Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

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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jfro18
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Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by jfro18 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:57 pm

I haven't posted an update in a while on the mixed faith marriage, but figured I would because I need to vent somewhere.

We've mostly avoided talking about church stuff at home over the last few months, but the days around seeing the marriage counselor always suck. It's one place where we can both talk a little more freely because the therapist will direct things and it keeps them from going off the rails... but then when you get home it just hangs over everything for a few days which is awful.

Our therapist suggested continuing to not take our kid to church until we could find a road map, and DW took him anyway... which led to the next session having the therapist try to put the brakes on. That of course led to a few days of silent treatment followed by being told what a terrible husband I have been to her, how I make her feel so small by pointing out church issues, and how I'm going to make our kid think she's a brainwashed idiot because he's going to hear what I've researched about it someday.

So that was ~4 weeks ago and she stopped taking him again until we can figure it out. I originally said I'm OK with her taking him, but I get to talk to him about church stuff as well -- not going into polygamy, anachronisms, etc but just talking about critical thinking and the importance of really questioning claims that can be validated (not specific to church stuff). At that point she said she didn't want to take him anymore because she didn't want me to talk to him about questioning/etc.

Anyway, we went yesterday and it was just more of the same. She brought up the Oaks "I suggest research is not the answer" line as proof of how people who leave only take things the worst way (I had not brought that line up to her at all)... and that her research with me only made her mad. That spilled into how our kid not going really bothers her because he won't see "the best people she knows" and how he will grow up without apparently a moral code. Her "research" is reading FAIR and super aggressive apologetics like Dan Peterson types... she doesn't "research" with me although she continually says it.

I don't really know where to go from here... she can believe what she wants and I have to accept that, but the fact that she can't be bothered to go over church stuff while wanting our kid to go without any outside influence is really tough for me esp given the recent demonizing of those who point out these issues. I know someday he'll be old enough to go over things with, but at that point he'd have 12-16 years of indoctrination of thinking it's the only way. And there's no balance it... which is why the therapist wanted him to stay home and allow us to work on morals/being good/helping the community outside of church until he's old enough to actually understand what the Mormon church is.

Sorry I'm venting... I had mentioned at one point how the beginning of the end for me was going through the temple and how when the old man touched me (and it was on top of the leg halfway between my crotch and outer leg - is that normal?) I just felt so awful and weirded out... I never said I felt sexually assaulted but how it was the moment where I just couldn't mentally make it work anymore. So last night as we're going to bed of all the things to ask she says "When you say being touched at the temple was bad for you, are you saying he touched you sexually?" I don't even know where to go with this. :cry:

I could go on and on, but at the end of the day while my anger is at the church for being dishonest her anger is 10x on me... and I can't change what I've learned and I can't change history even if she refuses to acknowledge that it's there. She keeps hinting at divorce and then backs away from it... I'm pretty sure at some point that's going to break through... and the greatest irony of all is that the biggest problem (trying to balance our kid with the church) will not be solved one bit if that happens.

ETA: this post is way too long. sorry. :lol:

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Red Ryder
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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:34 pm

I remember being at this phase in our marriage therapy. We didn't make much progress and it felt useless. When we voiced that concern, our therapist suggested we weren't at the root problem. She asked us if the church was a deal breaker? We both said no. That ultimately meant that the marriage came before the church. That meant that she could have her beliefs and rituals and I could have by lack of belief and rituals. We were both desiring respect from each other.

Our therapist then looked at us and said "how can you build trust, respect each other, and strengthen your marriage?" We both looked at her with doubt in our eyes and basically said "I dunno, that's why we are here??" She then said you have to learn to communicate!

Talk about your fears. Talk about your desires. Talk about your future. Talk about your goals. Talk about your life together.

Then she gave us the tools to learn to communicate better:
Be able to listen
Be vulnerable
Be empathetic
Learn to turn towards each other
Learn to recognize conflict
Learn to repair the relationship after the conflict.

Conflict will always be a constant, but learning to repair the relationship afterwards and turning towards each other will prevent it from eroding your marriage.

Perhaps like us, you're focused on the wrong problem.

Focus on YOUR relationship with HER and not her relationship with the church!
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:51 pm

By the way, our therapy was based on Gottman's Sound Relationship House.

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Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by jfro18 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:58 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:34 pm
Conflict will always be a constant, but learning to repair the relationship afterwards and turning towards each other will prevent it from eroding your marriage.

Perhaps like us, you're focused on the wrong problem.

Focus on YOUR relationship with HER and not her relationship with the church!
I think that's great advice and I think on some level we've been trying that the last few months by kind of ignoring church stuff and leaving talking about it with other people - it just seems like every session with the therapist it brings everything up.

