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Doctrinal Issues That Strain A Marriage


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Every now and again something will happen really bothers me and I come to the experts. For anyone that knows my situation this will probably be more of the same old stuff.

Just a bit of history. My wife was not raised in the church. To be fair, when we got married I was inactive and the topic of religion was never brought up. After our oldest son was born I wanted to return to the LDS church, which at first she didn't mind so long as it was a Christ based church. Eventually, she was baptised, much because of pressure from the church and my family. We did go to the temple and it freaked her out. She did attempt to return on a couple of occasions and it still was "too freaky" for her. The WoW bothers her, because she believes that it was only Joseph Smith that came up with it due to his wife complaining about the tobacco stains on the floor. She does believe that it is a "good idea" to follow the Wow, but isn't a commandment. Mainly she just want to drink tea now and again, she does confess that she would also like a glass of wine now and again as well. Tithing is another issue for her. Since she writes all of the checks I don't follow up with her as much as I should. She's pretty consistent and I have compromised to pay on our net income. However, if she misses a payment she feels like "oh well, we'll start again next month". She doesn't neccesarily believe in the tithe as 10%, but what we feel we can afford. Tithe is an old testament commandment and wasn't intended for us since Christ paid for our sins and that was enough. She will not go to Tithing Settlement, because she feels that it's the Church's way of making you feel guilty that you didn't pay enough. Plural marriage is also a no-no for her, she thinks that J.S. was a pervert for it. She has (from her mother and other sources) found lots of anti information and is really riding the fence about leaving the church. She refuses to wear her garments anymore. She says that she will not encourage or discourage our boys from going on a mission, but doesn't really want them to. I give her credit for still going each week. She does her Visiting Teaching and is the Relief Society Secratary and fullfills that calling. She says that she believes "most of" what the church teaches and that she does believe that Prophet and Apostles are men of God.

Needless to say this puts a strain on our marriage of 17 years. I don't say much to her when she drinks a glass of tea or when she changes and doesn't have her garments on, ect. I guess one of my fears is that we won't go to the Celestial Kingdom, because I don't "man up" and make her pay the full tithe. She's a good woman and is a much changed person than when I met her, I attribute that to the church. We "as a church" claim that we believe in mercy and grace, but as members we are taught that if we don't endure to the end and follow keep "all" of our covenants and follow "all" of the commandments it will all be for not and we won't make it to the celestial kingdom. It constantly stresses me out and I hate feeling this way. I don't argue (or even attempt to discuss) the issues she always brings up, because we usually just wind up fighting and it isn't productive anyway. I've bought her books and links to sites that explain the doctrines and why they are, but it just hasn't worked. I'm not perfect by any means and will never profess to be. I believe in the church and it's doctrines and teachings. I just can't seem to get passed the fact that people like my wife and I that have our struggles with every doctrine will fail to return to the Father. I did speak to the Bishop and one of his counsellors, but they just nodded and told me to keep loving her and everything will be allright in the end. Doctrinally speaking that isn't true from my understanding though. I'm sure I'm missing a ton of things that were on my mind, but will end it for now. Anyone in the same boat or have any advice would surely be appreciated. Divorce isn't an option.

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Please don't mistake my frankness for harshness or insensitivity. I intend neither of the latter. That said, regardless of what your wife does or does not do, you need to stop treating living the Gospel like a checklist or a quid-pro-quo exercise: "Yep, got that one checked off! What's next?" and "Honey, we need to do [x] or we won't get [y]." The Lord isn't Santa Claus. In my own case, if I treated living the Gospel as though it were a simple list of things to be checked off sequentially, I got stuck in the middle of the checklist 20-plus years ago: (1) Go on a mission; (2) Get a degree; (3) (or while checking off #2) Get married; (4) (before checking off #3) get a job ... et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. I got stuck on number two. Repeatedly. If I wanted to, I have a great excuse to tell God (aka Santa Claus), "Heavenly Father, you promised that if I did [x], you would do [y]. You haven't done [y], so I'm starting to think this whole 'living-the-Gospel' thing isn't what it's cracked up to be."

I assume you married your wife because you love her (and because you will always love her ... no matter what). I assume you (try to) live the Gospel because you love it and because it bears good fruit (fruit which is not included on the checklist) in your life. This is much easier said than done, I realize, but you need to do the best you can to lead your wife and family to Christ using the formula outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 121: "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained ... but by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge which will greatly enlarge the soul." We don't live the Gospel because we have to; we don't live the Gospel because Santa Claus won't give us presents if we're not good. We live the Gospel because we love it and because it fills our souls. You're not likely to change your wife's attitude or behavior by telling her what the Gospel says we should do. If that happens, it will happen because you show your wife that living the Gospel bears good fruit in your life, because it fills your soul and makes you happy. If you don't live the Gospel because it fills your soul and makes you happy, the time eventually will come when any other reason you live the Gospel won't be enough.

