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Bishop Spouse/Partner Research

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  1. Bishop Spouse/Partner Research House of Bishops Phoenix, AZ September, 2010 Therese Sprinkle, PhD Candidate Elaine Hollensbe, PhD Discussion led by Woodi Sprinkel, LCSW

  2. Bishop Spouse/Partner ProjectAgenda 10:00 Introductions 10:05 Research presentation 10:35 Q&A 10:50 Break 11:00 Small group discussion 11:30 Sharing of discussion groups

  3. Bishop Spouse/Partner ProjectBroad Purpose of Study • To provide a scientific perspective about the unique role of the Bishop’s spouse/partner in the Episcopal Church. • To shed light on tactics spouse/partners use to manage multiple roles. • To understand better how the role affects the spouse/partner’s identity and career.

  4. Bishop Spouse/Partner Project • Three studies have informed our understanding of the bishop spouse/partner role in TES: • Focus Groups • 2 groups, 1 hour each • Conducted with 2008 incoming class. • In-depth Interviews • 1-hour, 30 in-depths. • Conducted via telephone March – October, 2008. • Bishops and Bishop Spouse/Partner Survey • Conducted in October-December, 2009. • Open to total population of active bishops and spouse/partners

  5. Overarching Theoretical FrameworkRole Adaptation/Innovation • A role is the characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual; those behavioral or overt actions that may be observed. (Biddle, 1979). • However, the degree to which the role is unstructured prompts members to seek information elsewhere and leads them to interpret the role as they wish (Jones, 1986; Kammeyer-Mueller & Wannberg, 2003; Michel, 1977; Saks & Ashforth, 1997). • Role alterations may range from relatively minor changes to dramatic alterations of the role (Nicholson & West, 1988).


  6. In the qualitative study, spouse/partners were asked to describe their “role set.” Alongside “parent” and “career” and “spouse” roles you provided rolesidiosyncratic to the bishop spouse/partner. Your words helped to shape these definitions.

  7. Role Categories and Characteristics Symbol Social Support Status Shadow

  8. Role Categories and Characteristics: Symbol Symbolic: How others see you as standing for something outside of who you are, a witness, or for goodness “It’s shocking the extent to which people love you simply because you are the bishop or the bishop’s spouse. You stand for this good thing in their mind and all you have to do is not disappoint that” (IS-08). Object of hospitality: When describes being the focus of attention and fawned over as a guest of honor “My first surprise was being treated like royalty. I just never expected that to happen … to be elevated to royalty by virtue of just being married to this person was a real surprise” (IS-04). Object of criticism: When describes having to deal with external criticism of self “You are subjected to a lot of things, and sometimes they’re hurtful, and I think you have to be able to understand that it’s not all about you, really, all the time” (IS-12).

  9. Role Categories and Characteristics: Social When mentions entertaining, being a hostess; includes chit-chat at coffee hour “The skill that you have to have here – is to try to relate to all kinds of people throughout the day, to be able to move in and out. See my (old career) did a lot for me… and I’m using all those skills in my husband’s job” (IS-12) “That’s a part of the spouse expectation to relate to the spouses in some way.” (IS-10)

  10. Role Categories and Characteristics: Support Pastoral: When describes role as someone who “tends” to clergy spouses, or the diocese at large. “My role is to make personal contact with parishioners when I am able to go with (bishop). My role is to support the clergy spouses” (IS-18). Listener: When describes listening to the bishop, or other diocese members, as part of role “The spouse role, to me, has moved from supporting or being a part of a situation where the church itself is not hierarchical. And the spouse has become more of a listener” (IS-09). Personal Assistant: Helping the bishop through chauffeuring, caring for vestments, etc “So when I’ve gone with the bishop, I’ve helped carry vestments and the stick, the crosier, help carrying that stuff inside. I’ve always been a help. When I’ve been there, I’ve been a help.” (IS-32).

  11. Role Categories and Characteristics: Status Public: When describes visibility/image of role/played out in public or in a fishbowl “And the role of bishop’s wife being so public … all of a sudden I’m the honorary chair of like five different things and going to things, and people really listen to me” (IS-02). Boosterism: When describes being asked to promote a cause for diocese member “So their expectation is that you will be nice to them and give them what they want. And if you have standards, if you enforce standards or you exact some kind of accountability, they're often quite angry with you, even if you're very measured in how you do that” (IS-08). Spokesperson: When describes being a voice/conduit of bishop; relaying the bishop’s message or wishes “You have to be very careful of what you share with other people because they’re going to attribute that to the bishop even though it may not have anything to do with (him/her)” (IS-12).

  12. Role Categories and Characteristics: Shadow Appendage: When sees self or others see you as an inconvenience, unneeded part of bishop “– if the spouse is there, fine. If the spouse is not there, well, that's all right too. It's an entirely different dynamic” (IS-05). Invisible: When speaks of being ignored “Nonexistent. And that happens regardless of your job. I think the spouses are ignored a lot and it's not intentional” (IS-03). Leveler: When speak of keeping bishop’s ego in check; also, keeping the bishop steady or on an even keel “Your first duty as a bishop spouse is to your bishop and it’s to keep him or her on a steady keel and to offer some respite from the hazards of the job, and to be a safe person and provide a safe place for them to refuel because it’s exhausting.” (IS-26).

