Emotionally Abandoning Spouse For Ministry

Some people protest that God alone meets all our needs. They believe that the Lord doesn’t need to involve a spouse to remove our aloneness. Philippians 4:13 is often quoted, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” They sing hymns such as, “Jesus Is All I Need” that celebrate God’s total sufficiency. They firmly insist, “I have God, and God meets all my needs. As a result, many are emotionally abandoning their spouse for the sake of ministry figuring God is all they need.

God IS the Source For Meeting Our Needs

Teresa and I wholeheartedly believe that God is the ultimate source for meeting all our needs. We understand both biblically and experientially our deep need for God. Nothing else —not possessions, not position, not success, not another person —can fill the God-shaped vacuum within each of us. God alone brings peace and order to the human heart. Yet God revealed a wondrous mystery in the Garden. In his unsearchable wisdom, he has chosen to partner with us to remove the “not good” of aloneness in our spouses. He is still the source for taking away the “not good” of being alone in our marriages, but he desires to enlist us as his colleagues in the process.

How About the Single Person?

What about people who are not married? Is God’s design for removing aloneness thwarted in those who are single? Absolutely not. God’s wonderful plan for removing human aloneness is fulfilled in three divinely appointed relationships. For those who are married, the marriage relationship is God’s primary means for removing aloneness. But some people do not marry, and some marriages do not continue. In such cases, loving family —parents, children, grandparents, and siblings —is a divinely provided relationship.

…And for those who for some reason are without close family, God’s “safety net” for removing human aloneness is his body, the church. Jesus declared, By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35). God has graciously provided marriage, family, and the body of Christ so that no one should suffer the “not good” of being alone.

God Changes Our Heart

At age twenty-one, I was fully aware of my personal need for God and that is when I trusted him as my Savior and when his Spirit began rapid changes in my heart and life. As I began to grow as a Christian, I generally accepted the idea that I needed other people somehow. But I firmly believed that my only real need was for God. And I assumed that if others —including Teresa —would just become more spiritual, they would not need me!

This view skewed my understanding of God’s design for involving me in removing Teresa’s aloneness. And I certainly didn’t understand God’s desire to remove my aloneness through Teresa. Since God had not found in me a colleague to care for Teresa, the oneness she and I sought was elusive, and the blessing God desired and deserved from our relationship was limited.

The Pursuits of Spiritual Pursuits

As growing Christians eager to do God’s work, Teresa and I poured ourselves into spiritual pursuits. I memorized large portions of Scripture. I became deeply involved in ministry to students, and I led discipleship groups. Teresa became deeply involved in her own ministry, which reached thousands of women each year. Eventually Teresa and I conducted marriage seminars together. In our efforts to please God and serve others, our primary focus and priority was on ministry. I left Teresa alone. By placing our children and our ministry before our marriage, Teresa left me alone. Although our church viewed us as the ideal ministry couple, we continued to silently endure our relationship. We were very active and very busy, but very alone.

Focused on Ministry

In those years I was so focused on my spiritual life and ministry that I had little time or attention for my family. Teresa was left with the responsibility of caring for our two daughters, Terri and Robin, and our young son, Eric. Occasionally she would lament to me her desire for a more loving husband and a more devoted father for our children. But my attitude said, “Teresa, you don’t need more of me to have a fulfilling life; you need more of God.”

It is true that a relationship with God is to be primary in each of our lives. We are to trust Christ as Savior, yield to his Spirit, and obey his words: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38, NLT).

Our Neighbors are Important

Had Jesus stopped there, we might conclude that all we need is a relationship with God. But Jesus went on: A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments (Matthew 22:39-40, NLT). In Jesus’ eyes, relationship with our neighbors —literally our “near ones” —is as important as relationship with God.

As we set our hearts on loving God completely, He desires to enlist us as His colleagues to remove the aloneness of our near ones, beginning with our spouses. Teresa and I often call this the Great Commandment marriage —loving God with all your heart and loving your spouse —your nearest near one —as yourself (also see Ephesians 5:28).

You Are to Be God’s Colleague

Removing aloneness is fundamental purpose of marriage. Are you showing yourself to be God’s colleague, actively involved in the process of removing your spouse’s aloneness? Is your spouse less alone today than he or she has ever been? This is an important biblical measure of a successful marriage relationship.

It is clear throughout Scripture that God, for reasons known only to Him, has opted to fill our longings for oneness through love relationships with both Himself and other human beings. God is totally sufficient in his provision. Yet He has chosen to share some of His love through the three relationships He has ordained: marriage, family, and the church. If we are not fulfilling the Great Commandment in our marriages, our families, or in our churches, the result is not good.

Misunderstanding God’s Design

…My skewed perspective of God, human needs, and relationships convinced me that I needed only God in my life to have a successful marriage and fruitful ministry. My misunderstanding of God’s design to remove my aloneness through him and Teresa fostered an unhealthy and unbiblical self-reliance that robbed our marriage of intimacy.

