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We can't get married

Posted: 31 Jan 2020, 20:30
by TinSoldier
I hardly know where to start with my story, but I imagine that's fairly typical around here.

In 2009 I split from my ex when she walked out on me. In early 2010 I got to know one of my Facebook friends online about the time her spouse walked out on her. Shortly after, she became interested in the Church, totally on her own. At the time she had no idea I was LDS, but when she told me I laughed and told her I was a member and she started asking all sorts of questions. We both firmly believe we were brought together at a time when we both needed someone. The problem is, she was about 2000 mile away. I went to visit for a few weeks, then a few weeks after I went home she was baptized. Then a few weeks after that two things happened for me; first I started a new job, and second, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. She came to my home to help me after my surgery that summer and had a couple more extended visits that year before moving in permanently at the beginning of 2011. We became engaged, but to this day we haven't been married. The problem is that my cancer surgery wasn't successful, it had gotten into my lymph nodes. That means I'm stage 4 and I'm sure it will eventually be terminal, but we've been able to manage it so far. It's still on the march and last year I had chemo (I went on SSDI at the same time) and a year later now my numbers are creeping up again. So the situation is that I'm terminal and if we married she wouldn't haven't a means of supporting herself. I simply don't have any means of providing for her. Her ex was a union plumber and her share of his Social Security (she was a stay-at-home mom and doesn't have enough years of income to receive it on her own) and his very modest pension will give her enough to get by. There's a LOT more, but those are the highlights.

The year after she moved in, we buried both my parents, just two weeks apart. We had been traveling to their home a few hours away on a very regular basis, sometimes weekly, to help take care of them. After they passed, we both had a strong prompting at the same time that we should change our course, buy my parents' house from their trust, and move to a new city.

As you might expect, we've had quite a bit of people judging us at church. I can't completely blame them, I never could have imagined myself in this sort of situation. We spoke to the bishop together while I was in chemo. He made it clear that regardless of whether or not we're obeying the law of chastity, the fact that we live in the same house is enough to disqualify us from having temple recommends or even callings. We have separate bedrooms, on different floors of the house. The law of chastity isn't a big problem given that my cancer treatments amount to a chemical castration and my surgery left me impotent, plus she is past menopause and on medications that further lower her sex drive. She got very ill at the end of 2018 from a bug she picked up while she was volunteering at the Nativity event at the stake center and with complications, she's barely been able to attend church for the past year. Now she isn't sure whether she wants to go back, due to the judgmental attitudes we experience. I understand and quite frankly, sometimes I wonder what the church really has to offer me at this point if I can't really take part beyond simply attending meetings. To some extent, I feel that way about my life. I know my time is somewhat limited and I can't work even if I wanted to or else I'll lose my meager benefits. In sum, I feel largely aimless and without purpose, at church and with life in general. And we'd both absolutely love to be married and sealed in the temple, but both feel discouraged that will ever be possible.

There's a lot more to this whole story, but I think that's enough for now.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 01 Feb 2020, 13:14
by mfree6464
I'm sorry to hear you are going through such challenging times. Failed marriage, cancer, deaths of loved ones. Each one is enough to break an individual, let alone having to deal with the complications of all three concurrently.

You end your words by stating you would love to be married to your new love in the temple but it seems you are prevented from doing so logistically (lack of financial means) and spiritually (by virtue of the bishop denying you a recommend.)

I have never been a bishop so I don't know what kind of hard-and-fast rules they are given but it sounds to me like he is spit-balling when it comes to denying you a recommend and/or callings. You are either breaking the Law of Chastity or you are not and sharing a roof has nothing to do with the LoC. Maybe he is concerned with the "appearance of evil" but avoiding the appearance of evil is not a question on the temple recommend interview list. Your situation is unique and shouldn't be measured against a more typical standard like young couples who are marrying for the first time, IMO.

As for the logistics of getting hitched. Is she able to work at all? Maybe government assistance would be an option? You said there is a "LOT" more to that part of the story so I'm probably not filling in all the gaps.

