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Any clergy wives??

(232 Posts)
clergywife Sun 01-Feb-09 16:07:39

Scuse name change...

my dh is a parish priest. I'm more and more realising how hard it is for me to maintain REAL friendships within the parish because i'm never just me, i'm his wife, i'm someone who may know stuff (rarely! lol), i'm a reminder of the disagreement they had with him last Sunday, I'm not just a random friend....

Is this unusual or am I normal in this?

Every now and again I think it's ok,. I've cracked it - but then I realise that I am not on equal footing however hard I try because they always perceive me as a link into the vicarage - whether psotiive or negative.

I'm not sure if it's cos I am young (late 20s) and if I were older I would have the same problems...

I am not being very concise, but i wanted to see if anyone had any experience....
When talking about this briefly earlier, I likened this to a gp's wife trying to have friendships with her dh's patients and dh nodded very sagely at that hmm grin. So frustrating.

maddylou Sun 01-Feb-09 16:53:42

Can you make friends with someone who is not religious/does not go to church?I was friends with a vicar`s wife(until they moved to a new parish)she said she found it a relief as I was not in that part of her life though our childreen went to school together

AMumInScotland Sun 01-Feb-09 16:58:35

Hi, I'm not exactly a clergy wife because DH is no longer employed by the church, but he is ordained and we went through a curacy and a parish before we decided that fulltime church work wasn't the right choice for him/us.

In both the curacy and the parish, I found it very tricky to develop proper relationships with parishioners - your description of how you're finding it sounds very much like my own experience. You're never just "you", you're always "the vicar's wife" or whatever. Sometimes that means people being extra-nice and buttering you up, sometimes it means them moaning to you to try to get things fixed because of course you have the "inside track", sometimes just realising they've caught themselves revealing something as if you were a "normal" person, before stopping mid-sentence.

I think the trick, from advice I was given by older clergy wives, is to develop your own proper friendships outside of the parish - but personally I never worked out how I was supposed to do that!

So, sorry I can't actually offer you any help - but I think what you're feeling is pretty common, if that makes it feel any better. It's not you, it goes with the job. Do you have any contact with his colleagues wives? You may find you can get some allies there, whether or not they become friends, at least they are likely to understand what you mean.

Smithagain Sun 01-Feb-09 17:09:43

My FIL is a minister and my MIL is having very similar problems, despite being at the opposite end of the age spectrum from you. They still feel like outsiders, despite having been in the town for six years.

Don't know what the answer is, other than making very sure you do normal, 20-something woman things and look for friends outside the congregation who ought to be more straightforward. And maybe have very clear boundaries about not talking church business when you are out socialising. But I know that's hard to do in practice.

I'm employed part time by a church and it's hard to avoid work issues when out with Christian friends. I have managed to maintain a few friendships outside the church, though, which helps.

procrastinatingparent Sun 01-Feb-09 17:47:08

Hey, clergywife, I am one too. And the friendship thing is really tricky for all the reasons you have said.

You don't say if you have kids - I do think I found it harder to make friends before I had children, mostly because I didn't have much in common with lots of the women at church

I can say I now have some really good friendships with people. I would not say they are uncomplicated though. There is always some areas which are no go. It helped me to realise that every friendship has some areas you just can't talk about.

It has also got easier the longer we have been here, simply because I have been able to throw myself into doing stuff alongside people - helping with running a holiday club, cooking meals, organising events. I don't organise these things myself (we have lots of very competent people around, and I need to be free for my husband and the kids) but I stick up my hand to help. The more people know us, the easier it is to build real friendships with the ones I get along best with. It gets complicated when there are people I don't get on with so well, and they feel left out, so I try quite hard to spend some time with lots of different people in public, and more time on the phone to my close friends when it is not so obvious. I could say lots more about this but I won't atm.