I wish you well. :)

Edited by Kenngo1969
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I think you should not get yourself all worked up about your wife's struggles with the various doctrinal issues you describe in your post. It seems to me that the real problem is simply that your wife hasn't yet obtained the kind of testimony of the restored gospel that results in true "conversion." But she does appear to be willing to be converted. It's just a matter of her doing the kinds of things that will eventually bring about true conversion.

Has she read the Book of Mormon? I mean really read it. All the way through. Prayerfully. With sincere intent. With an open heart and an open mind. I don't think there is anything that can bring about conversion more reliably than prayerfully reading the Book of Mormon. Then she should also prayerfully read the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Also the proceedings from General Conference—maybe the last two or three conferences. And since she is struggling with understanding and appreciating the temple experience, it might be good for her to read a couple books by general authorities that discuss the temple.

Anyway, what I'm driving at is that, rather than fretting over her struggles with specific doctrines and practices, encourage her to do those things that will bring about a true conversion to the gospel. It is only the Spirit of the Lord that can soften the heart and open the mind of a person. If she is converted to the gospel by the power of the spirit of God, everything else will follow. In the meantime, love her, support her, be a good example to her. Make couple prayers a consistent habit in your marriage. My wife and I alternate each night before going to bed. She prays on the even days; I pray on the odd days. It is a very important part of our marriage, and we work hard to never forget our family and couple prayers.

Most of all, make sure you do those things that keep you close to your heavenly Father. He lives. Jesus is his son. He was resurrected from the dead. He lives and He will return in glory to reign upon the earth as the King of Kings during the millennium. The restored gospel is true. The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith was a true prophet. The priesthood keys restored through him continue to be held by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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There is a website that helps spouses of former or unbelieving members remain married at faceseast.org. What many there will tell you is that they have had to figure out what is really doctrine, and then fiercely defend their own right to faithfully fulfill their covenants. They tell of paying a full tithe, but only on their own income (which for some is nothing). Frankly, if my spouse didn't pay the tithing first as we had always done and that we had agreed upon, I'd take the money out for tithing before I gave the rest of my increase to them: it is passive aggressive of your spouse not to pay what has been agreed to, and particularly after you compromised.

No one can tell you how to pay tithing or live any other commandment. But you have to feel good about explaining ---not justifying, you need spiritual confirmation that how you are doing it meets the Lord's expectation -----yourself to the Lord (who is NOT for breaking up families) about how you interpret those laws, and to your bishop (though there shouldn't be much problem with this when you have spiritual confirmation of your choice, because the questions are simply, ARE YOU a full tithepayer", not how you interpret that.

Sometimes being faithful to your covenant does mean drawing a line in the sand that makes a spouse unhappy. Many times the things we think of as have to's are really tradition and not actual current doctrine.

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There is no "manning up" with forcing someone to do something; it should be called "sataning down".

So, how does one become a full tithe payer if their spouse refuses to pay the full tithe? I guess when I say that I need to "Man Up" I'm saying that I should just pay it regardless of what she says. That though is the purpose of my post, how to deal with doctrinal issues (tithing) that strain a marriage.

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So, how does one become a full tithe payer if their spouse refuses to pay the full tithe? I guess when I say that I need to "Man Up" I'm saying that I should just pay it regardless of what she says. That though is the purpose of my post, how to deal with doctrinal issues (tithing) that strain a marriage.

This is just my opinion, but i don't know that paying tithing against your wife's wishes is the best choice. It would seem to take away her agency and being compelled to pay tithing just doesn't seem like God's way.

My thoughts on it are, if she truly refuses to pay tithing, then, you won't pay tithing right now. The Lord knows the intents of your heart and I don't believe He penalizes us for things that we would do, if we could, but don't because we can't for legitimate reasons.

If she refuses to compromise on the issue, then i would leave it in the hands of God, praying and fasting that her heart will be softened.

No one wins when one spouse forces the other to do something against their will.

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So, how does one become a full tithe payer if their spouse refuses to pay the full tithe? I guess when I say that I need to "Man Up" I'm saying that I should just pay it regardless of what she says. That though is the purpose of my post, how to deal with doctrinal issues (tithing) that strain a marriage.

