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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: September 19, 2013 05:46PM

As most of you know, my husband of 50+ years died Jan 12, 2013. During much of his declining health, religion was never an topic -it was a non issue. I respected and honored his right to his beliefs and he did the same for me.

This is a repeat post -- updated.... people come and go from the board and many are faced with the problem of making a "part-member" marriage work.

That has been my situation for several years now. I am often asked about how I do it.

This is an overview and a little background from some prior posts. (updated)

Everyone's situation is different. It requires compromise, negotiation, some things that are not always easy to do. It also requires that the need to be a "right fighter" is dismissed.

I recognized, early on, that I needed to accept that we both have rights.

There is a right that we often forget. :-)
The right to believe in Mormonism.
That comes into play when one partner changes their mind about their beliefs in the LDS Church's claims and the other holds onto them.

I was a convert as a young adult woman---Mormon for over three decades--certainly, if anyone understood that I would! As a young adult convert, it was my "adopted tribe." I adjusted to the culture shock, especially when we landed in Utah in Wymount Terrace Married Student Housing. It wasn't easy, but I made it work, including trying to find work. Besides, I am a bulldog - I have a tenacious personality, I will do the work to find a way for the best outcome!

When I could no longer accept or believe the claims, (another story for another time), I had a big dilemma: how do we handle that in our marriage? I had changed my mind. My husband had not and never did.

I was done. Through. Not going to be a Mormon anymore. I needed to tell my husband, and interestingly, he accepted it and asked what I needed from him. Some background incidents had prepared him, somewhat.

I told him I needed him to live the 11th Article of Faith and he said he would, and he has. He had some warning. He knew I was not content with many things in the LDS Church for some time.

(11th Article of Faith: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. )

Also, it seemed reasonable to "take turns" about a few things. We had done it his way for over 30 years, now he could do it my way, about a few things. And we did! :-) We had some rough spots about that, but we worked them out.

I completely stopped attending the LDS Church in my late 50's, sometime in 1998 after some traumatic events. The last one was The Man in the Restroom story. That was the "Last Straw" = the impetus for figuring out "what is wrong with this picture" which lead to months of research and study, much on line and from books and from a family member doing the same thing.

A few years later, my husband retired. I had retired earlier from my last business that I owned. Later,I resigned my membership, officially in 2002.

That incident (plus others in the past) got my attention enough for me to do some serious investigating (not what the missionaries do!) and determine exactly how I wanted to live my life. That led to me changing my mind completely. I felt confident about that as, I was taught: "It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind."

One Big Lesson I needed to learn,(after making a big mess):
just because I changed my mind, that is no guarantee my spouse will,or anyone else for that matter. We cannot control other people.

And why would he? Initially, I had the expectation that if I changed my mind, everyone else would. Ahh...not so fast, it does not work that way. Everyone else (LDS folks I knew) was not even interested in what I had to say! In fact, they thought I had lost my mind or at a minimum been offended. Well, sure, I would say, if everyone that had ever been offended didn't come to church, there would be no one there! :-)

But that was not the reason I left. The claims, (metaphysical, supernatural visionary), that young whipper snapper, Joseph Smith Jr. told about golden plates and angels, etc. that created the God Myth that is still working today cemented by it's generational, cultural, traditional religious rituals. That was the core of my need to change my mind. Not enough verifiable evidence.
Trying to discuss anything to do with the real history that challenged my husband's testimony/spiritual witness was not getting any traction. It soon became clear to me that It was not my place to launch on some campaign of "opening his eyes."

I was also 100% certain that there is no way my believing husband of over seven decades would change his mind about his beliefs in Mormonism.

I used to think it was just a matter of some information, or hey, look what I found, did you know this, but I did not take into consideration the immense power of the spiritual witness and the power of the belief by faith. That was a wall I could not surmount. And, believe me, I tried.

