Terror in the Parsonage
I married a pastor. After 7 years of his alcoholic binges, and his horrible verbal abuse of my daughters (he was their stepfather), I left him and got a divorce. I know divorce is not an option in the Bible. but I didn’t know what to do, and couldn’t talk to anyone about what we were going through. I know I’m forgiving through the shed blood of Jesus. He knows what I have gone through. He knows I did everything I could at that time in my life to save our marriage. My husband refused to seek counsel from any pastor. He said it was no one’s business. I still feel guilt from time to time. I still wonder if I stayed, if he would have changed. The emotional scars left on my four daughters is what keeps me from dwelling on the past. I pray for all those women out there who have married a godly man, that does not carry out that godliness in his own home. I wish there was something I could do to help your ministry.
Former Pastor’s Wife
Dear Former Pastor’s Wife,
First of all I don’t believe your husband was a “godly man”. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. a Pharisee. He preached from the Bible but did not know the Bible in his heart. His heart is hard and not open to looking at himself nor willing to be held accountable. As a pastor, I believe God will hold him more accountable because of his actions toward you and your girls plus the deception he portrayed to his congregation.
You are not responsible for him changing. That is his responsibility. Consequences have to be given to show something is wrong. If you stayed longer you would see more damage to yourself and your daughters. It took a great deal of courage to leave the situation.
i would love to talk to you pastor’s wife, you are awesome. thanks for sharing, that was very brave of you.
Dear Former Pastor’s Wife;
I too am a former Pastor’s Wife. I am SO Sorry to hear what you’ve gone through. I too was married to a Pastor for 30 yrs. The deception of “being a Godly man” in public then being ungodly & violent in private was SO Hard. Even though he’s now divorced me, and some things are better, there is so much difficulty still in my life on a day to day basis. Today I was SO Depressed & felt very alone. Focus Ministries has been a Blessing to me – a place I can go to remind myself that I truly did all I could do, and that I am not alone. I feel like Satan attacks me so hard on days like today – bringing up all the old recordings in my head. During times like this I usually hear myself thinking, “I should be better by now”, which I’ve been told by many people who also say, “well, just move on”. If I could do it, I certainly would have by now, it feels like picking up 10 pianos. Well, thanks Ladies for being there and providing a place for me to belong at 11pm when I’m feeling all alone in the world, and for Praying – I could use it today. On one of my stronger days I’ll Pray for You.
Though I did not marry a pastor, I do know what it means to live in terror and to be told by a pastor, “Unless you are in mortal danger, you should remain with your husband.” I was never told what “mortal danger” was but I internalized that somehow I had failed God and was plunged into the deepest, darkest spiritual depression I’ve ever known.
Heather and Laurie, I can identify so much with you. I didn’t marry a pastor either, but we were both committed church-goers, and I never ever thought of a divorce, mainly because we were taught that divorce was never an option. When things escalated and the children were hurt, I was still hesitant, especially when my minister told me that separation was not the answer because it was one step away from divorce. In the end, I did my own research, and am at peace that if Jesus was here, He would sanction divorce over an abusive marriage.
I still don’t feel safe, because he is still abusing me through my church friends and my children, but I am hanging in there, getting support from the few who understand. I dread not going to church, but it’s hard to find one with pastors who understand what victims go through.
Carla- I will pray you find a church you belong to. I am in the process of being separated from my 2nd husband and since our separation I am seeing how emotionally abusive he was to me, my sons and unfortunately my stepdaughters who I only get to see occassionally. Does your husband still go to your home church? I am attending my church in the evenings so he can go in the mornings because of a temporary order of protection, do you think he has gone? no. I found another church to go to in the AM. I encourage you to find a church where you feel safe to worship with God and maybe a friend could go with you to a new church. I see that one of my greatest blessings is I have some amazing friends who attend church with me and let me know that it is between me and God whatever I choose to do to get safe. My church, although confused about reconciliation at times, is supportive to me as a person and I have not felt judged in any way. I believe God is leading me to a ministry of educating my local churches with the information I have found on this website so that more women are not guilted into reconciliation before true repentence. Especially when I read this blog, we are often already beating ourselves up because we love our husbands and want to honor God but no matter what we’ve done we cannot force our husbands to take responsiblity for themselves. Thank you to all you women for sharing your stories. It is giving me strength to protect my sons and I and stand firm where I feel God is leading me.
