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My wife has decided to leave the church.

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I will start out by saying that I have read many of the threads found here dealing with the same topic I want to write about. That is, my wife has decided the LDS Church is not true.  I would post on one of these other threads but didn't want to hijack them and part of my posting is for me as I don't feel like I have anyone I can talk to anyone about this.  I know that the Bishop or family should be a resource but my wife has indicated she wants to keep this a secret for now.  Fair warning, this is pretty long.

 

Some background may be appropriate.  We have been married for 13 years and have 5 children.  Both of us were raised LDS and have checked all the appropriate boxes on the list of "Things LDS people should do".  Our marriage has at times been very stressed and rocky.  The last 3 years or so have been by far the best.  There are of course a few things we haven't been good at but I will get to those in a bit. 

 

This has been a hard year for my wifes family.  The primary issue dealt with her parents getting divorced.  While I knew this would be hard on my wife she insisted she was ok with it, even happy about it as her father could finally find some happiness that her mother some how prevented.  That's for a different topic. 

 

A week ago, my wife's brother announced he longer believes in the LDS church.  It sent shockwaves through the family.  In his announcement, made on facebook of all places, he linked to an anti mormon essay that he felt gave his primary reasons of non belief.  To make a long story short, my wife clicked on the link and read the article.  She says she knew the church wasn't true in the first 15 seconds of reading it.

 

I'm devastated.  I don't know what to do.  I can see this is terribly hard for her.  She feels like she has been lied to her whole life.  I caught her crying one morning before she officially told me her decision to leave the church but she wouldn't tell me why then.  She can't reconcile what she was taught with what the truth (and untruths) actually are.  In talking about it she cited things that I have known for years.  Many of these things I heard on my mission or was faced with growing up (I didn't grow up in Utah).  I also had read them on my own during times of curiousity.  It's too much for her though.  The evidence she says is too great.  

 

The hardest part for me, is that with this declaration she seems like a different person to me.  I told her as much.  On one of the other threads related to this topic a poster asks the question "Did you marry him/her because she was a good member of the church or because you loved him/her".  I have to answer that it was both.  It's all of the above.  I was attracted to her because of who she was physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  I love her for the same reasons.  These things are all apart of the whole.  I can't see how removing a big piece of that would not make her a different person.  

 

Now I am looking at things I could have done differently that would have prevented this from happening.  We had family prayer and family scripture study on a regular basis.  Family home evening almost every week.  We have a family council on Sunday where we talk about things we can do better as a family and coordinate our schedule for the next week.  We attend church each week and hold callings(She is currently the relief society secretary.)  We pay a full tithe and give what we consider to be a generous fast offering.  We are very selective about the media we allow in our home.  We do a host of other things that would be considered good.  

 

In all of this, the place I feel I failed personally was that I didn't actively pursue couple prayer and study.  I keep thinking that if this had been a part of our daily routine this wouldn't have happened.  I could have worked through this with her.  We could have prayed together about it and studied it out.  She didn't turn to me though.   I feel like now I have lost her.  That I don't know her and that it's too late.

 

She is afraid she will lose all her friends in the ward.  That our children will be ostracised because their mother is a non believer.  She is afraid of what her father will say.  His reaction to his son declaring that he had left the church was "You could tell he never really had a strong testimony". 

 

For the time being she doesn't want anyone to know that she no longer believes.  She will "fake it" until the time is right.  I have a problem with this.  To me, this is mocking God. 

 

She maintains that I can continue to teach our children the tenants of the LDS faith.  How can she allow this if she believes they are lies?

 

I'm unsure about all of this.   Thank you for letting me use the forum as a sounding board.

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I think the most important thing is to keep talking to her as a loving spouse and to encourage her to explore her feelings without doing anything in the heat of battle.  (Sounds like her parents and brother have kicked up a lot of dust, and that needs to settle before she can see and think more clearly.)  

 

I agree that "faking it" is not in her best interests.  I would ask her to just let go for a few months and not try to make any decisions about the truth of the Church.  Nobody is forcing her to make a decision in the next 24 hours.  Get her out of the calling maybe and give her some space to think things through carefully.  If she has already written her letter of resignation, urge her to sit on it for a few months.  The LDS member records office will still be there in 2015 or 2016.