Furthermore, my attitude heaped condemnation on Teresa, communicating to her, “Ministry is my top priority, and it should be yours too. When are you going to grow up so you don’t need so much of my personal time and attention?” One day, in my frustration to pressure Teresa to become as intense as I was about my ministry, I confronted her in the kitchen with an ultimatum. I said, “Teresa, if you don’t come along with me in serving God, I’m going on without you.” Then I walked away.

Teresa’s View

Teresa explains her reaction to my statement.

“David’s pointed words pierced me like a lance. He left me standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering exactly wheat he meant. Was he talking about leaving me physically through separation or divorce? Was he talking about giving up on me spiritually and emotionally? He could not have known the terrible pain those words caused me. And it only got worse.

“As David continued to lose himself in ministry, he did leave me every way except physically. I was alone and floundering while my husband filled his life with his top priority: the ministry. As a result, I became increasingly aloof and independent I tried to play the ‘ministry wife’ role, but the more he pulled away into his work, the more I buried myself in activities at home with our children.”

Self Doubt

Teresa suffered tremendous self-doubt induced by the painful messages of my self-reliance. She often thought, “Maybe if I were more spiritual or sensed a deeper call to ministry, I wouldn’t need David’s love, acceptance, comfort, and encouragement so much. If I just had more of God, I wouldn’t miss him so much when he is away doing ministry.”

I expected Teresa to deal with her needs in a self-reliant manner just as I did. I chided her for not being spiritually independent. The more involved I became in the ministry, the more uncomfortable she became living in the fishbowl of congregational scrutiny.

Teresa Explains:

“As a fairly new Christian, I was still deciding what I believed. I was battling false with guilt and self-condemnation over how insecure I felt in the ministry. Someone once made the thoughtless remark, ‘I would never have believed you were David’s wife. You don’t seem to be as spiritual as he is.’ By this time I had developed a bubble of self-protection against the pain in my marriage and other relationships. I became extremely self-reliant in my own world. It was important to me to shut out the pain I experienced in my relationship with David and other Christians. I had mastered the skill of not feeling, not hurting.”

False Self Reliance

We had falsely equated self-reliance with spiritual maturity and emotional strength. As a result, our love for each other grew increasingly cold. We needed to change our twisted view of God’s design for marriage. But more than a renewed mind, we needed a humble heart.

The solution to self-reliance is humility. It is humbling for us to admit that we have needs we cannot meet on our own. And it is equally humbling to acknowledge that we are helpless to remove our aloneness apart from depending on God to minister to us. It is also humbling to involve other people in our lives, as he desires. Hunkering down in a foxhole of self-reliance and just waiting to become more mature will not remove our aloneness. Maturity and strength in our relationships come only as we humbly depend on God to minister his grace to us. This often comes through our spouse.

This article comes from the book, “Never Alone” by David and Teresa Ferguson, published by Tyndale House Publishers. It’s unfortunate, but this book is no longer being published. You can obtain it through used book resource centers. We hope you are able to do so because this is an excellent book!

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Filed under: Pastors and Missionary Marriages

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52 responses to “Emotionally Abandoning Spouse For Ministry

  1. (UNITED STATES)  Fellow Sisters In Christ~ I understand the feeling and exactly what you are talking about and speaking of. I myself, am a pastor’s wife and can speak first hand as many of you have. I am in the process of developing and finishing a website for us, The Silent Help of the ministry. I hope that all of you are interested in being a part. I have spent lot of time developing this book/website and video to helping us.

    I think it’s disheartening when a woman starts out with a man who is called by God and helps him to grow his ministry only to become the one that is turned to say that she is now hindering this great work that God has called him to do.

    If there’s anything that I can say to encourage us women it is this: God did not call your husband alone. While he is in the state of fulfilling his purpose in the kingdom of God, you must begin fulfilling yours, as well. When we begin to look out for the flock it takes time a way from the house and everything that encompasses including the relationship. I’m presently working on a video titled, $100 bucks to save your marriage. It is a huge help and aided my marriage. You cannot talk to someone who is not listening or willing to consider any other possibilities, so we must work around the “talking game” which most men call it nagging because they believe that there should be no complaints from us because they are providing everything or most things that we could hope for.

    I’d love to get a group going for us pastors wives out there. We need the support.

  2. (USA)  I am a young man, and have been in ministry since I was a teenager. I grew up in a Pastor’s home and currently serve under my father. I love God’s church with my whole heart, and have known since I was a child that I was called to Pastoral ministry. Even as a kid, I used to pray for God to send me the right wife b/c I knew the pains and challenges of ministry.

    When I met my wife, I struggled with fear regarding this very issue. My wife didn’t grow up in Church but became a believer in college. Though she didn’t have a lot of the Bible knowledge I had, she had one of the biggest hearts for people that I’d ever seen. She loved God and was active in our college ministry. When we first started dating, the Lord told me that we would marry, and though I was afraid, I followed what I believed to be the voice of God.

