anyone else married to a minister or rabbi? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 09-16-2002, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Lots of my friends have never set foot in a church or synagogue and most of the church people I know are not attachment parenting types - it makes me feel like a misfit in most places. Is anyone else out there the home base for someone who lives always ready to celebrate joy or walk into tragedy and still work within all of the bits and pieces and politics of community life/leadership? I would love to hear from you.
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#2 of 15 Old 09-16-2002, 05:37 PM
 
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Well, my partner and I aren't married but he is engaged in what our church calls "the discernment process" to determine whether he is right for the ministry and whether the ministry is right for him. This process is a year long. I never imagined myself in this situation - I am politically engaged on all kinds of levels and have 5 children...so it's not the work aspect that I fear. What I am dreading are all the expectations that come with being the "minister's wife". To be blunt - ugh! The listening, the cup of (fairly traded) coffee...I'm OK with that but I don't think it's my calling to be an available volunteer at the drop of a hat (and that's what I see as the expectation), especially since I am not in the paid work force. It is going to be hard for me to set the kinds of boundaries that I believe will be necessary, especially with my partner.
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#3 of 15 Old 09-16-2002, 07:44 PM
 
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Hi - My husband is a Church of Scotland minister, so I'm the 'minister's wife' (you have no idea how much I - and every other 'minister's spouse' I know hates that term!). It's an interesting place to be...setting boundaries is always hard, although it's easier for me at the moment, because I have two small children...so there is a limit to what I can do.

Anyway - just wanted to say 'hi' and I'm here!
Carolyn
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#4 of 15 Old 09-16-2002, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Loretta - any chance that you are United Church of Canada folks? I remember the discernment process well and the fairly traded cup of coffee sure sounds United Churchey to me If it's any help, I don't see myself as "the minister's wife". I am my husband's wife and he is a minister. We have lived in rural and small town areas and the expectations on me have been very low as far as working in the church go - of course I have had 3 children right in a row so everybody assumes I have my hands full. It is tricky though, always needing to be prepared for anything, like tragic phone calls at all hours and trying to find a wise balance between the need for privacy and family time and the need to be available and welcoming for people in need.
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#5 of 15 Old 09-16-2002, 08:48 PM
 
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Good guess, Shantimama! Yes, we are members of the United Church but, truth be told, if I could find an Anglican congregation that was progressive, I would go there. I love the liturgy and have spent several years with that church as well.

Thanks for your input around this. I have been worried and don't have people here to talk to about it. The folks that might understand my concerns are, in one way or another, involved with the discernment process and I don't, in any way, want to create triangular kinds of relationships there. You said that you were in a small community - where are you living?
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#6 of 15 Old 09-18-2002, 01:23 AM
 
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My husband is a rabbi (which makes me a "rebbetzin"). I'm sure that the "job" has a lot in common with the wife of a minister however!
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#7 of 15 Old 10-01-2002, 12:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What do you find challenging and gratifying about the position you are in? How much do your partners confide in you? My dh is very good about guarding peoples' confidentiality but sometimes he needs to talk about tricky or awful situations. I may not know who he is talking about but the stories affect me nonetheless. Sometimes that just adds to the richness of my own life and at other times I feel very lonely thinking about it all.

Sometimes the preconceived notions about "the pastor's wife" drive me nuts. Sometimes it makes it fun, too. At one time the children and I were attending a different church from where my husband was serving (he was at a multi-point charge at that point and while we wanted our children to go to church, we thought that one service was plenty.) Anyway, after the service one Sunday this elderly woman approached me and my 3 under 5y.o children and said, "Just look at you bringing your children to church all alone. Where is your husband?" and without waiting for a reply, said, "Agh, he is probably one of those heathens who insists on working Sundays, isn't he. God bless you anyway, dear."
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#8 of 15 Old 10-02-2002, 01:39 AM
 
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My husband is a Music Minister. You may be thinking....I mean a "real minister"...or maybe not! The ministry that we are apart of is in the infant stages. Churches wanting to progress from a simple song selector to a full blown Music Minister are struggling with their decision.

While they want what is envogue they often do not want what comes along with a Music Minsiter...change!! Can I dare say the word!!

As for my role...it is yet to be established. We have been married for a year and a half and are new college graduates....so we are trying to find where God would have us go. We have many doors ajar...just nothing we can walk through yet!!

Single Mom to 2 amazing little men. T(7) and B(5)
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#9 of 15 Old 10-02-2002, 03:30 PM
 
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Hi! I'm so glad you started this thread. My husband is a United Methodist pastor. We've been married for 5 years, and just moved to a new church this past summer. The United Methodist has an itenerant system, so the pastors move fairly often. My husband had been at our previous church for 8 years.

When we married, our church celebrated with us. They were used to a single pastor, so my role in the church was really up to me. My husband also believes strongly that my role in the church SHOULD be up to me. I choose to be there on Sunday mornings and for special events. I have my own busy career, and now a busy 14 month old. So I don't volunteer much (if any) of my time.

