Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"this world first felt unusual to me, but now it feels natural and how it's supposed to be": the beautiful & the difficult after ordination for clergy wives



After your husband was ordained or entered seminary, how was your life positively impacted? (more than 1 response possible)
 strengthening of marriage- 37.50%
interaction with parishioners- 31.25%
positive impact for children- 12.50%
ministry gives life deep meaning- 43.75%
knowledge that I am doing important work- 68.75%
my spiritual life is deeper- 37.50%
-I finally found a spiritual director for myself
-fear is less overwhelming.

After your husband was ordained or entered seminary, how was your life negatively impacted?
 marital or parenting difficulties- 43.75%
separation or divorce- 0.00%
health/stress problems- 43.75%
financial hardships- 37.50%
crisis or loss of faith- 12.50%
Isolation- 68.75%
-Less family time
-other spiritual attacks
-lack of support from the Bishop; no support for ordained clergy from other ordained clergy in terms of advice or direction
-After his ordination, I realized that I could never truly have close friendships at church again. I am now "the deacon's wife" and parishioners view me differently. The ones that I am close to, I still have to be guarded that I don't share something I wasn't supposed to or cause scandal by gossiping (I know you shouldn't anyways, but the burden is greater!)
-stress in seminary was so bad I ended up in the hospital with stress related illness. I feel like a single parent.

If you knew then what you know now, would you still marry a man who was also called to Church ministry?
 --- I am very glad he has been able to fulfill his call to church ministry and we have been financially blessed. I wish we had more time together as family and really miss family vacation time.
--- I would absolutely marry him again (and again!). I always say "I married the man, not the vocation/job". I am blessed to have a husband who sees his vocation as a priest-to-be as being equal to his vocation as a husband and father. :)
--- It will sound odd. Isolation and loneliness for me could be considered both positive and negative. I grew up in a warm, loving family. I was never alone, always surrounded by parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. After I married my husband, due to the nature of his work, he was away all day. I was left alone with a young son and an overwhelmingly difficult job. I work for the university, but I don't teach that many hours a week. I spend most of my time doing research, reading and writing, so I can work from home. Loneliness got to my bones. At first, I was utterly miserable, but in time I understood it was a lesson from God. This is how He taught me about independence. I am a completely changed person now. I value the fact that I spend enough time alone - actually, not alone, but just myself and God - and by that - I stay away from all the negative things that permanent socializing brings to a person. I have time to read and think and pray. I live in a city and outside the walls of my little house it's madness. As for the positive impact... I have to say, the most important thing would be meeting people I look up to, people who are models of goodness, generosity and love. All the people I admire most come from the Church, so there must be something there. :-) I thank God and my husband for introducing me to this world that at first felt unusual to me, populated with people that seemed to come from a different era, but now it feels natural and how it's supposed to be.
--- Separation has been difficult. Loss of income has necessitated sale of home, subsequent downsizing, and second job to supplement income - all while husband is away at seminary. Also two grandchildren born while husband has been away.
--- Positives: - Seeing my husband's joy in serving the Church, celebrating the liturgy and other sacraments, it is so clear that he is where he was meant to be. This is the big one. - People have been incredibly kind and welcoming to us. We recently moved for my job, so he is currently a supply priest and helps out at the local parish when not needed elsewhere, and we have been welcomed with open arms. My kids get so much love :-) - The absolute best was when my husband baptized our daughter. Amazing. - We are Orthodox, so contempt for married clergy is not an issue. Negatives: - We have virtually no time as a family, I work a regular full time office job because I am still the main breadwinner, and before we moved my husband worked 7 days a week. It's not as bad since we moved, but once he has a parish it will be awful again. That said, I should be able to cut back on work once he has a parish assignment, so that will help. - It is incredibly hard to go to Church by myself with two very active kids - we only have one car so this compounds the problem since we either have to all go really early or I stay home. And forget Holy Week or other special services. - I worry that my kids will hate the Church because Papa is gone so much. - It's lonely and no one really gets it. - Seeing the hierarchy up close and personal can try your faith... I would absolutely still marry my husband despite his call to the priesthood. Not because I like being a Presvytera (I don't), but because he's worth it.
--- Yes, I have a good and wonderful life. I have been able to see and grow in different ways then I would have. GOD IS FAITHFUL ALL THE TIME. I have lived it.
--- I have some distance and experience now, and I know wholeheartedly that this was the right path for us. In the beginning, I suffered depression and God allowed me to be tested in various ways. Sometimes I still feel isolated. But I have an incredible husband who nurtures my emotional and psychological health and a merciful God who leads people into my life to support me. I am part of an incredible community, and I couldn't be more grateful for the miracles I get to witness.
--- Yes, I would do it again, but wish I'd been wiser in the beginning. :-)
--- I married my husband and would still marry him regardless of his vocation because I love him. We share the same values and goals, we complement eschewed other gifts. The church and world are a better place because of his ministry and of who he is.
--- I honestly don't know what I would do.
--- My husband was always interested in outside activities; his ministry has made it too easy for him to justify busy-ness that takes him away from family. Unfortunately, this often leaves me feeling abandoned & the children more or less ignored by him ... realistically, I think this may have happened eventually anyhow b/c of his personality / temperament. But who knows.
--- My husband is an amazing, holy and wise man. I have literally seen the grace received at his ordination transform him into an inspirational man of God. In the hard times, that gives me peace. I have also seen God pour out blessings on us after he was ordained. I know that this is God's plan for my husband and I continue to support him as he prepares for the priesthood. That being said, his calling is harder than I ever imagined. I feel alone and jealous at times of the attention the church and parishioners receive from him. I feel like he has "secrets" from me when he knows church business that I do not. (Though in truth, I know it's better for me not to know or be bothered with most of it!) Sometimes I really wish he could help me more with the kids on Sundays. And or parish is so small, I do get pulled into a lot of projects! All that being said, I would marry my husband again in a heartbeat.
--- I would still marry him. I would not have moved and gone to seminary while struggling with PPD. I would have asked the Bishop to wait another year. I am stronger in my faith and happier now that he is ordained and he is no longer a seminarian. I am still afraid of having more kids than I can handle and I feel like I'm a single parent a lot, especially at community events and at church. I have to go everywhere alone or he's too busy to help me parent. On the plus side I have had the chance to see God's blessings when we have encountered financial hardship and cheques arrive from the Knight of Columbus or from a parishioner...just in time to fix the truck or replace the worn out cassock. I trust more in God's plan for my life and the He will keep us safe.
--- Even though we both have made mistakes- I am 100% glad that this is our life!
Thank you, ladies, for answering the survey and opening your hearts! If you missed out, take the survey here and I will publish an update.  Dear readers, do you have a specific question for these clergy wives? I will be sending out interviews to a few wives, and I would love to add to the question list...

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