Do you guys have seperate banking accounts? If so, you should just pay the missing stuff out of your section.

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In addition to excellent advice already given, may I suggest you taking this up with your heavenly Father since he knows you and your wife far better than we do, and he is the real expert in all of this. In fact, it may be a good thing for the two of you to do together.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Needless to say this puts a strain on our marriage of 17 years. I don't say much to her when she drinks a glass of tea or when she changes and doesn't have her garments on, ect. I guess one of my fears is that we won't go to the Celestial Kingdom, because I don't "man up" and make her pay the full tithe. She's a good woman and is a much changed person than when I met her, I attribute that to the church. We "as a church" claim that we believe in mercy and grace, but as members we are taught that if we don't endure to the end and follow keep "all" of our covenants and follow "all" of the commandments it will all be for not and we won't make it to the celestial kingdom. It constantly stresses me out and I hate feeling this way. I don't argue (or even attempt to discuss) the issues she always brings up, because we usually just wind up fighting and it isn't productive anyway. I've bought her books and links to sites that explain the doctrines and why they are, but it just hasn't worked. I'm not perfect by any means and will never profess to be. I believe in the church and it's doctrines and teachings. I just can't seem to get passed the fact that people like my wife and I that have our struggles with every doctrine will fail to return to the Father. I did speak to the Bishop and one of his counsellors, but they just nodded and told me to keep loving her and everything will be allright in the end. Doctrinally speaking that isn't true from my understanding though. I'm sure I'm missing a ton of things that were on my mind, but will end it for now. Anyone in the same boat or have any advice would surely be appreciated. Divorce isn't an option.

Your bishopric is right. If you 'man up' that is essentially forcing her to obey and that not only won't be any better than not doing it, but it will just make it harder for her to have the experiences that will lead to her conversion. My advice would be to be the best person you know how to be so that your example gives her something to look at as a reason to try and see if full faith has real value to her and then focus on those spiritual activities that she feels comfortable with such as reading the New Testament together and those parts of the BoM that really concentrate on Christ, maybe getting involved in some service activities at church.

However the best way to find out what to do is to go to the Lord, his advice will be tons better than anything we can offer.

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So, how does one become a full tithe payer if their spouse refuses to pay the full tithe? I guess when I say that I need to "Man Up" I'm saying that I should just pay it regardless of what she says. That though is the purpose of my post, how to deal with doctrinal issues (tithing) that strain a marriage.

Does she work? If so you might see if you paying tithing on your earnings and she decides how much , if any, she desires to pay would meet the standard of you being able with no doubt saying you are a full tithe payer. If not, then perhaps you should pray about it and discuss with the bishop if being a full tithe payer to the best of your ability...which must as you are marry include the desires of your wife...is acceptable and is so, then be at peace with that and if not, then pray to find out from the Lord what he requires of you. Perhaps giving more of your time and talent especially to help those on need might be part of your contribution.
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I'm going to be a wet blanket here and say; I've never known a marital disagreement to get better by posting it on a discussion board. No matter what advice you receive here this is going to take a lot of one-on-one loving discussion and longsuffering on the part of both spouses. A therapist trusted by both of you could help.

Despite our best intentions this is not the place to resolve conflicts like you face.

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I'm sure I'm missing a ton of things that were on my mind, but will end it for now. Anyone in the same boat or have any advice would surely be appreciated.

It sounds like you're doing just fine. Just continue to be patient and be a good example. For some of us, the Church is a lifestyle ingrained in us since we were born and so it's easy. It's harder for those who weren't raised that way; a real test of faith. I think it's great you came back from inactivity and your wife was brave enough to take the first steps with you.

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Love your wife.

Be supportive of her.

Listen.

Don't do anything secretly, like making donations to the Church.

If and when you pay tithing and you realize a concrete blessing, point it out, kindly.

Don't argue doctrine. Even faithful Latter-day Saints don't agree on every point.

Have a cup of tea with her, just make sure it's iced. :)

Create an atmosphere where she will be moved to gain a testimony of some aspect of the restored Gospel. It might be the Book of Mormon. It might be Joseph Smith. It might be any number of things. You might go on a long car trip together and play Truman Madsen's lectures on Joseph Smith.

Pray together consistently.

When the Holy Spirit is present in your home, and you are prompted to know that your wife is feeling that Spirit, in a very kind and loving way point it out to her that what she is feeling is the Holy Ghost. That will presumably prompt her to live a life that cultivates that feeling.

