progress with spouse?

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
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Tangent
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progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:39 am

A question for those of you who have been at your disaffection for a long time, and whose spouses are still fully TBM:

Do you feel you've reached a point where your spouse has accepted your position? Not agreed with, but accepted?

I am weary of being a disappointment. I don't expect or need my wife to agree with me, but seeing her in pain weighs on me. I've been 'out' with her for about a year. I'm just wondering how those of you out 5, 10 years are doing.

Tangent
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:47 am

oh, and just to clarify, i'm only out to her and not my kids or other family. And behaviorally nothing has really changed. I am still a full participant.

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Hagoth
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:58 am

I've been out about 8 years (hard to believe) to my wife and to anyone who cares enough to actually talk about it, which it turns out are very few. Our two kids were both out the minute they turned 18.

Long story short, my wife is now very understanding and accepting of my disaffection. She even stands up for me and gets pissed off when members give her "you poor thing" shade.

It was very difficult finally dropping the bomb on my sweet wife. She wasn't happy about it. I made the mistake of trying to unload on her about doctrinal/historical reasons, because she wasn't in a place to hear it. I switched to focusing more on the emotional roller-coaster and late nights staring at the ceiling all night in a cold sweat. I helped her to understand that I did not choose to lose my faith, that I really wanted to believe and tried so hard to keep it altogether that I turned to intense study of church doctrine and history (as evidenced by the mountain of books I had been pouring over and endlessly highlighting) and my eventual realization that the deep dive had actually been more harmful to my testimony than helpful.

So turned out the emotional approach worked better, even though I tend to approach everything empirically rather than emotionally and she usually has to drag emotion out of me. Bit by bit I have been able to introduce her to a lot of the problems and it has slowly dawned on her that, at least from my perspective, I have very good reasons for my conclusions. I kept my temple recommend as long as I could and garments were the last thing to go.

I think the two biggest hurdles were:

Helping ease her over the conceptual speed bump that anyone who questions the church is sinning and falling into Satan's trap.

Getting her to understand that I still respect her faith, and in some ways am jealous of it, rather than secretly laughing at her behind her back for being gullible. She had to see that I was still on my own spiritual journey that I take very seriously and I shared every kind of spiritual experience I had outside of the church. That came with another stack of books, hours of meditation, etc. and she came to realize that I wasn't just trying to trade church for anything-goes slacking and partying.

Good luck Tangent. Don't lose hope.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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græy
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by græy » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:05 am

I am largely in your same position, but been at it a few years longer. That is, I'm active and engaged in my calling, though it is frequently headache inducing and frustrating. I kept my wife informed of the disturbing things I was learning for about 2 years without going too in depth before gradually opening up to her about my disbelief over the course of a year. Finally about two years ago I told her straight out that I don't believe the church is what it claims to be. I told her I do not believe that prophets are anything special other than being people currently in position to lead the church, I do not believe in the restoration or priesthood powers. Finally just over a year ago I stopped paying tithing altogether. I'm still waiting on fallout from that decision to hit my calling status.

In that time she has listened to Lindsay Hansen Park's YoP podcast and Allan and Kattie's Marriage on a Tightrope podcast. Both of those have helped her to somewhat see my position and to feel a bit less victimized the the whole thing. Of the two, I would definitely recommend Marriage on a Tightrope.

Last summer, we even took Allan, Kattie, and Natasha Helfer's Marriage on a Tightrope counseling class thing over the course of 8 weeks. It was pretty awesome and led to a lot of productive discussions between the two of us.

Despite all of that she will still occasionally say things that give away the fact that she has not 100% accepted where I am at. To some degree, she still seems to think I have chosen disbelief because I am lazy or just tired of the meetings. I still participate in family scripture study and family prayers, though I do object to the one-sided stories and historicity claims. She occasionally will hint that she hopes my continued activity will yield the answers I need to bring me back to the faith. After all these years, hundreds of conversations on dozens upon dozens of different topics, I don't know how to be more clear that the faithful answers just don't exist. I've even told her exactly that. And yet she holds on to hope, which to an extent means she hasn't fully accepted where I am at. I imagine this will only get worse as our children's church milestones start popping up more frequently in the coming years.

I don't know if it does get better so long as she remains an active TBM. Her hope is always going to be that you can rejoin her on what she sees as the side of eternal truth.

In all honesty, I am probably the same from the other side. I support her in what she feels is important, but simultaneously hope that she will eventually see things the way I see them.

Is that full acceptance or not?
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

Tangent
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:16 am

Thanks Hagoth for your reply.

That does give me some hope. I think we're similar in that I also usually process things empirically. I made the mistake a couple times of bringing up truth claim issues with my wife and she flat out told me she doesn't care if it's true. That ended the conversation. For me there needs to be a rational component to faith and for her it's completely emotional/spiritual/social. After those missteps though I have been careful to be as respectful as possible.