 

All kinds of good and decent people go through the so-called "shaken-faith syndrome."  I did, and I finally overcame it when I realized that the Church was centered on Christ and yet was filled with lots of imperfect and sinful people who actually confounded Heavenly Father's will (temporarily) by their own imperfections.  It also helped when I concluded that God's inspiration and leading of the prophets is not like a boss dictating a letter to a secretary.  It's more like an artist being inspired to create a work of art, and the prophets have a lot of wiggle room and ways to get their grimy, imperfect fingerprints on a lot of revelations.  (Others here may disagree, of course.)

 

If your wife still has a testimony of Christ, you've got a foundation for some repair.  In fact, try to get her to stop with the binary thinking thing.  Talk to her about the parts of the Church she thinks may have value and truth.  Too many people treat the Church as nylon stockings... one little run and you have no choice to but to trash them angrily.  

 

I'd also recommend the Givens's new book called the Crucible of Doubt.  Individual books, even good ones like this one, cannot heal a shaken-faith syndrome on first reading, but they're a good start.

 

You might also want to talk to your bishop by yourself.  

 

Hope these ideas are helpful.  Be strong, pray, and love your wife.  And be grateful.  I never married or had kids, and I'd trade places with you in a heartbeat.

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Ah, the "shaken-faith syndrome".  I remember both me and my wife going through it several years ago.  I was tempted to leave for Protestant fundamentalism, and my wife was tempted to leave for atheism (that would have been a fun marriage to be in).  It got so bad at one point that I told my wife I was unsure about continuing in the Church.  

 

Thankfully, I didn't do anything rash.  I sat down and thought about it for a few months.  I got out my scriptures and started studying.  I also began reading on fairlds, Jeff Lindsay's website, and the writings of the early Christian fathers.  I spent lots of time in prayer.

 

To make a long story short, after several months of doing this and sitting on my doubts, my testimony EXPLODED.  I already had a testimony, but it got a LOT stronger.  I also found that some of the ideas drawing me away from the church were not true, and became a bit of an expert in the areas that were bugging me (and many, many other areas regarding LDS history and doctrine, as well).  I was greatly rewarded for exercising faith for a little while with a much stronger testimony.  My wife's testimony also rebounded, and we are stronger than ever.  In fact, in the past I could have never imagined my testimony someday being as strong as it is today.

 

So, while shaken faith syndrome can be a difficult thing to go through, it can also be a really great opportunity as well.  I don't think I would be as strong of a member without having gone through that experience.  Perhaps this is a turning point in your wife's testimony and is just what she needs.  

 

Of course, it has to be her choice - all you can really do is encourage, support, and pray.  However, if her experience is anything like mine, you may find that she comes back as the dust settles and things calm down.  While I can only speak from my own personal experience, things were not too late, despite how I made it sound at the time.

 

Good luck!

Edited by DoctorLemon

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Guest LiterateParakeet

I thought the first two responses were great. I agree with them and second their advice.  When I had shaken faith (for different reasons) I found FairLDS and anything/everything written by the Givens very helpful.

 

Beyond that I just want to say, "don't give up on her."  I'm sorry you are hurting and she is hurting.  Crises of faith are very painful for everyone involved.  Please don't blame yourself.  Even if it were your fault (and I really don't think it is) you can't change the past.  Focus your energy on the future...on how you can keep your marriage strong and be an example for her.  I think how you respond to her now could be an influencing factor in whether or not she is able to work this out and return.  Many have "fallen away" and returned, others have not.

 

The first thing I recommend is do not follow the example of your father-in-law:

 

She is afraid of what her father will say.  His reaction to his son declaring that he had left the church was "You could tell he never really had a strong testimony". 

 

I really wish we would stop saying things like this.  I hear it all the time and it hurts my heart.  I think it is a lie we tell ourselves.  If we say (and believe), 'that person fell away because he never really had a strong testimony'...then we feel more assured that it will never happen to us.  But shaken-faith can happen to any of us.  Trust me on this.  I never dreamed it would happen to me either!  To say, "he/she never really had a testimony", is to tempt Satan.  Don't do it.

 

Let your wife know you love her no matter what.  I understand that your common beliefs in the church were one of the things that brought you together.  You probably didn't date non-members because you wanted to be married to someone who shared your (our) faith.  I understand.   The Lord understands that too.  But now your wife is struggling.  Do not give up on her.  What would you hope she would do if you were the one floundering?  

 

Stick by her, love her unconditionally, and never give up hope.  

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I am greatly saddened to hear your story.  I was not brought up in the church, and live outside of the United States, where Mormons are considered a cult.  I have read and heard much that is negative.  Some of it is true.  I also woke up one day 16 years ago in hospital and found that my testimony had gone.  It has taken me many years to regain.

