A.R. Bernard, one of New York City's most influential pastors and leader of the 37,000-member Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, revealed Thursday that he and his wife, Karen, who have been married for more than 40 years, were once headed for divorce.
"Pastor or not we were headed for divorce," said Bernard Thursday during an interview on New York's Power 105.1 morning radio program, The Breakfast Club, about his new book "Four Things Women Want from a Man."
"I will tell you, I look back and I made some very immature, stupid decisions and maybe that will be in another book. Details, the juicy details," he continued before discussing some of the missteps he made as a husband.
"I realized that she (Karen) became a product of what I was doing and the lack of priority that I had because my ministry was my mistress. And that made me vulnerable and I didn't even see it because you begin to reason and justify things along that line that you know, that pulls you away from faithfulness to your family," he said.
He explained that before he started his ministry he worked in banking and his job was also his "mistress."
"I will tell you before that my job was my mistress and she put up, my wife put up with that for the ten years that I was at the bank. You know I was taking care of her she was happy we had a great relationship."
In his book he argues that the four things women need most in men are: maturity, decisiveness, consistency, and strength. And he touched on different aspects of these qualities during the interview while noting that cultivating them can help create healthy and successful relationships.
"Women, they'll be happy if God is first in my life but she better be second. Plain and simple and that makes sense because women are always reflecting on the value that they have in the eyes and the mind of the man that they are with. If he engages in behavior that devalues her, she's going to feel that she is competing with all these other things that he is putting first before her in his life," he explained.
One of the show's co-hosts Charlamagne Tha God argued however that he didn't see why working hard, especially for God, was so wrong, and that his wife should have understood.
"It doesn't matter, that doesn't matter," he replied.
"For her, emotional stability…I will tell you, sociologically speaking, one of the biggest complaints that leads to divorce besides the loss of respect is inequity in the relationship. If one person feels they're putting all into the relationship and the other person isn't, that's inequity and there's gonna be tension in the relationship. So if she is putting all into the relationship, and I'm putting all into something else, then she's going to experience a vacuum, a void in that relationship," he said.
"Sounds like she needed more God in her life or church," quipped Charlamagne.
"You know what, we can use these clichés, you need God, get the Holy Ghost and everything will be fine but that's not the reality," said Bernard.
When asked how can a man whose job requires a lot of time to be successful make his relationship work, Bernard said he should make the time that he has count.
"It's not the amount of time it's what you put into the time," he said.
"So you can have a small amount of time. If you make that quality time and give that woman a quality experience that can go a long way in allowing you to take the time necessary to work but too often we don't do that," he said.
"And men tend to feel the need to keep their word to people outside their family because their family should understand, but the reality is no, the family should be the first place of demonstrating consistency and integrity because if that's strong, then you have the strength to deal with that world outside. My children didn't understand and they put up with a lot," he continued.
"And one thing that my wife says and I think it's so powerful when people ask her who know about what we went through and the challenges, 'cause we were near divorce, alright, she said what helped her is that she trusted the God in me. If anything, she wouldn't, because she knew me before I became a Christian. She knew that this man experienced a very spiritual profound transformation and he has been consistently committed to that since that time without any interruption. She trusted that. And that's what gave her a sense of stability and hope to continue in the relationship."