In this 2-part series, Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT (The Mormon Therapist & MormonMatters.org), interviews a faithful, believing LDS church member, Janelle, whose husband became disaffected with the church about 5 years ago.
- Part 1: Janelle discusses their respective church upbringings, courtship, and finding out about his disaffection.
- Part 2: Janelle discusses her own coping strategies, how she currently manages the LDS lifestyle within the context of her marriage, and her advice/thoughts for others.
I really liked part 1 of this podcast (haven’t finished the second part yet), because Janelle’s husband sounds almost exactly like me. I was definitely sad to learn about the true origins of the Mormon Church, but it wasn’t really devastating. It was kinda like shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Yeah, I shouldn’t be too surprised by this. Well, that’s a relief. Let’s move on.” And I was never really too excited about callings and participating in the Church to begin with.
I thought it was interesting that Janelle believes that had her husband been more devoted to the “primary answers” (e.g. pray, read his scriptures, go to church, etc.) that he might have avoided a crisis of faith. Janelle, please be assured that those things would not have likely saved your husband from the historical issues that exist in Mormonism. In fact, in my limited observation, usually the Peter Priesthoods that are doing everything right tend to fall the hardest. Not that they don’t fall, but they fall the hardest because they go from two extremes – from total devotion to belief, to total devastation, resentment, and various stages of disbelief. For people like your husband and me (i.e. people persuaded most by reason and logical thinking), no amount of home teaching, prayer, Book of Mormon reading, or Church attendance would overcome the fact that, for example, Joseph Smith married teenagers or other people’s wives. Just as Janelle’s husband would likely have had a crisis of faith with any Mormon wife, I think he probably would have had a crisis of faith regardless of his performance of the primary answers.
On several occasions, Janelle mentioned that she doesn’t expect her church leaders to be perfect. I think this comment is mentioned as an opposing viewpoint from her husband, who allegedly requires perfection. This is a strawman argument, and I doubt that Janelle’s husband actually requires perfection from current or past church leaders. I’ve never seen any disaffected Mormon who required perfection from their leaders and know of no Mormon who left the Church because a leader fell short of perfection in some small manor. Indeed, perfection is not the standard disaffected Mormons require leaders to uphold. Rather, I’ve noticed that many disaffected Mormons are generous with Church leaders and are fine with mistakes.
What I cannot accept is when leaders use the name of the Lord to take advantage of other people (either financially or sexually). There’s a big difference between a “whoops, I made a bad call there, shouldn’t have done that” kind of imperfection and outright lies, sexual manipulation, and even justified murder in the name of the Lord, kind of imperfection. It’s the difference between normal human nature, and immoral acts what would get one excommunicated in today’s church.
I listed to most of the mormonstories podcast and this is the first one I didn’t want to finish. Part 1 was enough for me. It was so gloomy and sad. Both Natasha and Janelle were downright melancholy. I would love to know what Janelle thinks about her husbands doubts about the church’s truthfulness. Does she think his concerns are all bunk or does she acknowledge and validate any of his doubts that there are serious flaws in church history and practices. Acknowledging the flaws doesn’t mean you have to loose your all of your testimony or give up church, its just being honest about the history and finding a way to move beyond it. Although, some cant I admit.
I feel for Janelle’s sadness but “men are that they might have joy” right. Find the joy in living again. I’m sorry if in Part 2 you got over your immense sadness and disappointment and found joy again. I just couldn’t listen anymore.
I’m only half way through this podcast. Very disturbed by what I’m listening to. I can’t imagine that Ms. Parker wasn’t raising the issues regarding love between human beings, familial love, etc. What comes first, Church or Relationships? The church must NOT be in bed with the couple. Love comes first, character and ethics can exist without organized religion. A third party in marriage is a strange combination.
If Janelle wants a different husband, then let her pursue that and good luck with that replacement husband, especially with her children not born of that relationship. Why would Janelle want to build a camp with ward members about her husband’s decision. “These other women”
is very telling. They seem to be more important than the father of her children. I hope the second half of this podcast changes. Otherwise,
I would STRONGLY suggest that couples in the same boat get a non-Mormon counselor in working through these problems.
I made the effort to listen to the second half of this podcast. My feeling of concern continued. Why weren’t any of the hard questions asked. What if Janelle’s children decide against missions, temple marriage, join a different faith community, go with their father’s withdrawal from Mormonism? I hear things like “Not having gospel in life completely unacceptable,” “I need to step up to the plate…” What different does food storage, and FHE’s and genealogy make a hundred years from now? Especially Janelle’s “MY SAVIOR” comment. Seriously? I thought Christ was OUR Savior.” “Though millions have come, their is still room for one… yes there’s room at the Cross.”
I has a dear first cousin who married a faithful Jewish man. They became leaders in a national “Jewish/Christian organization. They had the most amazing fulfilling life together. He left her protected, in a wonderful secure situation, thru his hard work. Their children have
great memories of the unique faIth vision they grew in. Their daughters are Christian, their grandchildren are Jewish. Shalom!
Overall, scale of 1-10, maybe a 3 on this podcast. Life is to short to cry through… look around at real pain sometime.
I’m finding the comments so far interesting and of course, saddened by those who did not find this podcast useful.
At the same time, I want to reiterate my goals for my part of this series as that of sharing stories that are representative within our LDS culture – on all ends of the spectrum. My friend’s experience is not uncommon and neither are her feelings. Would it have been more “therapeutic” of me to minimize her feelings and tell her to “get on” with her life? Being unable to validate anothers’ position is the number one way we create gridlock and polarization. It’s interesting that this doesn’t seem to be the approach many here on Mormon Stories think should be taken towards those facing issues that the audience tends to resonate more with. So, only those we disagree with should “move on” quickly and in a non-whiny tone? Should Mormon Stories only be a place for those who do not believe the church is true? Is it really “Mormon Stories” then? How is the husband divorcing her for having a hard time with his disaffection any better than her divorcing him for leaving? And isn’t the bigger part of the story that they haven’t divorced? That through this challenge they have found ways to support and love one another?
I would hope that this audience can understand the value of being able to look at both sides of the story – making it more likely that we can empathize, offer support and help all involved to make decisions that will enrich their lives. If listening to this woman makes you this uncomfortable, what is it then that you can look at within yourself and your own intolerance?
I will also clearly state that my role on this podcast is that of interviewer – not therapist.
Natasha, I’ve been a faithful unbeliever for around 5 years and my story is similar to your guest’s. My wife is fully committed to the church and has struggled with my disbelief. My story is a little different than Janelle’s in that I continue to attend church with my wife and 5 young children. I attend because I’m fully committed to our relationship and staying home would add an extra burden on my wife. Perhaps I will stop attending when the kids are older. I’m open about this and it scares my wife.
Janelle has a lot of courage and I needed to hear her story. Her and my wife have a lot in common. Janell’s story showed me that the journey ahead is going to be tough. Asking Janelle to “move on” is like asking us to “man up” and keep going to church. This is what me promised to do when we got married in the temple, right? I don’t know what the answer is.
With all struggles that most couples have to work through, it’s too bad religion has to be one of them.
Natasha, I’m also glad you did this podcast. At times, it made me feel a little upset, especially when Janelle said, “I had to remind myself that he is still of worth…”, like that was ever in question? One of the pet peeves of mine in Mormon culture is this phrase I hear so often, “He’s not a member of the church, but he’s still a good person”, and this sounded like an extension of that myopic disease I see so prominent in the LDS culture.
