A Word to Seminary Wives

by on June 2, 2008

Guys, now’s the time when you go, make your wife a cup of tea, take the kids outside, and let her curl up on the couch with this blog. You’ll be glad you did.

I am so thankful for the unique opportunity of simultaneously being a seminary student and a seminary wife at the same time. Occasionally this feels a bit odd. At Multnomah there is a Student Wives Fellowship, a group that meets monthly in order for wives to feel more connected to each other. I never felt like that was the place for me. I wondered, Where is the Student Husbands Fellowship? Yeah, there isn’t one. Because, let’s face it, the majority of students in seminary are males. Trends are changing, but no matter what your position is on women in ministry, women will always have the unique and treasured job of childbearing, which means we will likely be spending more time changing diapers than studying theology.

However, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be in seminary with my husband, and it’s made me aware of a few things I’d love to share with you. Whether you’re considering seminary, enrolled in your first year, or focused on the upcoming finish line, I pray this can be an encouragement to an inevitably weary soul.

Make Decisions Together

First, what I’ve discovered is that when our husbands sense God’s call to go to seminary, it is critical that we are in wholehearted agreement. If not, talk to him about it! The best piece of advice Jeff and I ever received with regards to making significant life decisions was, “Whatever you do, make sure you’re in total agreement. No matter what decision you make, if you’re both on board, you’ll make it through together.” We’ve succeeded and failed in this area. This past year we’ve been living with my parents in order to finish seminary full-time and have help with our 18-month-old son while we’re in class. Leaving our jobs, home, town, church, friends, and moving in with parents has been harder than we’d ever imagined. At times I’ve felt tempted to become bitter, murmuring to myself, “Why did I have to give up my home and my life so that Jeff could quit work to go to seminary?! I had to give up everything!” Whenever I’m tempted with these thoughts, you know what keeps me from going there?—remembering that we made this decision together. Together we decided to move, together we discerned this was God’s will, together we packed up all we owned and moved into their two guest bedrooms. I’m not a victim—we’re in this together.

So if your husband’s contemplating the call, seek God with all your heart to make sure you’re on the same page. Jeff teaches at a small Bible school in a nearby town, and sadly he recently had a student whose wife finally gave him an ultimatum—“You have to choose! It’s either me or school. You can’t have both.” That is the tragic end of a decision to pursue seminary that’s not made together.

Endure or Embrace?

Second, once we agree on the decision and take the plunge and head into this crazy world of seminary life, we choose one of two options: We endure or we embrace. To endure life as a seminary wife means we don’t complain when he stays up late to study, we don’t nag when doesn’t help give the kids their baths, we don’t whine when discretionary income is a distant memory. We bite our tongue and remind ourselves, this won’t last forever. Now that’s fine. It’s certainly better than a lot of responses. But it’s still incomplete. What I propose is that when God calls your husband to attend seminary, He calls you as well. In fact, I propose that your calling requires a steeper climb, a higher road, a costlier sacrifice. To embrace your husband’s calling to attend seminary means embracing the life that comes with that decision.

Now this will look different for every couple. I’m certainly not about to tell you how to do your marriage. Jeff and I have our ways of divvying up chores and responsibilities in a way that works for us. You have to find your own way. But embracing the call means joining him on the journey. The most difficult thing for couples in seminary is that fact that the husband is out experiencing profound spiritual truths, while the wife is often engulfed in the mundane details of work or home or kids or managing their life. So, how can we change this? Try reading a book he’s reading for class. Not enough time? Just read one chapter and discuss it with him. Read a paper he’s turning in and ask him about things that don’t make sense (or challenge him about things that aren’t well thought-through!). Visit a class once a month. Ask him to share with you some of the most impacting things he’s learning (and listen!). In short, as much as your schedule allows, experience seminary with him. Rather than seeing seminary as the enemy that prevents him from giving you the time and energy you desire, embrace it as a means of uniting with your husband in a whole new way. Join him on the journey.

And lastly, recognize that the spiritual and sensual are linked. Husbands can be tempted in good and bad ways during times of heightened spiritual experience. My pastor’s wife once told me, “My job is to seduce the pastor.” And that’s not degrading. You may write books, preach to thousands, have a successful career, raise children, empower people, but one of your jobs is to simply seduce the seminarian. Take it seriously.

That’s all for now. I’m thrilled to be included on this blog. I hope any of you wives and female students will contact me with thoughts, advice, woes, prayer requests, or questions. I’m just one girl, juggling the many hats we women are called to wear. My best to you all on the journey—it’s a sweet road ahead.

Comments

Kari-
Thank you for your words of wisdom….My husband has just enrolled and has started online this week. (8/-08) My situation is unique in that we have been married for 14 years and have two daughters-10 and11. He has been a believer for only 3 years and has such a burning desire to follow Christ’s command of the Great Commission and spread the Gospel! Your words ” I propose that your callling requires a steeper climb, a higher road, a costlier sacrifice,” really hit me. This journey that he is taking will be a great challenge for me. I pray that Christ will give me the strenghth, grace and courage to encourage him and my children.
I look forward to reading more insites from your and my best for a great semester!
Kari Strobel
PS I like your name!

I am seeking advice…
I feel I am responsible for taking care of our family financially so that my husband can attend seminary full time (it must be full time to have financial support). He feels responsible financially and may not relinquish this responsibility to me. I have not been able to earn enough to make up the difference yet. I trust God will pave the way, but I need some guidance– I want to do all I can. I feel like there MUST be a way, but I don’t see it.

Kari, thanks for this post! As a woman who began seminary two years ago as a single, independently minded female :), my new husband and I are currently thinking and praying through the implications of two full-time newlywed students who work part-time and are involved in the church. We’re also asking questions like, what do gender roles look like in such a marriage? Where are we going to work? What about starting a family?
Anyway, thanks for your insights, Kari. I hope the LORD blesses your studies. Do you intend to work in the church in the future?

My husband is going to seminary and he is on his second year. I like what you have to say but I must say, visiting classes with him would be tough due to the fact that I think I have burned those bridges. He probably wouldn’t want me to go. I have met some of his friends and they all seem to be wanting “community” but then they totally leave me out, what part of community is that? Its like a clique. Also why is he coming home and spewing out so many new ideas or beliefs. I can’t keep up. His seminary friends swear and drink beer. What am I supposed to take from this? When the man I have been married to for 16 years ends up turning into someone I don’t know. It has caused a lot of problems for our marriage.