Just after finishing a sermon on the Apostle Paul’s words that “to live is Christ, to die is gain,” Jack Arnold fell to the floor of his Oviedo, Florida, church and died of a heart attack. He was 69.

The ironic death of the quiet PCA pastor made national news. Meanwhile, Jack’s wife, Carol, had to grieve the loss of the marriage she had fought long and hard to save.

Carol explains that decades before Jack’s passing, the couple had slipped into some negative patterns. And while they looked like a happy, successful ministry team on the outside, a deep discontent pervaded their relationship.

With Jack’s startling death in 2005, Carol had to reorient herself yet again. Her marriage was over, but her life wasn’t.

“For many years, I wasn’t too excited about my husband, so I poured myself into my kids and my church,” Carol says. “I was a great ‘pastor’s wife,’ but not a very good wife to the pastor!”

She eventually realized that she had been treating Jack with disdain rather than respect. And she knew it was unbiblical. Through a long process of prayer and reflection, her heart for Jack began to change, right around the time they moved to Florida for him to pastor Covenant Presbyterian Church (the church where Jack died). In their 50s at the time, the couple began going to Disney World and having fun together — for the first time in 30 years of marriage.

“Mickey Mouse saved our marriage!” Carol only half jokes.

During the last 20 years of their life together, Carol says she spent much more time tending to the needs of her husband than the needs of the congregation, an experience she chronicles in her book “The Liberation of a Resentful Wife.” They also began traveling overseas together with Equipping Pastors International (EPI), Jack teaching theology to pastors in developing countries and Carol speaking to their wives about how to have a good marriage.

With Jack’s startling death in 2005, Carol had to reorient herself yet again. Her marriage was over, but her life wasn’t.

Now 81, Carol continues to pour herself into relationships: hosting people in her home, spending time with her 12 grandkids, and traveling frequently with EPI to countries across Africa.

“I remember when I was a young wife, if someone would have asked, ‘What would be your dream?’ I would have said I would love to travel the world and teach women. But I knew I could never do that because [at the time] my husband hated to travel and we didn’t have much money, and I had four little boys. But now I’m traveling the world teaching women. So often it’s a season-of-life thing.”


ILLUSTRATION BY JULIAN RENTZSCH


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