Woman Praying in ChurchDear Tamara:

My wife’s pastor is ruining our marriage. My wife spends more time at the church then she does at home. And to make matters worse, her pastor is interfering with our personal life and making suggestions to my wife that affect our entire household. First her pastor convinced her to quit her job to do full-time ministry at the church. Now the pastor is pressuring my wife to sow a financial seed into the ministry which would mean tapping heavily into our savings. My wife and I have been arguing about her pastor for months and she just doesn’t see how all his suggestions are affecting our marriage. Regardless of who makes the suggestion, my wife should not make major decisions that affect our household without my input. I am her husband and I feel like she is putting her pastor and her church before me and our family! I also feel like her pastor is manipulating her and using his position to get what he wants.

Sick of These Preachers

 

Dear Sick:

While I certainly do not condone anyone using their position to manipulate others, especially in the church, I also think people need to take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. No matter what the pastor has suggested, your wife ultimately made her own decision to leave her job and pursue ministry full-time. As for tapping into your savings, I agree that this is a decision that both you and your wife should make, and agree upon, to avoid future arguments. Many times people hide behind others if they are afraid to make their own decisions or reveal their own intentions. Is it possible that your wife wanted to leave her job and pursue ministry full-time? Maybe your wife was afraid of your reaction and thought it was easier to say that the pastor suggested it! It is common for people to hide behind those who they feel carry a particular weight. Many times people hide behind ministry and clergy because they figure “who would argue or go against God and men and women of the cloth?

That being said, as a former first lady and ex-wife of a pastor/preacher, I know the inner workings of the church and I know how “church work” can consume a person’s time. Even in doing God’s work, we have to have balance. A person cannot spend all of their time working in the church and neglecting the ministry of family! At the same time, if your wife is passionate about church ministry, you have to find a way to support her work and passion and to meet her halfway on her journey. No one wants to feel “guilty” about doing something they love.

And while I know there are pastors/preachers who have abused their position and have manipulated members of their congregation, I do not believe that this includes ALL pastors/preachers. Don’t assume that the pastor is the sole problem in your marriage. You and your wife need to talk and communicate about what is really going on between the two of you. It might be necessary for both of you to meet with the pastor or seek outside counseling if meeting with the pastor poses an issue. But don’t allow the pastor to serve as the scapegoat for fixing what is going wrong in your marriage. If the pastor is an issue, this will come to light.tamara hartley

Tamara Hartley is Your Advice Guru and author of REAL Advice from REAL Experience: Advice, Tips and Strategies for Your Life Relationships, and Career. She uses her personal life experiences and lessons learned to give others a different perspective and help them make critical decisions in their life, relationships and careers. Read advice archives at www.YourAdviceGuru.com. Email questions to [email protected] or on Twitter @DrTamaraHartley using the hashtag #AskTamara. Tamara is also a certified life coach and works with individuals to find balance, make moves, and live their dreams. Learn more about her coaching programs at www.YourPersonalSuccessCoach.com.