Dear 100 Hour Board,
Are any of you currently in interfaith marriages, or perhaps marriages where one of you has lost faith in the LDS church?
I've found myself in such a situation, which is not something I ever thought would happen to me. It's been nearly four years since my husband and I were sealed together, and the Church has previously been a big part of both of our lives, but for most of our marriage his beliefs have slowly changed. He now does not believe in the LDS church, or in God at all.
I'm very thankful that things are as good as they are -- my husband still attends church with me and the kids, he does not harbor negative feelings towards the Church, and he does not want to change his lifestyle (he doesn't ever intend to drink, smoke, consume pornography, etc.). He's not a nihilist; he believes that how we treat others is important, and believes strongly in relieving human suffering. So as far as loss of faith goes, I feel like this is pretty much the jackpot.
We're trying to be open and tactful when we communicate about it, and we have had some really wonderful conversations about our beliefs. There's no recrimination. He says he feels really bad to pull a "bait-and-switch," and that he knows this isn't what I signed up for. But I don't really feel like that's relevant. He didn't do this on purpose, and he is still the wonderful man I married. When we discuss these subjects, I feel incredible love for him and the person he is.
But in spite of all of this love and understanding, it's still a bummer sometimes. It's sad to think that he doesn't believe in the Church anymore, especially in our eternal marriage. And it complicates things a little, since I'm not sure what to do about things like asking for priesthood blessings (I know I could ask my home teacher or whatever, but I'd rather not "out" my husband). Also for that reason, I don't feel like there's anyone I can talk to about this. It can be very lonely.
So, do you have any advice on how to work with this situation? Really, what would be especially great is to hear that I'm not alone.
I have never been in an interfaith marriage, thank goodness. I imagine it is incredibly challenging. You are both very brave to take it on, and it's awesome that you have the sort of relationship that is worth the struggle.
I do not have advice for you on interfaith relationships. I did want to warn you, though, that faith transitions often take years, and so your husband's relationship with the church could still be evolving. For example, it took me years to get angry at the church after I initially stopped attending. Please gear up to be as understanding as he will hopefully be toward you.
Also, it sounds like right now you have some good opportunities to challenge your assumptions about what leaving the church means. I have never met an ex-Mormon nihilist who suddenly stops believing in compassion, and most of us don't leave and immediately take up drinking or huge porn habits. Those kinds of attitudes about people who leave Mormonism can themselves lead to anger and tension for people who have left are who are on their way out. Your husband doesn't sound like the jackpot (though he sounds like a wonderful, committed, compassionate human being); he sounds like the norm.
- The Black Sheep
Dear Fharya ~
I would highly recommend going in together to talk to the bishop and explaining your circumstances. You can ask the bishop to please not spread it to the ward, or even to the ward council. Bishops are well versed in keeping silent.
This very much describes the situation of a couple I love dearly. She is very faithful in the church, he does not believe it to be true. Your description of your husband could have been describing this man. He still comes to church, for her sake. One of the best things that happened to them was talking to their bishop about it. Their bishop was incredibly supportive, made an effort to make the husband feel accepted and loved.
The difference is that the couple in my story didn't keep it secret. They let people know. Family all rallied around him and loved him. Ward members... were varied. Some treated him the same. Some were uncomfortable and didn't know how to act, so they pulled away. It hurt him a lot. "Is my only worth to you my testimony?" But his bishop, despite knowing many, many details of his struggle, continued to love him even more. He was also an excellent resource for the wife (who was also the YW president at the time). She was able to talk to him about her struggles, when many other people didn't understand.
Find someone to confide in. You need that support as much as he does.
~ Dragon Lady
You need to realize your husband will be "out" eventually, whether he outs himself or is outed involuntarily. I know that's terrifying — what will the family think? What will the ward think? But you both need to discuss the endgame scenarios, and what the right time will be to rip this bandaid off.
If you haven't told him so already, tell him that you'll stand by his side when he's ready to tell your families. That will mean so much to him. I imagine he's terrified of the embarrassment and shame he might cause you. Let him know of your unconditional love, and that, although this certainly isn't your ideal situation, you're going to support him no matter what. It sounds like you already have that kind of relationship, so I'm glad you will both be able to get through this storm together.
Waldorf and Sauron