This story is part of 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 Anonymous, Colorado, USA
I was raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I sang songs about marrying in the temple in primary. I learned that a “celestial marriage” meant that I would marry a man who held the Priesthood, and was worthy of that Priesthood as a member of the same church. Both of my parents were members and I remember walking to church together, sharing traditions of reading scriptures together (sometimes), family prayer (sometimes), and praying before every meal together (always).
My husband was raised by a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. His mother took him to Catholic Mass most Sundays and he went to Sunday School to learn about the Bible. His father did not join them. My husband’s parents were great models of a loving relationship that did not share the same belief system.
My husband and I share many of the same morals and priorities. We both feel a great responsibility towards taking care of the Earth, working hard, and being honest. Our lifestyles are similar in many ways. He never had been a big drinker and when we married, he agreed to give up drinking alcohol in our home. He ended up hardly drinking alcohol at all after we were married. He doesn’t do drugs or smoke. Neither of us drinks sodas. He drinks tea and I don’t. We both eat home-cooked, healthy food and exercise regularly. We both believe in making the world a better place.
Before we decided to marry, we discussed how we would live as a couple and eventually as a family. He agreed that we could raise any potential children in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked me not to expect or pressure him to attend or participate in church. He can be found in the audience any time I speak or play my violin in sacrament meeting. He probably will also come whenever our daughter performs or speaks. We decided that we would pray together as a family before meals. In that prayer, we hold hands like his family did for prayer. He kisses my hand and our daughter’s hand at the end of the prayer. It is one of my favorite family traditions. I have shared my thoughts when I was preparing a Relief Society lesson and listened to his perspective on the topic. The key to a mixed-faith marriage is respect for each other and honoring the other’s agency and belief system.
There are some things that are different than they would be if I had married someone who was raised Mormon. Our family is not as devout as my family was growing up. I cringe a little bit when I hear some primary songs. I worry at times that our daughter will feel that we are not as good as the families that are composed of all Mormons. I feel we are lucky to be in this family. We have a loving home with very few arguments. We believe in an equal distribution of household chores between husband and wife and our daughter sees that men should be expected to cook and clean just like women are. She also sees that my husband is proud of my career and educational advances, so that allows her to value her own potential to contribute to the world outside of her future home.
I feel a sense of freedom to be myself with my husband in ways that I may not if I were married in the temple to someone who started with the same expectations. When I encounter challenges to my faith, I know that my marriage does not depend upon my activity in the Church nor my loyalty to its leaders. For example, when the Church instituted a policy that excluded children of same-sex couples from baptism or the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt that this was completely against the principles taught by Christ in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I was distraught. I thought about completely leaving the Church. My husband put my grief into perspective by telling me that no organization is perfect, including any church. He reminded me of what I value in the Church. He told me I could do what I want, but he thought I would probably miss it if I stopped going. I never felt that my marriage hinged on whether I want to go to church or not. So I know that my decision to go or not to go to church is my own. That freedom is valuable to me.