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October 18, 2016

Being A Wife On Staff

By Cathie Heard

In my last post I gave some hints for handling the pressures associated with being married to a man in full-time ministry. Today, I’d like to share two thoughts on another relationship that has implications for the way you relate to your husband:

Being a wife on staff

Here are four simple thoughts to keep in mind:

  1. At certain points you will find yourself physically involved in the work. Don’t be surprised, this is a good thing. It’s a blessing for you, and hopefully for him – although you should check this one out!). Nothing will be lost by talking about what joining the team will involves, what your responsibilities will be and how much support you can expect.
  2. Realistically, being involved in the work also represents a further strain on your family and husband. Things aren’t going to be simple just because you’re now both working together. For Andrew and me, my jumping in achieved both – it helped the work, and it brought a new set of strains to our marriage. We had to negotiate how much I talked about my ministry pressures and issues at home, especially when Andrew had come home to relax.  This might sound peculiar but in the end it actually works better if I make a formal appointment. Not all the time, not for everything I want to talk about but definitely for the biggies. And it certainly helps Andrew during those times when his burdens are particularly tough.
  3. I also had to be very careful about how stressed I was getting. If my work stress was rising to the level that I became snappy, short tempered and weepy at home then any help I might have thought I was giving the Gospel work was really no help at all. I learned to serve the work better by pulling back and doing less. For me, finding this limit was completely by trial and error, and it meant some unhappy times and grey hairs for Andrew I’m afraid. You may know yourself better – but you may not. And if your husband is telling you over and over he thinks you are too stressed, you need to listen.
  4. Bear in mind the awkwardness of your husband acting as your boss. Being involved in the work of ministry will probably mean your husband will now also become your employer, and that can be weird. There are times I’m sitting in staff meeting and I find myself debating a point with Andrew or trying to clarify something and I know I need to stop – stop sooner than if my boss was not my husband. I remember one meeting when I was giving a report on some ministry work to a group chaired by my husband and I felt like he cut me off at one stage when it wasn’t covering what he thought it should. He didn’t think he was cutting me off, but because he is my husband that’s how if felt to me. If it had just been any other boss, I would have just swallowed it and forgotten about it. So things are tricky. And I’ve come to realize he also needs the freedom to be able to lead his staff – without having one of his staff members blow up on him when he walks in the house later that night for dinner. So I had to think very carefully about how I raised my hurt when he did come home (as I wasn’t able to just drop it), without him being made to feel got at. I want to keep being able to work in our church that means being able to keep working under my husband as a boss.  

Next post I’m going to tackle a thorny and related topic – what it’s like to relate to other staff when your husband’s the boss…


Cathie Heard

Cathie Heard is the wife of Andrew and the other half of a church planting couple that planted EV Church on the Central Coast of Australia 18 years ago. She is an accomplished speaker, particularly in the area of women's ministry and how wives can assist and carry out the Great Commission.


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