May 2007


Fred Milacci

Primary Subject Area

Psychology, General


Pastors' Wives, Clergy Wives, Ministers' Wives, Ministry, Loneliness


This phenomenological study investigated the individual experiences of eight pastors’ wives with the phenomenon, loneliness. The topic of loneliness generated emotionally charged responses from women who live their lives in the public eye. Data was collected using informal, conversational, taped and transcribed interviews. Descriptions of the experiences of loneliness and the general factors contributing to loneliness were identified by the participants. The experiences and general contributing factors were compared and contrasted. Participants identified loneliness as an indescribable void, resulting from guardedness, and a normal experience. General factors contributing to loneliness were identified as explicit or implicit. Explicit factors, those directly related to ministry, developed within the ministry context itself and ministry-related interactions and relationships. The implicit factors included non-ministry related interactions, family and time concerns, and physical limitations of the participants. The findings of this study suggest three factors which most significantly impact pastors’ wives and loneliness: the roles of pastors’ wives, the personal choices of the pastors’ wives, and the pastors’ wives relationships with God. Implications emerged from the study for those who research pastors’ wives and loneliness, the individual churches which employ pastors, the colleges and seminaries which train pastors, and the denominations to which pastors report. Suggestions for future research involving pastors’ wives and pastors are provided.