    Since then, we’ve seen many challenges, including the loss of one of her very close family members. She is coping, but her faith walk has suffered greatly. I know that she going through a process, and I’m trying to patiently trust God to heal her, but one of the biggest casualties has been her heart for ministry. She complains about our church (it’s culture/worship style), how involved I am in ministry, about her responsibilities, etc. I see where this is going and I’m concerned. Especially, since I know God will one day place her in position of a Pastor’s wife. Or, maybe he won’t, meaning I would have to give up my ministry.

    Am I to put my wife first, even if it means giving up what I feel is my calling? Can’t help, but think I’d end up resenting her. But, if I don’t show her that she’s first, she’ll resent me. Divorce is not an option, but not having a true ministry partner has always been my greatest fear. Just really confused, right now, and not really anyone I can talk to. Really, asking for your prayers more than anything else.

    1. (UNITED STATES)  Josh, first of all, I love your words, divorce is not an option… and it shouldn’t be. There is nothing that God cannot handle. You have acknowledged that God showed you that she is your wife, what was not given to you was the hardships and that could be the confusing part. It is very understandable that you know that your wife’s faith is not where it should be right now and yes, she should be a part of your ministry to the church, but your first ministry is your marriage. I understand your fear of maybe resenting her if you don’t follow through with your callling. You are not supposed to not answer your call.

      So where do you begin? Godly counseling. My husband and I did not have that and he and I and the kids suffered through it. But with God’s help, not man (because we were afraid to let people know we were having problems), God is healing and restoring what the locusts have devoured.

      It is going to be difficult to have a strong ministry if your marriage is not growing; it’s ok to step back a minute and regroup with some sessions with your wife on what she is feeling and what needs to be focused on for her and for yourself. But the truth is, you cannot deal with your ministry when your home is not at peace. It’s not fair to the people you are coming in contact with and it is not fair to your family.

      God understands if you step away from being totally accessible right now and will not frown on that decision. He wants your marriage to survive. Marriage was the first covenant in the Bible. Im not saying to stop being active with the church and the ministries but set aside some time for your family. Just think of how many people you will be able to minister to when you and your wife walk through this and God’s glory shows through. Think of the families you WON’T be able to help if you come across them now and you are not able to deliver sound advice and leadership.

      I know you love your wife because divorce is not an option. That’s a great start and now your wife needs you to minister to her. It may take a while, but that’s ok’ get your house in order so that you may be effective for the Kingdom. Find someone to meet with you two on a regular basis, not just a couple of times. That does not help the situation nor get to the root of things. Once you meet a couple of times, then the two of you meet separately so that you can voice things that you may not be abel to say in front of each other. God will be SOOO pleased to sit up there and see his children working out issues in their marriage and defeating the enemy.

      At this time your wife may feel a lot of pressures of being that “preacher’s wife” that you are referring to. I experienced the same thing. Even having someone joke about it with me made me lay awake at night worrying if I were even good enough to carry such a role. What I had to learn later for myself, was that I had to figure out what I had to do as the preacher’s wife and that was support my husband, be concerned for the church members, but take on what I wanted to take on as far as commitees and where I should sit and wear and what I should say and not say.

      People don’t understand, that’s not being a preacher’s wife. A preacher’s wife is serving God to the best ability that SHE has to offer, supporting her husband in the process, seeking her family and their needs, THEN being an approachable woman to the masses -not a doormat to vent all of their frustrations on what her husband is doing or not doing but approachable and available when time is permitted. She will find her way through it. Every minister’s or preacher’s wife should be different in handling such issues.

      I do pray for you and your marriage and your family and your ministry that you WILL be sharing with your wife. Please seek help and if it doesn’t seem like you are getting the help you need, seek it anyhow…never stop. My mother-in-law has been my rock because she is a preacher’s wife. So, seek Godly counsel that the both of you can trust and rely on. Before you approach counsel with your issues, take time to look at their marriage, their walk with God and their life. Not trying to be ugly when I say this, but whomever you choose, TRY to choose someone who has been in ONE marriage for the long haul for many years. They are seasoned and can tell you committed, determined and steadfast advice. May God bless you.

  3. (ZAMBIA) Thank God for this article. My husband has left the raising of our 2 children to me in the name of being busy in the ministry. This has stressed me, especially when the children were younger. This has even left me bitter. Our ministry is not able to support us so I have had to be the provider in the home. If I don’t fend for the children they can starve. I almost divorced my husband 5 years ago because of his attitude towards his family. Is this a right attitude by a pastor?

  4. (USA) I need help and advice. My husband recently found God. We were not living together when this happened due to my work requirements. We grew apart while we were not under the same roof. He has now come to live with me and had to leave behind the church he was attending. He told me today that he has not decided whether to stay with me. That God could tell him to leave and he would instantly go. He says he doesn’t even know if we should be married since he was not a Christian when we got together. I have put everything in to our relationship and now he says that I have to wait not knowing until God tells him to stay or go. What should I do??