But right now our issue is with how to handle our kid... and that's maybe the root problem? The therapist wants us to get everything else better before we work on that, but I think on some level my wife knows if he doesn't go continuously from birth he will never accept it. To me that says a lot but I obviously would never say it for obvious reasons.

She also really thinks my feelings about the church equal my feelings towards her, because she will say that the church made her who she is, so if I think it's a harmful church to some people that I'm implying that she's harmful and brainwashed and head in the sand, etc. It's impossible to have that conversation because she immediately backs me into a corner by saying that she "sustains the leaders and as such takes on the church and what they say." So every comment I've made about church history, doctrines, etc she takes as an attack directly on her. :|

I absolutely have made mistakes as I've learned all this church stuff and I know that those mistakes both caused her to double/triple down and to also view everything I say as an attack on her core values... which I know is not a unique thing but it is really difficult to talk through even during the sessions.

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:26 pm

A discussion on core values helped my wife understand that my lack of belief in the church didn't equate to losing shared core values. She constantly used the phrase "I wish we were on the same page" and I would automatically reply back with "hey, at least we are in the same book!" I just interpret the characters differently.

You'll have to reassure her that her fears are legitimate but that you're not going to kill puppies and prostitutes. Mormonism engrains fear into it's members. Once you can identify and alleviate those fears things get better. Then the untangling can happen.

How old is your son?
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by RubinHighlander » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:51 pm

he will grow up without apparently a moral code.
This one is very familiar for me but in a different situation. I was divorced and had grabbed the church as a shelter because it was all I had for support. I vividly remember throwing that line at my X:

"Where will the kids learn moral values if they don't go to church? From you? You slept with another man and tried to hide all of that from me and the kids and now you live with him. They are no stupid, they will figure it out."

So I understand where your DW is coming from, although yours in still a marriage. Like others have pointed out, finding the common ground and sticking to that offers a more positive direction. Might I also suggest you can point out to the therapist that the church is getting right into the middle and is the crux of the friction in your relationship; find a way to get it out of there. Easier said that done, but honestly I think I'd stop talking about it altogether. Maybe that sounds like sweeping the issue under the rug but the problem is the more you fight about it with your DW the bigger the divide becomes. I think now that it's out in the open that you don't believe it and she does, drop the topic. Your wind about it is only making her double down and pull her TBM gymnastics jacket tighter around her.

Once I had outed my doubts to my then TBM DW that started her dissonance, then I just dropped it unless she brought it up. I always emphasized how important she was to me and how important our marriage was and that the church and my doubts were secondary. I doubled down as a good husband and over time I tried to take the church out of our lives. I did this by taking more weekend trips as a family or couple, away from the noise of society and the church. Nothing fancy, just local national parks and beautiful outdoor places, easy overnight trips. DW began to see how much better a weekend could be away from church, how much less stressed she was going back work Monday. That added to the drudgery that church brought on the weekends we attended. Sometimes she'd check in with me on my doubts and I'd tell her they had not changed or that it didn't matter, that what mattered was us, not the church or it's crazy history or truth claims. All that effort over a year and a half paid off. She gained confidence and comfort that our marriage was sound, that I was actually a better husband and happier than I'd ever been and it gave her freedom to entertain her own doubts. If I did get into specifics I was very sincere in expressing to her the mental pain it caused me to know factual things about Joseph Smith or the Church's truth claims and that it made me feel betrayed. Having both been through past bad marriages, she understood the word betrayed very well.

Anyway, eventually her shelf broke and it was that much easier for her because I was already mentally out. One advantage she had was that she had very little social ties to church. She never liked attending any of the extra activities. So it's different for each couple and I have no idea if this method will work for you, but it sounds to me like the fight over the church is not helping anyone in your situation. Maybe for Valentines you take her out and spoil her and tell her that she matters the most and that you are there for her and don't want to fight or talk about the church anymore, that's you support her and want to make your marriage the priority. My two cents; keep venting and good luck!
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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by jfro18 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:54 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:26 pm
You'll have to reassure her that her fears are legitimate but that you're not going to kill puppies and prostitutes. Mormonism engrains fear into it's members. Once you can identify and alleviate those fears things get better. Then the untangling can happen.

How old is your son?
He's six -- he hasn't gone much over the last 9 months because of my stuff with learning the church. She actually decided early on not to take him for a while which was helpful because it took that issue away (temporarily) so we could work on us, but then at end of 2018 she said that she wanted him to go again. That's when I said that was fine with me as long as she was OK with me talking with him about critical thinking and asking questions it just did not go over well.