It was helpful to get a little better understanding of what my thoughts are going through my wife’s head right now. I wish I could just show her what I see, but it just comes across as offensive, and belittling to her faith (which we once shared), so I digress.
Losing my true belief in the LDS church has been really hard on me, I WISH there were better answers, I wish that science, archaeology, and egyptology made findings compatible with early LDS church history claims. I WISH there were an explanation, that there were a true church on the earth, that God did speak through prophets and apostles, that it were all true. If it were, I would be in it immediately, because it would be so amazing.
The most tragic thing is that it’s a fairy tale. It’s really a let-down when you peak behind the curtain. I can empathize with those who have no desire to study out the “non-faith promoting” (put nicely) issues of the church, and I admit I have no desire to break someone from their faith. I even catch myself, at times, feel the pull of cognitive dissonance and say, “I don’t really care if Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon or not, I believe it’s true.” It’s very attractive, when contrasted against the hurt caused by disaffection (and perhaps equally as much as the way the believers’ religious views contribute to this hurt), the prospect of having someone else baptize your children, being left out of Mormon temple ceremonies. Sometimes, I think to myself, “why does it all matter? What matters is happiness, not truth”.
And now I’m rambling.
(not fare to be critical of Janelle and not point out anything good.)
I liked how she realized that her husbands disaffection was not a worthy cause for divorce, that she realized that he was a good man, not abusive, not an adulterer, etc.
And she could have meant the “he’s still of worth” comment in a different way… and it just came across bad.
And ugh… that she had to explain to people what was going on with her husband… I’d gently apply “none of your d*mn business”, here.
Thank you. .
It is always interesting to me that those disaffected want tolerance for themselves, yet when we that still believe share our feelings and we want to be understood it is difficult to be given tolerance for us.
It’s so sad to see what our modern Mormon culture has done to our women. We used to have women who could push a handcart through the frozen desert landscape without any problem. Now we have weepy women who fall apart because, “he isn’t there in there mini-van with us.” Boo-hoo. Life doesn’t always give us the things we want. I would be more impressed if the podcast showed a woman who respected her husband choice, but nevertheless went forward with her own faith, without all the histrionics and insistence on victimization.
It may come across like I’m being defensive here, but I’m not.
1) I really, really enjoyed this interview.
2) I think Natasha does a great job.
3) I think that Janelle is a true-believer, and I knew that her perspective would trouble some disaffected folks, but I did not expect disrespectful comments (like the few I had to delete). I think Janelle deserves credit for coming on the show, and being honest about her thoughts/feelings. I also found her to be thoughtful, sincere, likable, etc.
4) I’m kinda disappointed that folks can’t stretch to appreciate perspectives…even when different from their own. At a minimum, I’m sad that folks can’t express differing beliefs without being insulting.
As a more or less disaffected Mormon I COMPLETELY applaud Janelle’s courage in doing the interview. Yes, I may wish for her that she eventually can come to terms with a few things on a different level, but SO WHAT! Don’t we each deserve the time and opportunity to grow and evolve in our our unique time and way? Moreover, I would like to see how the individuals who have posted disrespectful comments would do being interviewed for a podcast. Are you so articulate that you can explain all of the myriad complexities of your being and thought processes on the spot every time, especially in a public forum? Given me break! Have a little compassion!
I think Natasha did a great job with the interview. The second part does demonstrate a much more positive perspective on things, and I applaud Janelle for the many forward-thinking and enlightening things she did have to say–especially the point in Part 2 where she argued against divorce because that would imply “conditional love”. Given the social pressures that Janelle has no doubt faced to look more strongly at things like divorce, we should be encouraging her for the brave things she has done and the ways she has made great strides on her own. I also completely agree with John D’s comments. Keep it up to both of you, John and Natasha. We should be seeking to capture the diversity out there–just as this interview, and the previous podcast on this topic do.
Last thought to those with disrespectful comments: Please consider pausing a little more before your speak, and please consider applying the golden rule a little more. Wouldn’t you expect/want a little compassion?
Gosh, concrete evidence that MSP is much alined with traditionalist Mormonism. As BKP’s comments regarding gays were audited and changed for the official record of General Conference, even so important comments are eliminated by the powers that be concerning this particular podcast. I very much liked the earlier podcast that Nastasha did with the gay married father. I loved it for the level of healing that was obvious in his life. His discourse was beautifully delivered. Nastasha’s interview was near flawless.
I was very troubled by this podcast, but the “martyrdom” level, five and half years after her husband asked for understanding and suggested a transitional boundary. I can’t imagine moving through life in tears. We are not talking death here, no one has died. Are the children of this couple exposed to self-degradation? I pray happy days and good experiences for this family, for times when religion is forgotten and love effulgent is elevated. After all, love is the sweet mystery of life. Church is a parking lot we pull into on Sundays.
I for one am enjoying this podcast and am grateful to Janelle for talking about her issues so openly. This is an incredible difficult situation for her I am sure and to open up and talk about it should be applauded. One of the amazing things about Mormon Stories is that there is a variety of stories, several different points of view.
I agree with many of the post when people say there is a certain level of arrogance among TBMs and Church Leaders, but there is an equal portion on the side of those that feel they know better and that TBMs just haven’t figured it out yet.
First off thanks to Janelle for sharing a highly emotional, personal story. Not easy to do, I’m sure.
I find it telling, though, that in response to the question of how Janelle respects her husband’s beliefs the answer is silence, followed by the answer that despite what he believes God loves him. So the respect is that she understands he is wrong and what she believes is right?
I understand the TBM world view and this exactly how she is supposed to feel. I think this is an example of how the church’s teachings are a poor foundation for marriages and spiritual testimonies. In the husband’s case his testimony was based on “facts” that turned out to be not true, so he was set up for failure. Now the marriage itself is in jeopardy because the church’s orthodox teachings regarding eternal marriage. The whole system is set up for failure unless everyone involved manages to insulate themselves from the real issues of the church, and the church has no safety net for when this doesn’t happen other than divorce. There is no middle ground. Either you are in or you are out.
I’m grateful that my wife watched the “Why they leave” video. She respected my new beliefs by acknowledging that there are real problems with the church and there is more than black and white in the world.
Just finished listening to part 1 of this podcast. I could feel so much what Janelle was saying. By the end, when she shared about her group that she shared with, I was so jealous. I am the one who is no longer a believer in my marriage and family. I am a woman and love to talk and love to work together with others love to laugh and love to share. My unbelief was not welcome. I had NO ONE to share my situation with except my husband. I wish I had felt so loved, wanted, needed, and a part of the RS sisters that I just knew they would want to know the truth and would share that burden. It just wasn’t so. I had only one person who came to me and WANTED to know what was going on. Those that I shared with one on one did NOT really want to know. I was NOT sharing historical things or anything about the gospel being wrong, simply that I did not believe it and had not believed it for over 10 years. Just being honest and open. they really did NOT want to know. I think it is fabulous that Janelle was able to share and the ladies were able to love and hear and share.
I also like how she could look back and see that some of her ways of seeing her situation were tainted by her pain, shock, and fear of the new life she would be walking into without the support of her husband as she had always imagined.
Good job Janelle! And I already love your husband. I love how he supported you in your trial. My husband has done the same for me even though he is the one losing a believing wife. He would do ANYTHING to assist me in being happy and secure in my spiritual life, including taking me to other belief systems and fellowships of humans supporting one another. You have a good husband and so do I.
