Help with inactive spouse


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I've never really used an internet forum like this before, but I need some perspective and hope you can help. I've been an active member of the church my whole life, went on a mission, married in the temple, and am fully committed to living the gospel. I love the church and love serving in it. My husband also grew up in the church and served a mission. We married in the temple 19 years ago and have three children. Our third child was adopted and we were sealed as a family about 3 years ago. However, since then my husband has completely changed in his feelings about the church. Not many people are aware of this, other than the bishop and his counselors. His parents are wonderful and have served three missions. They know about the situation and I have spoken with them several times. My husband told me about his feelings about 18 months ago. He said he has a huge list of questions about things in the church, such as gay marriage, blacks and the priesthood, evolution, you name it. As far as I know nothing dramatic preceded this change. He is still faithful to me, still keeps the word of wisdom, and still attends church, although reluctantly. He has traveled a lot for work and says that he feels he knows better than the church leaders about certain aspects of the gospel (such as the ones I mentioned) because of his experiences.

As you can imagine, this has had a terrible effect on our marriage. I admit to much of that being my fault. I was blindsided by this -- he is the last person you would think of leaving the church. I've tried to be supportive, but when we discuss his questions it usually ends up in an argument. I can't persuade him that the church leaders are right, and that's not how it works, anyway. I've tried to stay strong, and have continued to attend the temple (though not as frequently because it is difficult without him and with our kids.) I've spoken with the bishop a few times and have read many Ensign articles about this subject. A lot of what I hear is "endure to the end, keep loving him, stay strong." It is hard though, to not be angry and hurt.

I believe strongly that scripture study, family home evening and prayer are essential to a happy, eternal family. Hubby refuses to take part and sits sullenly while I read/teach. He still prays, and I don't think my older son (15) is completely aware of his feelings, but he's got to realize there is something wrong. My other kids are 3 and 12, but the 12 year old has a disability and isn't aware of the problem. I want my older son to be prepared for a mission, and he is a great kid, goes to early morning seminary every day without complaint. Tonight I did our usual scripture study/prayer, and spent some time talking with oldest son about "Preach my Gospel" and how we can use it to help him prepare. As usual hubby was withdrawn. Afterwards we talked briefly and he said he resented that I made scripture study a priority, that he thinks there are other things we could be doing as a family that would be better. I didn't even know what to say. We don't even spend that much time doing it, maybe 10 minutes.

Hubby didn't pay tithing for a while, but caught up this summer and renewed his temple recommend so he could attend a family member's wedding. I knew something was off because he didn't even tell me he was going to talk to the bishop about a new recommend. Since then he hasn't been back to the temple and his attitude has only gotten worse.

I have been sick with depression about this for over a year now. I can't even tell you how much I have cried. I have made a fair number of sacrifices for my husband and he can't even sit for 10 minutes of scripture study. Our relationship is at its lowest point ever. I'm sure you all don't have all the answers, but I just needed a listening ear and maybe some virtual support.

Thanks.

Edited by Eowyn
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I admire that you're still doing all you can to raise your children with the gospel. What do you and your husband have in common besides church? What does your family do for fun? My only thought is to focus on those things too, so that your marriage and the kids' relationship with their dad stays strong.

Beyond that, I echo what Vort said.

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Shaken Faith Syndrome. Strengthening One's Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt: Michael R. Ash: 9781893036086: Amazon.com: Books

Buy this for YOU and him to read TOGETHER. This is an OPPORTUNITY to grow your faith together... but you need to see it as such. You need to respect him and that he is going through something.

By talking about these 'controversial" things, they are a symptom of something deeper. But you can't get to it until and unless you respect what he is telling you first.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. But you can salt the horses oats so that he'll WANT to drink. Keep this idea in mind as you begin studying some of these things out together.

For help with answers for the Blacks in the Priesthood... see my links below.

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My husband loves to travel, and we have literally been all over the world as a family. I have supported him in these sometimes stressful adventures. Our last family trip was to the Galapagos Islands, and it was fascinating, but not easy, especially because of our young daughter and our son who has special needs. But I recognize that it is important to my husband and I support him.

He also likes to exercise and plays tennis a lot. I don't play tennis, but I should be better about going to the gym, I know he appreciates it when I do. We used to do a lot more together. We try to go on weekly dates, but it only happens every other week or so. Thanks for reminding me that I need to make that a priority.

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Skippy,

I recently bought "Shaken Faith Syndrome" and gave it to him. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I will do so. Hubby wants to sit down and talk this weekend, so I will be praying to say the right things. I appreciate your quote about "salting the oats," that's great!

Thanks for your thoughts!

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Sarah,

Welcome. I hope that what I might type below will be of some help.