    1. (UNITED STATES) Kris, I urge you and your husband to go and seek ongoing advice from a clergy who is married, for a while, with a view of one spouse for life, like the vows you two made. It saddens me so to watch pastors rewrite the Word to fit what they are doing and have done in life. My husband and I experienced the same thing, went through a lot but finally got help from God, very little help from clergy, one meeting or no meeting from those who are supposed to give us God’s Word as we are babes.

      Your husband has been called, you have been too. There is so much that will start hitting you as your eyes and minds become open to God’s truth. Satan doesnt like that and what better way to discredit the Man of God than to discredit the messenger? Do not stop until you two find someone to sit down and talk to. It’s not going to be hammered out with one session either. Your husband is eager to be about God’s work and whether he knew God or not when you married, God knew him and was there when you took the vows. Satan has already started turning things in his mindset.

      If your husband won’t go with you to seek help in the clergy’s office, behind closed doors, go for yourself, maybe even a first lady, but don’t stop til you get Godly advice. Start for yourself learning submission. The truth is, whereever God leads your husband, you are to go. You can discuss the move, but you are to go, ask God to start talking to you, giving you the discernment a spouse should have. Being submissive is NOT saying your husband rules you. Start reading Genesis 1-2 –both chapters, and note that there is a divine flow. God to man, man to wife, wife to family (children) where as we (wives) STILL keep God above all. Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-39, the whole chapter of Titus (the both of you should read this one together), and 1 Timothy 3 (this is another book that needs to be read by you and your husband together, whole book of 1 Timothy, gives instructions of various roles in the church), and most importantly, Proverbs 31 -every night before bed to get it in your spirit. This one is for YOU, it will be so refreshing.

      No one directed me to these scriptures, I found them helpful in understanding my place in my husband’s ministry and in MY own ministry as he is lead by God. The Word says we are the weaker vessel but it also says that we can reach our husbands better in action than in that tongue of ours, that can get out of hand. Our family is better for it, our children are blessed because they now see mommy and daddy’s actions and they are LEARNING how to have a Godly marriage.

      I pray that this is a start for your steps, that your husband, in his hurry to be about God’s business that he slows down and enjoys how good the Word tastes and how wonderful his marriage can be with God standing all up in the middle of it. I pray for your strength and courage to step outside of yourself and put God’s word into your spirit. Just read it over and over again. God will smile and be pleased and will come and assist and satan will get mad, so recognize him when he pops in from time to time in your marriage. But your husband needs you just as much as you need him in this marvelous walk to being a couple fighting for the Kingdom.

  5. (USA) My husband who is a minister, started seeing another lady at the church while we were married and says that she is his wife, not me; he loves her, not me. We’ve been married 15 yrs. He has his own place and goes out with her like they’re dating, and we arent married. He says we arent married because hes been gone and has been with her so, it’s not a marriage anymore.

    He has never treated me badly, never, has always said that his eyes are for no one but me. We fell on hard finances and changed churches and he got lost somehow in that mix. I been standing for my marriage for 5 yrs but I have never felt so stupid in standing as tonight. My cousin’s husband after 9 yrs got a kidney, 3rd try and this one is not rejecting. I told her of my stand tonight and she shot everything down, using scripture. God has someone better for me, she says. She and her husband are clergy. When trying to tell her that my husband’s steps need redirecting, that he’s in dear need of prayer, she said, I’m not supposed to pray for him or for God to heal my marriage. I’m not? I’m so confused, because the family been praying for 9 yrs for a kidney and I can’t pray for my marriage regardless of how long? It’s not a good feeling.

    I miss my husband dearly, I love my husband. I dont know what to think of prayer, God’s word, and plan anymore. I am in such confusion & hurt. My God, do you really mean for me to divorce my husband so he can get to his REAL wife? I’m not his wife til death do us part? I’m not supposed to ask God to heal my marriage? Are we no longer 2 of the same flesh now? What’s wrong with my prayers, where I can’t pray over my husband, that he finds God again and the truth in the Word and be the God fearing husband I know him to be?

    1. Chaney, I am so sad for you …and also for your husband. He has no idea the contrary spirits he has allowed himself to be caught up in, allowing the downward spiral of rationalizing sinful behavior to take hold. As a matter of fact, we have an article posted in the “Spiritual Matters” topic on that very issue. I encourage you to read it. It will give you a glimpse into the battle that is being waged. This is a spiritual warfare battle, for sure. Your husband knew better than this before … and he has allowed his rationalizations to step-by-step blind his eyes.

      I’m not sure why your cousin “shot everything down, using scripture” as far as your praying for your husband and then encouraging you to think that “God has someone better” in mind for you. But I would set that aside as bad advice (we’re all prone to give it sometimes). Your husband desperately needs prayer. I’m glad you recognize it. Please know that this is a very unfriendly world as far as marriage goes. Every time I turn around there are people telling others (and some of them pastors and spiritual leaders) to dump out of their marriages for various reasons. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear this. Divorce is contrary to God’s ways. No human being should tell another to seek divorce. That is between them and God. We are to be encouragers in prayer and in supporting our loved one –not telling them what God may or may not tell them to do.

