Subject: Thinking About My Father-In-Law
Date: Aug 27 13:47 2003
Author: samuel beckett

My wife had her 10-year high-school class reunion last weekend, so we flew up to eastern Washington for the event. Before we left on the trip, she asked if I'd be willing to go to church with her and her family. I guess I wanted to avoid conflict about the issue, because I cheerfully agreed to attend (I have a hard time saying no). It didn't long for me to start regretting this decision, and I spent the next few days dreading the eventual church trip.

When the time finally came on Sunday afternoon, I put on my fancy pants and my (black) shirt and my necktie, and we all tromped off to church. It was my first time back in an LDS chapel in almost 3 months.

The music was more droning and depressing than I remembered. The "youth speakers" gave depressing talks about "sin" and "death" and "hell" and "temptation." In Sunday school, the teacher bore his testimony of the power of spiritual promptings. He told us a story about a time when he was home teaching a little old lady. He had ridden his motorcycle to the home teaching appointment, and--3 different times during the appointment--he heard a voice, "as distinctly as I have ever heard any voice," telling him not to ride his motorcycle home. It wasn't raining or snowing, and he was feeling fine, so he didn't know why he wasn't supposed to ride his motorcycle. But he asked his home teaching companion for a ride home anyway. In conclusion, he told us "I don't know what would have happened that night, but I know that the Lord was protecting me. That's the power of the Holy Ghost!"

I could feel my brain atrophying from all of the nonsense.

Then Sunday school was over, and the women (my wife and her mother) went to relief society meeting. They offered to take the kids (my 9-month-old twins) with them. I thanked them for their offer, and my father-in-law and I trudged off to priesthood meeting.

And then something unexpected happened.

But before I tell you about the unexpected event, I need to tell you a little bit about my father-in-law.

When my wife was a little girl, her dad was an inactive church member. He didn't attend church meetings. He didn't wear his garments. And he drank beer. In other words, he was a general disappointment to the family. Instead of being baptized by her dad, my wife was baptized by her older brother.

And the family made no secret of their disapproval of him. He was berated by his wife (my mother-in-law) for years and years because of his lack of spirituality. She frequently criticized him to the kids, in front of his face and behind his back. His daughter (now my wife) was ashamed of him, and was constantly jealous of the families in her ward with dads who were more righteous than her own dad. To this day, she resents him. Twenty-one YEARS after the fact, she is still pissed off that he didn't baptize her.

These days, he goes to church every week. But he'd rather play golf than go to the temple. (In fact, he took me golfing on Saturday afternoon, and we had a great time together.) He's retired, but he has ZERO interest in serving a mission for the church. (My mother-in-law, on the other hand, would serve a mission in a heartbeat...if her hubby would go.)

Anyhow, back to the unexpected event...

When the father-in-law and I got into the priesthood room, he asked me whether I had the keys to the car or whether my wife had them.

ME: She has the keys.

FIL: Well, I've got to go count tithing money [apparently, he's a ward financial clerk], so you're on your own.

ME: ...okay...

FIL: The elders quorum meets in the room over there, if you want to go to that.

ME: ...okay...

FIL: Or you can go home if you want. The key to the green car is right here. Or, if you want, you can take the Lexus. Here are the keys.

ME: Thanks. Yeah, I think I would rather just go home for a while.

FIL: Just make sure you're back by 3:30. That's when we get out of here.

ME: Okay. I'll see you at 3:30. Thanks again. I really appreciate it.

So I went back to the house and enjoyed 25 minutes of not-being-at-church before coming back to pick everyone up.

I was impressed by the simple kindness of my father-in-law's gesture. He knows that I don't believe in Mormonism, and he understood that I didn't want to be there. Of course, my wife knows that, too. And my mother-in-law knows it. But neither of them were interested in whether I wanted to be there. THEY wanted me to be there, and that's apparently all that counts.

After church, my wife thanked me for coming to church with her. I said "you're welcome" and then I told her about how her dad told me I could ditch the last hour of meetings. She said "oh" and I could tell she was really pissed, but she didn't say anything else.