 

When I tried to tell my husband in the early years, he was upset and unsupportive.  Basically he did not want to know.  That confused and hurt me.  Our marriage has had more than a few ups and downs too.  Be very careful not to compare your marriage to people around you.  What you see at church is not what happens in the privacy of people's own homes.

 

When you got married, you both covenanted to each other for this life and the next.  I do not believe that you have failed.  I am sure that one or both of you would have been doing as much as you could have done with 5 children at any given time.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

 

I believe that this is the time to show an outpouring of love to your wife.  This is when she needs you the most.  Please, I urge you to be supportive of your wife's feelings.  I do not believe that your wife has changed, although I am sure that it feels like that.  If she had, she would not be devastated by what has happened, but happy and excited.  I know how traumatic it was for me. Take time to work through your anger and disappointment until you reach acceptance.  Speak with your bishop, but let your wife know that his is something that you need to do for yourself.

 

It would not be healthy for your wife to fake it.  However that does not mean that she has to tell people.  She may just quietly ask to be released from her calling.  In the many years I struggled, I continued to go to church, although less frequently.  Why did I do this when I didn't believe?  In the world where I live, where 12 year olds are having sex, binge drinking and taking drugs, I still believed that the church was good for my family.  The genuine people at church remained genuine,  the stupid people stayed stupid,  but the teachings continued to help our family, whether I believed or not. 

 

Do give your wife some time to mourn her loss.   Continue with your own prayer, but do not expect or demand things change.  Invite your wife to continue with FHE, Family council and prayer, but understand that she may prefer not to participate at this time.

 

 Unfortunately there will be people at church that may treat your family differently, if they find out.  Remember that such judgements are not from God.  When the time is right, discuss with your wife, how you will deal with this as a family, if or when this happens.  Your true friends will continue to support your wife no matter how long it takes. Recently after 26 years of praying and searching I found a friend that had left home and church.  Do I love my friend any less? Not at all.  I would have killed a fatted calf!  The bonus:  I have my friend, and because I didn't judge and we are a meeting up and will be attending church together.

 

Continue to be a faithful priesthood holder. And if you do anything,  put your arms around your wife, kiss her gently and tell her that you still love her.

 

Much love from our family to yours.

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She maintains that I can continue to teach our children the tenants of the LDS faith.  How can she allow this if she believes they are lies?

 

 

It depends on exactly what she believes, she may feel the Church is wrong but not harmful either because the doctrinal distinctions aren't important in the long run, or because she feels that it's a harmless untruth. In the end though, why she's okay with it is something you'll need to ask her, not a bunch of random people from the internet. Do you know what she believes now in general beyond 'not-LDS? Does she even know at this juncture?'

 

 

 Many have "fallen away" and returned, others have not.

 

This is an important point, there will be many who will give advice and comfort and often buried in it somewhere is the assumption that she'll return. If you make any decisions you'll need to make them with the understanding that she might not return else you risk rising resentment and frustration if she doesn't. This may be a storm she and you have to weather, it may be a major paradigm shift she's not returning from.

Edited by Dravin

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Thank you everyone for your responses.  It has been super helpful.  I shared some of the responses with her last night as we burned the midnight oil talking about this.  Things got heated at times.  I can be a real idiot.  Lucky for me she is very forgiving of my bad communication skills. 

 

We are going to study this out together over the next little while.  After our conversation I felt hope that we could work through this.  I was so scared about what was to come.  This will force me to do what I should have been doing already with regards to couple prayer and study.  She's willing and I'm grateful. 

 

She is going to talk to the Bishop about being released from her calling.  I think that is probably the best course.  She fully intends to continue going to church.  These are all really good things.  Thanks again.

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There are very few permanent decisions made in life.  Most things are temporary. Be patient.  As I posted on the other thread opened today, now is the time to be a patient missionary. Set and example and be happy in the Gospel.

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Why is this such a common comment members make about other members?

 

M.

 

Because people make dumb comments they have no right to make (like the above).

 

(I mean no offense Avatar, I just think we have no right to judge the strength of another's faith, especially someone we've never met).

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Why is this such a common comment members make about other members?

 

M.

 

I suspect because such an outlook is comforting. If only people who don't have a strong testimony fall away/leave the Church then it reinforces that they, presumably in possession of a strong testimony, won't find themselves in similar circumstances. There is thread debating the doctrine and principles behind the idea that, "It can happen to anyone." that'd probably give you some insight into the thought processes going around. Putting aside the doctrine and principles that may be behind either viewpoint (for they have their own thread) the idea that someone with a strong testimony can have such a quick turn-around is frightening, and attaching conditions that don't apply to you is comforting in the face of that. 

