How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Discussions about negotiating relationships between faithful LDS believers and the apostates who love them. This applies in particular to mixed-faith marriages, but relations with children, parents, siblings, friends, and ward members is very welcome.
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Vlad the Emailer
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How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Vlad the Emailer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:24 pm

I've been disaffected for so long I think I asked this question some years ago, but regardless, I still don't have my own answer.

My DW is very Mormon, which fits with her very rigid personality. Lot's of black and white rights and wrongs suit her perfectly. Our relationship is far from great even without TSCC, but it's been worse than usual lately because of various child/career challenges. And when life in general isn't going well, a woman wants the comfort of her man. But if her man is an apostate that believes the most important thing in her life, or in the universe for that matter, is a lie, then he isn't much comfort.

All that to say I'm tired of being part of the problem. Actually the biggest part of the problem, because no level of support in any way can make up for being a nonbeliever.

So I'm back to wondering how Mormon I can stand to be to try to be part of the solution. I already attend church, but I don't participate, as I have been open about my situation and the leadership knows I don't believe. It's getting now, though, that I ask myself how much Mormonism I can take. Like, can I give nuanced talks? I don't want to give any, but I ask myself if it would be worth it to reverse course and rejoin true activity....give talks, home teach (it was not teach, but just visit for me, even when I was TBM), clean the church, hold an actual calling.

Do any of you do all that? What about pay tithing (I would definitely opt for the original pay on "increase" version) and attend the temple?

I guess I just think that if someone else can do it, maybe I can as well.

Thanks.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest. - Anonymous

Say what you want about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying. - Kurt Vonnegut

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Stig
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Stig » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:42 pm

I went through the same existential crisis and concluded I couldn't do any of it anymore. Unfortunately, that's why I'm now going through a divorce.
“Some say he’s wanted by the CIA and that he sleeps upside down like a Bat. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

“Some say that he lives in a tree, and that his sweat can be used to clean precious metals. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

Thoughtful
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Thoughtful » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:58 pm

Have you seen Kristy Money's mixed orientation marriage workbook? Dr.Phils book Family First is also good. I think these are both good resources for focusing and building on what is working, even if it's small.

I believe that there's a way to make a mixed faith marriage work, but I'm also trying to figure out out amidst parenting teens, navigating both our careers and trying to not drop balls. After last night, I could see my spouseman writing this same post, just with him in your position asking how much he can justify letting go of his beliefs when the church is harming me, but not harming him.

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FiveFingerMnemonic
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by FiveFingerMnemonic » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:23 pm

I'm thinking the position of limited participation becomes more untenable as time passes. I have been trying to be semi-honest with leadership while still living the basic standards except for home teaching and callings I don't want or can't do in good conscience. The reason is simple, I want to be the one to perform my kids ordinances and prevent the exclusion shame that accompanies being prevented from performing these things. I now have a new bishop and I'm unsure if I can persuade him to allow this like my old bishop did. It's a crap shoot to try and eat your cake and have it too.

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Dravin
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Dravin » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:26 pm

Vlad the Emailer wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:24 pm
Do any of you do all that?
I don't, I'm out and resigned. No talks, family prayers, scriptures, or church attendance for me. Honestly, I find the idea of attending to 'support' the spouse ridiculous. If you decided you wanted to be Catholic would you then expect her to go to mass with you? If I decided to attend some weekly atheist meet-up at a coffee shop or bar would I expect her to show up to 'support' me? No, it wouldn't even occur to ask. There is this idea of support meaning participate that I just don't get except with the possible except of wrangling small children (though offering to stay home and watch them so she can attend technically takes care of that even if no TBM mother would be thrilled at that particular prospect).
What about pay tithing (I would definitely opt for the original pay on "increase" version) and attend the temple?
My wife actually handles the finances, I assume she pays tithing on her earnings. I haven't inquired if she's paying tithing on mine, given we don't exactly have separate bank accounts and our money goes to things like alcohol that I know she'd rather it not go to I'm not going to make an issue of it (though just imagine the amount of expensive scotch and bourbon I could buy if I made those equivalent figures :shock: ).
I guess I just think that if someone else can do it, maybe I can as well.
You've gotta do what works for you an yours. I know there are mixed faith marriages out there that my approach and attitude would send to the divorce court. I will say this, there is a huge spectrum of participation in mixed faith marriages ranging from closeted and active to complete out, so whatever the place on that spectrum that you settle on for your marriage there is most certainly someone else out in the same place as you.
Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

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Vlad the Emailer
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Vlad the Emailer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:57 am

Excellent responses and lots of good thoughts, thanks all.

Yes Dravin, trying to take your approach would almost definitely land me in divorce court, but what is truly sad is that's probably what should have happened 5-10 years ago when this all started. TBM DW tearfully asked then if I wanted to divorce and I answered with an adamant "No". The answer was adamant because that was not what I wanted, yet it was the wrong answer. What I should have said was, "you're bringing it up, and you're the one that can't tolerate a mixed marriage, so is that what you want?".

