Help talking to a spouse

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
DoubtingTom
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Help talking to a spouse

Post by DoubtingTom » 17 Jun 2017, 13:45

Today DW and I were talking. She is a TBM and doesn't want to know any of the specifics of why I have a hard time with the truth claims, so we don't talk about it much and we had reached a place of relative peace - don't talk about the issues and we're good.

But today we were talking generically about my faith transition and she brought up how she feels so betrayed by me and how hurt she is. She told me how she feels like this is all my choice and I just don't remember how to feel the Spirit because of mistakes in my past (mistakes that are nearly a decade old and fully repented of when I was a TBM).

I tried really hard to try to explain my journey without going into any specific details. About how this has been a loss for me as well (losing the comfort of a "true" church) and not what I signed up for either. How the only "choice" I made was to dig deeply in an effort to understand better and hopefully resolve the many issues on my shelf and the result of that honest and sincere effort was my loss of literal belief. I tried to help her understand that what I believe now is not a "choice" any more than it's her choice not to believe in Santa Clause (that comment probably didn't go over well).

She said she just wishes I could go back to where I was before and asked why I'm not trying to get back to that place of belief. I said that would be like trying to unlearn how to read - to just see random characters again now that I know what they really mean.

Ultimately I was at a loss. I just wanted to comfort her and reassure her that I love her, and I tried. But she was sobbing and I just felt like such a jerk of a husband. I understand how she's feeling this way, but also wish she could try and understand my perspective.

So I'm asking for advice on what to say, how to say it, when to say it, any other material that might be helpful, etc. I am at a loss.

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Reuben
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by Reuben » 17 Jun 2017, 14:52

In a lot of situations, there's no one thing you can say that will make everything better. In particular, you can't take someone's hurt away with exactly the right words. Explained to the believer: the effectiveness of "be comforted" is reserved for deity. Explained to us apostates: the idea that just the right words can bring such comfort is a conceit that has to go, like so many others.

That being said, "I don't understand what you're going through, but I'll sit with you in your grief" goes a long way.
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Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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Reuben
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by Reuben » 17 Jun 2017, 15:35

In the medium-to-long term, the most poisonous thing that can happen to your relationship, and the most likely thing to bring it down, is lack of mutual respect. I'm sorry to say, and you've probably noticed, that the Church actively discourages respect in situations like ours. The story it tells about us is exactly what your wife told you about yourself: you've forgotten, you've sinned, you're not trying hard enough. The Church arms its members with these false narratives to hurl when they feel betrayed, and teaches them by example that doing so is how to occupy the moral high ground. I know of only one GA statement to the contrary, by President Uchtdorf. (There are probably a few others, but not many.)

My objective isn't to raise hackles - though I might have just done that - but to point out that in this regard, you have an uphill battle. Your life has to demonstrate that these narratives are false. Your actions have to tell the true story. It sucks that minorities like us have to work so hard against power and privilege, but that's the way the world has always been. It's the thing about staying active that frustrates me the most.

If it helps - and honestly, it might not - right now, your wife is probably as incapable of believing the truth about your disaffection as you are of believing the Church's truth claims. It won't fit into her worldview yet. It's like a leftover piece from what appears to be a perfectly completed jigsaw. It's a thing of nonsense, an aberration; it's 2+2=5. Worse, it's a threat to her identity.

Ideally, she'd have someone besides you to talk to about your disaffection, who encourages respect or at least doesn't push the false narratives. Does she have someone like that?
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Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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Reuben
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by Reuben » 17 Jun 2017, 15:46

Has she read this?

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/07/when ... -believing

While it suggests that obtaining a testimony again is the only correct choice for an unbeliever (of course it is!), it has a lot of good in it anyway.
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Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

DoubtingTom
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by DoubtingTom » 17 Jun 2017, 17:27

Reuben wrote:
17 Jun 2017, 15:35
In the medium-to-long term, the most poisonous thing that can happen to your relationship, and the most likely thing to bring it down, is lack of mutual respect. I'm sorry to say, and you've probably noticed, that the Church actively discourages respect in situations like ours. The story it tells about us is exactly what your wife told you about yourself: you've forgotten, you've sinned, you're not trying hard enough. The Church arms its members with these false narratives to hurl when they feel betrayed, and teaches them by example that doing so is how to occupy the moral high ground. I know of only one GA statement to the contrary, by President Uchtdorf. (There are probably a few others, but not many.)
Thanks. It's hard finding this to be the case. I can respect where she's at and her viewpoints because I was there not too long ago. But she's never been where I'm at and only has those false narratives to rely on. And she is "hurling" them at me pretty hard. But I can take it. I just hate how it's hurting her so much. I support her and the kids, I'm there for them and her, I help around the house, I provide a very comfortable life style for them, I'm absolutely committed to her and our family and I'm faithful to her. But because my beliefs have changed, I'm still the bad guy. And that's hard.

