Struggling with how my faith crisis is affecting my marriage

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Roadrunner
Posts: 886
Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: Struggling with how my faith crisis is affecting my marr

Post by Roadrunner » 20 Apr 2015, 10:43

Hello KeitherB,
I feel for you. My wife is a wonderful person who I love very much and I'd do almost anything for her, and we've been married almost 20 years now. She's as TBM as they come and very much a black and white thinker in everything, not only church. That way of thinking causes friction from time to time, and similar to what others have mentioned in their replies, we have an informal agreement to not bring up controversial topics like my faith transition. I think she tries to forget it.

It makes me lonely and I don't feel there's really anyone I can talk to face to face about my faith challenges - it's almost exclusively limited to this forum. She may feel the same lonliness, I'm not sure, because there's probably nobody she can talk about my faith transition with. Occasionally the friction is ugly but for the most part we get along very well. To be fair to my wife, she may feel "confused" by my behavior. I'm in a somewhat visible church calling and although I'm very precise publicly in my language about what I believe, to her and to most people my testimony probably sounds pretty TBM. Also when we first got married I was the more doctrinally rigid of the two of us, so it's likely she feels I've change quite a lot and she's been the steady one.

About 2 weeks ago my son said that in his biology class they were talking about evolution. I stated that to me there's no question about the truthfulness of evolution and that we shouldn't put religion anywhere in the evolution discussion. I also probably said something along the lines of anytime religion conflicts with science go with science. That made her very angry and she basically put me into a corner and said I needed to retract that statement and support the prophet. She apologized a little later and I said I'd be more respectful of her feelings also.

It's not perfect but it's probably not any worse than other sources of friction like money, time, and family priorities. I do think it's possible for us middle wayers to get along with people on other ends of the believing spectrum - believers and non believers alike.

Awakening
Posts: 37
Joined: 08 Nov 2014, 14:19

Re: Struggling with how my faith crisis is affecting my marr

Post by Awakening » 20 Apr 2015, 11:43

Hi All,

Great post Keither. Boy, many of us can relate to this. I have been married 31 years!!! I was "the wife"! ;) For all of you struggling with spouses who don't understand, I just want to say I am so sorry. I am sorry for your pain and loneliness. If I could go back and erase the way I reacted I would in a heart beat. I did feel threatened. I was TBM. My eternal family was falling apart and it was very confusing. I love my husband dearly but I was angry at him for learning all these things and of course, I was in denial about the things he had told me too! How could this be? :shock: I had never heard about most of the stuff he talked about. I finally realized where his heart was. He didn't go out looking for trouble with the church, he went searching for answers for a friend struggling. It was then he came across so many issues he just couldn't close it all out. It is SHOCKING to say the least. Our son came to us with questions because he had a teacher at school that got the kids to think a bit for themselves and he was arriving at the conclusion that there were so many great religions and philosophies out there! He is right, but at the time I encouraged him to keep going to church because I would say, "there is good to glean from it." (Of course, secretly hoping at the time that something would touch his heart and change his mind) Again, what a daunting request for someone who is standing there feeling alone with questions.....keep going to church. Wow! My husband and son both continued to go to church and support me. I am so grateful that I am now able to understand what they were feeling. Yes, I am a Mormon in my core but I have come to open my heart and mind to the flaws, lies, and uncomfortable issues with the church. I took the words "Follow the Prophet, you won't go astray" literally but I am so much more comfortable now, that I have changed my paradigm about the leaders being perfect. Things that ultimately helped me come around were articles and podcasts from members which helped me see the imperfections, which I might add was extremely painful and devastating at first. My husband was awesome and so sweet and understanding and I began to understand him and what he had been going through as well as my son. That's when my heart really began to swell with empathy of what he had been going through all alone. I apologized to both my hubby and my son. Ultimately, my relationship with both my husband and son has grown so much.

It helped me that I have a sister and brother who are also going through their own faith journeys so I do believe it is so important to get yourself some support. Too bad their isn't a website that TBM could go to and get a better understanding from others of what their spouse is feeling. Of course, this would probably never work because at the TBM level we feel pretty "correct" and unwillingly to view or discuss uncomfortable things.

One thing I would suggest is just working on the love and connection in your marriage that is not religious! Dates, thoughtful acts, service, etc. In our church, church becomes so intertwined in everything. It doesn't matter when we're TBM we hardly realize how much it is a part of every single aspect of our life. Stepping back now, I have come to realize how important people are and relationships. Why I fell in love with my hubby in the first place......not all religious answers! :smile:
Last edited by Awakening on 20 Apr 2015, 11:51, edited 2 times in total.

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On Own Now
Posts: 1736
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Struggling with how my faith crisis is affecting my marr

Post by On Own Now » 20 Apr 2015, 11:46

KeitherB,

Some thoughts, but understand, this is just my perspective, and may not match yours... I want to encourage you to be open and honest without the need to pull down your wife's faith. I want to encourage you to understand from her perspective. Some of what I will tell you might seem blunt. All I can say is that when it comes to marriage and mental health, I will be bold.

On differences of opinion: I am an Atheist. Yet, I'm not bothered by the excommunications of KK or JD. Why? Because I see the Church as a voluntary organization - in both directions. KK and JD both openly opposed the Church and/or its doctrines. I'm not saying I disagree with either of them, but I am far more of an apostate in terms of what I believe than KK and at least as far removed as JD... and I am still in the Church. It's not like I'm hiding; my Bishop and SP both know all about me. So, it's difficult for me to say that they didn't bring this on themselves to some degree. The reason I bring this up is simply to point out that there is no right or wrong opinion regarding the excommunications... only opinion.