Really hope things turn around for your health and happiness.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 01 Feb 2020, 13:52
by TinSoldier
Yes there's a lot more. For example, a couple of years ago her estranged husband called her and asked for help getting checked into the state hospital. To make this a little similar, I'll refer to her as MJ and him as G. Over the past several years I've spent some time around G. We lived about 2000 away from him, but we own a small cabin nearby that we visit occasionally. He was out of a job and claimed he was waiting for the union to call him up for another assignment. We wanted to keep him in his house so since I was working on a decent gig (I was an IT contractor/consultant) at the time, I made his mortgage payments for a few months. The house was in a beach community and to complicate matters, he'd fallen behind on his payments and had to make arrangements to get caught up. That left me paying about $2400/mo for a few months. Even though I was earning good money at the time, it was a huge strain. Then my contract ended. Shortly after that is when he wanted to go into the mental hospital. We both knew if he went in, he'd probably be released within a couple of weeks and then not have a home to go back to. He'd be out on the streets, homeless, and with his stranger anxiety he would likely have fallen out of sight and not survived the year. I spoke up and said we had a room upstairs where he could stay. At that moment I was thinking in terms of it being temporary, but that was unrealistic. So now there are three of us in my house, with he "ex" and I living upstairs and her in the master bedroom downstairs. It's hard at times having him here, but we both believe this is the right thing to do.

The bishop knows about this and says as long as she's living in a home with an adult man who is not her husband, she can't go to the temple or have a calling. That means even if MJ and I got married, as long as G is in the house then she still has a problem. And I'll admit, my SSDI is pretty meager so his Social Security and pension make it much easier to get by. Even as it is, we're fairly tight, and it would have been impossible in the months leading up to my chemo when I wasn't working and the only household income was his, before my benefits started. If he moves out we'll figure out how to make it work, somehow. But that's not the only reason he's still here. He wasn't succeeding at living on his own before, and now we can see a gradual decline that makes that even less likely. Physically he's in pretty good shape, but his mental status is less reliable. Most of the time he's OK, but there are times when his "crazy" really shows. People when they first meet his find that's he's friendly and charismatic, but if they spend more time eventually they'll see his have some sort of meltdown.

As for MJ working, her health is not good either. Over about the past five years several different serious health problems have come up. There's even a chance I might outlive her. At any rate, at this point in time she's largely bedridden and unable to work.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 01 Feb 2020, 14:30
by Curt Sunshine
I am so sorry for what you are going through, especially since I disagree with your Bishop.

I am not aware of any prohibition for celebrate people getting sealed, but I will check with a few people I know and let you know what I hear.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 01 Feb 2020, 16:44
by TinSoldier
Being able to get married is, unfortunately, a long-term goal we hope to achieve. In the short-term I'm trying to find reasons to get more motivated to attend on Sundays. I'm generally an introvert and sit alone in the back. A few people know me well enough to greet me, but that doesn't include the bishop apparently. I know I can't hold a calling and I don't have much hope at this point of being able to go to the temple in the time I have left. Perhaps I'll be around to see another bishop, but even then there are no guarantees.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 02 Feb 2020, 10:04
by Curt Sunshine
There is a policy in the section regarding investigators and baptism that says people can't be baptized if they are co-habitating. The person who wants to be baptized has to move out of the house, or they need to get married. There is another section that uses the term "sexual cohabitation".

In both instances, there is a presumption (almost always correct) that people who are living together and want to be baptized are having sex - and thus not following the Law of Chastity. Therefore, they have to live the Law of Chastity to be baptized.

There is no policy that directly addresses celibate co-habitation with members of record.

I assume your Bishop served a mission and sees the baptism policy as a blanket rule. If this is important to you, and if it wouldn't make you bitter if you got the same answer from others, I would suggest talking with your Stake President and, if necessary, your Area Authority.

All that aside, I have to ask for a little more clarification: Why can't you get married civilly? Does she lose her own financial benefits if she marries? That seems to be the implication, but I want to ask, just to make sure I am not misreading the situation.

Last note: If you have a friend at church, I would ask them, directly and clearly, to seal the two of you when you both die. Explain the situation, and make the request. If the person has any influence with leadership, they might be able to help them see how absurd the restriction is; if not, you still can be sealed eventually.