When I was listening to the podcast, I am reminded how hard it is to be an individual in the church, and use agency and not be judged. Not all men want priesthood responsibilities, or who want to be teaching lessons, or to be a bishop someday etc. I would say that most men found their missions socially difficult. Same kind of issues for women…some do not want children or to go to enrichment meeting. So, it does seem to be about orthodoxy. “the Kingdom of God or nothing.”..This is how you use your agency if you want to make good choices…
I have known men who do all they are supposed to do, all the boxes are checked, but they have not been “good” men. It would be interesting to do an experiment, and to take 20 married couples, and have them live their lives and marriages outside of mormonism for a year. Take the “church” element out of it…the “have to’s…the going to church all of the time, the family nights, the family prayers, the callings, and see what would happen. Take the Bishop and everybody else out of the equation..maybe husband and wives wouldn’t be so disappointed in each other and worried about all the things they aren’t doing. The marriages would be about each other, their needs—not the churches. Perhaps a family would want a religious influence, but in way that would less intrusive.
In some ways, the way the church and the family functions, is counter productive to me. It seems to just zap and deplete what is already inside of people.Some people might find it difficult to function without the structure and organization that the church provides.
If you are born into the church, and find out that it is not for you, what do you do? Get a divorce? Be reminded often that you just are not measuring up to your covenants and putting your family in Eternal peril?
There has got to be a better way for the church to support those who wish to worship a different way or leave the church. I appreciate the podcast, but it does lay bare, the irony that the church is first in our lives and expectations, and the principles and habits it takes to form solid marriages and relationships often aren’t given time or priority.
I have only listened to the first part of the interview, but these episodes are a heaven-send for me right now. Just last night my wife and I met with two other couples who are somewhat unorthodox like I am, and we started to talk about the church and what we thought, and my wife was obviously not enjoying the conversation whatsoever. I know she is uncomfortable, yet she doesn’t want to come across as selfish or upset about our situation of me changing my beliefs on her. I was feeling a bit discouraged, so when I saw these podcasts, I was so glad because I could get a perspective from someone who actually still believes strongly in the church.
The first episode was very well done. Thank you Natasha and Janelle. There is nothing wrong with what Janelle is saying, or what she is feeling. She is not just feeling it because the church has programmed her that way. She is a person with real emotions and feelings, and they are not less valid because she is a true believer. I think some of the listeners could learn from her experience of letting her emotions get in the way of more down-to-earth thinking, because they obviously can’t distinguish between her telling her story, and things that she may have thought or felt, and the difficulty of it all, with just sitting around and griping about how awful life is, which is what several people made it sound like this interview was like. She doesn’t have a right to be depressed about her husband’s disaffection, but these listeners are all depressed about one podcast. The irony is thick.
Anyway, thanks again. I am so happy to have this perspective, and I respect Janelle tremendously for sharing it. I hope she doesn’t read or can ignore the anger and animosity because some people (like me) really need to hear this story.
Thank you Janelle for sharing your very personal feelings with us. It is hard to hear how sad you remain about your husband’s disaffection because the hopes I have for my own family — that they will ‘get over it’ and move on are, I think, unrealistic. My mother tells me that she can hardly think of me without crying right now and I know it may be that way for a long time — from her perspective she has lost a daughter (eternally) and possibly some of her grandchildren as well. Of course that makes her sad. But I wish she could see the happiness and peace I now feel. I wish she could share them with me.
I really liked hearing about your gathering of Relief Society sisters. It makes a lot of sense that you would reach out for help with your grief and your children’s spiritual needs. I think it is always best that we address our needs and sorrows head on. Obviously they care both about you AND your husband.
Beautiful! Thanks Janell, Thanks Natasha. I loved your reiteration, above, Natasha, that this podcast is about Mormon Stories…all kinds of Mormon Stories! I welcome all the different perspectives that are had within Mormonism and I think Janelles perspective is unique to her yet common within the whole broad disaffection process. It’s important to understand Janelle and those like her and to try and walk in her shoes for a few hours.
I relate so much to you Janell. My husband once announced to me his disaffection and I remember that “rug” that was ripped out from under me as well. It was very emotional going back there with you. What a strong woman you are! Good luck to you in your continued journey. Once again, Thank you to you both.
I would like to thank Janelle for her courage in sharing this personal story. It struck me to hear her how similar her feelings and devastation are to mine even though we come from different sides of the fence. You could have easily taken her words during that painful time period of learning her husband’s apostasy, and replaced her with me as the disaffected wife of a believing husband. Learning the history of our Prophets and church left me devastated, and as a mother I also mourned the loss of raising our children with the life plan Mormonism provides. Like Janelle, it was the most painful experience of my life and many tears were shed. I loved my religion and church. (and still love many parts of it)
I would like to echo both of Jason’s comments and add that I never expected perfection from church Prophets. Their personal sins do not affect my salvation or testimony. It’s when their immoral behavior was preached as God’s word and when foundational doctrines were changed under the guise of “continuing revelation” that my faith in Prophets was damaged.
Only 15 minutes in to Episode 207, but have a quick comment:
There is a clearly defined reason why your husband probably didn’t feel any urgency to attend church (when he was a believer). For most priesthood holders, LDS service are awful (not even close to spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually uplifting).
First, you start with a sacrament meeting. The “lively” hymns sound like a funeral march. And the “reverent” hymns are unbearable. The talks are OK at best, but bad more often then not. This past Sunday, I probably saw 15 people messing around with their mobile phones (the Internet) during Sacrament Meeting. I at least try to show the speakers respect, but I can’t fault these people.
Moving along… If you are lucky, you have a decent Sunday School teacher and class (if you aren’t busy with a calling). And then you end the day with Priesthood, a 45 minute exercise in frustration. The scene in “The R.M.” that shows an Elders Quorum isn’t an exaggeration. If anything, the movie takes it easy on the typically EQ.
p.s. I didn’t find Janell whiny at all!! She was just talking…opening up about something that is hard for her!
Thank. You. You are right.
One question I would ask Janelle is if she went through a stage where she was bitter and, well, loathed her husband. It seems that she is now past that, if she ever was that way. My wife would tell a similar story regarding my disaffection, but she is terribly bitter and still talks to me like I am garbage. We haven’t had any husband / wife type relations in over a year, either, probably as a direct result of her loathing.
I don’t try to convince her of anything, but she insists that I fill her in without really filling her in (in other words, she doesn’t want to hear anything against the church, but she wants to know how I feel about everything). Whenever she insists that we have this talk, which happens several times a week, she is really quite horrible to me. She always prefaces it with “you have ruined my life, you are destroying our family, I’ll never be happy again”. I haven’t figured out how to have such a discussion, so I just say nothing, which infuriates her even further.
Thanks to Janelle for sharing her story. The most significant part for me personally was when she acknowledged how wrong it was to base her love for her husband on his membership in the LDS church. Unfortunately, there are far too many stories (mine included) where this does not happen. The vast majority of people who leave Mormonism do so because they have integrity (the opposite of hypocrisy), a concept the LDS church claims to value. We leave because we were taught to be honest and truthful in everything we do. I know many people who left after much study that was motivated purely by the desire to be a more faithful Mormon. In many of these cases, “anti-Mormon literature” was never even part of the equation for the very reason Janelle mentioned – it is discouraged by LDS leadership. Church friendly publications like The Journal of Discourses or The History of the Church reveal things about Mormonism that are very troubling to many who later leave. These sources are often the proverbial “first thread” we unknowingly pull on that begins to unravel the rest of the sweater.
