Wife's Depression

I am a pastor of a large church in two locations. My wife has shared with me today that she is suffering from depression. She actively attends church, is involved in ministry, and I was surprsied to hear of this announcement. She is the strongest woman I know. I have scheduled time for her to meet with a pastoral counselor and renewd our time of prayer and devotion together, but sometimes she does not want to pray.

I've only been a senior pastor 7 years. We were youth pastors in our church for 14 years, and transitioned into the pastorship after my father died 7 years ago. I'm open to your feedback.

Comments for Wife's Depression

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Lonely and Exhausted Pastors Wife
by: Anonymous

When I was young, I was so hopeful and optimistic about life , love and ministry! Full of sparkle and energy and smiling brightly!
Then I married young, and I married a musician who is obsessed with ministry.
Since he is a "musician" and a "pastor" - neither of which earn him money, it has been require of me to work high stress jobs and at times several jobs to support our family of 4 so that he can be in full time ministry.
All the while I'm expected to host and co lead Bible Studies / prayer meetings etc... and be all perky at church and set up and tear down and make coffee and teach the kids.
I'm almost 39 and I'm lonely and exhausted. My husband is not affectionate and likes his space , he has no sex drive so I'm intimacy and affection starved.
I died to my one wish to be a stay at home mom so that he could live his dream.
Ministry and being a musician is all he talks about.
Ministry life has taken its toll as people can be shockingly cruel. We've always been poor, our kids don't enjoy things that their friends do because my husband insists he's "called" and can't work a real paying job.
My husband doesn't understand why
I'm so tired and he doesn't care about my declining mental and physical health. The load has taken its toll on me. He gets mad if I miss a Sunday because I'm sick or exhausted. Not caring or soft.
Because he's a musician and a pastor, I don't experience how beautiful it would be to worship with a husband or just hold hands during a service.

It's like "ministry" is "the other woman" - I'm lonely.

I've struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. But we have 2 amazing daughters and I think of them and I can never follow through.

Pastors wives have no one they can talk to.
We counsel couples for goodness sake - who could I tell that my husband refuses to be affectionate or intimate with me and we don't have fun together -it's all ministry.
I desire a best friend and a lover and fun so much but what we are is business partners in ministry and parents.
Is it wrong for me to wonder what it would feel like to have a normal life. One where my husband would provide for me and our girls. One where my husband would willfully be affectionate and intimate and we could have fun together. He likes his space and to be comfortable so cuddling is not something he will do. He just wants to sit far apart and talk about ministry and for me to provide financially so he can do what he's called to do.
I have so much hope and optimism for other people , I can literally drag someone out of the pits of despair and love them back to life and encourage them ...but sadly I don't see hope for my life or my future. I don't even know what my dreams are or have any hobbies or friends. My time and energy for 19 years of marriage has been laying down my life so my husband can live his dream.
I am longing for a glimpse of hope but all I can see is a tired lonely affection starved intimacy deprived pastors wife...
He is happy - he is being in full time ministry and he has his space and comfort - he's quite content.
If I speak up, he talks to me like he's my "pastor" and like he's more spiritual than me and like I have issues and need help. And that I'm "needy" for desiring affection.
Only Holy Spirit can get through to a man that puts ministry above his wife...
I hope one day I won't have to work so much and be that exhausted worn out lonely Pastor's wife.

Bible study?
by: Anonymous

Are there any personal bible studies to assist in burnout of a pastors wife. No one really to talk to.

My pastor husband is a hypocrite
by: Anonymous

Glad I ran on to this site so I can vent. It is so frustrating when the church family thinks your husband is such a "wonderful" person when, in actuality, he is a huge hypocrite. He makes fun of church members behind their back and talks rudely about many of the ones with personal problems who need God's love the most. He is arrogant has been verbally abusive to my son and to me. We are currently separated.....what really bothers me is to see church members openly praise him on social media and say what a wonderful person he is when I know what he is really like. He has not separated me from God or my faith though, and never, never will. I attend a different church where I find comfort in God's love and mercy. I feel horrible about divorce but cannot stand to live with someone I no longer love nor respect.

