“I Was a Good Mormon Wife … Until My Husband Stopped Believing in God”: An Alternative Ending

Richie T July 31, 2014 4

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“I Was a Good Mormon Wife … Until My Husband Stopped Believing in God”: An Alternative Ending

I recently ran across the article that was floating around on Facebook entitled I Was a Good Mormon Wife … Until My Husband Stopped Believing in God- Sean and I had the perfect life. Then his faith started to crumble — and mine did, too. Its words ripped open the wound that has been healing for a few months and poured a whole package of salt on it. Ouch. The painful part is not necessarily how similar our stories are, but the reminder of the typical black and white viewpoint regarding outcomes of a spouse’s faith crisis- either you get to have faith or you get you have your spouse. CHOOSE! What I’ve found, however, is that this world is not so black and white. Diverging from what is too often the outcome, I pave my own gray path. Maybe hearing the gray can help you pave yours too.

Before I jump into a side by side of this woman’s story and mine, I just want to say that I don’t judge her. I feel the pain she felt. Her concerns with church history are founded and real. I don’t judge her decision to leave just as I would hope she wouldn’t judge mine to stay. I don’t see one state of being better than the other. We are all on a journey of gaining understanding.

I previously wrote an article on my story, my perfect Mormon life. It is amazing how in line it is with Maren’s, even down to the dark bedroom confession of my husband not having a testimony. I felt…well… no, I FEEL the eyes of people trying to figure out what is really going on with us. It is not really doctrine that a person leaves just because of disobedience, though church culture would suggest otherwise. Sadly, this misconception has found its way into our curriculum (i.e. most people familiar with Thomas Marsh think that he left because of skimming the cream instead of his other concerns and feelings). I think it is part human nature to create oversimplifications that help us to more easily file the situation away in our minds. If we can blame someone’s doubts on a nameable sin, give it a label, we can just put it away somewhere where we don’t have to think about it (not saying this is the right way to handle it. That’s just how it is). Just as for Maren, this method of oversimplifying was challenged when I saw my amazing husband and his lack of egregious sins. I realized my brain needed some new files.

Like this woman, I wanted to understand my husband. Why wouldn’t I? I love him. I couldn’t just plug my ears and say “lalalalala.” So I started reading books, online publications  and any information I could find from all “sides” of the spectrum. This is the scary part. Even if you get past the polarized opinions of apologists and “anti-mormons” you are still left with the mess we call church history. It is scary because you now see past the gloss, deep into the core of your beliefs instead of the pomp and circumstance of Mormon culture.

What do you believe? What have you felt? Is it because you wanted to feel it, or were you “trained” to feel that way (confirmation bias). Or did you really feel something? The questions go on and on, painfully purging what you thought was this huge testimony down to purity. For me, that purity is believing that Christ is my Savior. He knows me. He knows my husband. It is believing there was a restoration and that I may spend the rest of my life figuring out the details of it. It’s really quite exciting. The gospel is alive to me again.

Some may disagree with me on the next part, but that is the beauty of personal revelation- you don’t have to agree. As far as doing some of those things that make you feel more “adult” as described in Maren’s article, please, go for it! Buy yourself some Victoria’s Secret silkies and parade around the house. Let’s face it, Vickie’s unders inspire more multiplying and replenishing than the ones from the distribution center. I totally understand the importance of this aspect of life for bonding, babies and just for fun. I also understand the importance of the garments as a physical reminder of our spiritual goals and promises. Let the Holy Spirit guide. Sing it with me now!

Live life, whatever that may mean for you, because at the end of the day it is between only you and God. My testimony is mine. It is mine in spite of ugly church history/mistakes of leaders and also because of ugly church history/mistakes of leaders. If God can use those imperfect beings to build His kingdom, then maybe, just maybe He can use me too.

So there’s an alternative ending. Can you retain your faith and your marriage after a spouse’s faith crisis? Can you delve into the ugly and still come out with a testimony of the beautiful? For me, the answer is yes and yes. When your spouse’s faith crumbles, and yours does too, it is an opportunity to build it again on the foundation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Nothing else really matters anyway.

In my last article I invited you to the funeral of my “perfect Mormon life.” This time, I invite you to the pew next to me. Put on your silky panties, try forbidden drinks if you want, but remember on Sunday there’s always room for you right next to me and all the other sinners, doubters, apostates, and even the pretenders.

-RL

4 Comments »

  1. Phillip Kirk July 31, 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Thank you for this. I’ve been experiencing “life” and don’t want to go to church anymore because of the judgement I will undoubtedly receive. It’s nice to know that there are still members out there love and focus on the person, not the struggles.

    • Russ July 31, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Phillip. I’ve been there. Lived “life,” been inactive, now active, and I realized saying I was worried about judgement was me placing judgement.

      So what if people judge? That is theirs to do if they wish, and not our worry.

      I found I was so worried about what others would do when it really only mattered what I did and how I treated them. I found that my worries about their judgement were more of a fear I held than a real worry about what they might do.

      There will always be people who focus on the person, those who don’t, those who think they do but don’t because they are figuring it out too, and those who just never do. Thank goodness we have some of each. Come back.

  2. Jimmy Jon July 31, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Good words to live by. I have friends who have left the church over the same kinds of things. What blew me away was how much they changed to fit what they thought I thought of them. They stopped talking to me, when they bore me their ex-testimony they began with the “So, you probably hate me…” I bore no ill will toward them and expressed to all of them we can still be freinds to try to quell their defensiveness. I’ve even read a lot of what they point me to and they’re the ones who get upset when I don’t share their outrage–I learned most of the history in high school seminary, and I concluded very early on in my life that all religions and religious movements seem to have very very similar origin stories when told from a historical perspective, and so what counts is personal testimony. So basically for me I have the church culturistas on one side with their “That guy in the bollo tie and black levis shouldn’t be let into the priesthood session” (true story) and then certain ex-mormons, including my freinds, who see all LDS church members as those culturistas. Walking the gray path between these two extremes is not fun, even if it’s where I think the truth lies.

  3. Jimmy August 4, 2014 at 2:11 am - Reply

    But wouldn’t those “ugly mistakes” be a sign that maybe the church is not what it claims to be? These mistakes aren’t simply mistakes of human error, these mistakes actually speak volumes.

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