Anyway, thanks again all. I appreciate your responses.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest. - Anonymous

Say what you want about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying. - Kurt Vonnegut

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Corsair
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Corsair » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:26 am

Dravin wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:26 pm
If you decided you wanted to be Catholic would you then expect her to go to mass with you? If I decided to attend some weekly atheist meet-up at a coffee shop or bar would I expect her to show up to 'support' me? No, it wouldn't even occur to ask.
That's a compelling way to look at it. My wife knows I don't believe at all and it is only recently that she has been able to rationally talk about it. Also, I still attend with my wife but I am flying way under the radar with my ward members and leadership. But this is still only what works for me.
What about pay tithing (I would definitely opt for the original pay on "increase" version) and attend the temple?
I don't pay any tithing at all. I have been lying to my bishop for years about tithing (much to the horror of my wife). Philosophically it bothers me that I have become so comfortable with prevarication. But the increased contributions to my 401K have salved my conscience. Plus, I still feel more honest than the LDS church. While I handle 95% of the finances, my wife does pay tithing on her own money. We have bank accounts for His, Hers, and Ours to facilitate this.

The most weirdly Mormon thing that I still do is give priesthood blessings to my dear wife. Yes, she knows I don't believe and I have never asked for a blessing since my faith transition. But it seems to work for her and I don't have a problem with something that seems to make her happy. I simply say what I think needs to be said in the prayer.

My wife certainly knows that I will not be taking her on a senior mission. Also, I have not had to turn down any calling from my bishop for something that I simply will not do like Ward Mission Leader or Elders Quorum Presidency. I am not somehow claiming that this is the right way to have a mixed faith marriage. But it has worked for me and does support some personal objectives I have. This will probably change if and when I move and we change wards.

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Hagoth
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Hagoth » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:48 pm

Dravin wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:26 pm
I find the idea of attending to 'support' the spouse ridiculous. If you decided you wanted to be Catholic would you then expect her to go to mass with you? If I decided to attend some weekly atheist meet-up at a coffee shop or bar would I expect her to show up to 'support' me? No, it wouldn't even occur to ask.
Actually my wife and I do support each other in these ways. I attend Sacrament Meeting and sometimes Sunday School. She has accompanied me to a Mormon Stories conference, a Mormon Expressions gathering, Community of Christ meetings, Sunstone, Oasis Community meetings and other things. She has actually even offered to go to coffee and exmo gatherings but I told her she probably wouldn't like it. I don't think it's that crazy to attend LDS meetings to support her, as much as I hate it sometimes, because I was fully in and active with her for over 20 years before my disaffection. I'm the one who changed and I know how much it means to her to have me there, even though she knows I don't believe.

On the other hand, I don't pay tithing or accept callings, give prayers, or anything else like that. I drink tea and coffee, which my wife sometimes buys for me, and an occasional alcoholic drink. My leaders know where I am and they seldom ask me to do anything. When they do I decline if it steps over the line of what I feel I can do.

As much as the church makes me want to jab plastic forks into my eyes sometimes, I consider myself very lucky and I seem to have found a middle-way-ish marriage that actually works, not because I walk some kind of pretend-to-believe middle way path, but because we are both willing to meet each other half way. The reason that is such a difficult place to find is that the church poisons the water for anyone whose spouse isn't marching in step with the parade.

When I first found NOM and pleaded for advice to help me keep my life from imploding I was told to Go Slow. I took that to heart and set my sights on the far horizon. Looking back, I think tithing was the biggest hurdle. We started by splitting our tithing money. She would give her half to the general fund and I would give mine to the humanitarian fund. Then I started giving part of it to other charities until finally none of it went to the church. Now she tithes only on her income and sometimes gives that instead to friends in need.

Some people seem to get the best results from ripping that band-aid off, but some of us have had pretty good success eating the elephant one bite at a time. It has been a slow and tedious process but result has been that Mrs. Hagoth has begun to develop her critical thinking skills in new ways. I don't expect or really even hope that she will have a massive faith crisis like I had but I do see her stepping out of the fog of church guilt and authority worship and finding a voice to say "I don't believe that's true" every now and then.
Corsair wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:26 am
The most weirdly Mormon thing that I still do is give priesthood blessings to my dear wife. Yes, she knows I don't believe and I have never asked for a blessing since my faith transition. But it seems to work for her and I don't have a problem with something that seems to make her happy. I simply say what I think needs to be said in the prayer.
I do this too from time to time. I call it a husband's blessing and I tell her that everyone has as much right and authority as anyone else to give a blessing, even if they don't have the antenna.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Emower
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Emower » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:22 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:48 pm
Dravin wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:26 pm
I find the idea of attending to 'support' the spouse ridiculous. If you decided you wanted to be Catholic would you then expect her to go to mass with you? If I decided to attend some weekly atheist meet-up at a coffee shop or bar would I expect her to show up to 'support' me? No, it wouldn't even occur to ask.
Actually my wife and I do support each other in these ways. I attend Sacrament Meeting and sometimes Sunday School. She has accompanied me to a Mormon Stories conference, a Mormon Expressions gathering, Community of Christ meetings, Sunstone, Oasis Community meetings and other things. She has actually even offered to go to coffee and exmo gatherings but I told her she probably wouldn't like it. I don't think it's that crazy to attend LDS meetings to support her, as much as I hate it sometimes, because I was fully in and active with her for over 20 years before my disaffection. I'm the one who changed and I know how much it means to her to have me there, even though she knows I don't believe.
This how I feel. You can only expect as much support as you are willing to give out right? Good thing for me my wife is willing to give more than she receives. I attend. I don't pay tithing. I try hard to keep my mouth shut in public. I also try hard not to grope her in public. You do what you have to. I don't have much experience with things being demanded of me. But because that is the case, I would be willing to put up with a whole lot if that is what it took to be with the person I still want to spend my life with.

