Brook from North Carolina writes:
Hi. A little background info about myself. I have been married to a non member for two years and been with my husband for eight. While we were dating we had several discussions on the church and I just assumed Ryan one day would join.
Since we’ve been married, some of his coworkers started getting him into some anti-Mormon literature and now he is to a point I never thought he would be at. He has told me verbatim that he will never join the LDS church. I have learned to accept that.
Well we are to the point where we want children. I got pregnant last November but lost the baby in January. He, since the miscarriage, has decided that he will not allow the child to go just to the LDS church. He wants it to be their choice, but of course I dont see it that way. I think that would just be too confusing to go to two different churches.
I am just really confused because I know I have at least one spirit waiting for me and I want to give them the opportunity to come to Earth but the only way I see that happening is to let my husband ” win ” this argument and either split churches or allow it to go to Ryan’s church only.
Any suggestions on how to handle this situation? I am just completely lost and don’t know what to do.
Brook, thank you for trusting this issue with us. I’m sorry you’re in this quandary. Hopefully one of us — or one of the other readers or columnists — will give you the advice that is right for you. My input is rather brief and to the point.
You chose to marry a guy who does not share your values. You knew what you were getting into and, in my opinion, it’s entirely unfair to marry someone with the expectation that they will someday be someone else. He has simply confirmed that your assumption that he would change was wrong. He isn’t LDS and has no intention of becoming LDS.
Yes, there are miracle stories, but statistically it isn’t likely — and probably not worth betting your eternity on.
To be blunt, you are now at a point where you must choose between raising your children in your faith or staying married to a man who isn’t willing to allow that. Only you can decide what is more important to you.
Your husband’s demands aren’t unreasonable. I wouldn’t agree to have my kids raised entirely in another faith either. But given that you don’t currently have children with this man, you still have the choice as to whether or not you want to spend the rest of your life in a split religious family.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should divorce him, look for an LDS man, get married in the temple, and have kids with him instead. (Although you have to admit that those last three items are kind of on the general LDS to do list.) But I’m saying you need to acknowledge what your real choices are. If you choose to stay married to a man who won’t allow his children raised exclusively LDS, then you are choosing to raise your children in more than one religion — assuming you both stay married to him and have children with him.
To summarize, it really depends on what you decide to do. But do take responsibility for the decision that is yours to make. And don’t spend the rest of your life making your husband pay for the choice you made.
My only real advice is to put off having kids until you firmly decide how to proceed.
We wrote about related topic about nine years ago. Faith in the Faithless may be of interest to you.
Let me say up front how sorry I am that your hopes for your husband to one day join seem like a near impossibility now. I can just imagine the sense of hopelessness you might be feeling. It’s one of the things we’re continually warned about, not to marry outside the church with the hope that one day our spouse will join. It’s a huge risk, that sometimes works out. I’ve seen it happen. Unfortunately, you’re now coming face to face with the reason why we’re warned about the risk.
Naturally, this is something you should discuss in depth with your bishop. But I’ll offer what advice and counsel that I feel, in conjunction with the gospel, is right.
The fact that you do not yet have children is very significant, and to me, makes all the difference in the world. It also is the major factor in my thoughts on how you should handle this. So understand that if you already had children, I’d be giving a different answer.
Basically, I think you owe it to your husband to be very honest with him. You need to tell him the truth: that you married him with the hopeful assumption that he would one day embrace the gospel, join the church, take you to the temple, and that together you’d raise your children in the church.
In a sense, you made your “marriage contract” under false pretenses. He believed that you were completely happy to marry him as he is, a nonmember, because that’s the impression you gave him. And I can tell you what he’s going to say, “I was ‘good enough’ then, back when we were dating and when we got married. Now you want to have kids, and all of a sudden, it matters. That’s not fair.”
And the truth is, he’d be right. It’s not fair. You weren’t being honest with yourself back then, and you weren’t really being honest with him, either. But it would just be piling “not fair” on top of “not fair” for you to remain married, have children, always secretly hoping that he’ll change, hoping that he’ll turn into someone different than he is, and constantly having arguments over religion and putting the kids in the middle of your battle.
I am in no way a fan of divorce, but if he is absolutely determined that he will never join, then since you don’t yet have children, you need to seriously consider and talk with him about the possibility of dissolving the marriage. I know that may sound completely contradictory to gospel teaching, but consider a few things.
First, the original contract and covenant wasn’t made with complete honesty and/or acceptance of each other. He made the contract/promises without having full disclosure. It’s like he signed a contract and you left out the small print that said, “Oh, and by the way, I expect that you’re going to completely change your belief system and adopt mine.” And let’s be honest, doesn’t he deserve someone who can love him completely as he is and not expect him to become something different? Understand, I’m not saying that you should brush aside your desire to be married to a man who shares your beliefs. I’m not saying you should “accept him as he is and forget about the whole church thing.” I’m suggesting that maybe you shouldn’t have married him in the first place if you were expecting him to turn into something different than what he is and if you couldn’t be honest with him from the beginning about what you wanted him to be.
Second, you want different things for the future — the longtime future. Dissolving the marriage wouldn’t be a condemnation of him. It doesn’t mean that he isn’t already a wonderful man who would make a wonderful father. It just means that you want is something different than what he wants, and different than what he can give — and if he can say with certainty that he has no interest whatsoever in further studying your faith, that he has no intention whatsoever to raise your future children in an LDS home, while you want those things, then now is the time for you to part ways before you begin a family, so he can find someone who can love him and accept him as he is and you can find someone who already shares your values, beliefs and convictions, and gives you what it is that you really want. Better to do this now than end up in an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage, regretting that your children aren’t sealed to you. You wouldn’t be happy, he wouldn’t be happy (knowing that he wasn’t everything you wanted him to be), and the kids wouldn’t be happy either — and that wouldn’t be fair to anyone, either.
The important thing here, is that he understands that you are not blaming him. He needs to know that you accept responsibility for this. You weren’t really being honest with yourself or him when you married him, hoping that one day he would change.
I hope you read this in the spirit it was intended. I don’t mean to sound harsh, and I know I come across that way sometimes. But I think it’s important for us to say things as they really are, and that’s what I tried to do. How can we expect to find happiness (or share it with someone) when we aren’t honest with ourselves about what it is that will make us happy?
Your husband needs to know the truth about what it is that you really want, what “happiness” means to you — what your trurest desires are and how much they mean to you. That “marriage for eternity” and “a forever family” aren’t just nice sounding phrases to give you warm fuzzy feelings, but are what you desire and hope for more than anything else, and that you either didn’t really realize how much it meant to you when you married him, or you weren’t being honest about it with yourself or him. Maybe it was a combination of both. But either way, he deserves to know the truth. You owe him that.
Belief is personal, and if it is not sincere it feels like a terrible betrayal to the believing spouse. At least Ryan has been honest with his wife. The difficult thing about this specific issue is that, to a non-believer, a “shadow of a doubt” is exactly the thing that makes us divine. We are always open to further light and knowledge. To a believer, there simply is no shadow.
As long as Ryan is willing to allow his child to embrace his or her own honest epiphany without trying to discredit his wife’s testimony, I think it could be “a household of faith.” As long as the wife does not consider her husband less a man because he does not hold the priesthood, it can be a sacred marriage. But if the husband believes his wife is deluded and the wife believes her husband is faithless, that is going to create unhappiness for the child or children.