Skip to comments.Experts: Preachers' Wives Often Struggle
Posted on 04/01/2006 6:40:33 PM PST by twippo
SELMER, Tenn. - Mary Winkler was the quiet, unassuming wife of a small-town, by-the-Bible preacher, seemingly devoted to church and family. But now her husband, Matthew, is dead and she is charged with shooting him in the back with a shotgun.
Authorities won't discuss a motive, and church members say they didn't see any indication she was unhappy. But experts say preachers' wives often struggle with depression and isolation, expected to be exemplars of Christian virtue while bearing unique pressures on their private and public lives.
Gayle Haggard, author of "A Life Embraced: A Hopeful Guide for the Pastor's Wife," said ministers' wives can feel isolated because of a misconception about leadership, since they and their husbands are leaders of their congregations.
They can feel trapped, she said, by unrealistic expectations "to live a certain way, to dress a certain way, for their children to behave a certain way."
And ministers' wives often find themselves handling more jobs than they expected to take on, said Becky Hunter, current president of the Global Pastors Wives Network.
"You're not really hired, and yet there is some expectation in most church settings that the pastor's wife comes along in a package deal," Hunter said.
Too often, ministers and their wives are reluctant to seek emotional help from members of their congregations because they're looked up to as leaders, said Lois Evans, a former president of the Global Pastors Wives Network. They can become isolated, lonely and depressed.
"This family needed help," said Evans. "It seems like there was no place to turn to and no place to talk and it became an explosive situation."
Matthew Winkler, 31, was found dead in a bedroom at the couple's parsonage Wednesday night in Selmer, a town of 4,400 people about 80 miles east of Memphis. Mary Winkler, 32, and her three young daughters were found Thursday night leaving a restaurant in Orange Beach, Ala., about 340 miles from Selmer. Orange Beach Police Chief Billy Wilkins said she had rented a condo on the beach after the slaying.
She was charged with first-degree murder and ordered held without bail. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent John Mehr said authorities know the motive for the killing, but he would not disclose it.
Mary Winkler was working part-time as a substitute teacher and taking college courses to get a teaching certificate as well as raising her three children and serving the congregation as its preacher's wife.
"You know she was weighted down," said Jimmie Smith, a member of Matthew Winkler's Fourth Street Church of Christ congregation and a retired psychiatric nurse.
Defense lawyer Steve Farese refused to talk about the Winklers' private life or if they had personal troubles.
"I can't discuss anything she's told me," Farese said. "But I think you have to look at the entire picture. You can't look at the end of a story and determine what the beginning and middle were."
Well, I am a rabbi's wife, and I have never had the urge to shoot my husband multiple times.
Maybe I have had the urge once or twice but I never actually DID.
Just another symptom of the "let's kill our wounded" mentality that's fairly common in many of our "Christian" churches.
Consider the source. Another stupid article by the AP, trying to blow out of proportion a rare incident.
Suddenly, celibacy for the clergy doesn't seem so unreasonable.
Evidently divorce didn't occur to Mrs. Winkler. She ought not be given any extra consideration as to punishment. IMO!
Divorce is unthinkable to most evangelicals.
well? why are we having this discussion?
She answered, "I married him until 'death do you part', so divorce was out of the question."
She waited a moment before continuing, "Now MURDER is another story."
LOL. Bless you, my dear, and I'm sure your husband is most grateful for your restraint :)
Many's the husband whose had the same thought!!
If divorce is so unthinkable to evangelicals, then why do Christians have a higher divorce rate than atheists? Look it up...a Barna poll, I believe. Surely if it's a choice between divorce or murder, even the most dogmatic among us would opt for divorce.
Boo FReakin' Hoo!
LOL. I don't think that is a feeling limited to the wives of rabbis or ministers!
In the foot could be a good warning.
"If divorce is so unthinkable to evangelicals, then why do Christians have a higher divorce rate than atheists?"
I'd stack up the divorce rates of church-going Christians (or any other faith) against atheists anyday.
Sadly, the vast majority of people who report themselves as "Christian" are Christian in culture only, rarely if ever attending a church service.
the Church of Christ is not really considered evangelical. They are somewhat cult like and believe that anyone not baptized is not a Christian.
The sorts of evangelicals that become pastors and pastor's wives are not so comfortable with divorce as the average nominal non-deonominational.
I don't read, respect, or pay attention to Barna.
As for the last comment, you assert a choice, with what seems like a reasonable conclusion. The operative word there is "reasonable."
"Seems he was available to everyone in the congregation but never there for his own wife and kids. That's the sad fact of the chosen way of life."
That was my experience growing up in a parsonage as a preacher's kid. Everyone else got the good parts of Dad, and I got the emotionally and physically exhausted man that was left (and that wasn't at all fun).
The divorce rate among clergy is shocking. It would seem that clergy are on a mission from God (or so they think), and one of the sacrifices that they think they must make is the sacrifice of their family.
Alice Cooper... Preacher's Kid. Suprised?
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