A minister's wife is absolutely the LAST person you would ever suspect was being abused.
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Articles by Patricia Jones, M.A.
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"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight." (Isaiah 5:20-21)
Women are battered every 30 seconds in this country physically, mentally, verbally and emotionally. And after years of enduring the abuse and hoping for a miracle, some of them are killed or they end up killing the abuser. But the absolute LAST woman one would ever think would find herself in an abusive situation would be the minister's wife. Not only is she regarded as a "saint" but even more so, her husband is considered "perfect" in the eyes of his congregation, and societ.
But the real truth is there are many minister's wives who are being beaten, abused, and treated like scum by their pastor husbands and who are enduring a silent "hell" because to expose him would mean ruining his career, his ministry and destroy the faith of a congregation.
How does one explain that the man who preaches to them every Sunday about love, peace, joy, patience, endurance, family, children, and all the other morals of society that we seek to emulate, comes down out of that pulpit and goes home and beats his wife? Actually turns into a "monster?"
Hard to believe, but it is happening as I write these words. Because there are ministers out there who are Psychopaths, wolves in sheep's clothing that the Bible warns us about. Pretending to be one thing, but they are actually just the opposite. See my article on "Do you live with a Psychopath?"
It starts out very subtle. Most minister's wives have supported their minister husbands through seminary, maybe even worked to put him through seminary, dutifully listened to him practice his sermons on her at home, worn the "many hats" that the congregation places on her head, like choir director, Sunday school teacher, youth director, secretary, President of the women's society, entertained the parsonage committee, headed up Vacation Bible School, etc.
And through all of this, she is being called ugly names by her minister husband, like "fat", "ugly", "stupid", etc. She could be being kicked, slapped, shoved, thrown, punched, had her life threatened, etc. all of this and more at home, behind the closed doors of the parsonage, and no one would ever know. Because they look like such a happy family at church.
She herself is having a hard time believing that this man who she loves, and who preaches God's love, would hate and slowly destroy his wife. This is not what she thought being married to a minister was all about. And because she is very spiritual herself, and may even be a great student of the Bible, she believes that if she just tries harder, there would be nothing for her husband to complain about.
How does one endure a beating on a Saturday night and then get up on Sunday morning, get the children ready and then show up and sit in the front pew, right in front of the person who beat her, with a smile on her face, and have to listen to him preach his sermon on "How to love your wife?" When the reality is he just threw her down the kitchen stairs the night before?
How does she show up at all the hundreds of church functions acting as if nothing is happening? Does she wear long sleeves to hide her bruises? Does she show up in a neck brace one Sunday because her pastor husband threw her into a wall, but tell the congregation that her dog pulled her off her front porch?
Does she pray to God every night to help her to become more attractive to her husband? Or more submissive? Or does she ask God to change her husband?
Does she worry about what the congregation would do if she told them, at the same time realizing that they might not believe her?
Just exactly HOW does she sit in that front pew, smiling, responding to the sermon or the little jokes that her husband makes about her in the Sunday service, and not vomit as he reads beautiful scriptures about LOVE?
And what about the children? Do they witness their mother being abused, and then are they told to keep quiet about things? Do they have to "smile right along with her in church? Does she know that one day he will abuse the children as well if not already? Does she see that the children are becoming very cynical about a God who does nothing about changing their father? Just exactly what are they learning about God anyway?
And what does she do when her minister husband openly flirts with the women in the church and compliments them on how pretty they look, right in front of her, and then goes home and tells his wife that she is fat and ugly, even if it is not true?
And what does she do when she knows the community and the congregation will probably not believe her and rally around the minister? And how about the fact that if she goes to the District Superintendent or the church hierarchy and they don't believe her?
Well, there comes a point when enough is enough. That time comes differently for different women, but sooner or later he will do the one last thing that breaks the final straw. That is when she ceases to be afraid of him. When protecting the children becomes more important than protecting his job, or the congregation's opinion of him. She realizes that "The pain of staying the same becomes worse than the pain of making a change in her life." And she comes to the point where his hypocrisy is more than she can defend or bare.
Does she get to the point where she hates him, and it makes her sick to hear him preaching from the pulpit all these platitudes as if he actually believed or knew what they meant, and she wishes he would die, or get in an accident, or never ever come home again? Has she several times almost called up the district superintendent, or the bishop to tell them what he is doing to her, and then realized that they probably won't believe her, but they will support him?
Does she get angry at God for allowing this to happen? Does she question God's ability to protect her and her children? Or does she build up tremendous resentment towards God? Each minister's wife will have her own story to tell. Is her husband good looking, charming, have a real gift for gab, but is he the biggest hypocrite that ever lived, yet all the people in the congregation just LOVE him?
And how hard is it to open in the mail all those "thank you" cards from various members of the congregation writing beautiful words of gratitude and compliments to your husband about what a wonderful man he is, and how they could "not have made it through the funeral, or the wedding, or the accident or some other crisis without him?
Especially the little old ladies whose husbands he buried, and how about the brides he married, and the babies he baptized? It all seems so unbelievable that it has turned out like this doesn't it? This man, who you believed in and loved deeply has now become your worst enemy. You are afraid he may actually kill you one day, because he has already threatened to.
Well take hope .... it can be done ..... God will do it for you if you can't. He will get you OUT of that marriage with your soul and your children intact. But YOU must "let go" of the dream that your husband will ever change, or it is your fault, or you are too fat, or too thin, or not a good mother, etc. and all the other names he can think up. Men who batter women are sick. Their problems have nothing to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with their childhood, their relationship with their parents, especially their mothers, and most importantly their relationship with God. YOU CANNOT FIX THEM.
And more importantly, if you have a good relationship with God, hiding your husband's abuse is as hypocritical as his hiding his abuse of you. You are not doing your children or the congregation any favors by allowing this to continue. Even if your husband has helped people in the church what do you think they would think if they knew that the man who married them, for example ALSO beats you? Would you want that type of minister to officiate at your wedding, your funeral, baptize your baby?
SOMEONE in the clergy family HAS to be HONEST for your sake, for the sake of your children, who are being abused everyday by having to sit and watch this "lie" that is in your home, and your marriage, and it is also giving them the WRONG idea of who God is.
If you need help sorting through all of this and/or courage to get out of the situation, please do not hesitate to contact me. I know, I have been there. You may receive counseling from Patricia Jones, M.A. via Email Counseling or Phone Counseling Sessions at discounted counseling rates. Please see below:
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