As I have been assisting Rachel with research into what affects the life and health of clergy families, I have read many articles. Some very boring, some overly optimistic (in a terrified sort of way), some bitter, and some filled with hurt. Then there are some that are just all class. I’ve chosen to feature the article by Dr Paddy Ducklow about marriage and ministry depression because it has the most thorough understanding of clergy marriages and the way ministry can affect them that I’ve seen yet.
I don’t want to spend time re-writing his article, so here are a few quotes and my thoughts on some of the topics it covers:
- “Spiritualised Adultery” Yep, it got my attention as well. There is a trend among many spouses of ministers that they feel there is ‘another woman’ who is not a person at all, but the church their spouses spend hours listening to, caring for, and thinking of. Ducklow summarises it as “the pastor loving his work more than the domestic life” and discusses why this may happen and what the effects might be.
- “Role Confusion” Many spouses of clergy feel that they are the ‘Auxiliary Clergy’, who the church ‘gets’ when the pastor arrives, and who will ‘of course’ take up any roles they see decide. What a pressure on clergy spouses! The confusion comes when the spouses’ gifts and the roles they are expected to fill do not match.
- “The Friendlessness of Ministry” One of the main themes that has come from this research is the loneliness of clergy spouses. If the main community is the one that seeks direction and inspiration from their spouse, is this a safe place to meet and keep friends in? The politics and varying motivations of congregation members can cause a real strain on both individuals, and their relationship.
That’s a few of the topics that this article covers. I encourage you to read it if you want to better understand what affects clergy marriages and read some sound suggestions about how to enrich them.