On the edge
by: Hopeful JVA

Just told my husband that I don't want to do ministry anymore. We have been in ministry 8 years and I have held major roles: worship leader, treasurer, Sunday school teacher in addition to all the other things that keeps a church going. I missed church on Sunday and I've told him I'm taking the next two Sunday's off as well. I am also going away for a week to get my head straight. I feel physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I don't know if it's burnout or mild depression but all I know is that right now I need to get away from church (not God) but church. I have had enough. Reading the other posts is reassuring that I am not losing my mind but that there are many other pastor's wives who are experiencing this. It's a lonely road where you can't talk to anyone about it without being judged because of your position so being able to share with someone albeit anonymously has been a great help tonight

I Left
by: Anonymous

In our sixteenth year of marriage, my husband dropped several bombs on me...he was unfaithful, he married me so he could become a Pastor (not because he loved me)a, and he stayed with me to save face are just a few. A year and a half went by, and he had been out of the home, and he did not tell us where he was. But to spare his reputation with the church, I stayed in the ministry. But then he was so verbally and emotionally abusive that I couldn't take it anymore...I left the ministry. I finally took my babies and left the home we had together. My next step is filing for divorce. I refuse to live life in fear and depression any more. It has been life altering for me and the children, but with God's help we will make it through. I have felt every emotion mentioned in the other letters, and I choose life. And life more abundantly.

Pastors wife/CH admin/
by: Anonymous

After 30 yrs I've had it. I've lost my love of Church. Church has become a thorn in my side. I am at a loss. I can't do anything right. If something happens at Church it is my fault. I stress just thinking about going to service. It should be a love a joy but instead it is my heartbreak.

I'm Ready to walk away
by: Anonymous

My situation is a difficult and painful experience. My husband was called to pastor a spanish speaking strict pentecostal church. I had to change my appearance "for God to love me more". I endured a lot of church members and family members that disrespected me, (he never defended me) while trying to understand the walk with God in a foreign language. I had to endure an affair my husband had with a church member, & had to suck up how he defended the women in the church. Many of the members did not commit to the obligations & I had to fill in. I am the bookkeeper, administrator, teacher, cleaner not by choice. I filled in when my husband leaves out of town for work which is often. I have suffered depression & a suicide attempt & he was irritated by this. My health has gone downhill, yet he craves the ego stroking the women provide. I want to leave to go to another English speaking church so I can revive my walk but he says I will go against Gods will if I go. I want to hear the word, not just on YouTube. Please help me I'm praying because I am depressed.

Pastor's Wife 40+ years
by: Anonymous

I have been a pastor's wife for over 40 years. My husband just retired and probably will not go back for my sake. I have nothing else to give and not sure I will ever be involved in another church again.

A few years ago, I put on my bathing suit, went into our shower, turned on the water, sat on the floor with a razor blade contemplating cutting my wrist. I could not do it because I could not leave that type of legacy for my children and grandchildren. Other times I thought about driving my car off the road, or into a river etc. I cannot express to you the depth and intensity of the loneliness and isolation I have felt as a pastor's wife. I would never be a pastor's wife again.

Yes God has used me to minister to folks in the church, numerous times. I put on my smiling face and shared the love of Christ, witnessed to others about God's goodness and saving grace. I approached those who looked like they were having a bad day and asked how they were. Prayed with them, loved on them, hugged them and they would go away blessed. Most people could not handle it if I would share with them my own personal hurts. They did not know what to do with my pain because very few wanted to think that I had any pain.

In one church I would stand next to my husband to greet folks as they left and everyone walked past me, greeted my husband and left. I and my children were invisible to them. The pastor is most of the time not a permanent position. We have been through eleven churches in forty years. I think most church members do not want to invest in their pastor's family because they don't stick around long and are not part of the community because we have no history there. Eventually we will leave so why should they bother. They do not want to become intimately involved because they are afraid we will uncover their sin and that is too intimidating for them. We are not judgmental people. We just want to share the love of Christ. Some give us that opportunity but most do not. A few have become our prayer warriors and intimate friends who were God sent. They were/are far and few between.