As a result of this experience, I now have a greater appreciation for the shit my father-in-law has been putting up with for the last 40 years, and I see a lot of parallels between him and myself. And, more to the point, looking at him is letting me see into the future a little bit. On this board, Mateo is living my life rewinded by a few years. Insomniac and Studio and Langdon are living my life in five or ten years. But looking at my father-in-law is like looking into the mirror forty years from now.

After all this time, he still gets very little respect from his family. He's still depicted as the lazy, good-for-nothing-but-a-laugh kind of guy. I don't know how he feels about religion because he never talks about it. Maybe he doesn't believe. Or maybe he just doesn't care. But he goes to his meetings and follows the marching orders of his wife and the commandments of the Mormon God (in that order). His daughter resents him. His wife wishes that he would get with the program and go on a mission with her. His sons (who may also still resent him, but I don't know anything about that) are both strong strong strong TBM members, and both of them think I'm a moral reprobate for leaving the church. If their feelings toward me are indication of their feelings toward their dad, then that certainly isn't good for him.

Having looked into a mirror like that and seen the future that awaits me, I'm pretty sure I'm not willing to follow through with it. My wife is becoming more and more like her mother every day. I'm not willing to be not-spiritually-good-enough, like her dad, for the rest of my life.

I'm going to get out.

Subject: Great story, samuel. . .
Date: Aug 27 13:55
Author: catholicgirl

Thanks for sharing it.

I think you're totally right about your father-in-law, and I think he showed tremendous sensitivity to you in that situation.

Men seem to have a private code, and get coddled into silent submission in order to keep peace in their marriages and families.

But yes, they resent it.

So when they see someone else suffering, they tend to reach out.

I can understand why you'd see this as a glimpse into your own possible future, and want to hit the eject button.

May your life be better than that. All good wishes.

Subject: Well Said...
Date: Aug 27 17:12
Author: Mateo

I look at you guys and I think, "That can't happen to me, as my wife is different."

While it may be true that my life isn't as crazy as most fanatical TBM women, she still is TBM, and begs me to go to church with her every week. Our friends are getting married in October and I will not be able to go in the temple. She said, "You could always just get worthy and go!!"

Little by little the secret agenda is revealed, hoping that I will come back to church and forget this whole apostacy fiasco. This explains why she hasn't told her family, as they would never have to know about it, assuming I came back. This explains why she lays the guilt on SO THICK every week, hoping that I'll feel the Spirit® and rejoin the fold.

I'm realizing that as much as they want to "respect" our beliefs (or non-belief) they never actually will respect it. She will always resent me for not being a worthy priesthood holder, whether she admits it or not. The fact is that she will never respect my beliefs as long as they differ from hers.

Makes me want to bolt as well.


Subject: I've been good!
Date: Aug 27 18:19
Author: Mateo

I drop the "stone cold" every once in a while, simply answering her pleas with "NOPE!" At this point she gets all upset that I could be so insensitive.

Of course, me making an adult decision is considered insensitive, but her constant badgering and blatant disrespect for my beliefs isn't considered insensitive. Makes perfect sense to me...

All Hail Brother Joseph!


Subject: I guess my dad and I are just lucky...
Date: Aug 27 17:43
Author: Kim

...when it comes to being p.w.'d into church activity. I read all these experiences of apostate males being forced to keep their wives happy by attending church or otherwise appearing to play along and believe. It's all so beyond sick, that I can hardly stand to hear one more story.

Women who do this need to have some serious "Come to Jesus" therapy sessions where they learn that what they are doing is soooooooooo wrong, and so much WORSE in the grand scheme of things than having their husbands not be interested in church. They are manipulative and treacherous. They are restricting the free agency of others. The mormon cult has made them too blind to see this, but if they really believe in the judgement bar, this is NOT going to bode well for them.

My parents have been married for 46 mom TBM to the core and my dad a complete non-believer. Even though they were married in the temple, both at age 18, it was only a formality for my dad. My mom knows this now and she knew it then. She admitted to herself after 10 years of marriage that she was not going to be able to change his thinking. She goes to church. He stays home. There is no argument. They both have learned that they themselves are responsible for their own happiness...and that can sometimes mean INDIVIDUAL happiness.

