When I’m talking to a pastor who has accepted a new position, after I hear the excitement in his voice of what he sees God doing, I almost always ask the same question:
“How is your wife dealing with the change?”
There is usually a pause, followed by an “um” of some sort, then a statement such as, “She’s doing okay.”
Push a little more (which I usually do) and I’ll hear something like:
“It’s been harder on her than I thought it would be.” Or, “I don’t understand why she’s not as excited as I am. She agreed this was what God had for us.”
Many times, when the pastor is honest, the transition hasn’t gone as well for the spouse as for the pastor. It will come in time, but for now, she’s not as excited about the change in positions as he is.
Why is that?
I like to encourage pastors to remember their spouse’s emotions in the process of transition. The new pastor has found his center of gravity and purpose. Most likely the spouse will feel a sense of loss and have to look for hers.
You, the pastor, when you come home at the end of a long day, have something exciting to share every time. Things are moving, changing, challenging you daily. Even on days when things aren’t going well, you have drama in your day that you can’t wait to share.
Many times, right now, her days look the same.
You come home pumped about what God is doing, so naturally you share your enthusiasm with the one you care to share with the most: your partner in life and ministry.
But if you’re not conscious of her emotions, depending on her state of mind, she may hear, “My life is exciting. Yours is boring.” Or worse, “My life has meaning. Your life has none.”
Granted, you are not thinking those things and would never want her to think those things, but emotions are high in times of transition. Don’t be surprised if they produce irrational thoughts and actions at times. That’s part of change.
She has moved away from friends and has to learn who to trust again. She is often more relationship-centered emotionally, so her heart transitions slower. The roles she held in the church or community haven’t been replaced yet.
You’ve moved forward in your career and passions. Many times hers took a step backward. Or seem to have for now. That will change in time, and she probably knows that intellectually, but emotionally she feels a sense of loss that will take time to replace with a sense of purpose equal to yours.
She is your partner, so she’s excited for you, but remember she is an individual person with individual needs for a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
What has been your experience? Did you have a harder time in a season of transition than your spouse did?