The power of the spiritual witness is at the core of a solid, unwavering testimony. A good lesson: never discount the level of intensity of that spiritual witness. It is often life-long and never changes. It is held by faith and to challenge it is to defy their belief in God and their Savior. That's a huge: no-no!

What I initially failed to take into account, was the power of that belief by faith that others have, that is paramount in Christianity in general, as I well know, coming from a long line of Christian ministers. Nothing new there. They didn't change their faith, or change their mind either. Never.

Well. ....What to do?

Hmmm..... I needed to set some priorities and make a decision that would have the best possible outcome and pay attention to some basic facts of life: nobody can change anybody else. I had to sit with that for a long time to finally "get it."

I have a "fix-it" personality. I was sure, initially, that I just needed to change my tactics. Not so. I needed to understand that some things were not within my power and to let it go. Yes, let it go. Just stop.

I had to do the work to let go of the emotional attachment to the expectation (a little Buddhism helped me with this), and that I did not have the power to change another person. That was a biggie! My observation is that few people in this life ever "get" that one!

Did I want to be one of those folks that hang onto the emotional attachment to negativity: anger, hate, bitterness, resentment, disdain, etc? NOPE. Not me. I don't like being treated: less-than, or stupid, dumb, or not OK especially because of my beliefs. Why would I want to do that to someone else?

I have the kind of mind that sees: The Big Picture, takes an Objective View as much as possible, and finds the middle road that works most effectively with compromise and negotiation. I know the power of negativity on the whole person: mentally, and physically. I was not going to "go there."

I determined to keep my self respect, and self confidence in top shape and not fall into thinking patterns that would sabotage my process.

Then I needed to ask myself:
Can I make peace with that?
Can I let it go?
Can I leave it alone and not make it an issue? (This was very hard, initially!) Can I just be quiet about it and not harp on it to people who don't give a rats arse?

Then I learned something that took me a some time to finally "get" -- it's only an issue if I make it one! That's true about almost everything in a marriage relationship. Stop picking at the sore spot, it won't heal!

Ahh... I had options -- and lots of them. I didn't have to make my decision into more than it was -- nor make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Maybe, sometimes, people just give in. They can't out-talk or out-fight their partner, they are worn down, exhausted, can't fight anymore, so they acquiesce and go along to get along! But did I want that? Clearly -- no.

Maybe, just maybe, the marriage and that investment of love, time, family, financial, emotional issues, etc. is much, much, much more important that a difference of opinion about some beliefs !

Could I make peace with that?
You bet I could! Probably helped a lot that I was a convert and had a couple of decades of life prior to Mormonism that was part of who I was also.

I realized early on that I needed to give myself permission to do the work to find my own path to inner happiness and peace. And, that is what happened, little by little.

Making Peace with it all was not a conscious goal, it was the result of the process of rewriting thinking scripts left over from Mormonism, (another post with a long list-getting myself Un-Mormonized!), seeing The Big Picture and creating my new World View, all the while protecting my self respect, self confidence, etc. I was OK all along. Making peace with my life, all of it was the natural result.

That meant I was learning to process the past, let it go and focus on living in the Now. It's not easy; my mind, like most folks, likes to go back and rework things, repeat the past in my head, fix what is long gone. But did I need that? NOPE! Sure didn't.

That included making peace with my life as a Mormon and making peace with my life as a former Mormon. That meant I needed to understand something about the past: there were no: wouldas, shouldas, couldas, what if's. (Another big subject)

It required that I also do the work to change my thinking. Change my thoughts. It's only a thought. I was the one to change my attitude and change my focus. Just thinking about it was overwhelming.

I had to do the work to let go of the emotional attachment to the expectation (a little Buddhism helped me with this), and that I did not have the power to change another person. That was a biggie! My observation is that few people in this life ever "get" that one!

So, I had to practice some skills. They were new ones. I did some study, research, read a bunch of books, took classes and found out what I needed to do for a positive outcome while making major changes in my World View. All the while married to a husband with Mormonism in his DNA.

