4 Ways To Make A Job Transition Easier On Your Spouse
I grew up in the home of an Air Force fighter pilot. Because of my dad’s job, we relocated pretty frequently. I was born overseas, and before I graduated from high school, I had moved 8 or 9 times. Moving is hard. Making new friends is hard. I decided at an early age that when I became an adult, I would pick a place to live, and stay there forever. Then I married a pastor. Life is funny like that.
For a lot of people in ministry, life is transient.
This has been true for my husband and me. We have been on staff at a few churches, and each time we have made the decision to move to a new church, it has always come with questions and challenges.
If you are a pastor, maybe this sounds familiar to you: You’ve been discontent at work for a while. Maybe you’re realizing that you are not the best fit for the culture or the position that you are currently in, or maybe you just feel like your time at your current location is coming to an end. You feel unsettled. You feel a change coming on. Chances are, the person with whom you talk through these feelings is your spouse.
If you are the spouse of a pastor, this probably sounds familiar to you: Each day you watch your husband or wife become more and more restless. You can hear the frustration in their voice as they talk through what they’re feeling and what they think might be next for them in ministry. You are their sounding board, and as supportive as you are, you also know that whatever comes from their feelings of discontentment directly impacts you, too.
At some point, the two of you will have to make some decisions, and if you decide together to make a job change, the decision is really just the beginning. For both partners, there are a lot of feelings and thoughts that need to be processed. As I can relate to the spouse in this situation, I’d like to offer some perspective of the spouse-of-a-pastor-who-is-changing-jobs:
1. We aren’t going to be happy about the decision every day.
Even when we agree together that we should move, there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to change our mind. Don’t get me wrong, we know it’s the right decision, we will (most likely) change our minds back, but we are going to question the decision to leave our home and start something new at least once. Or twice. Maybe a lot.
2. We want to know that you are really thinking about us, too.
Even if your spouse is not going to be employed outside of the home when you move, it is important that there is a place for them in their new town too. More than that, it’s important that you have considered what that place will be. We want to know that you realize that we are making a sacrifice for you to start your new job. We would love the hear that you appreciate it.
3. Give us time to mourn.
I know that during a move, you are leaving things and people you value, too, but because you are the one starting the new job, you might be more excited about what you are going toward than sad about what you are leaving behind.
As the spouse, we don’t have the anticipation of the first day of work, new co-workers, volunteers and ministry opportunities to look forward to. In the beginning of the transition, we are probably thinking more about the friends we will miss hanging out with, the family we’re leaving behind, and the fact that we will now have to learn the layout of an entirely different grocery store. It’s a lot for anyone.
4. Help us feel connected.
When you start a new job at a church, you get some built-in connections. You have the other staff members who are likely to help you adjust to the staff culture and take you to the best places for lunch. You also have connections with the volunteer base of your ministry who can really put you in touch with the pulse of the church. It will probably take a little more effort on our part to initiate relationships. I’m not saying you should set up spouse-playdates for us, but encourage us to meet new people and then allow us time to foster relationships with those people.
Starting a job at a new church is a big undertaking for you and your spouse, but it’s a lot easier when you are making the effort to understand each other. So, take some time to look at things from your partner’s perspective, and enjoy the adventure!
What are some suggestions from a time that you've moved in the past?