      Chaney, seek God. He may not answer prayer in the way you think that He will or should (part of this is because of the free will He has given your husband, so while God WILL talk to your husband as you pray, it doesn’t mean that your husband will listen). But please trust God’s heart. He loves you and will help you as you lean upon Him in ways you never thought possible. I pray God’s peace upon you. I pray that God will give you strength and help and hope –hope that better days are ahead… the hope to know that God will never leave, nor forsake you and that He will give you guidance as you seek Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) You are in my prayers.

  6. (USA) My wife and I have been married for almost 3 months. I am a minister and have served in that capacity for almost three years, as well as a faithful armor bearer. She has recently let me know that our marriage so far sucks and it’s pretty much due to me not showing loving on her by not spending time with her. I feel that we have different levels of time and therefore causes her to feel that I am missing the bar.

    For instance, my pastor (who is also my dad) called a fast for the entire month of January and prayer every night for the whole month. My wife doesn’t agree with corporate fasting, but I do. She decided not to participate every night in the corporate prayer that we have at the church. So, one night when I came home from work, she had an attitude and asked, will I be going to prayer every night? I said yes. At this time she let me know that she wasn’t going to make me stay and spend time with her. Of course, I feel that when she says stuff like that, it’s not as innocent as she means it to be.

    That’s neither here nor there. I made an agreement that I wouldn’t go every night but just a couple days out the week and then stay home. But next thing I know, she decided to go to. More recently we had another conversation where she said that I’m not loving on her enough and I put the church in front of her. I am not saying that she’s all wrong but I feel like I do spend time with her but I think she is looking for time every single day and that doesn’t allow much time after I get off work and then go to church on Tuesday nights.

    Again, we’ve only been married since Nov. and the fast started in January and this is just now being talked about. I’m sure this fast is the reason she is emotional seperation and frustration. I just don’t know how to fix this area. I love my wife so much and want to make her happy.

  7. (UNITED STATES) In reading the initial post and the replies, my question then is this… what does one do if their spouse (in my case, my wife) basically opposes every single time I’m called to do something for the Lord? The fact of the matter is, she doesn’t share the same passion as I do for ministry. She doesn’t even want to go to Church, nor does she read her Bible. In fact, I’ll go as far to say, our marriage has a lot of problems and there were very evident red flags before we even were married. Yet, I still went through with it.

    I’m not suggesting I’m without folly either. I’m wrong for my share of things in life. But aside from all of that, I’m sure beyond any doubt I’m called to serve the Lord as a minister. There is no mistake about this. And the passion for it has always burned in me like a fire ever since I came to Christ in late 2006. But the truth is, almost every time I feel led to do something in terms of “ministry” or “serving”, I’m met with some sort of opposition from my wife. I had to engage in debate and strife with her a while back for simply wanting to serve in the church as either an usher or in the media on certain weekends.

    Every time I was asked to speak at a church or event, she will oppose it in some way. Instead of stepping out in FAITH with me, she hammers me with the negatives, as such this reason or that reason as to why I won’t be able to speak. We see marriage mentors, and even they basically defend her, and the last time we met they told me I’m not able to step out in ministry until she’s ready to do it with me because we’re “one flesh”. As much as I understand we’re one flesh, my question then is… does “one flesh” then become a means to hold someone back from what God is calling them to do?

    I’m sorry but God will not contradict His own works by making what is “One flesh” that honors Him, to oppose a calling He has on someone who happens to be married. While throwing around Bible facts and scriptures, I’ll also use the fact Peter the Apostle, for example, was married. But did he ignore Christ’s calling? No, he certainly did not. His wife though supported Him also. I do admit, I have many obligations, my marriage and I caregive for my dad, and other things. But honestly, my family can also believe with me more then they do, and if need be, help me with some things so that I can serve the Lord.

    Even if she doesn’t want to do that (ministry), she can still at least help me with other things at home to enable me to preach or serve as a ministry when called. But that’s just it, I get no help, no support, no encouragement, and there is no faith or believing at all in my family. Honestly… I feel bound. I know that’s a hard word to use, but I’m simply speaking how I feel. This is just bondage and I feel helpless, not knowing what to do. I want to be a good husband who gives time to his wife, be a responsible family man and son. But, I’m also a man of God called to serve Him in ministry. I’m very tormented because I haven’t thus far really done what I feel I’m supposed to do. I feel like I’m neglecting and procrastinating on what God wants me to step out and do.