I loved what Natasha said about there not being anything to worry about if the Mormon church is true. Numerous Mormon leaders agree with her:
George Albert Smith: “If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 14, Page 216)
Dr. Hugh Nibley: “The Book of Mormon can and should be tested. It invites criticism.” (An Approach to The Book of Mormon, 1957, p. 13)
Brigham Young: “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 16, p. 46, 1873)
Orson Pratt: “Convince us of our errors of Doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God and we will ever be grateful for the information and you will ever have the pleasing reflections that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings.” (The Seer, p. 15)
Joseph Fielding Smith: “Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Page 188)
Thank you for your willingness to share this personal story. I too am experiencing some of the doubts your husband has found troubling about the church. I feel so fortunate to be married to a man who has been patient and supportive as I sort through this very real heartbreak that I am experiencing as the “doubter”. I found your response to your husband to be honest and respectful and I don’t understand the harsh comments that have been directed at you. I see myself as the “game changer” and am frankly astonished and grateful that my husband hasn’t made this a deal breaker. I think there is plenty of influence, both doctrinal and cultural in the church, to imply that it would be perfectly understandable for you and my husband to cut your losses and walk away. So, I applaud anyone in this circumstance for their willingness to choose their marriage and let God sort out the details.
I have a general question for Henri, Wes Cauthers, and all others (who are in a similar situation):
1) Would your disaffection be less severe if the LDS Church didn’t make the truth claim that it does. What if the LDS stance was more similar to the CoC? Or in other words, did you feel betrayed by the half-truths, and did these feelings of betrayal exacerbate your disaffection?
2) Would your disaffection be less severe if the LDS Church didn’t ostracize those that are not literal TBMs?
3) Would your disaffection be less severe if you felt as though you could express an opinion at an LDS service without fear of retribution (Example: expressing concern over the LDS Church’s stance on homosexuality.)?
4) Did you enjoy Sunday service before your disaffection? Or did you go simply because you believed it was true so you needed to be at church?
5) How many you would change your opinion if Thomas S. Monson and the rest of the First Presidency came out with a statement such as this:
“We know Jesus Christ lives because we have seen HIM with our own eyes… touched HIM with our hands… and been in HIS council. Our experience is identical to Joseph Smith’s. Our experience is identical to those who saw HIM during the Meridian of Time. It is the same testimony shared by Lehi, Nephi, Moses, Mohonri, Adam, Noah, and many other prophets from the past who have seen HIM. We testify that HE LIVES! He loves each of HIS children. We testify of this. HE revealed HIMSELF to us after much prayer and fast. HE revealed HIMSELF and gave us council for HIS Church… and the direction that we must travel. We will reveal HIS message as time permits. But again, it is our testimony to all mankind that HE LIVES!”
Would this be enough for you?
Such good questions. My disaffection would have been very much less severe with the conditions you named. I loved church so much, but as soon as I started having questions, I finally saw that I was in a prison. It hurt so much to go through it alone and not be able to ask questions without reproach. My stake president treated me like I was dirt and he didn’t even know me! # 5 wouldn’t change anything, because it would just be their word, and wouldn’t undo the other things that disprove the church. I still would love to be involved if the church could “expand the tent” a bit to welcome me.
Janelle and others dealing with this crisis or something similar,
Thank you for being honest about your feelings. I do in part feel your pain – both for my own feelings about the Church since I’ve learned more about our history (which is actually pretty ugly and very difficult to process) and for my wife’s feelings that sound pretty close to your husband’s feelings about the Church.
For me, I try to keep it simple (as we, as a family, are trying to navigate this crisis):
#1 – I believe that regardless of whether the Church is true or not I must honor the commitment I made both spiritually and civily to my wife, and to my children the second they were born.
#2 – My wife and children come first before anybody or anything and I believe Heavenly Father will forgive me if I error on the side of protecting my family unit over breaking up my family to follow ALL of the Church’s requirements – which are really only possible if I were to quit working to do everything it requires – oh wait maybe not, because then I couldn’t pay tithing :)
#3 – I have to have my own personal relationship with Heavenly Father regardless of what I think is true or not true and completely independent of my wife’s divine relationship or whether she really cares to have one or not.
#4 – Love – it always wins in the end, always.
I’m not a therapist, and I probably need one myself dealing with what I’m going through, but these are the 4 things that get me through the crisis I’m going through both personally and with my wife – who I love and will protect for as long as I am able.
I hope they help even just a little.
Context is everything. Janelle didn’t say where she lives but it seems she is in a ward filled with people of long Mormon ancestry and high callings. In my ward, most of the members are from part-member families. They would not understand the suffering Janelle is going through and would probably think she was being a little overly dramatic about the whole situation.
Its not easy to share such personal aspects of one’s life. I commend Janelle for sharing her story. We need to hear every voice in this issue, even ones we struggle to understand.
I really enjoyed this podcast. I could really relate to many of the things that Janell was going throught. Though I have since left the church, I remember member being aproaced by well meaning ladies who thought that since my husband wasn’t attending church with me that our mariage must be falling apart. I know so many in the church who feel that temple marage is a magic shield aginst marital problems. I think she is lucky to have such an understanding and supportive church community and it is rare to find that. Every one’s situation is so different, I think we can all learn someting from this couple’s experience.
Wow. Thank you for sharing your feelings in such a frank and honest way. Sharing these things is not easy, but you did it with complete candor while maintaining respect for you and your husband’s relationship and privacy. We don’t often talk about difficult subjects like this, yet many face similar challenges and feel alone in their struggles. They now have a great example of a couple that has faced this type of challenge, and are dealing with it with respect in the marriage. Kudos to you and your husband. You sound rational, well adjusted and seem to be dealing with a challenging situation in a heroic way. Thanks for sharing.
I want to say thank you to all those who have reached out to Janelle in such a positive way – even when having to put your own feelings aside to validate hers. This is the level of maturity and grace I was hoping for here on Mormon Stories and it makes me much more willing to invite other guests on the show than I had felt initially. My heart, thoughts and feelings are with all of you who have expressed pain and sadness through a similar process – on either side of the fence.
Again, thank you.
@ Henri, hugs to you. Sorry you are suffering so much. Sorry your wife is suffering so much. I wish there was a way to assist people to see that for so much promise of a plan of happiness, this plan does not allow for happiness unless all agree to the LDS theology. If one does not then it really is a life of sadness, betrayal, hopelessness, anger, division etc. May a miracle happen in your home soon, Henri.
I finally listened to the second part twice. Pain is pain. Empathy and sympathy are feelings we can share. Compassion for all who suffer, the one hurt by Celestial dreams shattered and the one hurt by having been honest and occurs as the one who caused the hurt by not following through on a perceived or an actual promise. Janelle, thanks for sharing even the hard stuff.
@ natasha. Thanks for reminding us that we need to be mature and sensitive to other people’s feelings. I would love to see more people like Janelle on Mormon Stories because she represents a large portion of the Mormon community. We need to listen to her and try to understand her so we can find common ground in this process. I hope you are able to interview more people like Janelle so we can find common ground.