If churches have pastors who are depressed, have affairs, get divorced etc. they should first look at themselves - the church, and evaluate if they are doing all they can to support the pastor and his family as much as the pastor and his family care for them. Allow them to be human!

by: Michell

I feel all that the other wives go through. I'm depressed , I wanna give up, I don't live up to the standard and expectations of the church, I sin.

But one thing that has kept me going is Philippians 1:6, "He who began a good work in me, he will complete it."

Sisters we will never be perfect, we will never please them all, but we are not man-pleasers we are to be God-pleasers. Just know that we will never be good enough for the church but yet while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Psalms 139:16, all our days were written and ordained by him before one of them came to be. The key is embracing His perfect love and approval. And constant prayers wipe out every negative thought. Love you all

Am I crazy
by: Anonymous

OK my husband is a pastor. I used to love and have a healthy fear of God, he was my everything. After being in this position for now 3 years I feel like I'm not even a believer anymore. I homeschool my son and my husband constantly tells me I'm a crappie mom, I'm useless. I don't do anything at times. I just feel like I'm going crazy. I even look at other men and really want them. I honestly feel I don't like who he has become and who I have become. Oh gosh please, what is this?

Ministers Family Burnout
by: Minister Wife

My husband has been in the ministry for nearly 30 years of our almost 32 year marriage off and on. I am at the point where I almost want to give up on our marriage and leave. He never took seriously all the hurt, and the burn out and the load as his wife that I had to carry. I use to be a vibrant loving person who love The Lord Dearly since I was a young child. But no one prepared me for what was to come with ministry. I even vowed not to marry a minister, because I knew a little bit about the struggles, but not fully. I had no clue that people were going to be so unreasonable, and unloving. There were a lot of wonderful people that loved The Lord, but not enough to save us from having to leave without having something else lined up.

I became so depressed, and ill that I didn't want to get out of bed most of the time. The expectations were so high, and so demanding, and if I didn't do what they expected of me, they would not speak to me, so I began to isolate myself, & cry. Sundays were a day that I always looked forward to growing up, but when my husband began preaching, and we began to go through struggles, it became a day that I hated to see coming. Not that I didn't want to Worship Our Heavenly Father, I just hated the way people treated me. So I would try to put on a fake happy face, and couldn't wait until I could get out of there after services were over.

I pray for other ministers wives. I still suffer with depression, and I do my best, but every Saturday evening the devil works on me without fail with thoughts of not wanting to go to Worship.

I feel so sad, because GOD has been so good to me and my family inspite of what has happened to us.

Burnout Sucks!
by: Anonymous

I have been a Pastor's wife for 20+ years & the last 5 or so have been life draining. I feel awful for feeling this way & feel bad for my husband who loves God & His word. I feel guilty about my feelings but can't hardly hide it. I don't want to attend or sing at our church anymore, and I feel like I let my husband down a lot. We have no one in our congregation anymore that are the Pastors support, everyone now only talks about their problems. My husband I think is at this point also but secular jobs at 50+ are not easy to come by!! Sometimes I don't even want to tell those I meet I'm a Pastors wife because without fail, the real person clams up & we're given what they think we want to hear.....just weary!!

Thank You
by: Anonymous

Thank you for the honesty. My husband and I have been in full-time ministry for our entire marriage (33 years). We are currently in our 10th year of pastoring a small church (about 80-120, depending on the week). We are both burned out, but I struggle more with depression. Walking in the door on Sunday requires more inner strength than I like to admit. I'm ready to run, exit the ministry forever. The problem is that we didn't plan well for an exit and it is taking much longer than we hoped. We don't want to leave the area because our children and grandchildren live here. So I feel stuck. I also feel bad for the church. They deserve a fresh pastor, full of vision and energy. But if we resign before finding another position, we will bury ourselves financially.

So my advice to young ministry couples is this: plan ahead for your exit. Don't paint yourself into a corner. Then, if you are thriving - great! But if you aren't, you will be able to make the change you so desperately need.