    So with all of this said, what do men in my position then do? Simply ignore our responsibilities as ministers of the Gospel because otherwise, we’re irresponsible husbands who don’t honor our homes and families? That also sounds like bondage to me. It also feels manipulative, because I truly think many people abuse this to control the other person for selfish ambition. In cases such as this, we also need to believe that God does know the intent of the heart, so those who want to in such a way, are seen by God for doing this. The truth is, it’s WRONG. And I admit, yes… it’s also WRONG to be a dishonorable and neglectful husband, I understand that. So with this all in mind, what does one do? Evidently Pray. I know that! I just wanted to share this. God Bless!

  8. As I read this I am dumbfounded!!! I feel like if I changed the names, I would be the writer! My husband told me Monday that he was moving out, that he was called to preach, and that’s what he is going to do. He said he would be moving out on Monday, (3 days away). It almost seems like he is completely oblivious to what’s happening. His prayers with the family at night, go something like this. “Lord, let us follow the Bible, and nothing that’s not in the Bible. “MOVING OUT ISN’T IN THE BIBLE!!!

    My husband’s service and portrayal of God is actually pushing me away from God. He punishes me with the Word, and he is misrepresenting it. I am at fault and take responsibility for my actions. I don’t treat him well, because I have been told so many stories by my husband, only to find out I’ve been lied to.

    My ministry is being a mom and I have dedicated my life to that. I don’t work and I never went to college. Now, my husband is moving out, I have nothing. And if he isn’t going to pay out bills. I feel like my only way of protecting the kids is divorce. There are too many issues to talk about. I really feel my husband has lost it, almost cult like, super legalistic.
    He says he is moving out, then asks for a kiss. I am LOST!!!

  9. My heart is breaking. My husband and I became deeply involved in a refugee ministry in our community (we are not pastors) and it had been a mutually rewarding opportunity to serve the Lord. But recently my husband has crossed boundaries that are making me feel abandoned, uncomfortable and replaced by his love of this ministry.

    In particular there are two teenage girls that he has been tutoring through our church program. He does not hide anything from me and his interaction in and of itself is appropriate. Yet, he communicates with these girls via text on homework topics. I had to put a stop to other types of seemingly harmless text messages. I have told him that schools do not allow teachers to text with students to protect the teachers but he argues that it is this or working with them in person and that homework help via text is preferable. It sounds reasonable but it makes me feel uneasy.

    In part, it is because he appears to be feeling a sense of affirmation from these girls and their families that he no longer feels he receives at home. They are in constant need of a hero and with very simple assistance he can be just that. The needs of our family are not as easy to fix or solve– so we can’t make him feel like the hero as easily I guess. He has been invited by these girls families to their homes and has helped the girls in a number of wonderful ways. He wants them to learn the culture including helping them apply for jobs, complete school projects, etc.

    I had to put my foot down when they asked him to help the teenage girl look for a car that she could buy. I had to put my foot down when he took one to dinner after a soccer practice. I had to put my foot down when he initiated text conversations that included photos of his dinner when he was out of town (because one of the girls said she was going to give him fish that looked similar). Every single thing is an innocent interaction. He is not secretive. Yet he thinks I’m being jealous and silly by insisting that this ongoing interaction is inappropriate.

    We are constantly arguing and I am become increasingly nasty in my verbal assaults on his interactions. If I deliver an ultimatum saying “you may no longer help them” I think he would honor it, but he would feel he is abandoning two people he’s really helping. What he doesn’t understand is that he is in the process of abandoning me– at least emotionally. I don’t want to be selfish. I know these girls and others have real simple to solve needs and that my husband is passionate about helping them. It makes him happy to see such quick and easy results. But I’m starting to believe his thoughts are becoming consumed about them and their needs.

    I am a very strong person and most people look at me and think I can take care of myself. I always thought my husband understood that I needed him so perhaps he is fulfilling his need to feel needed in this ministry. I’m not sure, but it is reaching a breaking point.

    Thanks for any advice or thoughts from pastors wives out there. I’m really ashamed to even be writing a post as everyone around me keeps telling me what a great guy my husband is. I even agree. I just wish that I was still confident that our marriage came before all of his outside good stuff.

  10. Jenny, Even if everything with the two teenage girls so far has been quite innocent and well intentioned, it’s a potentially dangerous situation. For the sake of keeping everything God-glorifying, without even a hint of impurity, I would suggest trying to find a Christian woman who could mentor these refugee girls and help with their homework. Then your husband could maybe find a teenage refugee boy to help instead.

    I also helped an international ministry and I know how easy it is to start feeling like a hero and get affirmation from people who are needy. God has really been showing me that they don’t need me; they need Him, just like I need Him. Your husband may feel a little bad about leaving the girls he has helped, but you can commit them to God’s hands and the hands of His church through more appropriate avenues. May God truly bless your marriage and give you all wisdom by His gracious Spirit!

  11. (USA) I am not married, but I can relate whole-heartedly. By boyfriend recently accepted the call to enter the ministry and he has never been more at peace with himself, being that he has been running from it for so long. We have talked about getting married and were making plans towards it, but a week after his first sermon he relayed to me that he wanted to be married to his ministry and ended our relationship.