I needed to learn the skills of focusing on today, having an attitude of gratitude.

I needed to learn to be more skeptical, use critical thinking skills, less gullible; be more objective, think in terms of the Big Picture, think about what I wanted to accept and believe from any source.

No more: go along to get along, agree just because someone else is doing it, or believes it, or suggested I do it. I took every idea that came into my head apart and analyzed it.

More conclusions:

Some things are just not worth fighting or arguing about for or against.

We can't all be the same.

We can't all believe the same things.

We can't be everything to anyone all the time.

What did I want for myself and my family: I wanted everything that was within my power. Next I had to figure out what was within my power and what was not.

I decided: I am not going to give up anything; not one iota of my investment in my family, home, marriage because I changed my mind about my beliefs in Mormonism.

We are people first. Beliefs second. Once I set that priority and kept it firmly planted in my mind, life started to flow peacefully. It was like opening up a damn that I had constructed within myself. When I let go, things began to flow much more smoothly.

The result: we had a peaceful life for the most part; he is a believer and I am not. He has his beliefs, and I have mine. Do they agree all the time. Absolutely not. Why would we?

Is it OK to argue, and make a fuss? Sure it is. We can do that. We can be passionate about our differences. We have agreed to disagree And, why not? It's OK. We can do that, no matter what the issue is.And if I go off on a tangent, he reminds me of our agreement!

I hope to get to 50 plus years of marriage in Aug of 2012, (which we did!) and not let something as insignificant as a difference of opinion about religiously based claims and belief by faith divide us or our family! Do we have to work on it? Of course we do!

And we did. We had a spectacular, amazing, incredible 50th Wedding Anniversary planned and produced by our "kids" (all talented adults), who outdid themselves!

So.... life goes on and on and on.

We make the best with what we have.

The older we get, the more changes and health issues we face. Some very scary ones! It's a struggle, but it's always worth it.

We play the cards we are dealt. Not everyone gets the same cards!

I chose well. My spouse is a good man. And, I am told, those are hard to find! :-)

It is not always easy, or smooth sailing, but with a little effort and a positive attitude it is so much easier! Resentments and anger melt away in the face of a positive attitude and laughter. Laughter really is the Best Medicine.

There was no room for negative self talk, or negative energy either. I knew I was OK. I knew I could do anything I set my mind to.

I have to slap myself around some times and knock some sense into my head...again, and again....and admit my errors, take responsibility, make amends, and start over, dozens of times, but the more I stay on course, stay focused on what I really wanted for myself and my family, the easier it becomes.

Appreciation is an amazing power supply. It's like magic. Practically nobody can resist it! It's surprising how far a simple compliment will go! A -- thank you!
Just walk down the street or drive your car with a smile on your face !

Say something to get a laugh from someone. They won't forget you. It will break down barriers and open doors.

I have learned that life is best lived with a sense of humor. A lot of laughter every day. I'm so convinced of the health benefits of laughter (well documented) it ought to be prescribed by doctors!

With what years I have left, I have given myself permission to get to the laughter, find the fun and enjoy my life. A smile and laughter is contagious! Practically nobody can resist that either! (I am finally getting my sense of humor back after my husband died.)

Difference of opinions, in the long run of a very long life with good people are really not that important!

ahh... What a relief to know it's OK to let go, let it be, don't let the past mess up my present....... and just ....enjoy today!

Side note: And that was exactly what we did when my husband was confined to a hospital bed in Home Hospice.

"Where do we go from here" he asked one day when he was a little more lucid. I realized what he meant and told him that we will make the best of each day and enjoy it. And we did.

Love is the greatest power! Life is about loving others unconditionally and As-Is. Love is something you DO! They don't need us to fix them. And, treating others the way we want to be treated. Don't let the past mess up your present.

