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Survey: Being a Pastor’s Wife Is Good for Faith, Bad for Friendship

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Though expectations have shifted, spouses still feel the weight of church drama.

Today’s generation of pastors’ wives fill a different role than the dressed-up, casserole-toting caricature that came before them, but they still feel the pressures of being married to ministry.

About 1 in 4 Protestant pastors’ spouses in the United States works a full-time job outside the church, while about 1 in 5 holds a paid position at church alongside their spouse, according to a LifeWay Research survey released Tuesday.

Younger spouses expressed more frustration than older ones over how their position impacts their friendships and finances. About 7 out of 10 pastors’ spouses say they have few people to confide in, LifeWay researchers found. More than half don’t feel enough emotional connection to others, or worry about being betrayed by people at church.

“Over the decades of my ministry, the role of women married to pastors, as well as of women in general, has radically evolved,” wrote Kay Warren, who advised LifeWay on its questionnaire, in the preface to her book on being a pastor’s wife, Sacred Privilege, which came out in May (excerpted here).

“From behind-the-scenes, mostly-in-the-home pastors’ wives of my mother’s generation to women copastoring or serving as the senior pastor—as well as everything in between—the role of the pastor’s wife has not remained static.”

Warren, wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, dismissed old advice on tuna casserole preparation or demure fashion as laughable compared to the real-world stressors experienced on this side of ministry.

Younger wives (96% of respondents were female) indicated more challenges in building relationships, facing church conflict, and dealing with the feeling of “living …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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