Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

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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sparky
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Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by sparky » Thu Jul 07, 2022 8:17 am

Hi all, I'm checking back into my first post-shelf-breaking home here after being only semi-active on the forum for a long time. In short, I'm in the process of finally worming my way out of the Tentacles of Divine Providence after too many years as a PIMO. It's taking me longer than I'd hoped as I'm trying to be patient with DW and give her time to adjust. But I am making progress.

One thing making this difficult is that DW and I have a joint calling teaching the Sunbeams in Primary. It's not too bad for a PIMO because we really just read them stories and show videos about being kind and such and then let them color for a while. Singing time is torturous for me, but that's another post. Anyway, it does make my transition more difficult because it's a calling where we both have to be at church every week or find substitutes.

Last Sunday DW was at a conference for work, and I really, really didn't want to do the church and Sunbeams thing by myself. I knew that it would be hard to tell her this, but I also knew that if I just went to church anyway, I'd be disappointed in myself for once again betraying myself to please others. I'm getting really tired of that feeling. So a few days before Sunday I opened up to her and said I was having anxiety about going alone, that I was willing to go with her to support her, but not something I wanted to do by myself. So I wanted to find a substitute and just take a personal day off.

She was understanding and took it well, just said that she wished I'd have brought it up earlier so we didn't have to find a substitute this close. But I found one, no big deal; I'm sure a lot of members would rather hang out with the Sunbeams anyway instead of having the umpteenth RS lesson about making sure all your friends and neighbors use the correct full name of the church.

So Sunday morning I slept in a bit and went on a trail run through a beautiful forest. It's really the first time I've just skipped church for the simple reason that I didn't want to be there. It was wonderful, not only did I get a fantastic run in, I also missed out on the anxiety and self-loathing I would have felt if I'd gone to church. Not to mention annoyance and/or outrage at whatever nonsense they were preaching from the pulpit that day.

I'm still planning to keep attending with her for the foreseeable future, as I really do support her with whatever brings her meaning in life. But my next step is to let her know that I'm not planning on taking another calling when they release us from this one. Hopefully she sees that as I continue on this path of being true to myself instead of people-pleasing, it's better for my mental health and will actually strengthen our marriage.

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1smartdodog
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by 1smartdodog » Thu Jul 07, 2022 10:30 am

It gets much easier as time goes on. One day you will realize you have not been to church in 6 months.


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Just This Guy
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by Just This Guy » Thu Jul 07, 2022 11:12 am

Congrats on making that first step.

I find a Sunday worshiping at the Church of the Great Blue Dome to be much more fulfilling than any Mormon church service.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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Linked
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by Linked » Thu Jul 07, 2022 12:08 pm

This post really hits close to home. 3 years ago I was in the exact same position, teaching primary with DW and at church every week. The impact of dragging yourself through church every week is real, and it is hurting you. Your DW needs to know that.

I was pretty lucky, at the end of 2019 the primary president sent a text asking if I would like to keep teaching the following year. I responded that I did not, and was released pretty quickly. I discussed it with DW before responding, and by that time she had had enough time to expect that this would happen and didn't try to convince me not to. She is still teaching in primary with another lady in the ward as a team teacher. It's weird how normal it feels now for me to do what I want and her to do what she wants.

We've also agreed to go to church twice a month and stay home together as a family the other weeks. It's very nice to not have the constant pain of church fresh in memory or looming ahead.

I hope you can find a good spot for you and DW! Honestly, with how well your recent discussion with your DW went it might be a good time to bring up a long term plan that helps you take better care of yourself.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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sparky
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by sparky » Fri Jul 08, 2022 1:38 pm

Linked wrote:
Thu Jul 07, 2022 12:08 pm
...It's weird how normal it feels now for me to do what I want and her to do what she wants.

We've also agreed to go to church twice a month and stay home together as a family the other weeks. It's very nice to not have the constant pain of church fresh in memory or looming ahead.

I hope you can find a good spot for you and DW! Honestly, with how well your recent discussion with your DW went it might be a good time to bring up a long term plan that helps you take better care of yourself.
This is exactly where I'm hoping to get to. Where we each actually have agency to choose how we do or don't want to engage, instead of doing whatever this third wheel in or marriage says to.