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Because people make dumb comments they have no right to make (like the above).

 

(I mean no offense Avatar, I just think we have no right to judge the strength of another's faith, especially someone we've never met).

 

Are you suggesting that her faith and testimony was exceedingly strong but she decided that the church wasn't true anyhow?

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married 12 years, me n wife born n raised, and return missionaries. my wife officially fell away about 1 year ago but over the course of about 5 years is what eventually led her to her disbelief, it happened like this...

 

- we relocated and moved a few blocks into the next ward boundary area

 

- old ward friends slowly stopped inviting her to their parties (birthdays, holidays etc...), we make new friends in this new ward and life goes on

 

- obama vs. romney in presidential election - she gets offended by all her mormon friends on facebook supporting romney as if obama was a bad guy (my wife is mixed race).

 

- wife randomly says something stupid on facebook and one of the ward members calls her out on it

 

- wife is beginning to hate the ward members and with all the hours of free time she has as a stay at home mom she starts to explore the internet and comes across anit-mormon stuff.

 

- the documents online about LDS church history and what anti-mormons are using to attack us is what gets her, she no longer believes in Joseph Smith, thinks Brigham young is evil etc...however she still believes and has a testimony of Jesus Christ.

 

 

...all of this hits me hard because we have 3 young kids and I want to give them a strong foundation to start off with. My kids love their primary friends and classes and they love church, I had to clearly tell my kids the their mother is no longer a believer but daddy still is.

 

The first 8 months was rough and we had many arguments and talks, my biggest issue was her throwing away her garments, to me the garments was a symbol of our loyalty to each other as well as God. I dont like wearing jewelry or rings so my symbol of love and commitment is in wearing my garments. The garments represents a state in which we are living clean and trying to keep our thoughts and actions pure in Christ.

 

My personal observance and what helps me cope is that my brothers and father all are inactive, not because of disbelief but because of lifestyle. I also come from a predominantly mormon community where many of the members have lifestyle issues but its a small enough town that most people are related so to be inactive in the church does not mean that you get shunned...

 

...The upside of this type of community is that its not sink or swim like how you might find in Utah and you need to realize that! I have learned alot from my inactive friends and family, I learned that the Lord loves everyone and can touch the hearts of all. I have had high school classmates (that are members) that were pot heads, alchoholics, party animals etc... and although they had lifestyle issues they always told me that the church was true, some of them have actually given up their bad habits and returned to church activity. Seeing these transformations comforts me in that my wife is probably going through a process and the Lord will touch her heart again in the near future, I just got to be the strong one in my household and be the example for her.

 

Also the other thing I learned from my inactive friends/family is that they admit to me that because of some of their bad habits/sins they experience dark times and they recognize that the LDS church is a good source of light for them but because of their addictions its hard to come back to full activity. God lives and the church is true!

 

I believe that as your wife slowly see's and experiences the church from the outside over time she will recognize the difference of what she used to have (being a member) to what she will have (non-member). And as long as you continue to keep your covenants and be that example to her she can not help but to want to be apart of what you are living, and comeback to joining you in the temple.

 

good luck bro!

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I would try to find out more details of her faith crisis.

Does she believe in God? Does she believe in other parts of the gospel?

How does she reconcile the spiritual experiences, if any, she's felt from the past two decades or more, and how did 15 seconds of an essay nullify it all?

Possibly just giving her someone to talk to and express her thoughts to will help her through this trial.
 

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I would try to find out more details of her faith crisis.

Does she believe in God? Does she believe in other parts of the gospel?

How does she reconcile the spiritual experiences, if any, she's felt from the past two decades or more, and how did 15 seconds of an essay nullify it all?

Possibly just giving her someone to talk to and express her thoughts to will help her through this trial.

Understanding her better is good, I'd be careful in how I approach it though. If she feels he's trying to debate, argue, or accuse her back into the Church it'll likely lead to hurt feelings. Also realize, that if she's kinda hazy on these things or hasn't thought of them, things may crystallize for her when you bring them up and discuss them and you may not like her conclusions. So while he'll probably go in hoping for the best, he should brace himself for conclusions or answers he very much doesn't want to hear. It may just be, for example, in analyzing her beliefs she concludes she doesn't believe in Christ anymore because the feelings she associates with testimony are something she no longer trusts and they also apply to Christ.

