Ok I know I said I was done blogging….BUT, I received what I consider a sincere plea for advice from a wife of someone who has discovered that the church is not what it claims to be. Her plea touched my heart; it could have been my own wife for all I know…since it sounds so much like what she and I have talked about so many times before as we have struggled to survive my apostasy.
So I’ve decided to share my advice in a full blown blog post (Maggie I hope that that is ok with you.)
What do you do upon learning that your spouse has lost belief in Mormonism?
I have enjoyed your blog. I think you are a great person and I am so sorry for what you have had to go through. I want your advice. I still love the church. I know that everything that is taught is not true but it is such a part of me. It has helped me become the person I am today. I love attending church, singing hymns, listening to the prayers, and enjoy many of the wonderful lessons and talks. It makes me want to be a better person. So I guess you could say it works for me. My problem is that my spouse no longer believes in anything and doesn't want to have anything to do with it anymore. My spouse is so bitter about it all. I am fine with my spouse being a nonbeliever. But it is so difficult living with someone who is so negative about it. I just wished my spouse could say I don't buy it but if it is a good thing for you then that is great. It is so, so, so, so, hard when something that is meaningful to you is hated by your spouse. It is just damned hard. Any advice to someone who is hurting and frustrated?
Much of what you’ve said could have been said by my own wife many times over. Once I came to the conclusion that the church was not what it claimed to be…I too became very bitter and angry and wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with it. But with time…my bitterness has dissipated. I’ll even be attending the First Presidency’s Christmas Fireside this Sunday evening at the conference center with my wife. I do this because I love my wife.
So here is my advice based on having lived on both sides of the fence:
01. If you love your husband and he loves you AND you want your marriage to survive….then love each other for WHOM each of you are … not for whom you want each other to be.
02. Give him the time and space to sort out his pain of discovering that the church isn’t exactly what he had always thought it was…trust me when I say…for those of us who have come to this conclusion…that discovery is very painful.
03. Let your husband know that both of you need to put each other first rather than your respective belief systems. Although as LDS members we’re taught that God and Church come before family…I personally believe that this is backasswards. Put your marriage/family first…before your church.
04. Garner mutual respect…each of you needs to respect that you both have needs. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Let him know that he is always welcome to accompany you to church if and whenever he may desire to do so in the future. But also let him know that you accept that he may never want to do so and that that is ok with you too. Basically mutual respect means that both of you are willing to be less dogmatic and more pragmatic…in other words more willing to make compromise to accommodate each other’s needs (this does not mean that he “must” attend church with you)
05. Don’t use the church as a wedge to divide…rather respect that your husband has legitimate reasons to no longer believe…but at the same time he needs to respect that you too have your reasons to want to continue to associate with the church.
06. Show your husband this post…get his input…be willing to talk about this…kill the 500lbs gorilla in the room.
07. Somehow get to the place where the difference in your beliefs is no bigger of a deal then you choosing to shop at Macy’s while he prefers shopping at Nordstrom’s…both stores have their pluses and minuses…but in the grand scheme of things…who cares which store you shop at, if it makes each of you happy to shop at different stores…it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
08. AND again, he needs to respect your desire to remain an active member of the LDS Church and do all he can to support you by not making it difficult for you to attend and participate. But at the same time don’t stand in his way should he chose to go golfing Sunday morning while you attend church. See we’re supporting each other’s respective beliefs…not placing conditions on each other…we love each other in spite of those differences…because we are loving who they are and not what we want them to be.
I might add…that I find it sad when a believing LDS spouse places a religion above a marriage and chooses to end a marriage because of the apostasy of one spouse. I cannot see how someone who is taught that the family is the most important unit of the church…can chose to divide a family because one family member loses belief in said church. (The same can be said of the apostate spouse who chooses to end a marriage over a spouse who wants to remain actively involved in Mormonism…ending a marriage over religion…is just plain stupid)
I hope this helps...