Navigating the minefield

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StoneGypsy
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Joined: 05 Nov 2014, 07:25

Navigating the minefield

Post by StoneGypsy » 05 Nov 2014, 07:49

Hi all. I'm new here, hoping for some advice. My husband and I were both born and raised LDS. We're a touch quirky and never totally fit within the culture, but we've always been active. Then last year DH told me he stopped believing, and it took me by surprise.

I still believe. Not like I understand everything and don't have a doubt in my head, but I choose to believe. I'm happy that way. I've had crises of faith before, but I've come through believing. Is it simply because I want to? DH thinks so, and I can't confirm or deny it. The very thought of it drives the poor man batty!

We try to respect each others' beliefs, but it's hard for me to share deep feelings with him and have him tell me those feelings are merely the result of manipulation. I know it's hard for him, too. We both love logic and rationality, and my relying on emotion and faith is frustrating to him. And of course there are the kids. Baptism? Blessings? Should we encourage DD to pay tithing on the money she earns? DH still attends church for now. He doesn't want to make waves before he's sure of what to do. When (assuming) he does decide to stop, he knows I'll support him and defend his choice to anyone.

Here's my issue: It's been hard for DH and me not to agree on something important. We've argued so rarely during our 12+ year relationship that we almost don't know how! (Seriously. DH has strong opinions, and I tend to roll with whatever, and that works for us because I know when I do feel strongly, he'll do whatever he can to accommodate me.) But this has been different. Even though we can each see where the other is coming from, not being on the same page is really difficult. Also, he likes to talk things to death, and I feel drained after a while.

I'd love any suggestions on how to have conversations on this tricky, personal subject while avoiding misunderstandings and hurt feelings. We're still crazy about each other and all, but I long for the day when it doesn't feel like walking a minefield every time it comes up (often). Any hope for that? It's been a year, and I'm exhausted!

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West
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by West » 05 Nov 2014, 09:38

Welcome to the forums, StoneGypsy. You'll find other great members here who are in much the same situation as you are with a spouse. They'd be much better than I with offering advice, so I'll just wish you the best in finding the answers you are looking for. At the very least, you can be assured that you are not alone.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

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Heber13
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by Heber13 » 05 Nov 2014, 10:04

As West said, you are not alone. Welcome. Glad you posted your story.
StoneGypsy wrote: I long for the day when it doesn't feel like walking a minefield every time it comes up (often). Any hope for that?
Yes...there is always hope. Relationships are hard. But there is always hope if 2 people can work on it together.

Life has a way of presenting a paradox seemingly crafted just for us...or else we breeze through other trials with ease until we hit the wall of the thing that is going to test us...but there are some things that have no solution, there is not one way, things are not black and white.

It then becomes a matter of what you choose to do about it. Because some things really don't have a solution other than choosing to handle it well.

If it wasn't religion, it might have been a tragedy, a life event, a political ideal, a financial hardship...the list goes on.

If you can use the issue on faith and religion in your home, and base everything on love and understanding and growth, you can find a way you can get through this. Be open to what the Lord is teaching your family. Sometimes it is that others will not believe in God, but we can love them just the same when we focus on eternal principles, instead of earthly creeds.

We are happy to share our stories with you to get ideas, but yours is unique to you and your DH. Take things slow. Breathe deep. You sound like you have had a wonderful loving marriage for 12 years. Build off of that, and don't throw babies out with the bath water.

What you can focus on is Trust and Commitment. If you two trust each other, you can disagree, and yet respect and understand and support each other. If you are committed to the family or the marriage, you find you can prioritize things good, better, best, and let go of some less important things to strengthen the most important things. Trusting each other and being committed are the foundations to a good healthy relationship.

Also, don't conflate issues. Don't pile all issues (tithing, church attendance) with faith or love or service. Separate out issues, take them one at a time and find what is good, better, best for your family.

The Church is a church of love, not fear. Hold on to the good things that help your family be at peace. The Church is there to support you and your family, whatever that looks like, not you have to conform to one way of being LDS. There are many ways to stay LDS even if it doesn't feel like it is the ideal or the way you thought things should be. There are many instruments in the orchestra, we are not all piccolos or violins.

