to vent about the *issues* in your respective congregations. Searching for a biblical solution to a problem is one thing, but venting for the mere sake of “getting something off your chest” is neither a godly approach to dealing with frustrations, nor is it mentally healthy. That is true for everyone, preachers’ wives or not.
If you are an older preacher’s wife, perhaps you know of a younger preacher’s wife who could use some encouragement. Oh, she may not tell you that she does, but everyone needs some encouragement now and then. Send her a note, buy her a little gift just to say “I know what it’s like.” If you are not a preacher’s wife, give some thought about what it might be like to walk in *her* shoes, and show your appreciation for all the work that she does behind the scenes.
Preachers’ wives do have some unique struggles because they are married to Mr. Preacher. But I think we need to remind ourselves frequently of the BLESSINGS that come from being the wife of a preacher. We DO have friends all around the world. As husband and wife, I believe we share life in a deeper, more meaningful way than do many couples. We work together as a team, he as the leader and me, as his helpmeet. Together, we share both the joys and the sorrows of our fellow Christians. Together, we live for heaven. In my opinion, these blessings far outweigh any burdens.