There is a girl I love very much, more than anything else in the world actually. She likes nice things, she is a bit of a perfectionist, a rule abider, outspoken and friendly. We are opposites in a lot of ways. In a crowd she is sure to make friends while I sit in a corner. I am not a perfectionist at all and pretty much think rules are for other people not me.
When I first lost my faith in the church for a long time I was afraid to tell her. I feared I might lose her when I explained why I thought it was a fraud. Eventually I could no longer keep it to myself. She was very perceptive and knew something was wrong, there was something I wasn’t telling her. One day I broke down and told her I didn’t believe. She was devastated. We were temple married after all, we were supposed to be together forever. The fact I didn’t believe anymore tore out her heart.
It wasn’t easy for me to tell her either, lots of tears were shed, we even considered divorce. Eventually she considered the things I was telling her about the history of the church and how I had felt deceived and how I came to my conclusions.
She listed to me, for that I am eternally grateful. She didn’t just tell me to stop talking or put her fingers in her ears wishing I would go away. Nope she listened, really listened. She also heard where I was coming from and knew I was sincere. We decided to stick together. For a while I went to church with her. I kept going whenever she wanted me to even though at times I had to sit and bite my tongue in Sunday school so as to not make a scene that would embarrass her. Over time she came to see and understand the things I had learned and eventually came to the same conclusion in regards to the church.
I was so happy, during my discovery of the truth I had met many people who’s families were torn apart due to learning the things I had and the conflict that can bring into a marriage. I feared that would be us. It wasn’t though, in fact after this great trial our marriage came out the other side far far stronger that before. We reached a point where we could tell each other exactly how we felt no matter how bad it got. We faced the worst and came out together on the other side. Instead of being torn apart, thanks to a beautiful woman willing to open her mind and consider the facts we were together! Better yet I realized there was NOTHING that we couldn’t discuss with each other. Sure it might cause us grief, but we had known grief and found that our union meant more than anything else on the planet. Unless you have experienced this there is no way I can explain it. It is a bond beyond words.
All this reminiscing is to give you background, I need you to understand who my wife is to me so you can understand my pain. Sometimes I feel that she is treated poorly, sometimes I feel like she is ‘blamed’ for my ‘falling away’ as it is called. Why do I think this? Probably because I have watched others avoid speaking to her, they recognize everyone else in the room, but it’s as if she were invisible. Not everyone does it, but there are those that do and it makes me sad when it happens. I am sure it is due to our leaving the church. I am fairly confident that those doing the shunning would justify it and say we brought this on ourselves and there are consequences to actions. (thinking in their mind that makes it ok to treat people as if they weren’t there). To those that justify avoiding people because they don’t believe like you do, remember that next time we aren’t there. If you treat a person like they are invisible, soon they will be.
Seeing my wife treated like this pains me. She is the more social one. I’m the one that likes to be alone. It hurts me because it hurts her. I can’t keep putting her in this situation because it’s not her fault. If it’s anyone’s fault that my wife and kids don’t believe in the church anymore, it’s mine. I was the one that did the research, I was the one that looked behind the curtain and saw Oz for who he was. I’m the one that didn’t keep my conclusions to myself. Not her. Don’t blame her and shun her and treat her badly. Blame me, because it’s not her fault.
I enjoyed the article, but struggle with the accountability piece of it. In my opinion, it is niether your, nor your wife’s fault that you believed in honesty, integrity and truth. You committed no actions PR made any claims like the men who started this church did. In my opinion, it is their “fault” and the sooner we all recognize it the sooner we can move on from the atrocious mentality that exists in the church. Though I left the church, it wasn’t the actions that I took that made it impossible for me to stay. If I truly believe in being honest, I can’t stick around a place that isn’t honest and that is there problem.
You make a good point, but even then I could have hidden, pretended and continued in a course that wouldn’t have triggered the result it did. And given my upbringing I have to admit I expected some blowback for speaking out. Personally even though I was doing my best to hold to my standards it was my choice to do so.
I wish we could all just be loved because we exist and are human and not because of how we believe.
I want to point something out about this post that I think you can appreciate. You say that it’s more you who should be blamed for your wife leaving, not her. I understand your sentiment behind this, but I think, like so many of us, your head is still somewhat influenced by your Mormon upbringing. Here’s why: your wife made her own choice to leave the church. She made it just as independently, prayerfully, and intellectually as you did. You may have provided the information, but it was 100% her choice to accept it and act on it just as it was yours.
I’ve noticed many men express similar sentiments of being “at fault” for their wives’ lack of testimony. This is something engrained in men from day one of church membership: you have the priesthood, therefore you are in charge of the family and responsible for their salvation. Women, alternatively, are taught to spend more time seeking advice from their PH’s than thinking for themselves. It instills this need to “protect” your women and guide them. It instills in you a responsibility for their salvation and decision-making.
Men that leave are so often still stuck in this mindset, so I want to remind you what you already know, but have had conditioned out of you: your wife made this decision independently. As such, she is perfectly responsible for it and fully capable of handling the fall-out. She doesn’t need you to protect her and she never needed you to guide her out in the first place – she would have found her way on her own. She is not a child (as the church makes women out to be), she is a full partner beside you with full capability of making decisions and handling the difficult and stressful results.
The church does a great job of helping everyone divert personal responsibility, particularly women. I saw this manifest in your post and thought you might appreciate the insight. 🙂 it’s not an insult. It’s a testament to all the things you post on here about the personal damage of the church.
I completely agree with you, I originally wrote this soon after I went public about my disbelief, since then over the last 6 months I have begun to shed some of that ingrained judgmental patriarchal attitude and am hopefully growing more accepting.
this post is probably worth an addendum to the addendum, being allowed to grown and change your mind is a wonderful thing!!
That’s great!! It’s totally understandable. I still catch myself searching for some kind of male mentor to give me direction on what to believe – were all on the road, and it’s a rocky one (and like you said, it’s okay!!! So nice to not have to feel guilty all the time!).
I hope I expressed myself well. I still don’t entirely know how to express myself without being judgemental, fwiw. 🙂
No sweat!, I liked your blog a lot, forwarded it to my wife to read. In my opinion the way women are raised in the church and the culture that makes them deferential to men is a lot like my fav chick flick, runaway bride. (yeah I like some of my wife’s movies:)).
Anyway that story is about a woman discovering what she wants. learning to be assertive and less deferential. It’s a great lesson. My wife and I talk quite a bit about her discovering how she likes her eggs.
I LOVE that movie! And for the exact same reasons! Of course, I had no idea it applied to me at the time! Hmmmmm,i may have to blog about that one…
I would love to see a guest post on your blog with your wife’s story. I’m very intrigued to hear how her faith transition came about. Glad you guys liked my blog! I’d like to be able to reach LDS young women with it, but that’s tough considering I may not be viewed as a reliable source.