Do you know the reference to that Uchtdorf quote?

And she doesn't have anyone to talk except other TBMs that will continue to support the narrative that there's something fundamentally wrong with me.

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Reuben
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by Reuben » 17 Jun 2017, 18:02

DoubtingTom wrote:
17 Jun 2017, 17:27
Do you know the reference to that Uchtdorf quote?
Come, Join With Us, October 2013 General Conference. Money quote (for us):
The search for truth has led millions of people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there are some who leave the Church they once loved.

One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”

Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.

Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.

In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.
DoubtingTom wrote:
17 Jun 2017, 17:27
And she doesn't have anyone to talk except other TBMs that will continue to support the narrative that there's something fundamentally wrong with me.
Ack.

Is it possible to get support from local priesthood leaders? Are you still the EQ president?

I'd love to replace one of her friends with my wife. It's too bad the world doesn't work that way.
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Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

DoubtingTom
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by DoubtingTom » 17 Jun 2017, 18:53

Reuben wrote:
17 Jun 2017, 18:02
Is it possible to get help from local priesthood leaders? Are you still the EQ president?

I'd love to replace one of her friends with my wife. It's too bad the world doesn't work that way.
I wish she had someone more understanding to talk to.

I don't know what kind of help local priesthood leaders could offer other than the traditional narrative.

Yea, I'm still the EQP. My stake president wants to meet with me tomorrow (on Father's Day!) and I could have said no, but I'm planning on asking to be released. It's time. I've hung in as long as I can as my faith has continued to unravel. I'm at a point now where I don't think he would honestly want me serving in this role. I need to take a step back and focus on supporting my wife and figuring out where I'm at as well.

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mom3
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by mom3 » 17 Jun 2017, 22:34

Stop talking. At least to her. On this subject. Give her time. Maybe even a lifetime of time.

As the one once in her position - you have terrified her. The pain is equivalent to marital betrayal. It hurts that much. It is that scary. No matter how much it hurts you, it freezes her. She wasn't looking or expecting it. Her world frame has no reference point to this. It may in time. It happened for me. I have seen it happen to other family members and friends. But if you honor her at all stop making Santa Clause statements etc. it is only going to alienate anything you have.

It's easy to blame the church. Just as believers blame non-believers. But we aren't the only religion or marriages that face this. As hard as it is to hear right now - she deserves your commitment to her first. That may mean a lifetime of silence from you. Or it may mean she just needs time.

Vent here, cry here, rage here. PM people. But don't do it to her until all your anger has run dry.
Don't share your details with the SP or anyone. Not until you are calm.Like Zen calm

Accept this crisis as an opportunity to love far beyond anything you have done in your life. Whether she stays with you or leaves. Love her as the highest human being on earth. Time will take care of the rest.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Ann
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by Ann » 18 Jun 2017, 02:10

My response is always to recommend Thomas Wirthlin McConkie's "Navigating a Mormon Faith Crisis." Not at Deseret Book last time I looked, but maybe Signature and certainly Amazon. The title is boring with a capital "B," and the cover art is off-putting, but I think it's pure gold on the inside.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7023&p=98634&hilit= ... kie#p98634

Otherwise, my too-simple advice is to be loving and at least look happy. The more comfortable I was in my own skin, the less tension in our house.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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dande48
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Re: Help talking to a spouse

Post by dande48 » 18 Jun 2017, 04:28

One of the HARDEST things for a TBM spouse of someone like you or me, is wondering how you could abandon something so precious and so central to your life... and what would keep you from discarding your marriage, the same way you discarded the Church. It's hard not to feel very insecure, especially when the Church emphasizes placing your love and your duty to God before all else.

There's also the difficulty of keeping the commandments. We are often taught in Church that we should keep the commandments out of love for God, or at the very least, out of "duty to God". We are taught that the commandments are good because they are given by God. If there was no God, there would be no good or evil, no sin or righteousness... that without God, we are "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men..." What's to stop you from being unfaithful to your wife?

Deep down, her concerns are probably not about your religious faith, so much as the fear of losing you. Be sure to comfort her, to reassure her that you're not going anywhere, that your feelings haven't changed, that you made a promise when you married, and that you fully intend to keep that promise (God or no God). Make sure she knows that your "faith transistion" has nothing to do with her, or your love for her, or commitment towards her. Reassure her often; she is in a very delicate place.
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

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