  13. Accuracy of role definition

  14. Accuracy of the roles Listener (Support) Visitor (Social) Object of Hospitality (Symbol) Social Manager (Social) Leveler (Shadow) Convener/Organizer (Social) Symbolic (Symbol) Public (Status) Difference Maker (Symbol) Celebrity (Status) Personal Assistant (Support) On a scale from 1-7, these roles were found to be more accurate in their depiction of the bishop spouse/ partner role definition

  15. Accuracy of the roles Public Speaker (Status) Pastoral (Support) Object of Criticism (Symbol) Peacekeeper (Symbol) Invisible (Shadow) Boosterism (Status) Spokesperson (Status) Surrogate (Symbol) Appendage (Shadow) Spouse/partners indicated that these roles were less accurate.

  16. Accuracy of the roles As a spouse/partner gains tenure in the position, certain role types may become less a part of the role – particularly Status and Symbol roles. Listener Visitor Object Of Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/ Organizer Difference Maker Public Celebrity Personal Assistant Symbolic Spouses 0-4 Year Spouses 5-10 years Spouses 11+ years

  17. Importance of role

  18. Accurate vs. important comparison Several roles, considered accurate, were not important – particularly Status and Symbol roles. Accurate Important Listener Visitor Object Of Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/ Organizer Difference Maker Public Celebrity Personal Assistant Symbolic

  19. Role importance tenure comparison Spouse/partners are in agreement as to the most important roles - with the two exceptions. Listener Visitor Object Of Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/ Organizer Symbolic Public Difference Maker Celebrity Personal Assistant Spouses 0-4 Year Spouses 5-10 years Spouses 11+ years

  20. Perception of bishops

  21. There is a disparity between bishops and spouse/partner on accuracy. Spouses Bishops

  22. Role importance comparison Additionally, bishops do not share the same perception of role importance as spouse/partners. Spouses Bishops Listener Visitor Object Of Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/ Organizer Symbolic Difference Maker Personal Assistant Public Celebrity

  23. What I do A hybrid of both Who I am • In interviews, spouse/partners suggested that the role expectations did not align with their personality – due to: • Children, jobs • Desire for a low-profile • When asked if the role was who they are vs. what they did, most felt the role was a hybrid of these choices.

  24. This perception of who I am versus what I do is in stark - but not unexpected - contrast with the bishops’ perception. Bishops What I do A hybrid of both Who I am Spouse/ Partners What I do A hybrid of both Who I am

  25. This perception of role (what I do) versus identity (who I am) varies by tenure. What I do A hybrid of both Who I am What I do A hybrid of both Who I am

  26. Most spouse/partners agree that they have adapted the role to suit who they are. Adapted self to role Hybrid Adapted role to self Adapted self to role Hybrid Adapted role to self

  27. Strategies Used

  28. Spouse/partners suggest there are five types of strategies used to manage the role: Distance Self from Role Manage Self to Fit Role Engagement Create Own Path Looking Out to Manage In

  29. To distance self from role Looking Out to Manage In Distance Self From Role Manage Self to Fit Role Engagement Create Own Path Delegate parts of my role to others Avoid or distance myself from the role Seek help through therapy/counseling

  30. Managing self to fit Distance Self From Role Looking Out to Manage In Manage Self to Fit Role Engagement Create Own path Manage physical appearance to better fit role Manage my emotions to better fit role Listen to Bishop’s advice about my role

  31. Emotional Labor: Occurs when employees are required to display particular emotional states as part of their job(Hochschild, 1983). Spouses Bishops Show emotions I don’t feel. Hide my true feelings about a situation Show emotions that are expected rather than what I feel. Resist expressing my true feelings Spouses suggest they are more likely to suppress their true emotions in comparison to the bishops.

  32. Self-monitoring occurs when the spouse/partner observes or monitors his or her behavior, and reactions to it, and adjusts it. …”though, what I do think is I feel like when we do the parish visitations and stuff, being in a fishbowl, it’s like they are watching what I’m wearing, and watching what I’m saying, and watching for this - are we going to …, what are they doing?” Interviewee:”I do catch myself monitoring what I’m saying.” (IS-22)

  33. Role engagement Distance Self From Role Looking Out to Manage In Role engagement Manage Self to Fit Create Own path Focus on being present or attentive with others Try to be ready/prepared for whatever comes Reframe situations to be more positive Use humor to manage role

  34. Creating own path Create Own Path Distance Self From Role Looking Out to Manage In Manage Self to Fit Role Engagement Engage in very different role activities Create a place apart from bishop Take care of self, to care for others Communicate role preferences to others

  35. Looking out to manage in Looking Out to Manage In Distance Self From Role Manage Self to Fit Role Engagement Create Own Path Look outside diocese for social support Look outside church for social support Consciously avoid meddling in diocesan matters

  36. Interviewer: Do you think the expectations of the parishes or the diocese have changed over the years of what the spouse/partner should do or act like or – Interviewee: “I don't know if I assume that at one time they expected the bishop spouse [spouse/partner] to be this stereotypical person who's knitting and sitting in the back who just kind of accompanies the bishop, compared to, perhaps now, somebody who offers a great variety … to the diocese. I think that maybe people are beginning to see the spouse [/partner] has a life of their own and has many talents that can be used in many different ways.” (IS-05)

  37. Questions?

  38. 10 minute break

  39. Discussion Woodi Sprinkel, LCSW

  40. In your small groups, please discuss the following questions: • What role do you most resonate with?  Why? • What are some strategies that you might use to manage various aspects of the role? • Have you found yourself using emotional labor?  If so, please share your thoughts and reflections on this.  • Of all that you have heard today in this presentation, what seems the most important for you?

  41. Bishop Spouse/Partner Project • Thank you to the College for Bishops and CREDO for their continuing funding of our research on spouse/partner’s identity, health/wellness, and career.