Small Town Pastoring
by: 29 and Holding

For twenty nine years I have experienced much of
what I have read, so I can relate;being pushed be-
hind ministry first, kids second, church members who
put you down for what all you do not do good enough (even though they know nothing of how you feel mentally or physically,even being so ill that you drag yourself too work just so you can keep that small needed paycheck and PRECIOUS health insurance). Another issue I have faced is leaving my home to live in small towns where everyone is related, grew up together, their kids grew up together, they work together.....Long story short, "we" are called here but outside the church, Either I cannot find work, find "revolving door jobs", or even cleaned houses to make ends meet. I am unable to do this now. So many times over the years while everyone is employed with health insurance, I suffer
and pray and wait. I s suppose it has been one of the hardest things, well that and lonliness. You have "a roster of "friends", great people who love you. But yet, you cannot truly "be your self". In closing life for the pastor at a church/new church, just nothing for you.

by: Senior Pastor's Wife

Be understanding to your wife. I have also struggled with depression as a Pastor's wife. It is a very hard job, people have such high expectations of us and think we have all of the answers. Also it's hard to have our own life because people in the church are selfish and think it's all about them and most church people really don't care what we are going through. Not everyone but most. Sometimes I just want to stay at home and not talk to anyone, but I have to put my big girl panties on and go to four Sunday morning services a week and smile and act like everything is ok even though I may be on the verge of "losing it". I cannot tell you how many Sunday mornings I go to the bathroom and lock myself in a stall and just cry.

My advice be there for your wife tell her how much you appreciate her. Try to protect her as much as you can from people that will try to drain her or complain to her about anything and everything. Also take at least one day a week just for her and pamper her.

Wife's Depression
by: E. Levesque

Dear Pastor:

Glad to hear the good news. Often I post some response and I never know what happened. Thanks for letting us know you are doing better. I really care about the pastors on this forum. I pastored for 25 years and then retired. I have been through it all. I am still healing 5 years later from retirement. I know what everyone is going through. Blessings and Prayers. Liz+

by: Anonymous

I want to thank all of you for your input. I think its good to come back and give testimonies of how God can and does work in the lives and marriages of his children. My wife and I went to counseling and we were able to work through problems that were plaguing us. I thought she was depressed and her only, I was functionally depressed and covering manu of my real feelings. I was carryoing the shame of some bad decisions that some family member had made and I was projecting that on my wife. I did not know that she was feeling my pain. When we spoke to the dr he was able to unveil the underlying issues and I was free. I then truly began opeing up to my wife and she did too. 3 months later we are whole and happy as we were beofre all of this mess started. I recomend counseling for pastors, sometimes we just need to dump and talk and share.

The Father will show you how to love your wife
by: Anonymous

Your Heavenly Father first; family second; ministry third.

Pastors are tempted to believe the first and third are the same. They are not. Ministry is a DISTANT 3rd.

Stay close to the Father. He will show you how to care for your family. Then you will be able to lead the congregation in the most important way of all: by example.

God bless you, brother.

Wife's Depression
by: Liz Levesque

i am glad you are both going to counseling. When a wife is depressed and doesn't want to pray it is not just her problem. It is both your problems. Church work is so very draining. And, people do burn out after a time in church work and want to do something different. They just do. I know that after 25 years I just wanted to do something different than being a pastor or pastor's wife. So, I did. There is a lot of pressure to "be" something in church circles. People are always talking about "calling" as if "desire" is wrong. I don't know your situation but I stopped going to church for about 3 years. I had no duties, didn't attend, slept, ate healthy meals, listened to my own heart, went for walks, reconnected with my children and family, took art classes and just started thinking about what I wanted to do for a change. As I slept and rested, I started to reconnect with the sound of my own heartbeat and began to see my shredded soul heal, with myself and with my children. I thought about who I really wanted to be "there" for and I made a list: me, husband, children, grandchildren and a few others. My congregation wasn't even on the list. Oh, I cared for some people there but not at my own expense. Ministry was one crisis after another and we were always in some kind of "crisis mode". Always available for for others to the dire neglect of both our own hearts and minds. I started listening to my own needs as a woman and mother and grandmother. I realized that all the needy people in the congregation were adults and could take care of themselves. Once I decided I would no longer be available to solve this or that crisis, but admit the crisis in my own life, then I freed myself up to admit I did have a crisis, and that it was okay for me to attend to my own health and happiness. Church work no longer made me happy or fulfilled. In fact, I had to admit, it made me miserable. I have since found other wonderful things to do. I live far away from the church we used to pastor in. We are just attenders now. We work, laugh, talk, take walks and have a much better life. I wish you and your wife blessings. She may need to step out of ministry for awhile or permanently to regain her joy and happiness. It won't have anything to do with fulfilling her calling or being saved. She may just be burnt out on church work and need to do something else with her life. I know I was burnt out. Attending to her own heart, health and happiness will be wonderful for her. It may leave you feeling without a partner but her health and well being are at stake. Depression is a serious thing. I hope she can take as much time off as she wants to reconnect with her own soul. Blessings. Liz+

Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your honesty. I surely love my wife and want our marriage to work. I believe that there is a balance that is outlined in the Word of God. We have been doing some very serious talking and breakthrough is happening slowly. I'm a huge family advocate, I never miss games, performances, and we keep a date night weekly for 15 years running. I've invested in my marriage and the congregation knows that my family comes first because i have stated it publicly. However maybe my words need to translate into more action. I'm very greatful for your feedback. It is very helpful. SHe beins counseling with a counselor to pastors and pastors wives next week.

Wife's Depression
by: Liz Levesque

Dear Pastor,

I was a pastor's wife for 25 years. You say you pastor in 2 locations for 7 years with a large congregation. You also say your wife does not want to pray. I will tell you honestly what I experienced over a period of 25 years. I saw my husband stand up in a pulpit full of vim, vip and vigor for his congregation while the man at home was unavailable and withdrew into his bedroom and laptop. My husband was "turned on" and lit up like a light bulb when we entered the building. It was his job. He was paid to do it and he loved it. It massaged his ego big time and he was constantly praised, fawned over, by both women and men. However, as his wife, I was a blip. Barely noticed. In his shadow. I took care of children or did ladies meetings. He got all the praise and attention. I got polite nods. At home he was so exhausted I did everything with the kids. This is how it went for 25 years. I gained 125 pounds over this experience. Our marriage survived because I told him, "the pastorate or me and the family." He quit the pastorate and got a secular job. That is why we are still married. Your wife needs your love, affection, attention and deserves so much more than you are giving her. You are probably "married " to your congregation. She comes 2nd or 3rd or somewhere down the line. She thought you would put her first but you don't. She is in the backseat and she should be in the front seat. No woman wants to play second fiddle. I don't know what you are going to do about your congregation but if you don't put your wife first and your marriage first you aren't going to have a marriage. No woman should have to watch her husband "make love" to his congregation. It amounts to infidelity. Better put her first and delegate a bunch of stuff to your staff. My marriage survived because we left the pastorate. Our children are another matter. WE are still trying to repair their broken and neglected souls and hearts. We gave way too much to the church and not enough to ourselves. We are both 53 years old trying to repair our relationship. We are both classic co-dependents with a Messiah complex. We thought we could "save" people. We thought we could help people. We went down and down and down because of it. Nothing in our personal relationship bank. The needs of our congregations sucked us dry of the needed energy to live our own life together and do the things we wanted to do. I know my husband meant well but i was so diminished as a person in these churches. The politics and fighting and the mean people just ate me alive. It has been 4 years since we got out of full time ministry. We are still recovering. I don't know if this helps. I hope it does. Put your wife and marriage and family first. Somehow. Blessings.+ Liz+

by: Anonymous

Thank you.

Your Beloved Comes Before the Congregation
by: Rev. Dr. Karl Galik

The pastoral counseling and increased time of devotion are a great start to a reorientation of your lifestyle. Rather than only examining her depression as an illness to be treated, consider the necessary and larger refocus of your relationships to work, her, family and even your self.
Without any knowledge of specifics or any larger context, I am concerned that her depression caught you off guard. This may be an opportunity to review your time and emotional investments and adjust accordingly.


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