When I converted to Mormonism in 2009, it was to the disbelief and discouragement of many friends and family. None more so than my husband who was adamantly against my joining the church. When I first began studying with the missionaries, he didn’t say much, until he saw I was regularly attending church and talked about getting baptized. And then…
Well, he had a lot to say.
There were fights. A lot of them. At first he told me I was not allowed to go to church– which if you have known me for at least two seconds you would know how well that went. In fact, our marriage up to that point had been more than a partnership. We were a team. Neither of us told the other what to do and we each were confident with the other person. I felt I wasn’t doing anything different…as long as he had known me I had a thirst for spiritual knowledge and he had never not known me to study spiritual books or attend some type of church. He always said he knew what he was getting into when he married me…that Jesus was an important factor in my life. My joining a church shouldn’t have brought on the marital discord that it did.
To say it was bad is an understatement. He began to search anti-Mormon sites on the Internet, but as an atheist, he couldn’t find anything that didn’t dispel the church without bringing attention to a God. Finally, he laid down the law and said I could go to ‘that church’ if I wanted, but under no circumstances would he allow his children to attend. Period.
When I joined my very small ward, I came in with a lot of drama and fanfare. Not only did I accept the teachings of the gospel and felt like a lifelong Mormon, I did it loudly, something of which is not in my nature. A lot of people knew about the problems with my husband not allowing the children to attend and took it in stride. Maybe they’d seen it before…but being that I had been married to this man for ten years and had never been treated this way, it was a tough pill to swallow.
Things in our personal life were starting to unravel and the one person I had always leaned on wasn’t emotionally available to me. I felt stranded.
In August of 2009, I fell into such a deep depression I didn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I had my husband drive me to the hospital and drop me off at the front door. That speaks volumes towards how our relationship was then…it was to such a point I didn’t even want him walking in with me.
I was admitted into the hospital and for eleven days I had to put my faith entirely into Heavenly Father’s hands. I never prayed so hard and so much. My husband saw the visits from members of my ward stop by daily and I saw how this touched his heart. These people barely knew me, yet without judgment and without calling attention to their actions, they loved me enough to visit. They brought dinners to my husband and children. They called. He was overwhelmed with the kindness of strangers and this started the beginning of changing his heart and mind towards the church.
It didn’t happen overnight. There were hurdles and I foresee many more. When I took out my endowments a year in a half later, he wasn’t happy. (Again, major understatement.) He still calls my garments “magic underwear.”
He is still an atheist. We compromised and the children are allowed to attend church when they want to and neither of us are supposed to encourage them either way. I’ll admit this is difficult for me because I know the importance of the Sabbath. Whenever I think how difficult this compromise is…my mind goes back to two years ago and I remember things are a huge improvement.
My husband’s good friends are LDS. When my home teachers visit, he sits and listens to the discussion. The other day when my visit teachers came over, he pulled out the piano bench to listen. I’ve even caught him reading an article or two in the Ensign.
When your spouse doesn’t share your faith, it is a painful burden to carry. Yet, we must remember we all have our own individual spiritual journeys and even though you’re married, you won’t always travel down the same path. I can’t change my husband, nor can I change his heart, only Heavenly Father can and it is in faith and love I turn it over to Him.
When your spouse doesn’t share your faith or believe in God, these words of encouragement will hopefully help you as they have for me:
- Pray: Prayer is the most powerful weapon to safeguard any marriage, especially one in which there is an unbelieving spouse. Pray and ask God to soften your spouse’s heart and bind the adversary’s control over his/her life. When I pray for my husband, I imagine I’m holding him up for God’s viewing and ask to open my husband’s heart so he can see how real our God is and how much God loves him. Never stop praying. (1 Thess. 5:17)
- Stay Encouraged, Not Discouraged:Things do not always happen when we want them to occur. Do not get discouraged and give up on your spouse. If I had walked away from my marriage two years ago, I would have missed out on the blessings I have seen regarding my husband’s heart. I believe there are still more to come! You must remember your spouse has free agency and will respond to Heavenly Father’s revelation of his/her own free will.
- Witness without a Word: Constantly nagging and preaching the Word of God isn’t working, so why not try something different? You can surely bet your spouse is watching you. You can witness without a word by practicing what you preach. Don’t stay home from church to sleep in, read your scriptures, and remember your own conduct and be an example.
“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD” ~Psalm 27:14