What is your testimony based on? How did you gain that testimony? How has it affected your life after receiving that testimony? Have you shared that with her in a way that inspires her to want to gain the same thing?

These are the things I did with my wife, and now she makes me get up and go to Church in the morning when I don't feel like it.

Ultimately, it is between Heavenly Father and your wife. You can only create an atmosphere where that communication is not hindered. Odds are, you'll find an place of eternal happiness with your wife because that is what Heavenly Father wants.

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First, love your wife. Serve her.

Second, are you saying family prayer? If not, try to introduce that. Set a time and work on it.

Third, Pray alot to the Lord. Seek His counsel. He will guide you. Trust me, I know alot of what you are going through.

Fourth, remember section 121.

Fifth, You've been baptized. You are an heir to the Celestial Kingdom. That's the gate into the CK. Sealing is for the highest degree. Have you been sealed? If so, then you are in good shape. Just keep moving in faith.

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I'm going to be a wet blanket here and say; I've never known a marital disagreement to get better by posting it on a discussion board. No matter what advice you receive here this is going to take a lot of one-on-one loving discussion and longsuffering on the part of both spouses. A therapist trusted by both of you could help.

Despite our best intentions this is not the place to resolve conflicts like you face.

And how can a sufficiently anonymous posting make it worse? If nobody knows you, I don't see how trying to get advice from sensible people is going to become a negative. And we're all sensible here, right? :D

Edited by Stargazer
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I suggest granting your wife full freedom of religion, because apparently we valued freedom so highly that we fought a war in heaven for it. Also, live the part of your religion that says "be a good husband", because that is the higher law. Higher than tithing, higher than word of wisdom. Imo.

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I'm going to be a wet blanket here and say; I've never known a marital disagreement to get better by posting it on a discussion board. No matter what advice you receive here this is going to take a lot of one-on-one loving discussion and longsuffering on the part of both spouses. A therapist trusted by both of you could help.

Despite our best intentions this is not the place to resolve conflicts like you face.

I agree with this in a lot of ways but not in others. My wife has moved between various stages of activity. Sometimes being able to find a place to express my concerns, worries and frustrations meant that I was less likely to be negative towards my wife. But also, the actual advice isn't likely to be productive and make a real difference.

However... given you've asked. Having 'been there, done that' I would simply tell you was good for me (but may or may not be good for you). After initial conflict put a strain on our relationship I realised she needed my full love, support and acceptance of whatever decisions she made. I decided to trust to make decisions that were right for her. We developed mutual respect for the other's beliefs and practices. We realise we worship differently. It has become a time of strengthening our relationship rather than damaging.

Certainly ignore anyone on here who tells you how to change her, how to teach her. Once I realised she wanted me to love and accept her, not try to change her everything flowed from there. I now accept that she may never return fully to church. But I also realise that life is a long time and the eternities even longer. God is good and loves his children. I'll let him work it out and in the mean time behave as my conscience and the spirit guides.

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Anyone in the same boat or have any advice would surely be appreciated. Divorce isn't an option.

Just treat her as if she is the ideal eternal companion she will someday surely be, and try to act like one yourself, as you will someday surely be.

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I agree with this in a lot of ways but not in others. My wife has moved between various stages of activity. Sometimes being able to find a place to express my concerns, worries and frustrations meant that I was less likely to be negative towards my wife. But also, the actual advice isn't likely to be productive and make a real difference.
Depending on the companion, if s/he finds out you have been talking about him/her with pretty much total strangers on the Internet, they could be hurt or offended that you are sharing the details of her/his life with others without her/his permission. There is also the problem if s/he finds out where you have been posting and sees your comments and highly disagrees with the portrayal, especially if there is a lot of the negative stuff placed on her.

On ZLMB, we had two members who were talking about problems at home and a family member showed up. In one case a nonLDS father had described his LDS daughter in very negative terms, including fat and in the other a mother showed up responding to the comments her apostate son had been making. In both cases it was the original poster who was more offended, possibly because the board had tried to be supportive of the relationship previously and the family members responded well to that...but I don't know if it would be the same with spouses.

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It is a good idea to agree quickly with your spouse. While she has every right to control her money. She is exercising unrighteous dominion over his money. I know successful couples whom have separate bank accounts plus a joint one to take care of common bills.

If she does not work and they have only one bank account, it's going to be difficult for them to outline which money is his and which is her's. In such cases most spouses seem to look at the money as equally 'theirs' together.

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