This is part of a series on clergy couples and their stories. Andy and I wrote a book about being a clergy couple and all the insanity that goes along with it called Yoked: Stories of a Clergy Couple in Marriage, Family, and Ministry.
I never wanted to marry a pastor. Hell, I never wanted to be a pastor. My dad was a pastor. I watched the ways being a pastor’s wife, in the very traditional sense of the role, was slowly killing my mom, and eroding their marriage.
So, you think I would have been smarter going in. Part of my problem was I never actually thought we’d get married. Then, as it happens, we fell in love and got engaged and will be married. Two pastors. Two churches.
There are times when it is the Worst. The Worst. Like, when our wacky schedules are wacky in all the wrong ways and his half day is my long day, and my evening meetings are his nights free. We aren’t even married yet, and already we know well the rhythm of passing each other by with a certain “see you when I see you” air.
And then, there are times when it is the Best Gift Ever. We can speak in code; we get it without having to explain the nuances of church politics and church lady group dynamics. Even better, we get it without having anything professional on the line, personally speaking. When our wacky schedules are wacky in the same way – neither of us has to feel guilty for missing all the evenings this week, or working a fourteen hour Sunday.
When you’re a pastor your job becomes so much of your life – we care about people for a living. Even those among us with the best of boundaries can’t just shut that off. For me, then, one of the most difficult things already about sharing life with another pastor is the limits on how much we can share our church life with each other. Sundays are work days for both of us – in different buildings. We have worked hard to find ways to connect with each other’s colleagues and church folks. But worshiping together is rare. Finding ways to be in community as a couple are also challenging. On the flip side, the expectations for either of us fitting into a “pastor’s wife” mold have been out the window from the get-go. We are both fortunate, as well, that our respective congregations are supportive of our relationship.
I don’t take for granted our situation. We are both in full time positions in different churches, and not far from each other. I know we might not always have it so easy. We deal with it by having lots of logistical conversations and lots of talk about how we’re doing. It’s working – at least so far.
People used to ask me growing up, “What’s it like being a pastor’s kid?” My highly evolved answer was usually a shrug of the shoulders. But it was honest – I didn’t know because it was all I knew. In many ways, I think that defines us. Two full time pastors – one (almost) marriage. I don’t know what it’s like, because it’s all I know.
Meredith Holladay has been the minister of membership development at Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri for 5 months. She, too, is still trying to figure out what her job title means. Primarily she works with small groups, new members, young adults, and “other duties as assigned.” She loves words, dessert, and telling herself she ought to go for a run. She is engaged to Zach, the youth pastor at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. Their wedding is coming up soon and they only fight about it every other day.