By Abena Kyere
“Why does everything have to be about God?” This is a friend’s Whatsapp account status. Many endeavors in life are complex, but being married to a ‘Man of God’ is a package. You bring home a husband, but also God, the church, society and the world.
As a complex sociocultural arrangement that could either make or break a person, marriage carries numerous expectations for both wives and husbands. However, the sheer number of responsibilities apportioned to wives is sometimes backbreaking. Thus, while any ordinary marriage can be a herculean task, especially for women, it is even more so in the case of women who are married to the men of the collar. This is especially so because being married to a pastor is a life that is constantly under public scrutiny.
In my own research on clergy-wives, I seek answers to broad questions regarding negotiations about marriage and power. There are indications that women who marry men of collar have to contend with emotional isolation, financial needs, and unrealistic expectations by congregations and the public, which can lead to self-censorship and isolation. While any other married woman could face these same issues, the peculiar situation of the clergy wife worsens her plight. If she complains about money, she risks the chance of being tagged as too mundane, and she is expected that under no circumstance would she ever share her marital problems with others or seek their help. Being married to a pastor also places the woman on a certain “pedestal of respectability,” where she is considered different from other women. This can easily lead to distancing from “ordinary” women, creating extreme isolation for the pastor’s wife. A pastor’s wife’s position is therefore as complex as they come and may be affected by factors such as the size of the congregation, the size of the denomination, whether the church is owned by the husband or whether he is an employee of other church leaders and so on. Other factors to consider may also include the peculiar situation of the woman: her age, educational background and employment status, which could have significant consequences for her role as a pastor’s wife.
One should not, however, be quick to jump the gun into thinking that the life of the pastor’s wife is all gloomy. As has been revealed in my ongoing study, this position comes with immense power which is derived from the husband’s positions. As has been noted by Akosua Adomako Ampofo’s piece, “‘Men of God’ are powerful” and so are their wives. Sometimes these women work with their husbands and push their husband’s agenda by echoing the ideologies that their husbands preach. Pastors wives’ have the power to control thousands of women and men around the globe, especially the youth. As a male respondent jokingly noted: “you can be in your house and they will have the remote to your marriage, because they control your wife.”
The following piece on pastors’ wives in Kenya takes a look at the diverse and similar ways in which these women live their lives. The piece shows that the lives of pastors’ wives might not be strikingly different from place to place; while there might be some outstanding differences, the sun is pretty much the same wherever one stands.
“Pastors’ Wives Open up on Life off the Pulpit.” 2017. Daily Nation. http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/Pastors-wives-open-up-on-life-off-the-pulpit/1190-4006666-ly5xfuz/index.html
Featured image citation: The image on the home page of Jubilee Christian Church depicting its founding couple, Allan and Kathy Kiuna. Source: Daily Nation