I think one impediment to her acceptance is that when I explained I no longer have a testimony or even believe in deity (at least not in an anthropomorphic one), she thought I was going to stop participating. In her mind, if I don't believe why would I keep doing the churchy things? But I've continued to participate pretty much as normal so I think she is getting a mixed message -- that maybe I actually believe but i'm just struggling a bit. Perhaps this is an impediment to her acceptance -- maybe even giving her false hope. Has anyone else experienced this?

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Hagoth
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 09, 2021 12:36 pm

Tangent wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:16 am
... she flat out told me she doesn't care if it's true.
I think that is very honest and typical. I like to say that Mormons don't want to know if the church is true, they only want to know that it is true. And that's ok. It means they need it in their life.
Tangent wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:16 am
But I've continued to participate pretty much as normal so I think she is getting a mixed message -- that maybe I actually believe but i'm just struggling a bit. Perhaps this is an impediment to her acceptance -- maybe even giving her false hope. Has anyone else experienced this?
That's a good point. I have reduced my activity by 90%. I have no problem praying with my wife, even though I don't believe in a bearded dude on a throne. I can still express thanks to the universe and put words to my hopes. I'm happy to bless the sacrament for Mrs. Hagoth too. I like the concept.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

Tangent
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:31 pm

græy wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:05 am
Despite all of that she will still occasionally say things that give away the fact that she has not 100% accepted where I am at. To some degree, she still seems to think I have chosen disbelief because I am lazy or just tired of the meetings. I still participate in family scripture study and family prayers, though I do object to the one-sided stories and historicity claims. She occasionally will hint that she hopes my continued activity will yield the answers I need to bring me back to the faith. After all these years, hundreds of conversations on dozens upon dozens of different topics, I don't know how to be more clear that the faithful answers just don't exist. I've even told her exactly that. And yet she holds on to hope, which to an extent means she hasn't fully accepted where I am at. I imagine this will only get worse as our children's church milestones start popping up more frequently in the coming years.
This resonates with me. I also participate with my family in scripture study and sacrament meetings. Mormon doctrine and culture are saturated with the 'us/them' paradigm, and with many stories claiming that anyone who doesn't accept the teachings (or even part of the teachings!) is deceived, rebellious and potentially even evil. It makes me wonder how my wife views me. It puts her in a difficult spot to reconcile what the church says about unbelievers like me vs. who I actually am.

Part of our problem is that both my wife and I dislike confrontation so we tend to go too long without discussing this, which again causes her to assume that i've at least partially recovered my testimony.

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græy
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by græy » Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:49 pm

Tangent wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:16 am
In her mind, if I don't believe why would I keep doing the churchy things? But I've continued to participate pretty much as normal so I think she is getting a mixed message -- that maybe I actually believe but i'm just struggling a bit. Perhaps this is an impediment to her acceptance -- maybe even giving her false hope. Has anyone else experienced this?
I think this is almost exactly my experience.

I would quit the church, except that 95% of my friends and 100% of my family are in it. Their worlds revolve around the church and I remove myself from them if I cut that part out completely.

I don't mind staying involved in the activities, so long as I can be honest and accepted for my beliefs. But that can be a mixed message.
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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Red Ryder
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Red Ryder » Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:28 pm

I’ve been at this for 15+ years (2004) and it’s come to the point of her acceptance but she still feels let down. I don’t think that will ever go away. I’ve learned to just say “I’m sorry your hurting” when the disappointment monster comes out from under the bed.

I think you can get to this point but it takes a mutual understanding that your true values haven’t changed even though the church will shout the narrative that those who leave will go off the deep end. That’s just not true.

The real trauma occurs with a Mormon spouse when the kids begin to be disinterested. The Mormon fairy tale gets shattered.

I made it a point to never let her attend with the kids alone. Which means I stomached all the bad sacrament meetings and mind numbing time at church. I just refused to make her the church widow. You learn how to say no to everyone that wants more out of you then sitting next to your family in the pew. That was the maximum effort I was willing to give. Until we both got called to team teach the sunbeams. I felt like that was a fun calling and allowed me to eat fruit snacks and fishy crackers while the kids colored.

I just decided that if I was catholic, Baptist, or any other denomination our family would sit together at church, so why not be an unbelieving morning and sit with them?

The real secret is working on the relationship so that church is only 10% of your marriage. It takes a lot of dilution, a lot of planning, and a lot of time. If you can do this you’ll find church just isn’t important enough to fight about.

Tangent, if you were to assess your marriage today, what % is occupied by church?

What things can you do to build your relationship around other things so that church naturally gets crowded out? Remember, you don’t have to tear down the church, you just have to see it reduce its presence in your family‘s life.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

Tangent
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:05 pm

græy wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:49 pm
I would quit the church, except that 95% of my friends and 100% of my family are in it. Their worlds revolve around the church and I remove myself from them if I cut that part out completely.

I don't mind staying involved in the activities, so long as I can be honest and accepted for my beliefs. But that can be a mixed message.