I have realised that the only people who will ever really understand what my life is like are other ministers' wives, and so I try to go to conferences for ministers' wives, and to keep in touch with the ones I know, even though we live all over the place now (it often means a bit of a trek and it has hard because we don't have weekends to find time but it is lovely when we meet). Recently we have started a 'sorority': there are 6 of us and we meet once ever few months in a place convenient for us all for a day to talk and read the Bible and pray for each other. I find it so helpful to have women who understand my situation, and are praying for me in it, and who I respect for their wise advice.

When we left our last church a good friend (and a fellow minister's wife there) said she would pray for a good friend for me - and I have some, although I never imagined it would happen!

roisin Sun 01-Feb-09 17:52:02

Has your dh been in ministry long?
My dh is a Baptist Minister. I'm 39 now shock but can still remember being in my twenties as a clergy wife!

My close friends have always come from outside of the church/the congregation for the reasons you describe.

It's easier now because I work full-time, and lots of my socialising comes from colleagues I've met through work.

Dh doesn't discuss many 'parish issues' with me, but when we start at a new place it takes a while for people to realise this. They generally assume that I know everything about everything, even when it's highly confidential!

For us the solution has very much been for me to keep my distance from dh's work, and in some ways I am less involved with the church than I used to be before he was in ministry. But for some people they work well with both being totally immersed in the church stuff.

DisasterArea Sat 07-Feb-09 18:07:12

i'm not a clergy wife but one of my closet mates is. just wanted to say that i don't see her as a way into the vicarage, although there is usually nice soup or cake on offer when i do grin.
her DDs are the same ages as my DDs and are all friends too. we met through school years ago when they moved to this parish and we've been friends since. she has told me she sometimes finds being 'vicars wife' difficult. but she is still just my mate.

justaboutindisguise Sun 08-Feb-09 15:16:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

madhairday Mon 09-Feb-09 22:12:14

Hello waves I'm a new clergy wife...still getting used to it. But having also been bought up in a clergy home (yes, I must be mad) I recognise whatyou are saying. I am finding it hard here to make friends, just coming out of college which was like a bubble almost, v easy to make friends in same life situations etc - as you say, somehow you are never viewed in quite the same way as a 'normal' member of the congregation, and poss never will be....but I know my parents have been able to have great friendships throughout it all. Just to say you're not alone.

madhairday Mon 09-Feb-09 22:13:03

ooops, that meant to be waves blush

justaboutindisguise Tue 10-Feb-09 12:14:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

madhairday Tue 10-Feb-09 13:06:45

You too justabout. Have you just started this yr as a deacon then? My dh started in June

justaboutindisguise Wed 11-Feb-09 12:39:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shivster1980 Sat 07-Mar-09 17:46:46

I am nearly a clergy spouse. DH will be ordained in July this year. Do I count?

procrastinatingparent Sun 08-Mar-09 09:56:17

Hi shivster, I'm sure you do! Do you know where your DH will be working yet?

NB Not at all a typical time for me to be on MN but DD and I am poorly and thus not going to church this morning!

madhairday Sun 08-Mar-09 16:18:20

Hi shivster, my dh was only ordained last yr so I'm only a year ahead. Are you at college now or is he doing distance learning?

shivster1980 Sun 08-Mar-09 19:42:44

We are at college now. We are going back to the West Mids.

justaboutindisguise Mon 09-Mar-09 18:23:14

Message withdrawn

madhairday Tue 10-Mar-09 12:12:27

And us... We are still west mids now.

shivster1980 Tue 10-Mar-09 15:05:03

Sutton Coldfield area. Don't want to be too precise you never know who is reading!!! wink or is that just my paranoia???blush

shivster1980 Tue 10-Mar-09 15:06:31

It's Birmingham Diocese.

justaboutindisguise Tue 10-Mar-09 17:14:52

Message withdrawn

shivster1980 Tue 10-Mar-09 18:50:01

yes definately! Can't wait! Real world here we come!!! [;)]

Did you train f/t or p/t justabout? Residential or sensible non residential?

shivster1980 Tue 10-Mar-09 18:51:08

can't do the f*ing smilies properly!!!!! grrrr.

justaboutindisguise Tue 10-Mar-09 19:19:06

Message withdrawn

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