    I have been in turmoil for the last several days, crying and praying, and fasting for understanding and clarity and that he will see that “being married to his ministry” is not God’s plan for any of his leaders who are called. I have bouts of selfishness that I cannot explain. “Why has he chosen this over his (me) family?” He has children who also feel somewhat shunned by his decision to focus on this task at hand and it is creating a feeling of resentment. I resent his children because he is obligated to them, but as a girlfriend, he has no loyalty to me. I know what it is, and I rebuke him.

    Why do so many men get so rapped up or focused on serving the Lord that they risk losing everything God has provided? Reading these stories makes me wonder about all the pastor’s wives and question what their lives are really like. I love my man, and I tried to support him and let him know that we could get through this together; and I pray for him daily that he finds clarity and can be at peace. He is in such turmoil and conflict over having ended our relationship, that it’s in direct contrast to how he felt a week ago. But I cannot do this for him. He has to be the one to see it for himself and fight against this attack. But there is always that doubt that maybe I’m wrong and he is right, and him leaving me is God’s will…

    1. It has actually been encouraging to read some of these posts. I have been married for going on 2 years to a former pastor of a small church. Who I thought he was, he was not. It started the night of the wedding with yelling at me on my wedding night! He is very controlling, easily offended and angry over things that no one should be angry for. He would sit me down and go up one side of me and down the other for how bad a wife I am and how I don’t measure up to a pastors wife.

      One incident went on for 4 hours; it was early on in the marriage and I still thought I could reason with him or change his mind. I was jumping through every hoop possible, trying to do everything he wanted. It never made a difference. That night he yelled at me for so long, I cried so hard I started to bronchospasm and could not breath, I needed my inhaler. While I was telling him I could not get my breath he walked away laughing at me, telling me it was all my fault.

      He believes that I was purposely trying to hinder his ministry and to destroy him – that I set out to destroy his ministry. After close to a year of this ridiculousness I went to the church and told them I could not handle his anger anymore and that I felt we needed help. I would have gone sooner but he commanded me not to. So I submitted to his request. He would not let me go to council.

      Every 24-48 hours he will rail at me accusing me of purposely trying to stand against him. He will call me the devil and mock me saying I see it now I see what your doing in a devilish voice. Now I was single for a long time and he is the love of my life so I walked on eggshells trying not to upset him. I was trying to be submissive. He got mad if I asked him when he would be home for dinner telling me he did not have to answer to anyone. So after much frustration I decided to eat alone. I told him he could come and go as he pleases and to just not yell at me. It made no difference. He continues with his narcissistic tendencies, entitlement, neglect, manipulation, blame shifting, yelling, name calling, banishing me to the upstairs and lying . I have caught him in many lies and he frequently lies about me to his friends.

      Well the church’ decision was to put him on sabbatical which he fought and after 6 weeks on sabbatical hardly enough time for someone that needs about 10 years of counseling he was fired. Now, not only am I blamed for not supporting his ministry or following after his leadership which I guess is yelling and name calling, he now blames me for the loss of his job.

      He justifies all of his behavior which I just covered the surface of. He takes no responsibility for his actions and continues to blame me. I left for several days close to the sabbatical because he was so out of control he was demanding that I go to the 4th ministry event in one week. I texted him and told him why I was taking a break. I was starting to have cardiac problems and it was not getting better due to stress.

      He claims I left him so he changed the locks on the doors and I was told to get my stuff out. This was after he was sending me loving text’ that day. Balling, I called my daughter and she helped me move. I moved back in and now he has kicked me out again because I held him accountable to something else he has done. Claiming my actions and requests were out of line. They were not; in fact I should have told him these things a long time ago. His yelling has ramped up and he now charges me and screams in my face. Thats ok because it’s his anger, not ok with me.

      He claimed I am against him and his ministry because I showed up 1/2 late to prayer meeting coming from work, and I did not want to go to every sunday night church service because of exhaustion, along with having my own opinion (polite opinion) which he hates. He cannot deviate from this thought pattern. I am his third wife, 2 inside of christianity. I thought he had a biblical divorce I guess he did not.

      He is cunning, very believable; everyone thinks he is the greatest guy on the planet and can’t imagine he would behave this way. He is extra humble in public will frequently act ignorant even though his previous job required quite a bit of intelligence.

      Sorry this is so long – it does feel good to tell my story as sad as it is.

  12. My husband decided to go into evangelical mission work in 2009, three years after he retired from the military. It was then that I ceased to exist. It just took me a few years to figure that out. I’m just the cook, dog-sitter, and errand girl, and a bench-warmer wife to an absentee husband.

    In 2011, our church pastor announced to the congregation that my husband was thinking about moving and starting a planter church 1200+ miles away. That was the first I’d heard of it. All my husband would say to me is that he thought that the conversations he’d had with our pastor had been in confidence. My husband pays very little attention to me. On the nights when he has nothing to do outside the home, he goes in the den and closes the door. We haven’t had sex in over 3 years. At this point, I don’t care anymore. I might vomit if we did have sex.