During the time my children and I were in a secular DV shelter, God blessed me with a wonderful case manager who happened to be a fellow believer. She understood spiritual abuse and was able to explain it to other case managers who kept describing our family as “different”, i.e. ‘Why are you here?’.
The Lord had to remind me constantly why we’d left because I began to second-guess every decision I’d made. Satan got a lot of mileage out of minimizing the emotional/verbal/spiritual abuse we’d suffered and maximizing guilt and doubts about the separation.
During this time, my case manager said three things that resonated in my spirit and spurred me onward: 1. Stop stagnating and looking across the divide to see what he is doing before you do anything proactive regarding you and your children. 2. Ask God why, after nearly 2 decades of praying and staying, He moved you instead of changing your husband. 3.We have to be willing to allow God to teach us His precepts; it isn’t enough to know scriptures-you must understand the intent behind the words and the heart of the Speaker. The “mean and surly” and “revilers” don’t get happy endings without repentance. (See Nabal in 1 Samuel 25 and the list of those who cannot inherit the kingdom of God in I Corinthians 6: 9-10.)
Finally, just because we as women have at times sinned in our marriages does not mean that we should “call it even” and go back to live in fear and dread of the men we love. Love you all & sorry for the lengthy post.
I married my husband who was a Pastor after dating for only six months. I had seen him minister on several occasions and we even ministered together. I was truly impressed with the godly example he set and how his followers respected him. However, the problems started on our honeymoon with him ministering to someone at 5:30 in the morning while lying in the bed beside me. To make a long story short my husband did not speak to me for the last two days of my honeymoon, and when we returned home spent two days away sleeping in his apartment. Things only continued to get worst, as my husband refused to share with me his work schedule calling me controlling, would spend his days off visiting his friends and come home just in time to go to sleep before having to go to his night job. He complained often of the volunteer work outside of the home because he felt that I should want to stay home with him instead. As long as I climbed back in bed after dropping the kids off at school or did my work sitting in the rocking chair near the bed while he slept we were okay. However, if I wasn’t home within 45 minutes he was calling me to see where I was. It wasn’t long before I was accused of cheating on him. Even with people from other states!
I asked him several times about marital counseling and to seek help from his spiritual leaders. Although he said that he would, he made no effort to do so. On the day that I asked him to leave, my husband resorted to name calling, and even called the police to tell them I had threatened his life. As I also someone who has a violent past, this was probably the worst thing he could have done to me. The police did question me but, I thank God they let me leave the home. Hours later, I found the knife that he had placed in my purse.
While I only put up with it for three months, after being single for almost 14 years, a minister to Christian singles, and an author of several books on Christian Dating and Healthy Relationships, I have definitely lost confidence in myself. I have not said much to anyone because he is pastor. I feel like I am suffering in silence. So right now I am in a four bedroom house that he insisted that we get, I am unemployed and unable to get a job because I am an ex-con (even though it was 33 years ago), trying to start the business that he would not let me work on; have maxed out credit cards as a result of a honeymoon that he refuses to help me with; and with no savings left because I had to spend it to make up for the financial situation he placed us in. I just need to connect with people who understand, it is the secrecy which is hurting me the most.
I am married to a pastor. He is unexplainable, to say the least. He is a perfect example to the people at his church and is so loving. However, he is different at home. He gets upset for reasons, sometimes, unknown to me. He has made my life hell but is unable to see himself. He believes that I have put him through hell. He has no patience with me and is extremely mean/nasty. I never knew a man of God could be so horrible. I have been through so much. I can’t believe it. The pain is excruciating because I honestly waited on God to marry him…God told me to marry him. We grew up together. Everyone thinks he is an angel. I know a different side of him. He can be nice and loving at times but when someone else’s behavior upsets him, he takes it out on me. I never knew a man of God could cause your soul to be in jeopardy. I am saying this because I have hated and despised him for hurting me over trivial things.