Thank you Natasha for a wonderful interview. My heart goes out to this woman and I ache for her. I am also proud of her for her courage and determination to stay with her faith in spite of her husband’s difference of opinion. Her children will be blessed for her efforts, and those of her husband’s who has not forsaken his family.
Such an interesting perspective…. thanks for sharing it. I can only say that it gets better. As the disaffected one, it isn’t easy re creating the relationships that matter most to you…. it would be much easier to stay within the fold and basically compartmentalize your life so you can “stay in the closet” as it were…. however for the overall health of the living system… it is best to reach out towards wholeness through growth. Individuation can happen for both of these spouses to pursue their own individual truths…. while still loving and being together.
I think that as the wife re listens to herself in the coming years she will see and hear her words in a completely different perspective that will include seeing the hidden assumptions she carries in her worldview…
I would encourage some experimenting with transformational learning… examine your beliefs and begin to look at your identity and determine where you have fused your identity with your beliefs…. beliefs change over time and as a result… they are something that should be object and not subject to our core identities…. when you begin to separate your beliefs from your identity (moving beliefs from subject to object) you will be able to view your beliefs in a clearer context…. and you can let go freely of those beliefs that are in alignment with your experience…. so experiment with your beliefs…. they were given to you by someone else… a culture, a family, a religion…. examine them…. ask yourself if this particular belief matches up with your experience…. and if not… see if you can shift your belief… rather than denying your experience…
We are meaning making individuals… and the meaning we make from our experiences is directly related to the power we give to others outside ourselves to create that meaning for us…. for example…. I had this experience…. and letting someone else tell you that therefore it means such and such….
our lenses through which we see and experience and create our realities is made up of these gifted beliefs, perspectives, culture and values that have been given to us by others…. make yourself the meaning maker by claiming your own voice to create meaning given the current reality that you find yourself in…. you’ll find more love and larger and larger perspectives of consciousness if you do so….
Janelle – first of all thank you for doing this interview. Being willing to open up and talk about your marriage and this trial is not easy. I have a ton of respect and admiration for you. My wife and I have gone/are going through many of the same trials as you and your husband. We are trying to make it work and your story hits home for us.
Nevertheless, I finished this episode a little frustrated at the obvious gap between the perspective that Janelle shared and that which I assume her husband has. If we are going to have a real discussion and real empathy, the disaffected has to understand the believer’s perspective, and the believer has to understand the disaffected’s perspective. I feel like this episode gave us a great insight into Janelle’s mind, what she is going through, how far she has come, and her outlook. If that is all this episode sought to do then it was a success. It sounds like Rich is a great guy, and you repeatedly commented on how patient he is and how he has been so accommodating. I think the saddest part of this episode was when you answered that rather than try to engage your husband and what he was going through, it sounds like fairly early on you decided that the two of you simply had different views and agreed to disagree. As one going through a faith crisis in my own marriage I understand how that might help, the constant tension gets really old and sometimes it might just be better to retreat back to your respective trenches and make the best of it. But I mourn the intellectual separation that necessarily creates. I hope that all of us married folks will be always willing to listen and consider our spouses perspective. I think Rich should consider yours, and you his. It doesn’t sound like you have actually done that for him.
lease don’t take this as being negative toward you Janelle, I don’t know you personally and I have a ton of empathy for what you’re going through. I grew up in the church, am still active, and I know the pain you’re going through. But as the person who is in a position similar to your husband, as I listened to this episode some of your comments made me wish Natasha had dug a little deeper.
When you talked about your foray into understanding the issues that caused your husband to lose his belief, you made the following statements (your words are in quotes):
“there was a bad feel”
“it is anti-mormon literature”
“I had a testimony, served a mission, and had confirmation from the Holy Ghost as to what was true”
I understand what you’re saying. I too have served a mission, and I too have felt what I considered powerful spiritual experiences. I don’t discount what you felt. But is it possible (and have you considered the possibility) that you felt a certain way, and yet that feeling was something other than God confirming truth? How do you explain the billions of other people in other religions who also experience powerful transformative spirituality? Born-again Christians for example, describe their spiritual experiences in almost exactly the same way. Keep in mind God called all these other religions an abomination, and our church teaches that although they have ‘some’ truth, that our church is the one and only true church. So how can you distinguish your spiritual experiences from theirs? How do you know yours is more true, or that any of them are based on something external (like God) versus something internal (human nature)?
Have you considered the possibility that the negative dark feelings you associate with information critical of the church might be a result of the fact that if it were true then you would have to give up cherished beliefs? If that is the case, then it isn’t God telling you to stay away from this information, it is your wiring as a human. A Muslim reading anti-Islam material, or a Hindu reading pro-Buddhist material might feel the exact same aversion that you are experiencing.
This would not be such a problem except for the fact that you are structuring your life around those experiences, in spite of what you feel is evidence to the contrary. Which brings me to my next point –
“I knew where I stood, I didn’t need to go into all these books and all this information that is out there”
So that’s it, you already know the church is true so you’ve already made up your mind about stuff you haven’t read? The unwillingness to examine information that has profoundly affected your marriage and your life seems to be quite a paradox. You believe with absolute conviction, yet you’re uncomfortable even reading information that potentially contradicts your belief. Even when your husband (who previously believed, served a mission, and told you that he wanted to teach his and your children about the Savior) tells you that he has read it, and that it has had an impact on him, I find it hard to fathom that you wouldn’t at least learn WHY he decided he had to do this.
Imagine he read a pro-vegan book, said it was amazing, and decided to become a vegan because of it. He encouraged you to read it, if for no other reason than to understand why he’s made the change. He said feel free to eat however you want, but this is how I’ve chosen to eat based on new information. Wouldn’t you read it? You’re probably a lot less attached to your diet than you are to Mormonism, but shouldn’t the increased level of attachment actually increase your interest?
I think you don’t look at that material not because you are so confident in your faith, but because you are afraid that you husband is correct and that you will have to give up things you like about the church. You like the church, and that’s ok.
“I didn’t need Joesph Smith to be perfect to love the gospel”
Neither do I. I never thought Joseph Smith was perfect, nor do I think that has ever been taught or believed by church members. In fact, Joseph Smith himself said “I never told you I was perfect—but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught” (this was even quoted by Elder Oaks in the April ’96 conference)
I could go on and on about the evil things that Joseph Smith did to people, including young teenage girls. You probably know a lot of that. These weren’t simply imperfections Joseph Smith had. You do a disservice to yourself and to your husband when you mischaracterize and trivialize what caused him to stop believing. It shows a lack of empathy for what he has gone through and for his journey. I say this based not only on this one statement but your whole two hours of conversation. It is obvious that you haven’t actually understood what your husband has gone through. The Book of Abraham problem isn’t trivial. The Book of Mormon issues aren’t trivial. The church’s continued racist teachings are a serious problem. There are literally dozens of other MAJOR problems. If you choose to believe in spite of them then nobody is criticizing your belief. But don’t dismiss the beliefs of others who have gone through so much pain. Have some empathy for your husband and acknowledge that these issues are legitimate – that doesn’t make you an apostate, it just makes you sound like you’ve actually listened and considered another perspective.
