- She questions the teachings and leadership of the church.
- She broke her promises on how we were going to raise the kids.
- She doesn’t want to spend our money on tithing.
- She doesn’t attend church.
- She turned in her temple recommend.
- These betrayals can be painful to those of us who find that gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace and joy. It hurts to see others step away from something so important. There are also other reasons that their actions can bring us pain and feel like betrayal. When you got married, chances are that there were a set of expectations of how your future life would look. Your goals, priorities, and worship are in many ways laid out by the teaching of the church and may have helped you both be aligned. When you find your partner changing it can feel like betrayal and dishonesty to you and to the “path” you had both agreed to follow. During this difficult time it is still possible to strengthen your belief in the gospel, while strengthening and finding joy in your marriage.There are many steps or skills that are needed to strengthen yourself and the marriage during this situation (your spouse falling away from the church and its teachings). The foundation of these skills has three facets. First you must understand that situations are not good or bad. Second you must not seek to control our spouse’s agency and third you must learn how to use constructive thoughts to improve your emotional marriage bonds.The first facet is that situations are neutral. If it rains the farmer may say it is a good situation while those on a picnic may say it is a bad situation. It depends on their perspective and their respective thoughts regarding the situation. This is an important concept, because many times we fail to believe that all circumstances are neutral. For example, my spouse leaving the church feels far from “neutral”. It seems to have eternal implications for me as a believing Mormon spouse, causing thoughts such as “This is jeopardizing my personal salvation and that of my children”. Nevertheless the circumstance is neutral. This is a difficult thought to step back and view a faith transition as neutral, but the situation is a factual event, it is not negative or positive, just life as it unfolds.
The second facet is that each person has the ability to choose how they will act and what they will believe. This is the plan of happiness that our Heavenly Father set up for us. If we try to control another then we are following the example of Satan not our Savior. Even if we do not agree with the choices or beliefs our spouse may be exploring, the learning and experiencing that they are having is a part of Gods plan.
The third facet to be aware of is that our thoughts create our emotions and our emotions create our actions, our actions led to the results in our life. If the thoughts you are currently thinking about your spouse or their choices are not creating feelings and emotions that are bringing you closer together then you need to look at developing thoughts that do create those feelings. Trying to come up with new thoughts around the situation can be difficult. Below are some questions to ask yourself. With the answers to these questions you may want to explore some alternative thoughts that can soften the feelings around the faith transition. Thoughts that are both derive from and harmonize with the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
If you are struggling to see the good in this transition ask yourself if you can:
- Believe that God is in charge and all will be for your good
- Believe that you are not holding on to another’s “coat tails”
- Believe that this is a part of the plan of happiness
- The purpose of agency is to learn and grow
- Opposition in all things
- Now ask yourself how you are going to respond to your situation:
- What can I learn, what can I apply from this situation?
- What opportunities does this situation provide for my spiritual growth?
- Where do I stand in my relationship with God?
- As I strive for eternal salvation, which parts do I have control over?
After thinking about these questions, you can start to explore thoughts that can be more helpful. In our mini-course we teach how to use a model to help you unclutter your thoughts and develop more supportive thoughts. We call this the STEAR model. S is for the situation, T is for your thoughts, E represents your emotions, A is for actions and R is for the result. An example of how this model can help is listed below.
Dealing with your own thoughts and emotions is not an easy job nor is it quick. However, focusing on feelings of betrayal will not help you or your marriage. We have touched briefly on some of the tools and steps that are available to help you and your spouse grow closer together during this time. Click here to sign up for a FREE mini course – How to Develop a Strong Mixed Faith Marriage – that has more tools and tips on how to maintain a strong and healthy marriage in the midst of a faith transition. A new chapter of the mini course will arrive in your inbox each week until you have received all 10 chapters. The mini course is packed with tools and exercises to help you address your specific situation.