It's wise not to take things personally.
Don't Take Anything Personally.
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

To fully understand how and why this works like this I have explained it this way:

Mormonism, in my long experience and observation is more accurately described as a patriarchal, generational, cultural, religious tribe. In fact the word: tribe is used in their lexicon. As a convert, I was considered an adopted member of the tribe. Considering how tribes manifest, it is, in my view, the best way to understand how Mormonism creates a whole paradigm for the individual in a familial, societal, religious context aka tribe, complete with it's own unique rituals, music, language, dress.

This system, including everything in their teachings/doctrines is not just earthly in their view, it's Eternal.
That is the core for their World View and how they incorporate their extended family.

Everything in the life of a truly believing, testimony bearing, totally immersed, temple attending, generational Mormon is about their goal to live Eternal Life in the Celestial Kingdom together as a family.

This is the context that their view of their Eternal family functions. Therefore, their lives among their family is geared around the rituals/ceremonies-costumes: blessings, baptisms, priesthood advancement for the boys, missions, temple marriages,"Callings" etc, and around and around it goes.

Just like other generational religions (much larger, and much longer established), this is a religious heritage that most often is at the core of the identity of the individual. You are born a Buddhist, Muslim, Christian: Catholic, a Methodist, a Baptist, etc., etc., and you die as such -- which is typical in my experience.

It's important, in my view, to not make it about right or wrong, good or bad. It's about religious rights and people hold those dear.

When we refuse to accept our loved one's religious beliefs, (at least on some level) that is nearly always interpreted as rejection and the foundation of resentment which is very ofen a deal breaker. It's the old saying: don't like my dog, don't like me! :-) Don't like my religion, don't like me! Generational, familial rituals/traditions follow a person from birth to death. It's worldwide. It's often hard to change also.

That is why I stress the importance of unconditional love. People will always need to feel they are OK just the way they are, at least in someone's eyes.

It requires discarding the notion that I need to teach my believing spouse .... something... open their eyes... etc. I say: never mind. If and when they see from your example, usually, that there is something they want to know, they will do it on their own. And, I'm happy to assist.

I know my case is different than many as we are both retired, and have health issues that prevent church attendance. But, that does not change the believer's beliefs. Not one bit.

I didn't come to these conclusions in a day or two. It was trial and error. Months of it.

We made it work: one day at a time. We have a comfortable life as devoid of conflict -- as much as possible. The same is true as a widow.

We made it work because his beliefs are about him, not me and mine are about me, not him.

Everyone finds their own way. There is no right or true way to deal with the kind of major change that can result from one or more members of the family unit leaving the LDS Church.

My best to all of you!

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Posted by: Feeling light ( )
Date: September 19, 2013 08:28PM

Thank you. Amazing story

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Posted by: jangadai ( )
Date: September 19, 2013 08:56PM

Wonderful, awesome advice and story. Your words here are the best wisdom I've read on this forum. I'm going to save this and read it often. I can relate with you and you seem like the kind of woman I hope to become some day. Thank you so, so much for sharing!!!

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Posted by: subeamnotlogedin ( )
Date: September 19, 2013 09:01PM

Thank you for sharing.

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Posted by: thedesertrat1 ( )
Date: September 19, 2013 09:29PM

53 years! Same type of situation! Very similar resolution.
Everybody has the right to choose for themself.

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: September 21, 2013 01:51PM

thedesertrat1 Wrote:
> 53 years! Same type of situation! Very similar
> resolution.
> Everybody has the right to choose for themself.
> Marriage is ONE BIG COMPTOMISE!!!

wow... have you shared any of your methods in how you've made your long marriage work? I would love to read it!

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: September 19, 2013 09:37PM

A lot of life wisdom there, SusieQ.

Thanks for sharing one version of "I did it my way!"

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: September 20, 2013 12:12PM

Thank you for your kind remarks.

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: September 21, 2013 02:15PM

Thanks for reposting this, Susie-Q.

I don't know why it isn't stuck in the very front of this board since it is the first thing a married person wants to know when they realize the church is not true.


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