There has been some discussion in the Wednesday night Bible study about the role of "preacher's wife." It started off as a biblical discussion with my husband fielding questions, then it turned a bit more personal. (Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.) Some of the women in the group had some pretty definite ideas about what I should do.

They think that I should be right there at my husband's side at every single church happening. That is their idea of how I should support him. They don't seem to understand that I support my husband by listening and advising behind the scenes.

My husband says that I shouldn't care if they understand or not, that it doesn't matter what they think. I'm trying to get to that place.

All of that aside, I do think that we will be happy in this church. I'm happy in my family, anyway, and for now that is enough!
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#10 of 15 Old 10-02-2002, 04:34 PM
 
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The comments from those who "know" what your role "should" be are one of the reasons that I'm not very enthused about my partner's apparent calling. I am indeed glad that he cares about people and our community to the point where he wants to dedicate his life to them through serving God - but it's because I'm glad that he knows what he wants and will do what it takes.

However, this sort of thing is just horrible and the very thing that turns my stomach with respect to those who follow a literal interpretation of the bible. I have been judged and found wanting in Christian congregations by literalists before, I'm not up for that again. And, although my denomination is very inclusive and not literal in its interpretation of the bible, there are still many folk within our membership who do. Please believe when I say that I am not telling you what you "should" do but if this ever happens to me, I would leave the congregation. Yes, (and here's my struggle) I'm probably judging the judgers but I will not live my life in a way that is only about how others think I should. I know I sound angry and I am still with respect to how I was treated - and that will serve me well in protecting myself from never letting it happen again.
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#11 of 15 Old 10-03-2002, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ebethmom, I am glad you joined in the discussion. The way I see it, my service to the church is to love and support their pastor well. It may not be visible to them, but I put in many hours every month listening to him vent and helping him decide how to handle tricky relationships and situations. When he has to do 3 funerals and a wedding in one week, I may not be in the church kitchen offering plates of sandwiches or coffee, but you can be darned sure that I will be giving him backrubs at night, holding him when he needs to cry about the child he is burying, reminding him to find time to eat and drink, whatever it takes. It helps him to avoid burnout and to have another perspective heard. If I were on lots od committees and involved all over the church, I would be a part of the dynamic and sometimes a part of the problem. I am his wife, not the congregation's wife.
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#12 of 15 Old 10-03-2002, 04:42 PM
 
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I am his wife, not the congregation's wife. [/B][/QUOTE]

I just had a conversation about this in the nursery at church about 2 weeks ago. We were just visiting and there were 2 ladies discussing the minister's wife's role. I told them that society "expects" a women to work outside the home and the church "expects" the wife to be a SAHM...they even expect you to have children...They have taken the choice that the wife has as a person to decide where she wants to be. I choose to be home with my son...if I were childless I would be working because I choose to.

SOmetimes congregations expect you to be 4 women in one and for some reason if you don't meet that expectation then problems arise. I don't think people "outside ministry" completely realize the stress that ministers of any type can be under and how imporant their wife is as a point of help and stability. My job as a wife is to be my husbands helpmate...and if I'm not that.......

Single Mom to 2 amazing little men. T(7) and B(5)
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#13 of 15 Old 10-03-2002, 05:24 PM
 
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I am not a ministers wife but I wanted to throw in my two cents. Hope it's okay.

I grew up Catholic so I had no ideas or expectations about what Mrs Minister should be or do except what I saw in movies. Which I knew was some kind of joke. The church we are currently attending has a minister whose fascinating wife is one of the reasons I first felt comfortable there. Because she and her husband have different last names like my DH and I do. ( I figured, heck, if the congregation is okay with them doing this they won't look at me like a freak.) I love that she participates or not in virtually every endeavor in about the same way as every other member of the congregation. I think it is really valuable to me that this church acknowledges her as a person in her own right, not some adjunct of her husband.
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#14 of 15 Old 10-30-2002, 11:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So how do the rest of you deal with it when your partner is going through a high-stress time with the church or synagogue? There are lots of unhealthy and destructive workings going on at our church and my dh is bearing the brunt of a lot of it. He is not perfect but I admire his integrity and wisdom in how he is handling these relationships (mainly with other staff.) He is very careful about not breaking confidentiality with me, but I see his stress level and know the parts he does share with me. I am not part of the situation so I keep clear of it, but it is hard.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? How did you cope?
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#15 of 15 Old 11-04-2002, 03:07 PM
 
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Shantimama - I'm sorry you and your husband (and your church) are going through a rough time. I'll keep you in my prayers.

I don't think I have a helpful response to your question. I don't think I've ever dealt with this situation well!

I'm not very good at masking my emotions. People usually know when I think they're making asses of themselves! No points in the diplomacy department.

During our worst church upheaval, I did take the time to go talk to a counselor. My father-in-law was also dying, and we had been married less than a year. (And my kitty love was killed by a car, and I was working with the nasty church member's mother-in-law.) So I really needed help!

There have been other smaller church issues, and I try to our family time balanced. (Not too much "church talk," date nights. . .)

I also make sure that I pray for the people who are inflicting the damage.
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