I see the sealing as symbolic, and I like the idea that God will work it out in the end. Do what you need to do to find peace, including, perhaps, focusing on faith in God who understands all rather than in people who simply can't understand.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 02 Feb 2020, 18:55
by TinSoldier
You are correct, I don't see how she could support herself after I pass if we get married. The only way she can claim from her "ex's" Social Security if we get married is if he passes before I do and we don't get married unless he passes away before I do and then we wait until she turns 62.

MJ has said she believes we can be sealed eventually even if we don't get married, or at least that it will be worked out in the end. I have to admit my faith isn't as strong as her's on that. And I've only heard of one case where someone was sealed after death when they weren't married, and that was a couple where one party died in a handcart company and they were sealed about 150 years later. Do you know if that's something that's been done other times? I'd love to find out more about whether this is possible, it would bring me a lot of peace of mind.

Bitterness isn't as much of a problem as simply finding any reason to go. I have had a few limitations for several years, but since I went on SSDI and about the same time was told I can't hold a calling or go to the temple, I've been trying to find a purpose in life.

I never dreamed I'd be in this situation, but life holds surprises for all of us. I was originally married in the SLC temple, then after ~20 years and 4 kids she announced she never really preferred men and a few months later moved out. She's remarried now to an older woman. I married again about a year later, but after about 3 years my second wife moved out. Since then I've come to understand I probably have Asperger's and I'm sure that hasn't made me the easiest to live with at times. Knowing that has helped me adjust some parts of my life, plus with my testosterone basically zeroed out for the past 9 years, plus that my body and heart are weaker from my treatments, I'm a lot more mellow these days.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 02 Feb 2020, 23:45
by Curt Sunshine
So, if you get sealed in the temple, will you not be considered married civilly? My understanding is that in the USA, the temple sealing is filed with the courts and counts automatically as a civil marriage. I don't know of any situations where that hasn't happened.

We don't need to know an actual location (or even country), but do you live outside the United States?

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 03 Feb 2020, 00:49
by TinSoldier
I was talking about finding a way for us to be sealed by proxy after we die, without us being married in this life. I've only heard of one instance of that happening, but I'd love to hear about others or if anyone knows of this being possible.

My personal situation with temple sealings is a little different than most. In addition, I can't be sealed to my father. My mother was widowed on her 21st birthday, during WW2. Several years later my parents were married in the temple, for time only. It took a number of years before I found someone who could tell me how this situation works out for me; apparently I'm sealed to my mother's first husband, who died 15 years before I was born. I don't know what sort of relationship I'll have with my earthly father after this life, but I have to have faith it will work out. I have to wonder how it will work out in the end for him, too.

Yes, we live in the U.S.

Re: We can't get married

Posted: 03 Feb 2020, 06:35
by DarkJedi
I have faith/hope all the sealing stuff will work out in the end, but I also see it a little differently than most members do. That part is difficult to explain, so I just leave it at the hope it all works out. I don't have anything to add to the marriage/sealing part because even if you were allowed to be sealed it's not really the plan today.

Motivation to go to church can be hard. Psychologically speaking everything we do we do because we are motivated to do so, either intrinsically or extrinsically (but mostly intrinsically). I'm not a psychologist or therapist and I didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night so that is my basic understanding of the idea of motivation. Lots of people here struggle with motivation to go to church, including me. I am usually not engaged nor fulfilled by the experience and only on occasion am I uplifted (although I do find some meaning in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper). I have few real social connections at church, although there are people there I talk to and sometimes even talk to outside church (very few of the latter) and I have come to consider the ward my "tribe" (although I'm on the fringe of said tribe). I do partly go to placate/appease my wife, but that was not always the case. I don't believe the "truth claims" of the church and I can see how our worship services could be improved to be more meaningful but I still like, or at least don't adamantly dislike, the way our meetings work (especially since it went to 2 hours). Long story short and speaking from the experience of having been away for 10+ years and having returned, the motivation has to be yours and may not be obvious to you or anyone else.