And find ways to build trust in your marriage so that you can share how you feel safely with your DH, and let him also feel how he does, and accept each other for what you have. You should not have to live in a marriage of walking on eggshells all the time.

It's a journey. Pace yourself and go slow, and follow the Maori Proverb:
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."
Look at the good things, let the rest fall behind. Don't lose hope. Choose wisely and let the Spirit be your guide.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

StoneGypsy
Posts: 16
Joined: 05 Nov 2014, 07:25

Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by StoneGypsy » 05 Nov 2014, 16:25

Thank you both for the welcome and the wisdom. So glad to find this site and learn that there are more people facing similar issues. Since we're not telling any friends or family yet, we've both felt pretty alone. Especially appreciate that I'm welcome here as a believer. Doesn't seem as common from what I've read on the forum for someone like me to join in, but everyone seems caring and nonjudgmental.

Not like I don't know pretty much the same things DH does. He keeps giving me more and more to read, and I always do. I think he's hoping I'll change my mind, but then he's disappointed when we draw different conclusions from the same literature. Funny, but he was surprised that I didn't jump right in with him when he started down this way. True, I never loved the mid-week meetings and never felt I needed it for the social aspect, but the church was always important to me. If anything, now I feel like I'm becoming more Mormon, because the responsibility of showing that example to our kids is all going to be on me.

This morning he asked me if I'd have married him if he hadn't been LDS, and I had to say no. Ouch. He was really hurt. I tried to explain that it doesn't mean I don't love him or that I regret it, but he was still hurt. Honestly, I was looking for a temple marriage, and if he couldn't do that, it would have ended our relationship. I didn't think that was a secret. He doesn't seem to remember that he was a TBM at the time, and his answer would probably be the same. He says it wouldn't. I don't know. Guess we've both been making assumptions about each other for a while.

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Daeruin
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by Daeruin » 05 Nov 2014, 22:28

StoneGypsy wrote:Thank you both for the welcome and the wisdom. So glad to find this site and learn that there are more people facing similar issues. Since we're not telling any friends or family yet, we've both felt pretty alone. Especially appreciate that I'm welcome here as a believer. Doesn't seem as common from what I've read on the forum for someone like me to join in, but everyone seems caring and nonjudgmental.
It isn't very common for people who describes themselves as a believers to join this particular forum, but we absolutely welcome believers who treat us with the same care and nonjudgmentalism that we try to treat each other with. The problem is that many believers have a REALLY hard time with being accepting and nonjudgmental for those of us with unorthodox belief or complete lack of belief. From the tone of your comments so far, it seems that you don't have that problem. I look forward to your continued participation on this site.

Back to your original post. It's definitely tough. I feel for you. Our circumstances are similar yet different. My wife and I got married outside the temple, so she knew that I had some problems with the church but married me anyway. Still, we didn't talk about specifics for YEARS. We were married for nearly 10 years before things finally started to heat up in that department. She was so patient with me. We have rarely (maybe never) had serious disagreements about anything and have always felt like we have good communication, except on this one issue. I held out for so long because I felt confused and alone and it was so sensitive to me—I was really scared of being rejected. I guess I had my head in the sand, in a way, feeling like if I could just avoid talking about it to her, then we could just continue coasting along as we had without any other problems. Whereas if I came out and told her I no longer believe in God, knowing that she probably still has her heart set on an eventual temple marriage—well, that felt like a huge deal, a potential atom bomb waiting to explode. And it was really tough for a few months. Really tough. She even had thoughts of divorce—something that was literally unthinkable to me, and I had thought it would be unthinkable to her, as well. That really hurt me, as my revelation hurt her. It's not that our marriage exploded. We still loved each other and got along fine. But for a while there was a lot of raw emotion and uncertainty.