I don't think she worries about me turning into a different person - I haven't gone to church in years, but even when I stopped going I was *still* afraid to research the church. That might be a whole different thread, but we did OK just completely ignoring church stuff until kid stuff started ramping up which finally pushed me into researching to know for sure if my problems with polygamy/ban on blacks were true or not... I had no idea about most of the other stuff but polygamy and the temple really messed with me and then my EQ president unintentionally shoved me out but giving me some not-so-subtle ultimatums about participating more in church activities. :lol:

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by jfro18 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:02 pm

RubinHighlander wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:51 pm
Anyway, eventually her shelf broke and it was that much easier for her because I was already mentally out. One advantage she had was that she had very little social ties to church. She never liked attending any of the extra activities. So it's different for each couple and I have no idea if this method will work for you, but it sounds to me like the fight over the church is not helping anyone in your situation. Maybe for Valentines you take her out and spoil her and tell her that she matters the most and that you are there for her and don't want to fight or talk about the church anymore, that's you support her and want to make your marriage the priority. My two cents; keep venting and good luck!
I actually like this approach a lot -- and I think it will be much easier to do once we figure out a roadmap for navigating our son. Our therapist's suggestion which I like is to just teach him our shared values including teaching about Jesus and then once he's maybe around 10-12 start to move to more specifics on what his mom believes and goes to and what his dad believes.

That way we can completely leave church off to the side and focus on family instead, but I don't think that's sustainable for DW because she clearly believes you can't raise kids good w/o it even though I was raised without it.

We'll see what the next week brings - Valentine's Day is gonna be a blast. :|

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by alas » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:30 pm

jfro18 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:58 pm
Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:34 pm
Conflict will always be a constant, but learning to repair the relationship afterwards and turning towards each other will prevent it from eroding your marriage.

Perhaps like us, you're focused on the wrong problem.

Focus on YOUR relationship with HER and not her relationship with the church!
I think that's great advice and I think on some level we've been trying that the last few months by kind of ignoring church stuff and leaving talking about it with other people - it just seems like every session with the therapist it brings everything up.

But right now our issue is with how to handle our kid... and that's maybe the root problem? The therapist wants us to get everything else better before we work on that, but I think on some level my wife knows if he doesn't go continuously from birth he will never accept it. To me that says a lot but I obviously would never say it for obvious reasons.

She also really thinks my feelings about the church equal my feelings towards her, because she will say that the church made her who she is, so if I think it's a harmful church to some people that I'm implying that she's harmful and brainwashed and head in the sand, etc. It's impossible to have that conversation because she immediately backs me into a corner by saying that she "sustains the leaders and as such takes on the church and what they say." So every comment I've made about church history, doctrines, etc she takes as an attack directly on her. :|

I absolutely have made mistakes as I've learned all this church stuff and I know that those mistakes both caused her to double/triple down and to also view everything I say as an attack on her core values... which I know is not a unique thing but it is really difficult to talk through even during the sessions.
She feels you are attacking her core values, which the church taught her. So, maybe it is time to have a discussion about core values, not how she learned those values. Get down to the values themselves. Honesty, trust, service....get her to write them down, while you write down yours...at least that is an exercise I would have you do if you were in my office for marriage counseling. Them compare them. Your core values are going to match up pretty well with her core values, because like it or not you both learned them from the church. She has one that she probably believes is “follow the prophet”. But that isn’t a core value, but a short cut to deciding what your values are. It is actually letting someone else tell you what your values are. If she has not internalized her core values, but still gets them from the church, sort of handed to her, then as the therapist, I would have her think through for herself sort of what she would take with her if she left the church. You can’t take “follow the prophet” if there isn’t a prophet. So, what are her values?

I don’t know if you can navigate this as a conversation between the two of you because she will be insulted if you suggest that she is still like a little kid getting her values handed to her, rather than deciding for herself what she holds dear as a good way to live.

You have probably had to sort through your values. What do you keep from the church and what do you leave. Smoking? I still think it is a terrible idea. Drinking? In MODERATION. Coffee? No problem. Cheating on taxes? Not a good idea. Tithing? To charities that are transparent about where the money goes. Kindness? Please kick me if you catch me being unkind.

Once she can separate her values from church, then you can show her not only that you respect her values, but that you still share many of them. You just no longer believe that the church is the only place you can get values. You can respect her values without agreeing with her about the church.

As I was writing this, some good ideas were suggested by others. One was that you stop talking about the church. That is kind of what I am suggesting here too. Separate out core values from the delivery device of those values, which was the church. This will help her trust that the son can be taught values without going to church.

