This story is the first in our Mixed-Faith Marriage series, exploring the journeys and insights of active Latter-day Saint women married to men who are not members of the Church or who have left the Church. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.
By Lila King, Texas, USA
His hands are as strong as his work ethic. He likes old rock music, westerns, and Mexican food. He’s a naturally loud person with an easy sense of humor. He curses like a sailor and loves his family fiercely. He believes in God but not in organized religion. He worships God by watching the sunset as orange surrenders to red, and red melts into night sky. He is married to a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and together they are raising three children. His family belongs to a religion that he does not. He is my husband and this is our mixed-faith marriage.
I met my husband in my mid-twenties during a time of questioning and rebellion and church inactivity many years ago. That was a season of bad decision making on my part and I’m often surprised that I made such a good decision in marrying him.
The best way we’ve found to navigate our marriage of almost twenty years now is to work from a place of values. What morals do we want to instill in our children? We want our family to be kind, loving, and accepting. We want our family to be hard workers. We want our family to contribute to our community and society in positive ways. It is our value system rather than a religious to-do list that guides our decisions as a couple and a family.
Yet when the religious to-do list appears (because it does) my husband makes our marriage easy. While he has no desire to convert to my religion, he does not object to our children being baptized in the Church, attending church on a regular basis, or being taught the doctrine. What that looks like in our home is the children and I reading scriptures together, learning from one another, and having prayers together. Dad joins us for the blessing on the food at mealtime. Every so often he sits in on a religious discussion and shares his thoughts. His thoughts and opinions are just as important as mine. If he shares something that I do not agree with, I don’t verbalize it. He does the same for me. It’s just a level of mutual respect that we have for one another and for our children.
The only things that divide us are those things we allow to divide us—pride, hurt feelings, anger, fear, refusing to understand another perspective. I don’t believe those things are unique to a mixed faith marriage; they can divide every marriage, while love, forgiveness, kindness, laughter, and understanding unite us.
Our extended families accept us just the way we are and have from the beginning of our relationship. I’m sure my side of the family wishes he were a member and that we were sealed in the temple but they love him and can’t imagine me married to anyone else. His side of the family probably wishes I was Catholic or Baptist or anything other than Mormon and that we were raising the kids in a different religion, but they love me and can’t imagine him married to anyone else. Neither of our families have ever voiced disapproval of our marriage and/or our different religious views.
This marriage, this man, is a gift and has helped me grow spiritually by teaching me daily how to love someone so very different from myself. We are not commanded to love the people that believe like us or think like us or act like us. We are commanded to love everyone. My marriage has taught me to love my husband right where he is, as he is, without expectations or conditions. It has taught me in the tiniest way how God can have unconditional love for each of us.