    In January, my husband decided we were going to move to another church. He also decided that “we” were going to move 260 miles away so that he could finish his degree from a Bible college on campus. He didn’t tell me that he’d planned to move either –I happened to overhear him tell our new pastor on the day that we requested that our membership be transferred. My husband didn’t have the guts to tell anyone at our old church where my family and lifelong friends are members. And, never mind the fact that my entire family is here; we have a farm and a house here; and I have tested positive for lupus and if we move my health insurance will change for the worse.

    Apparently, my husband believes that decisions that will alter my life drastically are none of my business. Most of the time, when I try to talk to him, he just ignores me. Sometimes he will say two or three sentences –whatever he thinks it will take to shut me up –and then he just goes on about his business. He decided to leave me here at home while he lives on campus to finish his degree. Due to a drought a few years ago, the foundation on our house was damaged and he has refused to have anything done about it. The walls are severely cracked and the exterior door to the kitchen will no longer close –I have to prop it closed with a kitchen chair. The last time I tried to talk to him about the house, he said, “If we get the house fixed, I’ll have to get a job, so I won’t be here. If I’m not going to be here anyway, I might as well go on to school and go into the mission work!” I assume that letting the house fall apart fits into a plan to force me to move.

    My husband’s mother died of cancer a few days ago. Last week, my husband cut classes and drove to be with his mother, 1500 miles away. He didn’t even tell me that he was going. After he got to his mother’s home, his sisters guilt-tripped into calling me to let me know where he was. This may have been the straw that will break the camel’s back. There’s more, but I think I’ve said enough for you to get the idea and then some.

    Did the Apostle Paul mean that if a wife isn’t happy with her husband’s decisions, she’s just supposed to keep her mouth shut and obey orders? I know that God made woman with the intention of her doing whatever she has to do, short of sin, to make a man happy. But does it matter at all if woman is miserable? What’s left? Am I just supposed to melt down and morph into whatever he wants me to be? Am I supposed to abandon my family and move to parts unknown so that I can have the pleasure of being completely alone with a man who has abandoned me emotionally? I don’t think I can do that. Please help. I’m on the verge of just throwing in the towel on a 21-year marriage.

  13. Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. My husband and I started a ministry 2 years back. It is growing and doing very well. My problem is he has puts himself as a point of contact. Women contact him when they had problems. The problem is they sent him messages even if they don’t have problems. They just say anything to make the conversation. There is woman who sent whatupp massages even @ 09h30 pm when we are trying to sleep.

    At first I thought is was my insecurities but now I can feel in my spirit that my marriage is in trouble. I always ask myself if my husband doesn’t see me matured enough, to let me be a point of contact, especially for women.

  14. My family is very involved in ministry. We’re trying to make our family a priority and we’re still involved but are learning to say no. We were not scheduled for a meeting and asked to go to a brief 5 min meeting after service. My husband said no it wasn’t on the schedule and to top it off my 5 year old had a fever.

    The next Sunday we were openly rebuked before our whole team. Then we were told we disrespected them. No one came to us personally and spoke to us. What do you do? And at what point does your loyalty and faithfulness need to come into question “Are you loyal or do you let people abuse you?”

    1. You did what appears to be the right thing to do –especially with your son having a fever. It comes down to the fact that you just won’t be able to please everyone. They don’t live your life. If you and your husband feel that this was invasive behavior –asking more of you than you can give at the time because of the priorities you know you are to have, then what you did was not out of line. What they did was. Sometimes, you just have to say no, if what they are asking of you is too much. Be involved yes, but hold to the principles of keeping your family as a priority. Just be respectful when you have to tell them no. And if they don’t like it, then that is their problem. You will know in your heart that you did the right thing.

      Do what you know the Lord would have you do as far as balancing your family and also reaching out to help other families. Balance is key. As the Lord leads you, do accordingly, no matter what other people think or say. But be careful in the process not to allow yourselves to be prideful about it… otherwise, it can cause other problems. :)

  15. My husband was called into full time ministry as a Pastor -everyone saw it, except him. I knew the first moment I met him. We’ve been married 5 years. Now that he’s finally accepted the “Call” which has taken him 300+ miles away from where we live -and he’s now back in his hometown. As you can imagine, it’s been quite challenging. He’s been a full time pastor for the past 8 months and we both are in different cities.

    My family is here. His family is there. Now, he’s asking me to move down there -we initially thought we’d give it 6 months or so, just to be sure this is God. However, I’m still unsure and it’s causing division in our marriage. He has a huge burden for the kids in the city where he currently pastors. I just don’t feel led there. I’m not ready to leave my $100k+ salary position for a part-time minimum wage job. I know that sounds harsh and lack of faith –but I truly do have Faith. Anyway, when does a wife know to follow her husband full-time, all in, no matter what? How do you know???