Five Things to NOT Tell your Spouse who is Going through a Mormon Faith Transition

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-By Brooke

1. “You need to repent.”

Consider that they are making their decisions based on their values. They may feel they are compromising their personal integrity by continuing to support a church that (fill in the blank of the reason). They are in fact standing up for what they believe is right even in the face of opposition from those they love and respect and opposition from a church that they probably once loved and respected too. It is probably easier for them to just keep up a facade of belief.  (“May we ever chose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong” – Thomas S. Monson)  But they feel that they must live in integrity to what they believe to be right.  Chances are they are keenly aware of the perceived error of their ways and are freaked out too.  This can be a time to show support and love when your spouse really needs a listening and nonjudgmental  ear.

2.  “You are a bad example to the children.”

It is very understandable that you are highly concerned about any bad influences on your children. You have invested countless hours, day and night, into their welfare. You have protected them from bad media and bad friends since they were born. Now your spouse is sharing ideas that are dangerous and could undermine their faith and happiness in life. You may want to consider that you spouse is also invested in the happiness of your children and also wants what is best for them. Your spouse has as much right as you to teach and nurture the children as he/she sees fit. It can also be helpful to remember that your children, no matter the age, are individuals with agency, and will be faced with many choices in their lives and your job is not to make the decisions for them, but to offer support and advice and love. Children are not dumb, they know when there is an information war being waged. You can model what it is like to consider different points of view with courtesy and compassion or you can model what it is like to condemn and fear those ideas that oppose our own. The choice is yours. 

3.  “You need to talk to the Bishop about this.”

Your spouse may very much want to talk to the Bishop about what they are going through and then again they may not. In any event it is 100% up to them if they talk to the Bishop or not. They are an adult and get to make the decision about who they talk to about personal matters (period).  

4. “Have you been reading your scriptures and praying?”

This is a very common response to any change  in the faith experience. You may feel very strongly about the importance of daily scripture study and prayer. Scripture study and prayer for some is like the balm of Gilead or a warm soft blanket. It is soothings and comforting. However, this may not be true for your spouse. Have you considered that these same tasks may be very triggering for your spouse? Where they soothe you, they may shame another. Think about food, what may be good for one body, may cause hives on another.   

5. “Will you please listen to this conference talk.”

Conference can be a spiritually nourishing and validating time.  So often when we experience something good, we immediately want to share it with those we love, especially if it seems to be addressing their very concerns. However, how do you feel when you spouse tries to convince you that his/her point of view on the mormon faith is correct and you have it all wrong? How do you feel when he/she tells you things that make the church look “bad”? Have you considered that by sharing these talks and articles you are also communicating the idea that they are wrong and you are right. You are probably acting from a place of love and concern, but the underlying message is infused with manipulation and fear. 

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Three Things to Tell your Spouse who is Going through a Mormon Faith Transition
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