But, the church insists that children be brought up going because it knows just like you and your wife know, people don’t often believe it if they are not trained from an early age. This is your wife’s big fear, that if dear son doesn’t attend with her, you will win. But this risks turning a child into a pawn in a fight between parents over the church.

Once again, if you can agree on what you want your child taught, rather than arguing about *what* will do the teaching, then you can get the church out of the discussion.

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by jfro18 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:51 pm

alas wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:30 pm
But, the church insists that children be brought up going because it knows just like you and your wife know, people don’t often believe it if they are not trained from an early age. This is your wife’s big fear, that if dear son doesn’t attend with her, you will win. But this risks turning a child into a pawn in a fight between parents over the church.

Once again, if you can agree on what you want your child taught, rather than arguing about *what* will do the teaching, then you can get the church out of the discussion.
This has been one of the sticking points because I brought up early on that one of my fears is that our (at the time) five year old was already telling me that he "Couldn't wait to go to the temple someday" and "Do you know who can share the Book of Mormon with ours? We all can!"

DW is a teacher so I mentioned how effective repetition is to learning and embedding concepts before they really know exactly what it is they are learning (so they feel like it's the only way), and that I was uneasy about how that would work with our kid if I had to wait until he was 12-14-16-18 to go over my church problems with him.

Anyway... she is very adamant that in nursery/primary/etc they aren't being indoctrinated with these ideas before they can understand them, although the inside of my kid's book of Mormon with his teacher's testimony certainly begs otherwise.

But you're right - the move has to be to get church stuff out of our interactions almost entirely at least for a while including our kid... she doesn't understand that the problems are real because she won't look, and I can't put the toothpaste back in the tube and unsee it all.

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by MerrieMiss » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:43 pm

I wish I had something helpful to say. When I told my husband I don’t believe last month he kept repeating something along the lines of how can we raise the kids if we have different beliefs? “But we have the same values,” I would reply, but it is so hard for those who are in to understand that and I don’t really know how to change that. The church conflates church, god, values, and beliefs. I remember thinking I would be lost without the church, only vaguely aware that I was parroting a line I’d been programmed to say in order to stay on script.

I agree with what’s been said, talking about values is important. Stop talking about church. One benefit of backing off talking about the church is that it gives the believing spouse a rest from being on the defensive all the time and enables them to be critical. Surprise her and defend the church! Build a relationship between the two of you. All easier said than done.

And I’m with you on Valentine’s Day. I’m really dreading it. What a stupid holiday – I was never a big fan anyway.
The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. Most profoundly, the true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control. -Jay Griffiths

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by jfro18 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:15 pm

MerrieMiss wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:43 pm
And I’m with you on Valentine’s Day. I’m really dreading it. What a stupid holiday – I was never a big fan anyway.
Yeah I kind of hate it too -- my wife is hard to shop for and with being Mormon you can't do some of the 'cliche' V-day gifts so it's usually flowers, chocolate, and something random. :)

My V-day card today pretty much sums up the awkwardness well:
"Happy Valentine's Day, Jfro!

I love you for all that you do for our family everyday. You are the best dad for DS. You fix washing machines and unload containers... it makes you sound like a new kind of superhero. Love, DW & DS"

If that was in an LDS Gospel Topics essay, they'd call that a "carefully worded" something. :lol: :cry:

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Re: Trying to balance beliefs and kids and all of the church stuff that comes with it... the jfro update

Post by græy » Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:53 am

jfro18 wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:15 pm
Yeah I kind of hate it too -- my wife is hard to shop for and with being Mormon you can't do some of the 'cliche' V-day gifts so it's usually flowers, chocolate, and something random. :)

My V-day card today pretty much sums up the awkwardness well:
"Happy Valentine's Day, Jfro!

I love you for all that you do for our family everyday. You are the best dad for DS. You fix washing machines and unload containers... it makes you sound like a new kind of superhero. Love, DW & DS"

If that was in an LDS Gospel Topics essay, they'd call that a "carefully worded" something. :lol: :cry:
I don't really have anything to offer here but solidarity and understanding about how hard this is.

I bought my wife a card and a small starburst heart thing (she's actually not a big fan of chocolate). I also picked up a new pair of headphones for her since her's are breaking and only work intermittently. I then left the gift, card, and candy on the kitchen table when we went to bed so they'd be there for her to find the next morning. It was nothing big, but it was something.

After seeing that I did arrange something for her she stole one of the small valentines cards our son used for his school party, taped on a few lifesavers, and snuck it into my lunchbox. It was honestly more than I expected.

Now I have to question, is the church REALLY so great at strengthening families? It claims to be. But what does it really do toward that end? Promote temple date nights? Because that is how you get crappy valentines days.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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