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Pastors' Wives--Letter to My Pastor Husband Intro

Let’s face it...sometimes we just don’t listen to our spouses very well. For whatever human reason, our spouse is usually the last person that we like to take advice or criticism from. And it goes both ways. I know that my fur often bristles up whenever Ryan confronts or disagrees with me on something. I think that it’s because deep down we want to be what the other person wants and needs. And when the other “corrects” us, we feel like a failure.

Yet we DO need to have a way to communicate with one another on conflicts. It’s not about being right or wrong--it’s about being "one flesh” (Mark 10:8 NIV). No one in his or her right and healthy mind would purposely hurt themselves, so as “one flesh” we have to learn what brings joy and what brings pain to the other. It’s just hard to learn it straight from the other’s mouth for some reason.

Over the years, we have studied up a lot on the various personality styles and how the interaction of them can easily create conflict simply because it’s hard to embrace an understanding of a personality style that is not our own.

Add in the pressure of the ministry and expectation of the masses for both of you, and you have a perfect opportunity for conflict. What’s ironic to me however, is how often I talk with pastor’s wives who struggle with the exact same ministry frustrations no matter what personality they all have. So what do we do to communicate?

Many years ago a friend gave us a set of books by Gary Smalley that he and his wife had read and really liked. One was for the wife, called “For Better or For Best,” and the other was for the husband, called “If Only He Knew.” We were so excited that we put them on the shelf and promptly forgot about them for a couple of years.

Then one day I picked up “For Better or For Best” and began reading. What I remember about the book is it forcing me to think about the WAY I communicate with Ryan. It explained a lot about the nature of men and why they respond the way they do, as well as gave me suggestions on how I SHOULD speak to him in order to elicit the desired response. At first I kind of felt like it was teaching me how to manipulate Ryan using his own maleness against him. But when I actually tried it out of curiosity, I found that our communication was smoother and we were both happier. Thank you, Gary, for allowing me an insight into a man’s heart!!! (Now that I think about it, it’s probably a book I should read every year!)

Well once Ryan saw me reading my book, he got his out and started it too. I did not read his, but I can tell that they are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! I will never forget the plane trip to Texas we took together when he turned to me with his book and a pen and said, “I need to ask you some questions.” He then proceeded to ask me ALL kinds of questions from the book about how I feel and what I think when he does certain things and what kinds of things that I need him to do for me. I seriously think that I sat there with my eyebrows in my forehead and my jaw on my chest as he feverishly wrote down everything that I said.

I also had to keep the reins on my tongue during this process (thank goodness that I had already read MY book), because a great number of the things he wanted me to tell him were things that I had already TRIED to tell him many times before to no avail!

So when God put on my heart the call to minister through writing, and in particular to direct a portion of it towards other pastors' wives, He put a seed of thought in my mind. What if I wrote a series of letters to pastors from their wives describing the fears, frustrations and desires that many of us have?

I know that not every letter would apply to every single ministry marriage, and of course, not every pastor who is asked by his wife to read some of the letters actually will. But, if it can open communication for even SOME ministry couples, then maybe it’s something worth doing.

The statistics regarding ministry families is outright frightening. In fact I may post a compilation of them at a later time, but for now I want to share just three.

In the book “Pastors At Greater Risk,” H. B. London cites that 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse and 80% also believe that the pastoral ministry affects their entire family negatively. Christianity Today once claimed that 83% of clergy spouses want their spouse to leave the pastoral ministry.

Yet we desperately NEED good ministers! So this is my little way to try and help keep Satan at bay from our marriages. I’ll do a couple letters here soon and then watch for them throughout future blogs. If any strike a chord with you, please feel free to share with your husband. I’ll be praying for you!!


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