I don’t know if this is too old to make a comment on, but I’d like to say I agree so much with what you’re saying. I craved someone to look at what I had learned and have a dialogue with me, just to understand me. It is so painful to have someone not care enough just to look, especially a spouse, who is supposed to have your back. I think part of the problem is that in the temple interview, there is a question about sympathizing with others that have opposing beliefs. The fear of information is programmed very deeply in some and can be difficult to overcome
Just by virtue of disaffecting, the unbeliever is saying that he is smarter than God and that the believer is sort of a mindless idiot that can’t think for herself. So he is not a more evolved and compassionate person for leaving the faith. I read some of those ‘compelling’ books about how the church must not be true and it actually made it worse that my husband could think that one word of that mindless dribble could possibly be based on reality, instead of the ravings of a maniac.
I wish all these angry Defectors could feel the excruciating anguish of walking around with a knife in their back, put there by the one person who was suppose to cherish and protect them. I wish you understood it feels to have every single choice taken away from you, to be so powerless about your own life.
Show some RESPECT.
While I don’t disagree completely with your position, you also are making assumptions about the basis of other people’s beliefs, and assume that they are given to them or created by culture, family or religion, apart from experience. Perhaps as you re-read your post, you will see that your worldview is based on postulates that, when mingled with your experience base, lead you to conclusions which may contradict the valid experiences and conclusions of others. I do agree that we need to be our own “meaning makers” as you put it. Just don’t discount the beliefs and experiences of others because they are in conflict with your own meaning. To do otherwise is to elevate your reason and experience above those of others. At best this feels arrogant and perhaps misguided for you and those you may influence.
Disappointed that many questions were not asked. I’m still at a loss as to what were the issues/history that the husband discovered/was dealing with? How did she feel about the issues he was raising? Did she research those issues too?? If not, why not?
@GailK – Thanks for what you said. It is hard, and I’m not sure at all how this will settle out.
You had a lot of good questions. For questions 1-3 I would say that, Yes, it would have made things better if those scenarios were reality; not sure it would have changed my disaffection entirely, but it would have very much changed how I handled it and I am sure how my wife is handling it right now. The attitude of you’re either with us or against us has surely put me in the against catagory even though I am not against the church. I just feel very strongly that it is not true.
Yes I did enjoy church. I held many callings, many of them in leadership positions, and I am sure that many people thought I would one day move my way up the ladder. Now I feel like a stranger and a foreigner; the bishop knows how I feel so it is always uncomfortable being around him even though I like him a lot. We are at a bit of an impass, he and I, because now I am the only one in my family without a TR even though I am completely worthy (still pay tithing, attend church, follow WOW, am honest and moral, etc.); he can’t give me a recommend until I answer the belief questions to his satisfaction and I won’t lie.
This is a tough one to answer because if such a statement was forth-coming, I would say that they were lying, or at the very least, were completely self-deluded.
Most of the old testament is based on myth. The book of Genesis is no truer than Brothers Grimm. The new testament is questionable and unreliable as an eye-witness account. The Book of Mormon is not historical at all. The Pearl of Great Price (i.e.the Book of Abraham)was translated from nothing. The Doctrine and Covenents comes down to whether Joseph Smith really received revelations from God or not; Section 132 is proof-positive to me that he didn’t.
With all these serious scriptural problems, I cannot accept that there is a single divine institution based on them. That takes out all Christianity, Judism, and Islam. I know nothing about eastern religions, but I am safe to assume that they are based on myth as well.
So the answer to your final question is No. This would not be enough for me. To me truth trumps faith everytime. If the things that can be verified are shown to be wrong, then there is no reason to accept the things that cannot be verified.
I found these interviews extremely difficult to sit through. If a random listener had tuned in late and missed the introduction, he/she would have likely assumed that Janelle had caught her husband in some horrible crime – molesting their children, selling crack, etc. However, it turns out the only “crime” her husband committed was daring to make his own decisions about his own spiritual life. Perhaps I’m wrong here, but Janelle seems to believe that her husband doesn’t have the right to hold religious opinions different from her own. On the other hand, he clearly is not making a similar demand of her – she is free to be active in the LDS church and even bring their children. Her comments brought back painful memories of what I went through with my own family when I became disaffected with the church. No one cared about my reasons or acknowledged any credibility to my experiences. Instead, just for not “towing the line” I was treated pretty much like a criminal. Nevertheless, I believe this interview was useful in showing the feelings of a typical TBM when their spouse becomes disaffected. I think the couple on the previous MS interview were atypically liberal Mormons.
The reason Janelle doesn’t address her husbands concerns is because she has a strong testimony. Too strong to even entertain looking at anything that would even remotely possibly change her mind about her faith. I was the same way.
My DH is the same way at *this* point. I do suspect there will come a time when we can present our cases to one another (his being why the church is true and mine being why the church is false) and decide on what is best for our family dynamics. One thing is for sure, we are in this for eternity. He need not mourn that ever! If he ever got encouraged to leave me over this I would simply fake it and be TBM again because although that path would probably make me terminally ill, I love him THAT much!!
I think one think that affected this podcast is Natasha’s training as a therapist. When someone is feeling emotionally fragile, as Janelle does on this topic, it is hard to ask questions that can be challenging. I think the biggest question I have is;
Assuming Rich has worked hard to rectify his issues and he just can’t get the answer that Janelle would like him to get, what should he do? It seems that he has a very high level of personal integrity that drives him to make choices that make his life hard. Does this make him more admirable or easier to despise?
It seems that they are both in a very tough situation, but what is done can’t be undone, and all beliefs are equal (and in a marriage it is tough for some beliefs to be more equal than others).
I admire Janelle for having the guts to come on, and can see how her whole Celestial world came apart. I hope after some time and a little more healing has occurred she will see the difference between her husband and many others who are disaffected. He came and told her and brought his life into agreement with his sincere beliefs. Many just quit believing, fake it, and lie, and after 10 years they don’t know each other, they file for divorce, and things are rough without a path to recovery.
Good luck Janelle and Rich.
I want to add that I think that Natasha did a good job, based on how things went. The object was to get the story out, not beat up on someone who was feeling pretty beat up on by fate.
After listening to this podcast and reading the comments on it, I am of the opinion that this episode should not have been released for the following reasons:
1- Janelle is too exposed here.
2- Janelle is a friend of Natasha, and as such, Natasha is overly protective of her. This compromises Natasha’s ability to honestly question Janelle and challenge Janelle on some of her statements.
3- Natasha says earlier in these comments that she is not acting as a therapist, but as an interviewer. This makes her a voice for the audience, not a protector for the subject of that interview. Natasha’s professional (as a therapist) responsibility/practice of giving positive regard to the patient interfered with the journalist’s (yes, this is journalism) responsibility to the listener. A patient/friend is put in a very dangerous position as the subject of this type of interview.
Furthermore, Janelle was not a good example, in my opinion, of ‘dealing with’ her husband’s disaffection. I could go into detail, but it is not fair to Janelle, and it brings me full circle to my original contention that this podcast should not have been released.
Perhaps there could be a small focus group, if there is not already one, of disinterested persons to vet a podcast before release.
I greatly appreciated this podcast. It takes tremendous courage to spill your guts for two and a half hours about something so personal and controversial and then have us vulture pore over every word of it. Please note that any comment I have that may be construed as critical is a criticism of a position and not intended as a personal attack.
This podcast was of particular personal significance to me. My wife of nearly a decade and I have separated and in all probability will soon divorce. It would be an exaggeration and simplistic to say that my disaffection from the church caused this but it was definitely the straw (or the ton of straw) that broke the camel’s back.
