The Mistress

By Susie Hawkins

My friend looked at me and said flatly, “My husband has a mistress.” For a split second I stopped breathing, until I noted a wry smile appearing on her face.” She then looked around at the small group of ministry wives at our table, sighed and said, “It’s his phone.” 

We all breathed with relief, but the conversation picked up lightening speed at that point. Every one of us had a story about our pastor-husband’s affection for (or addiction to?) his cell phone.

Every husband represented in that group used the same reasoning – “If I don’t answer this call/email/text right now, I will get so behind I’ll never catch up.” Without intentional unplugging, there is never any uninterrupted time for wives and children. Yes, it looks as if many of our husbands have the same mistress, and her name is Siri. 

First, let’s agree that none of us know the personal burden that a pastor carries with his call. It is a sacred trust between God and a man that only he can fully understand. As wives, we help them carry that load, but even we cannot fully know it. I have great respect for pastors that truly shepherd their people and stay connected with them. However, there must be some boundaries.

Secondly, before you ask that his phone be put away, yours must be. We can’t ask for something we aren’t doing ourselves. Our phones steal our time and attention as well. Turn it off before you attempt to have this conversation!

Thirdly, find a time for a serious discussion with your husband. Look him in the eye and explain your concerns. You are not being a needy wife, but speaking truth into his life – he has a family that needs some undivided attention. After that, leave it. Don’t be the “dripping faucet” – say it once, say it well and then leave it.

Ask “What if?” What if you didn’t answer your messages for one hour? What if you took one hour a day to unplug, would that really make such a difference? And even if it did, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Be creative. A friend recently told me that she and her husband had decided to drive to an engagement instead of flying because they needed extended time to talk. For three hours she sat next to him, listening to his phone calls, flipping from one to the next. She finally just called him herself and asked him if they could talk on the phone, since that was the only way to get his attention. Needless to say, she got her conversation.

Finally, if you get strong resistance from your husband regarding his phone, it could signify a deeper problem. Don’t be afraid to push the issue, if need be.

Siri is a demanding mistress, but she can be managed. Don’t hesitate to do so, but do it with grace and wisdom.

Published April 2, 2014

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Susie Hawkins

Susie lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband OS Hawkins. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. She has 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren, keeping her life full of craziness and joy.