I think first of all, it is important to realize that you are not alone, I mean that quite literally, and in so many ways. You still have your faith, as such, you can turn to your Father in Heaven. Also, it sounds like you have a good support structure in family, church leaders, and friends. You should also be aware that there are many, many families going through the same scenario that is playing out in your home. Earlier this year Elder Marlin K Jensen of the 70 stated, “Weve never had a period of apostasy like we are having right now, largely over these issues.” He was speaking about many of the same issues your husband has mentioned to you. Finally, you are not alone in the sense that your husband seems to have remained a good husband and father in all aspects except his faith/belief in the church.

I think that many, perhaps even most, members of the church have had doubts about some item of doctrine or policy, or historical fact from time to time. Perhaps some self introspection would be good before your conversation this weekend. Covey wrote that it is important to "seek first to understand, then to be understood".

I understand that with all your heart and soul you would like your husband to recognize that he is wrong, to acknowledge the error of his ways, to repent, and return to the gospel. Let me pose a hypothetical question: What if he is right?

Consider that for a moment. Would you want to know? Are you willing to acknowledge that it might be you that is wrong? Perhaps his issues with the church are genuine?

Recognize that this is exactly what you want him to do, or to consider....that he might be wrong. If we can't be willing to discard our most cherished and prized beliefs when we enter a discussion like the one you are about to have, then it is unrealistic for us to ask the other individual to do that, and then what is the point in having the conversation? I think you will find that almost everyone on this forum stands behind you 100% and reaffirms your believe and faith. That is important. At the same time, your husband needs to you listen, consider, and seek for understanding with him. If he is the person you describe above, he cares about your insight, your thoughts, and your feelings, but he needs to know that you do the same for him.

So my advice, if you want it, and for what it is worth: listen to him. Consider what he has to say, weigh it. And then provide your thoughts and feelings on the matter. After all you guys are a team.

"If we have the truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed." said J Reuben Clark.

If you need some credentials as to why I advise the above? I lived it.

-RM

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One has to also be careful about where they're getting their information. "Investigation" on the Internet is problematic. There are too many sources that are at best flawed and at worst outright nefarious.

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One has to also be careful about where they're getting their information. "Investigation" on the Internet is problematic. There are too many sources that are at best flawed and at worst outright nefarious.

Very good point Eowyn,

That is why it is always important to check the original source material. Why even in GC a few years ago there was a quote taken out of Documented History of the Church that included an ellipsis that left out a very significant part of the story. It appeared online with the ellipsis on LDS.org. If you go back and read the full quote, there is a lot more to the story.

I use this example specifically for our new friend. It is things like this that could be a cause of her husbands faith crisis. She needs to understand that this was conscious decision to not share part of that story with the members of the church either during conference or subsequent publishing online and in the Ensign. If the church itself, sometimes manipulates the information to present only one side of the story, then how much more careful do we need to be with non-church sources that may choose to present only one side of the story to cast the church in a good light.

I wholeheartedly endorse your recommendation. ALWAYS go back to primary source material where possible to confirm what you are being told. No matter who is doing the telling, and especially when it is leading you away from what you intuitively perceive

to be the truth.

-RM

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I can feel your pain, I am a convert along with my wife she was the first to join the church but now she is inactive. All I can say is be supportive of his feelings , And in my opinion do not try to covertly or otherwise pressure him to do what he is currently wanting. My wife tried that tactic with me with the best of intentions but it delayed me in fully converting for 2 years. Provide the love and support for him and most imprtantly your children. There is a certain pressure in this church to do what is said to be done without question at times. One of my wifes favorite anaolgies is this:

A Daughter is cooking sunday dinner for her family and is putting the ham in the oven and as her mother taught her she cut off the top of the ham before putting it in the roaster. She was wondering why this had such effect on making the ham so good do she called her mother to find out. Her mother said that she was not sure why as that is what Grandma taught me. When the call was placed to grandma to see if she had a answer she just replied " Because it wouldnt fit in the pan"

Provide the love and support your husband and children need and along with yours and our Prayers things will work out. My wife is going on her second year of inactivity but is showing signs of softening. And I pray that you will have the strength to continue. God Bless

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Thanks RMGuy. I'm planning to talk to my husband this weekend and will keep your sound advice in mind. One thing that makes it especially difficult is that I went through a similar situation with a family member a few years ago. She has some serious mental problems, and along with leaving the church did some incredibly hurtful things to our family. My husband saw how much it hurt me and how painful it was for me to see someone making such devastating choices. I worry a lot that lack of the spirit will leave him open to other temptations. But you are right, I need to approach this with an open heart and an open mind. Thanks again for the support.

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