Normally, it would be your husband here on the forums asking us for advice on how to stay LDS or remain in positive contact with the church for the sake of his wife... and we would tell him to take it slow, don't dump all his beliefs at once, recognize that he's the one who has changed and so most of the burden is on him to accommodate you and maintain a positive relationship, try to recognize that your beliefs and feelings are just as valid as his, and try to attain a measure of peace with uncertainty or with changed beliefs so that he doesn't feel a need to "correct" or proselytize his new views on his family or other church members. That tends to make things better for the one going through the faith crisis. I'm honestly not sure what advice to give in the opposite situation. Is there any chance he might want to join the board himself?
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

StoneGypsy
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Joined: 05 Nov 2014, 07:25

Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by StoneGypsy » 06 Nov 2014, 07:23

The problem is that many believers have a REALLY hard time with being accepting and nonjudgmental for those of us with unorthodox belief or complete lack of belief. From the tone of your comments so far, it seems that you don't have that problem.
To be honest, I feel more comfortable here than I would in a forum of traditional Mormons. There weren't many other Mormons around when I was growing up, and most of my friends through the years have either been different religions or not religious at all. I love that. I get bored hanging out with people who all think the same as I do. Like living in an echo chamber. But I feel a touch hypocritical too, because if anyone else said, "I don't want my son baptized," I could empathize and understand their decision. But when DH says it about our son, it's harder for me to accept.

One of the hardest things is balancing my response to his FC. On the one hand, I need him to know where I stand and that this is really difficult for me, but on the other, I'm afraid he'll try to change his mind and fake or force himself back into belief to avoid hurting me. I couldn't live with that. Some days I feel pretty okay about things, so it's easier. Other days I excuse myself and cry in the bathroom for a minute before coming back like nothing happened. Never really thought about how pervasive religious topics are - seems like anything can lead us back to that subject if we're not careful. Don't know if it's always been that way and just wasn't a big deal, or if it's happening more on our minds because of this. Both, maybe.

Hope you and your wife are in a good place now. Does sound like we're going through a similar time, and I like hearing about couples who made it through. I didn't see it coming with DH, since he didn't want to tell me at first. Had unwelcome thoughts pop into my head that were horrible to me, then and now, and I was ashamed from the second they came to me. Yes, I thought, "I wonder if we should get a divorce," and then kicked it out as quickly as it came. Never even a semi-serious consideration.
Is there any chance he might want to join the board himself?
He's suffering. I wish he'd come on here and talk with all of you. You'd like him. I've perused the forums for a the last week or so, and he'd fit in well. I hate for him to feel as isolated as he does now. He says he doesn't have time, but I'm not sure. I think he's scared of finding out more things he doesn't want to know about the church, and that it'll make things even harder. What I've seen will be nothing new to him. I hope to learn enough to help us out, and it's been helpful already. Thank you.

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nibbler
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by nibbler » 06 Nov 2014, 07:42

I appreciate your post. It's nice to hear your perspective.
StoneGypsy wrote:Also, he likes to talk things to death, and I feel drained after a while.
StoneGypsy wrote:It's been a year, and I'm exhausted!
That's a good reminder to always consider what impact my pet issues may be having on my spouse. It all started out innocently enough, during the very first discussion over my faith crisis with DW my primary concern was her feelings. I need to be careful that the passage of time doesn't make me lose sight of that. Thanks for sharing.

You might try reading through the Marriage and Family Relations instructors manual:
http://www.lds.org/manual/marriage-and- ... ors-manual

I'll echo the disclaimer I always hear when people are invited to this Sunday School class is "we don't think anything is wrong with your relationship." I certainly don't. I just think that reading it together might give you some insights. I attended this class recently and I attempted to view the material from the more traditional viewpoint of husband:wife but I also tried to view the material as applying to the church:member relationship as well. That might be enough of a hook to get your husband interested, it might even help if he still attends church.

Best wishes.
None of the things one frets about ever happen. Something one's never thought of does.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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nibbler
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by nibbler » 06 Nov 2014, 08:16

StoneGypsy wrote:One of the hardest things is balancing my response to his FC. On the one hand, I need him to know where I stand and that this is really difficult for me, but on the other, I'm afraid he'll try to change his mind and fake or force himself back into belief to avoid hurting me. I couldn't live with that. Some days I feel pretty okay about things, so it's easier. Other days I excuse myself and cry in the bathroom for a minute before coming back like nothing happened. Never really thought about how pervasive religious topics are - seems like anything can lead us back to that subject if we're not careful. Don't know if it's always been that way and just wasn't a big deal, or if it's happening more on our minds because of this. Both, maybe.
That is a difficult situation.