On differences of perspective: Now, you and I might be able to have a discussion about it and never raise our voices. But that's because we both operate from a common perspective: that the Church is not the Kingdom of God on the Earth, but rather is led by men. So, our discussions and disagreements can be cordial and illuminating. I would expect and hope that you and I could have a civil dialog about it, each trying to understand the other. But that is because we aren't having a discussion about faith or belief. Our discussion would be about organizational behavior. It's like two people from the same race talking about racsim. They mostly see things from the same place. But put people of two different races, two different cultures, two different lifestyles, or in your case, two different religions in a room and ask them to talk about race, culture, lifestyle, or religion, and you are now in a realm where the discussion has shifted. On the surface, it may appear that the topic is one thing, but underneath, it is something entirely different.

On pretending: You said you'd like to talk to her about your spirituality and how you view the Church but you are afraid of driving a wedge between you. I can tell you from personal experience that keeping secrets of that magnitude WILL drive a wedge. When I sank into deep depression, I eventually had to be told by a counselor (professional, not bishopric), that "family secrets are not good." When I finally came clean, it was a tremendous burden lifted from me, and I can count that as the exact moment that I began a spiritual transition that has begun to define me by what I do believe, rather than what I don't. In my case, I was open with my wife, though not as much as I should have been early, but it was my kids and other family members that I was hiding from. It was destructive. It caused depression due to the un-winnable conundrum. I don't recommend it.

On what to say and what not to say: My advice is not to argue about the doctrines, the church, or the culture. Figure out what you do believe, then tell your wife that you no longer believe it all, but here are things you still do believe and the Numero Uno thing that you believe in more than anything else is the two of you. So many times, over and over, I hear on these forums and in talking to other people a constant drumbeat of people arguing with their spouse over the wives of Joseph Smith or the BofA or [insert dubious doctrine]. You said "faith crisis is affecting my marriage". OK. Ask yourself whether your faith crisis or your marriage is more important to you. Then prioritize everything outward based on your answer. If your quest to figure it all out is more important than your marriage, I can't help you. But if your marriage is more important than your faith crisis, then just make sure that everything you say and do is with that in mind. I have come to believe that what hurts marriages during a faith crisis is the very human desire for validation. It is so strong in us that we can't simply say, "I have left the Church" but we have to explain it in excruciating detail in order to absolve ourselves of responsibility. "It's the Church's fault, not mine." I get it. I truly do. But when we say that to a believer, we are attacking their faith. "You see, the reason I'm leaving is that what you believe in is bogus." Instead, for me, I have found that it is most helpful to say that I'm no longer a believer, but that I support you [whoever I'm talking to] and your faith and belief. When asked, I tell them I don't want to get into reasons why. In every case, that has put me in a situation where the other party and I are talking about faith and belief, and that is something we both understand. Also, it's not something that is subject to opinion. I am no longer a believer. That is a fact. It's then easy to BUILD from there. Talking about the why's, on the other hand, results in opinion and difference of opinion; and it's very hard to build upon what we cannot agree upon. Eventually, my wife and I have been able to talk about culture-related issues and the Church, but by avoiding doctrine, we can operate on the same side of things. My believing wife and I both want more women with a voice, acceptance of gay/lesbian people in the Church, and for people to stop reading talks from the pulpit. Those are all secondary to matters of faith.

On responsibility: I believe I have a greater responsibility for kindness, patience, and accommodation. She and I were married in the Temple on a glorious day when we expected to merge our lives together based on love, God, faith, family, hard-work, and Church. Now, many of those key elements have taken a hit. I always keep in my mind that I am the one who changed, not her. It's nobody's fault. I'm not a sinner for changing. There is nothing deficient in me that caused me to change, yet I did change, nevertheless. So, I will continue to support my wife's faith for as long as we are alive. But a funny thing. Because I treat her that way, I have received it all back in kind and then some. She is kind, patient and accommodating of me.

I wish you well. It's a tough situation; but one in which love can prevail.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Roy
Posts: 5707
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Struggling with how my faith crisis is affecting my marr

Post by Roy » 20 Apr 2015, 15:30

On Own Now wrote:Figure out what you do believe, then tell your wife that you no longer believe it all, but here are things you still do believe and the Numero Uno thing that you believe in more than anything else is the two of you.
In disagreements I tell my wife that I want to be her "knight in shining armor." I do this to let her know that my heart is in a good place even when my delivery is lacking.

On the flipside - when DW is really frustrating me I try to remind myself that she is a woman of good will. This helps to not make the disagreement adversarial.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

amateurparent
Posts: 953
Joined: 19 Jan 2014, 20:43

Re: Struggling with how my faith crisis is affecting my marr

Post by amateurparent » 22 Apr 2015, 16:19

At first, my husband felt very threatened my my FC. Once he realized that it didn't really affect our relationship as a couple .. That I wasn't looking for a way to lose the church AND a spouse, he chilled out -- a little.

When he realized that I was working through my thoughts and feelings in a very methodical way -- I am reading, discussing, praying and trying to live an honest and true-to-my-beliefs life, he chilled out a lot more.

At the end of the day, I think most spouses just want to know how this impacts their lives. I am trying really hard to have my FC have a minimal impact on his life. It is important to me that he doesn't feel emotionally isolated or socially embarrassed by my actions.

Losing my testimony in the Church still allows me to be kind. I can be generous. I can be involved in service. I can continue my belief in God. I can make sure my beliefs and my words align in such a way as to allow a life of integrity and honesty, while keeping drama to a minimum.
I have no advance degrees in parenting. No national credentials. I am an amateur parent. I read, study, and learn all I can to be the best parent possible. Every time I think I have reached expert status with one child for one stage in their life, something changes and I am back to amateur status again. Now when I really mess up, I just apologize to my child, and explain that I am indeed an amateur .. I'm still learning how to do this right.

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