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Red Ryder
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by Red Ryder » Sun Jul 17, 2022 1:40 pm

Sparky,

I could have written this exact list 4 years ago. Sister Ryder and I were primary teachers. First the 11 year olds for a year. Then the next year we were the sunbeam teachers. I actually loved this calling because it was easy to sit through sacrament meeting and then hold hands as we walked down the hall to the primary room of on opening exercises and singing time. I just tuned out on my phone for the that part then we went to the classroom. We sort of had a good cop bad cop relationship with our sunbeams. I made bad jokes and teased the kids while sister Ryder gave a 2 minute lesson rehashing something something from the manual. To give her credit, she diverted way off the predetermined lessons realizing that 3-4 year olds didn’t really need a detailed lesson on the plan of salvation. Over time we both quickly tossed the manual and decided to have fun. What else can you ask for as a member who doesn’t want to be there. It was doable for the unforeseen future for us husbands that went to support our wives.

Then covid happened. When our ward went back, we all got a text from the primary president asking if we wanted to continue teaching once primary was back on the schedule. Like Linked, I first told the wife I was done and we both told the primary president we were done.

That was my last calling.

Now that Mrs. Ryder is sort of falling away herself, we have had many conversations about her side of my disaffection.

She says that “just waiting for me to come around” was exhausting. The “endure to the end” was possible because everyone had been telling her Red Ryder was a great guy and he’ll come around. Well guess what? I didn’t and now she’s come around realizing the toxic parts of the church suck. The patriarchy sucks. Polygamy sucks. There’s so many things she see now that she didn’t see before.

My advice has changed a bit since her awakening.

As husbands and wives of TBM’e it’s important that we solidify our positions and let our spouses know what our intentions are. Glass Shelf was right all along when she said it’s better to rip the band aid off and let the wounds heal.

I’d suggest telling your wife you are done with all future callings. Attend sacrament meeting with her to sit by her side as support for her beliefs if you are willing to do that. If you are not willing then communicate that.

The more we normalize our intentions to step away from the church the more time passes and allows our spouses to adjust to this behavior.

If your marriage is built around everything else that you’ve put into it not church related then it will survive. Your spouse will choose you over the church.

And if your lucky, one day down the road they will come to see the church for what it is (or isn’t) and you’ll both be trail running through the forest on a beautiful Sunday morning.

But it starts with you showing her that happiness doesn’t have to be found within the walls of the smelly Mormon chapel.
“It always devolves to Pantaloons. Always.” ~ Fluffy

“I switched baristas” ~ Lady Gaga

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sparky
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by sparky » Tue Jul 19, 2022 7:38 am

I appreciate the thoughts, RR, and congrats on your wife finally coming around! I've been following your story for several years, and it was quite a surprise when I popped back into NOM and saw that post.

I think you're right about making intentions clear. Leaving things murky allows space for both false hope and false fear. I think she will be able to adapt to my stepping away given some time. We have so much else in common that I'm not concerned at all about our relationship falling apart.

I do think we have very different backgrounds, approaches, and reasons for being in the church. I was in it because I thought it was true, so when I found out it wasn't it was easy for me to let go of those beliefs. She seems to focus more on the community and traditions than the doctrine. She likes to follow rules and do things "right," so I think the hardest part of my stepping away will be having to explain that to her family and friends in the ward. But I'm tired of being held captive by those people. Her parents are great, I couldn't ask for better in-laws, but they shouldn't have a say in, for example, my underwear choices.

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sparky
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by sparky » Wed Aug 03, 2022 7:24 am

Linked wrote:
Thu Jul 07, 2022 12:08 pm
I was pretty lucky, at the end of 2019 the primary president sent a text asking if I would like to keep teaching the following year. I responded that I did not, and was released pretty quickly. I discussed it with DW before responding, and by that time she had had enough time to expect that this would happen and didn't try to convince me not to.
Hey Linked, can I ask you how this conversation went? How did you bring it up, how did you frame and present your decision? I'm planning to breach the topic with DW soon and want to do it respectfully but maintaining my boundaries.

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Linked
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Re: Baby steps: First time missing church for no "good" reason

Post by Linked » Mon Aug 08, 2022 5:00 pm

sparky wrote:
Wed Aug 03, 2022 7:24 am
Linked wrote:
Thu Jul 07, 2022 12:08 pm
I was pretty lucky, at the end of 2019 the primary president sent a text asking if I would like to keep teaching the following year. I responded that I did not, and was released pretty quickly. I discussed it with DW before responding, and by that time she had had enough time to expect that this would happen and didn't try to convince me not to.
Hey Linked, can I ask you how this conversation went? How did you bring it up, how did you frame and present your decision? I'm planning to breach the topic with DW soon and want to do it respectfully but maintaining my boundaries.
I don't remember exactly, other than it was a much smaller deal than I was worried it would be. It was probably while we were walking home from church after a harder day in primary and I just mentioned "I don't think I can do the primary teacher thing much longer." Her response was basically that she knew this was coming and wasn't surprised. She showed little emotion and didn't push me on it. It took about 15 seconds total.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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