I appreciate hearing another person who more consistently adheres to the TBM philosophy than some of the previous, more liberal guests. Many of the responses seemed so much like something my wife would (or has) said that it was nice to see that I wasn’t married to someone who was unusually dogmatic. As I attempt to be intellectually honest in my reflection, I realize that I was very much the same way and risk being just as certain (and perhaps dead wrong) on the other side.
A couple of questions for Janelle or others that feel the way she does.
1. The straw man of “Hey, nobody Joseph was perfect” has been brought up. A further corollary to this is the idea that Joseph’s faults should make us believe even stronger since it shows that God works through imperfect people. My question is whether there is any test that could be put forth that would show that a man is NOT a prophet?
2. One of the points brought up by both Janelle and (much earlier) Jackie was their belief that their family would ultimately be eternal. I guess that one of the breaking points in my own relationship was the acceptance that, based on all known doctrine, unless I repented and came back, this would not be the case. It is my understanding that when a man doesn’t keep his covenants his wife will be “given to another” (Brigham’s words, not mine.) Is there any doctrinal basis other than the belief in mercy and a loving God to support an eternal family when a man loses his testimony?
Thanks again for the podcast. It takes a ton of courage for both of you.
I agree with Michael Nelson that this episode should not have been released. If one of my four married children were dealing with either their own disaffection, or their spouse’s disaffection, toward the LDS church, I would not want them to listen/learn from this podcast. My reasons are not important. Suffice to say organized religion can be so hurtful. I can’t imagine God wills it so. As my sweet dying Aunt Cleo said, when I tried to present the Plan of Salvation to her, “I have lived a good life. No one really knows about Heaven. Let me be surprised. I hope my dear Everett will be there.”
I appreciate both Janelle and Nastasha’s willingness to engage. Strong support affirmations to you both. I mean that.
I have to disagree with Michael Nelson and George Windes – this was a helpful and informative podcast and I’m glad it was released. Is it possible that Michael and George would feel differently if they still were believing Mormons? Perspective makes such a difference and hearing Janelle’s story helped me to better understand how I can be a better friend to others in similar situations. Of course, God doesn’t want us to be so torn apart by our differences in religious beliefs, George. I think Janelle would agree with that. She is human like the rest of us and it’s so important for us all to make an effort to understand each other, even and especially when we don’t agree.
I don’t understand why the last two commenters have said this shouldn’t be released. Are we going to censor MS because we don’t agree with someone’s point of view? I agree that the perspective may be painful for many of us that go through this but the purpose of MS (at least in part) is to present all different peoples’ experiences with Mormonism. Janelle’s views are those shared by a lot of TBM spouses. A lot of people feel this way. Is the fact that this view exists in abundance simply a truth that “isn’t very useful” and we should just not hear?
This was so painful to listen to. As the disaffected one in my marriage (although I am still active in the church) so much of what Janelle said hit close to home for me. She outlined all my fears about what others will think of me if I ever tell people at church how I really feel. Thankfully, my husband has responded differently. Even though he is one of the most orthodox TBMs I know, he has been willing to explore all of my concerns right along with me. While he has arrived at different conclusions than I have, he has been always made me feel like we are still on the same team and I know he understands why I feel the way I do. We can discuss things without drama or contention. I realize now what a blessing it is that our marriage is based on love for each other, not the church.
I very much valued this podcast, and commend Janelle for the interview. Her, her husband, and what they went through echo very much what my husband and I are currently going through. I found this interview very informative, and hope more like these continue. Again, thank you to Natasha and Janelle for sharing this story!
I’m gonna give the second part a try, but the last 15 minutes of the first part were just…
I dunno, Janelle seems like she’s just not ready to talk about this in a way that’s constructive for a podcast.
I found the second part more compelling. I’m always interested to hearing how parents manage childrearing, particularly when they have major differences.
It didn’t sound to me like Janelle was “dealing” with her husbands disaffection at all! It was a pity party and goodness it got annoying.
It’s just proof that when you marry a church member, you are really marrying the church. But that is not unexpected in the evolutionary “group selection” process. It’s one reason I had to leave the group (church). If you are not 100% in agreement with what the group leaders say, you are probably better off outside of it.
I thought Janelle and Natasha did a great job, and we shouldn’t negate her feelings or experiences because they may be in conflict with our own…they are her realities. I do wish that Janelle could have answered some of the harder questions, but it is definitely harder when you are a more emotional/sensitive individual.
I think it would be a nice perspective to have Rich do a podcast. It seemed that to Janelle, Rich didn’t show any pain with his disaffection, but I wonder if that is true. I don’t think leaving the church is an easy thing, but maybe I am wrong on that one.
In regards to Eric’s comment, “If you are not 100% in agreement with what the group leaders say, you are probably better off outside of it.” I don’t agree 100% with that statement :). For instance, I don’t agree with a lot that goes on within the government, but I stay invested in it that way I can help change things. I feel the same about most groups or even religions, if I am of value to them, why leave. However, for some the time to leave may be when they no longer feel of value…or sadly, the group no longer finds value in the individual.
Keep rockin’ Mormon Stories!
The problem is that the church indoctrinates your children as well (in addition to the wife). And the church trumps your own authority in all matters. So it often comes to a point where children will respect the church over their own father if there is a disagreement between the two. This is a pretty big deal, especially when the church teaches some things with which I do not agree. I’d like to teach my children what I believe is healthy and avoid them becoming infected with unhealthy church teachings.
So for me at least, there is no foot halfway inside – it is either all the way in or all the way out. Fence-sitters, intellectuals, doubters, rationalizers, etc. are addressed in nearly every general conference, always in a condescending and berating tone. This is their way of control. And this is no way to run a family, unless you like the church raising your kids and men disrespecting you in front of your family every six months. By the way, I am not married yet. But this is why I decided to formally leave the church. It’s not up to my standards.
So you believe that the Father has the right to choice for himself. But his children DON’T have the freedom to make their own choices if they are contrary to the disaffector. Because you assume the Church is automatically wrong on everything.
The church claims they are the ultimate authority for everything. This idea failed for me, and I don’t want my children introduced to this idea.
@ Eric – I respect your views and decision. For me, the world is full of shades of grey and not so much black and white…so you could say I am a fence sitter, but I get a nice view of both fields.
The world is full of shades of grey for me as well.
Janelle, participating in this interview no doubt took great courage. I am sincerely grateful to hear about your experience. We need to hear more voices like yours in these forums. It gives everyone a chance to patiently practice what they preach about acceptance, validation etc.
Personally, I feel much fear and anguish in this interview and I hope that things will continue to improve so that this will not need to be considered a cross that you have to bear for your whole life. Sometimes I think about how much emphasis our church puts on having the right set of beliefs when many other various traditions and philosophies (including atheism) value the same “truths” or characteristics. Being Christ-like sometimes is very similar to being buddha-like. If God really is concerned so much about our beliefs more than the substance of our characters than 99.95% of the world (past and present) is in big trouble.
Your husband is simply not convinced when all the information is laid on the table. It’s not a matter of compromised ethics or morality, its a matter of lacking evidence. It seems clear though that he is smart enough to recognize the joy he has experienced sharing his life with you and your happiness is apparently a priority for him. You seem like a loving person and I hope that you will feel peace knowing better than anyone else what the true character of your husband really is. Good luck in your journey. Thanks again for the great interview.
Janelle, thank you for putting yourself out there, in such a sensitive discussion. I’m going through a disaffection process myself, and my wife is in your shoes. This is all very new to us, so it’ still painful and fresh. I greatly appreciate you giving your perspective.
