I was married to a Bishop’s wife for five years. It put pressure on our marriage. She had to triage my phone calls. My job required I travel out of town a lot, and then when I came home Friday afternoon, I usually had church stuff to attend to all weekend. My wife had to be father and mother to my three kids for those 5 years. She had to keep secrets. She became very popular at church, everybody wanted to be friends with the Bishop’s wife! This was most evident when I was released as Bishop. The women in the ward now had a new Bishop’s wife to be friends with, and they drifted away from my wife.
My kids were teenagers during my tenure as Bishop, so it was not quite the hardship as it could have been. But leading up to be called as bishop, I was bishop’s counselor twice, which took me away from my wife in the congregation for many years while my kids were little.
As I’ve shared in a post about about how to pick a bishop, a 70 told us in bishop’s training during a stake conference that the brethren were concerned that after we were released, that we would still have a job and a wife, and that was not always the case. I know of two bishops in my stake that went through a divorce after they were released. This is one of those statistics that I’m sure the church keeps, and it would be interesting to see how the divorce rate of bishops compare to the average active member. Maybe my anecdotal evidence is an outlier.
I’ve also know some good men that were not called as bishop because of their wives. One sister was a real busybody, always in everybody’s business. She was barely tolerable as a counselor in Relief Society, but would have been intolerable as a bishops wife. Her husband was in the bishopric several times, but was never a bishop. I also know of another bishop that was released early because his wife could not keep confidences that she inadvertently learned.
I think the role, or better said “calling” of a bishop’s wife is highly undervalued. She gets little recognition, but is put through as much or more stress than the bishop himself. What is your experience? How can we help “Sister Bishop” with her unacknowledged calling?