I'm glad for my dad (and for myself) that he doesn't have to endure what seems to be so common bitching and whining from a TBM wife when it comes to going to church.

And, samuel, I'm sorry you have to undergo this torture. I do hope that in time your wife will come around and figure things out.

Subject: Further light and knowledge from bishop todd
Date: Aug 27 17:57
Author: Søvnløsener - Insomniac

They both have learned that they themselves are responsible for their own happiness...and that can sometimes mean INDIVIDUAL happiness.

Last spring, Sister Insomniac went to todd for advice over the marriage/divorce question.

he told her that it would be a mistake if she left me.

OK, so far, so good.

Futhermore, if I were to stray, it would be HER fault.

Wasn't #2 in the lines of "punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression"?

It was kind of a put off for her to hear such inspired advice.

Like I said yesterday, I don't need to do anything with the local mo-mo faithful saying such stupid things.

To all 'Apostate' spouses out there, I'm pulling for you, we're all in this together.

Subject: Reading 'bout your FIL
Date: Aug 27 17:45
Author: Søvnløsener - Insomniac

makes me wonder what my future holds.

Beer drinking, non-garment wearing, golfing, 'un-worthy' guy. Sounds like a good guy to me, at least back in the day, and even to this day, letting you skip EQ and all. I've learned enough to never say never, but I see little probability of me entering the waters of mormon drone baptism.

And that conditional love aspect kind of scares me. (well that was the straw that broke my willingness-to-keep-up-appearances camel's back) Your wife and FIL that is, what if my daughters feel the same years on down the line? He didn't jump though all the little hoops that a man made organization commanded, so he is less of a father and a man and less worthy of love?

So samuel, what did you do Saturday on the 18 when the Beer Golf Cart Girl drove by?

Subject: Re: Thinking About My Father-In-Law
Date: Aug 27 18:20
Author: Turtledove

Your story sounds like mine and my husbands when the children were young except that we both were very active. My husband was always studying the church history. He had a lot of questions. I was angry because he did all that studying! I could not believe that he would even question the church. Duh!!

It was not until he took me back east showing me the church history. (He did his homework well!) He would tell me what he knew (facts!) what REALLY happened. He did it in a way that was not a threat to me. He was gentle, matter of factly, enthusiastic, knowledgable, etc.... We went to the MMM in Utah, Navoo, Palmyra, Kirtland, .... It was fabulous and so interesting. It helped me to understand why he was where he was at and why he thought mormonism was a bunch of bull! After that I became more open and did some studying myself.

I still respect the church, but no longer allow them to put the guilt, shame, pressure on me. Sometimes it is hard to deal with the family, but what seems to work for us is that we don't meddle with them, and don't allow them to meddle into our life.

We still serve, love, and try to live a good life, but we know it is because it builds our self esteem. It is not to get into a higher kingdom. We like who we are and those that want to judge us because we are not true blue mormons can do what they may. It is not going to affect how we feel about ourselves.

Subject: That is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful piece of writing.
Date: Aug 27 20:25
Author: melissa

I can't tell you how much I loved your post. My only regret is how brief it was. Are you sure you can't write a book length account? It's everything a good story needs; plus it's intelligent, quiet, observant, and so so REAL.
Maybe I related to it because I know the feeling! To this day I'm the first person out the door of ANY group event, as a result of too many years of being stuck in a church service that bored me. I always look around and am shocked to see that everybody didn't rush out like me--I'll be all alone in a foyer, parking lot, or sidewalk, and then I'll gasp and think, Oh wow. It happened again.
I also have to tell you that the way you presented the information was compelling, but the conclusions you drew were the thing that stunned me. They were absolutely accurate, in my opinion, about how in spite of his courage and humanity your FIL got no respect or understanding, and how this could very well be a sign of what's to come. And then another breathtaking thing, you decided to ACT on the clear conclusions you drew. How rare is that? Rare. A rare moment, more exciting than a lot of things I see everyday that are supposed to be really exciting. This is one of life's rare little moments of truth and sanity, and I would say, courage. Are you a writer? I get the feeling this has all been building for a while. You did a GREAT job of communicating what it's been like.


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