Why Do Some Pastors’ Wives Misbehave?

Posted by | February 15, 2016 | Identity, Loneliness, Pastors' Wives | 3 Comments
Sad woman staring down

By Ellen Stumbo

Someone googled, “Why do some pastor’s wives misbehave” and they found my blog, so I figured I should address a possible why. (And is google trying to tell me something?)

Pastor’s wives misbehave because they are as human as the rest of humanity. Nobody in ministry is exempt from sinful nature.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Pastor’s wives struggle with the same issues all women do.

Sometimes, pastor’s wives fight depression and anxiety like their neighbor does (and it is hard enough to talk about mental health issues within the church, if you are the pastor’s wife you exponentially increase the pressure to be “perfect.”  It’s not easy).

Sometimes, pastor’s wives have to fight for their marriage like so many other married couples do.

Sometimes, pastors wives have to fight greed or bitterness.

Sometimes, pastor’s wives feel alone.

Sometimes, pastor’s wives have had enough from the church, feeling the pressure of high standards and expectations, feeling scrutinized in every move, feeling like the microscope is on them on how they parent, how they keep their home, how many Bible studies they lead, or how many women’s prayer groups they are a part of.

Sometimes, pastor’s wives wish they had true friends at their church, someone that sees them as a peer, and not just “the pastor’s wife.”

I cannot speak for any other pastor’s wife except for me, but I do know what it feels like to feel overwhelmed in ministry. I know what it feels like to want to give up and walk away from the Church.

I am thankful I am married to a man who puts God first, then his family, then his job. There are many “emergencies” that happen within a congregation, but we are his priority. I have never felt abandoned by my husband, or like I am a single parent, or like he is emotionally present to others but not to our family. This is a hard thing to do when you pastor a church, and I hope you understand that, because many people could look at my husband and think he is not doing enough at church. There are some high and unrealistic expectations for those in ministry, and I want you to know that many, many pastor’s families drown under that pressure.

Why someone “misbehaves” is as personal and unique as the circumstances that caused them to make that choice.

Perhaps they felt like they did not matter.

Perhaps they felt their husband was not present at home because he was too involved in the church.

Perhaps they are under a lot of stress.

Perhaps they felt at the end of their rope.

Being in ministry is a privilege and a beautiful thing, but it is also brutally hard!

Pastor’s wives are women, with the same needs, fears, and insecurities as most other women. They are NOT holier, they do NOT hold a higher place of communion with God, and they WILL mess up.

Life is messy, we are all broken people, we all desperately need God.

Ellen Stumbo is a pastor’s wife, and she writes about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. She is passionate about sharing the real—sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly – aspects of faith, parenting, special needs, and adoption. For more blogs from Ellen, visit www.ellenstumbo.com

About Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for 40 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.


  • star says:

    I thank you as well for your blog. Yes, I am human just like them although I am not always treated with love and care. I can’t thank Christ enough for holding me close. I thank my beautiful husband for his love and support. I wonder if the roles were reversed would they have asked that question? I, too, appreciate the author’s transparency.)

  • Trudy says:

    Thanks for sharing Rodetta. This is a very thought provoking post, I appreciate the author’s transparency. I am very grateful for this ministry and the encouragement it gives me.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for your blog. Sometimes I feel very overwhelmed like this week. It is nice to know that I am not alone and not the only pastor’s wife that has felt this way. God bless you and thank you for writing your blogs. They are truly helpful!

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