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MalcolmVillager
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by MalcolmVillager » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:02 pm

Only my closest family and some NOM friends know of my current crisis. Only NOM knows of my deepest disbelief.

I feel called to help be a bridge for those struggling. It was tough for me, all alone with only the internet (thanks NOM). I have been able to help several real life friends who have had some serious shelves crash. That makes it worth it.

My TBM sister just gave me permission to speak with her apostate 20 y.o. son to see if I can give him some perspective. I am not sure how much I can be real with him. Hopefully enough to mend fences between him and his parents.

I still go, unless I can convince the family to do something fun (which was frequently in summer, but now the wi get is here to kill that). I have a calling, but less important than my past. I pay tithing like clock work, but privately to the COJCOLDS and significantly down from the past.

It works. The kids are the big issue. DW would not consider leaving regardless of truth. The commujnity is too Mormon to risk their happiness and perceived in-crowd worthiness.

Here is a post I made on a FB group today (hello to possible cross-over members)

TL:DR why I stay

Almost everything I participate with in life is "not true" and certifiably not even "the best." Yet I continue to send my kids to inferior schools, cheer for depressingly bad sports teams, work for a company that drives me crazy, live with a glaringly obvious less than perfect family, and associate with awkward and annoying friends.

Why do I do it? Sometimes I wonder. Inertia, apathy, ignorance, convenience, because it is easy?

I would say that despite all those things, I choose to participate. That is my conscious choice. There is some awfully green grass on the other side of these fences. There are times that I tell myself I am done with all of them. Certainly I will be done on some of the above at some point (kids will grow out of school and I will quit, be fired, or retire from my current job).

I have visited the other side of the fence at times. It helps give me perspective, a change of pace, and to visualize what it would be like to make a move. It helps me appreciate what I have and recognize that the the grass isn't completely green over there either. The occasional change of pace is the variety that spices my life.

So my perspective that it isn't "all true" and that we (Mormons) don't own the market on goodness doesn't automatically drive me from the pews. The hard part is being comfortable enough in my perspective so that blindly following TBM's don't drive me crazy with their overreaching or simplistic statements of "knowledge" and "testimony" at church.

I guess simply, it still works better than crossing that fence for me. The decision is not made in a vacuum. Family, community, culture, and lifestyle are all considerations in the equation.

To an outsider it may appear that my "final" decision is made and that the greener grass no longer tempts me or calls to me. That is not the case. Some Sundays are easier than others. Mountain church occasionally convinces me to come visit. Catholic Mass on vacation intrigues me. Cheering for another team (although never the rival) is a happy distraction from my teams losing streak. Interviewing for a new job, and foolishly turning down a very tempting offer helps me realize that it is my decision. Taking a break emotionally, spiritually, and even physically gives me the stamina to keep going.

Interestingly too, absence makes my heart grow fonder for the company of my imperfect, untrue, and frustrating tribe. And so I go. Mormonism knows me. I practice differently today than I did in the past. I anticipate changes in my future involvement. I will do it on my terms, and that is what makes Mormism my tribe.

I don't feel pressure to fall into an all in, black and white, one way to practice Mormonism. It isn't that simple.

I look at church the same way the Dread Pirate Roberts did about his threat to kill Wesley in the morning. I'll most likely stop going to church next week, but this week somehow works out well enough.

If it had to be "the right way or the highway", I would probably hit the road. I probably never will stop going, but my going will be my way.

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Vlad the Emailer
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Re: How Mormon can you be for your TBM spouse?

Post by Vlad the Emailer » Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:04 pm

Thanks Malcolm, et al. Some really great stuff here.

I find that at times when my very dysfunctional family is particularly dysfunctional I consider trying to Mormon up for DW do she'll have something to be happy about/cling to. But then I get up the next morning to find nothing else has changed and I have no more inclination to be more Mormon than I did the previous morning. It's difficult enough just being in this far (no second Saturday's, for example).

Anyway, thanks again. I appreciate your words and perspectives.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest. - Anonymous

Say what you want about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying. - Kurt Vonnegut

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