I certainly consider myself to be very fortunate in that my DW is very supportive. She would want me to make the decision to leave the church if that's what I felt I needed to do. I don't want to leave the church but she is willing to support me in that decision. It's a two way street, I also support her in her beliefs. I want her to be the best latter-day saint that she can be. When we discuss things it usually doesn't take the tone of one person trying to convert the other to their way of thinking, we usually both relate how we feel and somehow come out the other end edified. The goal of the conversation was to understand one another better, not to change the other person.

That's me though, DW might tell you otherwise. :oops:

It really helps that my DW is much more emotionally mature than I am. She's had a nice healthy attitude that things will all work out in the end, something that I needed a faith crisis to understand. :eh:

One thing that I can say is that I feel like talking to my DW about my faith crisis has strengthened our bond. I was faking it but I was too vulnerable to speak up. I felt all alone but I didn't want to share. I was holding something back from DW. Opening up to her allowed me to be myself again. It allowed me to invite her back into my life as a help meet, to have her by my side again. I was vulnerable but I was shown love unfeigned.

Perhaps your husband has gone through similar emotions. Holding a part of himself back for years but once the waters were tested he let the dam that had been holding back decades of angst break open. He could finally share his innermost troubles, he was no longer alone in this world. Sharing beliefs could be a new and exciting thing that he's waited years to do. Like a child with a new favorite toy that he just won't stop talking about. :angel:

I'm not saying take everything on the chin. I'm just saying what I went through to hopefully put what your husband may be going through into perspective. DW's show of love challenged me to rise above. I'm still climbing that ladder one rung at a time, this time not alone.

Edit:
I forgot to address something else in that quote. If you don't mind sharing, what causes you to cry in the bathroom? I don't mean to pry. It's just that when I was going through a faith crisis I had many moments where I'd cry alone and later come back like nothing was wrong once I got more composed. I'm not insinuating that you may be experiencing a faith crisis, I'm just drawing a parallel. It took forever to muster the courage to cry in front of DW but she couldn't begin to help me until I did. To be blunt, you don't want your husband to be fake for your sake, don't be fake for his.
None of the things one frets about ever happen. Something one's never thought of does.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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SilentDawning
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Nov 2014, 09:21

Been there, doing that.

Here is my position, which is largely autobiographical. Your husband has the luxury of you being easy to get along with, which is great....
We both love logic and rationality, and my relying on emotion and faith is frustrating to him.
I think he needs to respect your emotion and faith for the good of the relationship. Just as I respect my wife's desires to be more active than I am, and other ways she wants to show commitment I don't agree with. So far, we unite on certain issues which could be inflammatory if pressed, but if your husband can support you in your desired level of activity, that would be best for the relationship.
And of course there are the kids. Baptism? Blessings? Should we encourage DD to pay tithing on the money she earns? DH still attends church for now.
My attitude is to keep my disaffection from the kids as much as possible. I encourage them to participate as kids, and let the church do the teaching. My role is to teach the stylistic principles of life (things not covered at church) and to neutralize the negative cultural values and beliefs the kids get at church. After that, let the kids decide what they will do, whether they will get baptized, pay tithing, get married in the temple.

He doesn't want to make waves before he's sure of what to do. When (assuming) he does decide to stop, he knows I'll support him and defend his choice to anyone.
It's a wise man who takes a while to think through all the issues. I'm glad you are supportive of him, and don't let the church's dogma prevent you from putting your relationship first.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Heber13
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Re: Navigating the minefield

Post by Heber13 » 06 Nov 2014, 11:38

I wish spouses and leaders alike would understand the position of someone who begins to doubt or not believe, and that it doesn't label the entire person as bad. But understanding each other is the basis for trusting each other, and then you can stay committed to the relationship and work through finding new ways to adjust to changes.
nibbler wrote:One thing that I can say is that I feel like talking to my DW about my faith crisis has strengthened our bond.
There is the opportunity for that, and its wonderful when it can result in that.

Like many other relationship issues (sex, financial hardships, health issues, etc), there is an opportunity to face the situation and find ways to strengthen the bond.

I've been divorced a year now...in my situation there was just no reconciliation possible. It wasn't rooted in a faith crisis, but actually the faith crisis was the result of the family breakdown. It is hard sometimes not to conflate issues.

Having passed through what I did, I'm more compassionate towards the struggles people have. There are no black and white answers.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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