Edited by Dravin

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It could have been very strong, but even the strongest of faith/testimony can be shaken when we feel as if we've been misled.

 

Respectfully, I disagree. The two concepts are totally incongruous. If you have the strongest of faith then you cannot feel you've been misled. They simply do not align, imo.

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Respectfully, I disagree. The two concepts are totally incongruous. If you have the strongest of faith then you cannot feel you've been misled. They simply do not align, imo.

I understand where you're coming from.  For me it's not difficult to imagine someone with strong faith to begin to question the truths they've been taught. For example, if your testimony is dependent upon the character of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young etc... and you come to learn of information that may discredit your initial perspective of who they were, then you may begin to doubt/question.  Sure, your testimony should be built upon your witness from God - but, someone may even doubt their witness/feeling they received (especially since these witnesses and feelings are quite objective.. it's rarely a voice or visitation from heaven) when other foundations of their belief or weakened.

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I understand where you're coming from.  For me it's not difficult to imagine someone with strong faith to begin to question the truths they've been taught. For example, if your testimony is dependent upon the character of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young etc... and you come to learn of information that may discredit your initial perspective of who they were, then you may begin to doubt/question.  Sure, your testimony should be built upon your witness from God - but, someone may even doubt their witness/feeling they received (especially since these witnesses and feelings are quite objective.. it's rarely a voice or visitation from heaven) when other foundations of their belief or weakened.

 

Hmm. Maybe this is where there is a disconnect -- in referring to belief and faith based on a testimony of the character of Joseph Smith or the like. These things are not a testimony.

 

Alright...sure...from an actual meaning of the word, they could be called a testimony. But from the meaning that is common to the LDS term "having a testimony", they are not. Having a testimony does not mean liking the church because of it's policies, practices, etc., or believing Joseph was a prophet because he was a swell guy. The meaning of having a testimony means having a sure witness from the Holy Ghost of the truths of the gospel, including the fact that Joseph was a prophet, etc. Therefore, if one's so-called testimony (which is no testimony at all) is based in mistaken things, then it is an entirely valid understanding to see a falling away or struggles of faith as stemming from a weak testimony -- because they do not have a strong testimony in the things that are actually meant when we refer to people having testimonies.

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Hello "Newbie".  It must have been so difficult for you to experience your wife's concerns with testimony.  Probably felt like the earth was shifting under your feet as she suddenly seems like a different person and as you grapple with how to handle this inside your mind and inside your relationship.

 

Had you interviewed me earlier in my life, an experience like this might have scared the pants of me.  But now, I see these experiences as really important opportunities. Opportunities to strengthen the marital bond, opportunities to learn how to use "trials" to grow and expand in wisdom and love, and huge opportunities for God to provide individual tutorials.

 

If I had any advice for you, it would be to exercise faith.  This is perhaps just some spiritual weather....like a wind storm that blows around a lot.  And my guess is that the intensity will most likely die down in time.  Have faith in that beautiful person you met and married.  Have faith in who she is and in her inner strength to weather storms like this.

 

Next,  practice bridling your inner protestor!  Instead, listen to her feelings.  Get curious.  Allow her to talk it out and be her soft place to fall.  Seek to understand without judgment.  Can you do that?  Listen without judgment?  That ought to challenge you. :)

 

When fear fills our minds, its like mud on the windshield and we end up in crazy panicked swerving if we're not careful.  Use the spirit of love and peace and a faith-filled willingness to slow down your emotional reactions and anchor your responses.  Remember the vision of the tree of life?  Remember how those who hold tight to the rod still experience the mists of darkness?  That's all this is.  Just a little mist of darkness.  And yeah, it's scary.  But remember what perfect love does.  It's casts out all that fear.  Lean instead on trusting yourself, your wife, your God, and in trusting that earth life is suppose to stretch us in these ways.  My experience is that fighting processes like this creates unnecessary pain and suffering.  Submitting with a teachable spirit brings growth.

 

Best wishes to you as you figure this out.

Misshalfway.

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I'm wrong because I used the brain God gave me to make a common sense determination.

one doesn't fall away from the church after reading an essay if one has a strong testimony. In fact, if one has a strong testimony they don't fall away even when faced with doubts. A strong testimony will root a man or woman to Christ and bring them to the point of conversion.

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I'm wrong because I used the brain God gave me to make a common sense determination.

one doesn't fall away from the church after reading an essay if one has a strong testimony. In fact, if one has a strong testimony they don't fall away even when faced with doubts. A strong testimony will root a man or woman to Christ and bring them to the point of conversion.

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