This is a tough one. I would quit the church as well. I stay for family and friends as you mentioned, and I'm afraid (let's be honest) of the ramifications of leaving. I don't want the disapproval and disappointment of all those people. To be made to feel so guilty about my own feelings and opinions -- it's bizarre.

Tangent
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:31 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:28 pm
Tangent, if you were to assess your marriage today, what % is occupied by church?

What things can you do to build your relationship around other things so that church naturally gets crowded out? Remember, you don’t have to tear down the church, you just have to see it reduce its presence in your family‘s life.
That's a good question. I've never been one to talk much about church doctrine with her. If we talk about church, it's primarily about the people. But it's just that it permeates everything, like the air we breathe. Whenever there's an activity it is assumed we will attend no matter what. At least during covid i have been much more proactive about getting us out of the house on sundays to do other things besides or after church. Things like that help.

annotatedbom
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by annotatedbom » Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:40 am

I've been out to my wife for almost 11 years now. What a rollercoaster ride it's been. Like others here, for the first year or two I was active enough in the Church that I think it helped feed her denial about my complete disbelief in the truth and authority claims of la Iglesia. She's moved beyond that and accepted my position - as a lost soul who will never be the man she wishes I were. It sounds so brutal writing it out like that, but I think it is what it is and may always be.

On the brighter side of it, I think the Church's rhetoric about evil apostates at least partly rolls off her back. She has always thought I was something of an anomaly regarding morality because even before joining the Church at 19 years of age, I was "better" than she thinks most people are. (Haha! She didn't know me back then, so maybe she's seeing the younger me through my horribly biased reports.) At any rate, even if she thinks the average non-theist former Mormon eats babies and kicks puppies, she can see I haven't gone off the deep end doing meth, having affairs, etc.

I think it can be difficult if not impossible to understand the reasons that hold a person in the Church, but I think two main factors for my wife are her family of origin (each of seven kids served missions, currently in temple marriage) and we live in a fairly small town in Utah County. Of course I've been the subject of not just a few ward councils, and she seems to thrive on the "whoa is me and horrible is the disappointment I've had to suffer with my hubby and children leaving the only true and living mind-control, high-demand, sex cult upon the face of the whole earth, with which the Lord is well pleased."

What about you and yours Tangent? Are your families of origin LDS? Do you live in a strongly Mormon community? What about friends, neighbors, and co-workers? Could any of that play into how your wife accepts your perspective?

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Linked
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Linked » Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:52 am

annotatedbom wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:40 am
Like others here, for the first year or two I was active enough in the Church that I think it helped feed her denial about my complete disbelief in the truth and authority claims of la Iglesia. She's moved beyond that and accepted my position - as a lost soul who will never be the man she wishes I were. It sounds so brutal writing it out like that, but I think it is what it is and may always be.
This

There are things you can do to mitigate the damage and make the best of the situation if you decide that staying together is your path. Like developing hobbies together and trying to give each other's contradictory beliefs a pass and have lots of empathy. But I've always felt a pretty big wedge since my wife found out that I don't believe anymore 5 years ago.

It can be very lonely at times, for both spouses. As Jung said:
Carl Jung wrote:Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.
Just don't drink coffee...
"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

annotatedbom
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by annotatedbom » Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:29 am

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Last edited by annotatedbom on Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

annotatedbom
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by annotatedbom » Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:31 am

Linked wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:52 am
It can be very lonely at times, for both spouses. As Jung said:
Carl Jung wrote:Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.
Just don't drink coffee...
Hahahaaaa! I don't know why, but that struck me as being so funny - the juxtaposition of the serious and solemn quote against the line about coffee at the end. I'm totally chuckling here at my desk. It's sad but true. Thanks for your observations amigo!

Tangent
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Re: progress with spouse?

Post by Tangent » Fri Feb 12, 2021 4:20 pm

annotatedbom wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:40 am
I think it can be difficult if not impossible to understand the reasons that hold a person in the Church, but I think two main factors for my wife are her family of origin (each of seven kids served missions, currently in temple marriage) and we live in a fairly small town in Utah County. Of course I've been the subject of not just a few ward councils, and she seems to thrive on the "whoa is me and horrible is the disappointment I've had to suffer with my hubby and children leaving the only true and living mind-control, high-demand, sex cult upon the face of the whole earth, with which the Lord is well pleased."

What about you and yours Tangent? Are your families of origin LDS? Do you live in a strongly Mormon community? What about friends, neighbors, and co-workers? Could any of that play into how your wife accepts your perspective?
Hey Annotatedbom,

We live in the pacific northwest, so not in a strong LDS community. Neighbors, and co-workers, no. But friends are pretty much all LDS. Part of our problem is that both my wife and I are introverts, so by default most of our friends tend to come from social interactions that come from fulfilling our church obligations. This certainly limits our social circle and makes disaffiliation more difficult. i don't have tons of friends to start with, and I don't to alienate those I do have by rejecting the church.

Both my spouse's and my families of original are both strong LDS. I grew up in Utah, wife did not.

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