I try to put myself in other’s shoes, to better be able to empathize with their viewpoint, and this podcast helped me with that. In many ways I wish I could still believe in the church, it would make things so much easier for me and my family. But after all information is out on the table, I just cannot. I try to be respectful of those that do, and don’t want to impose my feelings on others. We need more tolerance and love in this messy world. I was disturbed by some of the harsh comments on here, wish you and your husband all the best!
“If God really is concerned so much about our beliefs more than the substance of our characters than 99.95% of the world (past and present) is in big trouble.”
There is SO much truth to that; I made that my FB status just now.
This was very difficult to listen to for me for a variety of reasons I will not go into. Regarding the feedback on the interview, I’m of the opinion that negative or positive opinions on the interview should be considered valid and not censured. You can’t expect a disaffected individual to listen to this and not potentially be offended and have some strong reactions that they want to vent. Conversely, you can’t be surprised that others will respond to those negative comments in a sensitive manner if they agree with the opinion of the woman interviewed or have similar experiences.
She feels the way she feels…so what? Her emotions and the choices she makes on how to deal with them are hers to own and account for on her journey. It may not be how I see it or do it, but it’s her process. Additionally, no one should be surprised by a strong backlash to her opinions. The stronger the opinion, the stronger the response.
We all face unintended consequences of our choices and on a public forum like this a broad spectrum of reactions should be expected. She and the interviewer should be prepared for it. Religion, whether you’re in it or out of it, is a very hot topic.
In the end, kudos to her and everyone for digging in for what they stand for. Don’t apologize for or minimize what you believe. It’s the rawness of those opinions that spur the most thought and analysis that will make us all better in the end.
I agree with those that felt this podcast was poorly done. This will be the last podcast I listen to in which Natasha Helfer Parker is involved.
My true believing Mormon (TBM) wife is in the same situation as Janelle. I left the Church 2 1/2 years ago. My wife went through a lot of the same emotions and issues. As Janelle’s husband, it was not difficult for me to seperate from the Church when I realized that it was not true and made out to be. What surprized me was, at first, how her church was more important than me. She was, at first, going to divorce me for not staying in the Church. She basically tried to bully me into staying in the Church by threatening divorce and alienating the children from me. Luckily her father and our marriage counselor helped her prioritize and put me and our children above the Church. Up until then, we had had a good marriage without serious problems.
I also, take responsibility for not handling things correctly at first. I wanted, so bad, for my wife to know the problems and wanted her to know what I knew. I was also pushy and said disrespectful things about her Church and leaders. Saying these things to her just made her more angry and lash back at me.
I have remained supportive of my wife and three TBM children. I try to avoid saying anything negative to them about the Church. I do attend important family church functions: missionary farewells, music numbers, temple weddings (waiting in the lobby), baby blessings, baptisms, etc. I also, am honest with my wife and children when they ask me questions about my beliefs and issues that I have.
We both love each other and I believe this love has been the glue that has helped us survive this difficult sitution. I am thankful that we all have been able to work things out and that we have been able to keep our marriage and family together.
I found this very hard to listen to because I am puzzled by a church which is supposed to provide safe haven for us is often such a source of pain. Why is that part never questioned or addressed? I grew up alone in the Mormon church feeling like such a bad person because my parents did not attend. It was only the stories of Jesus’s love for me that made it at all tolerable (and for that I am grateful), but the pain this church’s doctrine causes is tiresome. Where is the joy part? In any case, thanks for sharing your journey. You should feel proud of how you have handled yourself,your goodness shines through your sorrow. God bless you!
I just want to drop a note to Natasha and John. I have listened to everyone one of the podcasts here and I have many friends who have listened to many as well. I just want the two of you to consider the possibility that what you see in the comments section here may not be representative of your listenership. I don’t want to insult anyone on any side here (so everyone brace for the insult, here it comes) but the discourse in this thread and on this site in general is not representative in my experience of how your work is received or thought about. Keep up the good work.
My heart goes out to both Jenelle and Rich. I hope my comments will generate more light than heat, if only in the reflections they produce in others.
What was not, or perhaps could not, be addressed in this interview was the Church’s role in this couple’s marriage. The Church is the proverbial third partner here – a partner that escaped critical examination or even the prospect of responsibility.
We claim the LDS Church to be the only true church. Of course this implies that billions of devout others are mistaken on some level about their own. But these billions tend to adopt the same exclusive status for their religions based on similar evidence and experiences. Why doesn’t this fact have salience? What gives religion this power? Is the human need to quell death anxiety, or to sustain kin and group affiliations, or to create a supra-parental attachment figures so overwhelmingly compelling? Evidently it is.
These thoughts attended my listening. By the end I thought, “If I were a religiously impartial psychologist, I would want to examine the role of the Church in this tripartite relationship. I am concern about the its power. How is it adding to the problem? Has it set up a dynamic that pits is own preservation against that of the couple’s marriage?”
So, imagine with me such a hypothetical counseling session. The Church, embodied as a dignified older gentleman, sits next to Jenelle and Rich on a couch across from the therapist. Jenelle needs little prompting to open up and explore the sources of her pain. She questions herself; She questions Rich; but she does not question the elderly gentleman. She offers him only intermittent expressions of attachment – expressions made incongruous by the tearful and choking manner of their delivery.
Rich’s words are few. He would prefer the old gentlemen not be there. But he briefly touches on the gentleman’s betrayal. But immediately he pulls back. He sees his words ricocheting off the gentleman’s benign visage and striking Jenelle.
When it comes time for the gentlemen to speak, he proffers a sympathetic smile but remains silent. Jenelle takes this for kindness and profound wisdom as her mind spins back on itself. Rich senses the pretentiousness of his silence, but feels ill-equipped to challenge him – and indeed he is.
The session ends. The elderly gentlemen is first leave, offering a quick prayer for the couple – his only words – they mean something different to everyone. No resolution comes of his silence or this prayer. But the gentleman preserves the narrow marriage script he prescribed to Jenelle and Rich years before. He is ready to keep prescribing it. It has worked sufficiently well for decades – sufficient to create his replacements. Perhaps his replacements will make belated adjustments do a better job. It’s happened before.
And finally, I indulge myself by offering the script I would give to the old gentlemen. He would say to Jenelle and Rich: “I respect Rich’s position as much as I share Jenelle’s. Indeed, Rich has legitimate reasons for feeling betrayed. I’ve portrayed myself as something more than I am. I ask your forgiveness. I am ready to let you two work things out for yourselves.”
So good. I have often said to my husband (TBM). “It’s not MY fault the church isn’t true. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at the church!” The church remains silent….so telling.
Based on some of the comments I thought this would be a horrible interview but Janelle’s story was touching. She did not seem to start weeping because of the situation with her husband. She started weeping when she reflected on the bond with the relief society and the good, thoughtful, and loving women who supported her in a time of need. That is a testament to the relief society and Janelle’s strength in reaching out.
I also relate to her feeling alone and “different”. I am 38 years old and married to a good man who is not a member and I don’t have children. I, too, feel a pang of sadness when the norm in mormondom is to talk about experiences relating to raising children and temple marriage. She articulated her feelings, a few that I can relate to also, very well. I have to set boundaries too and sometimes those boundaries make me feel like the odd ball, like I can’t participate fully.
Regarding the level of devastation that Janelle reports; part of her dream of having a temple marriage was shattered. It wasn’t just a temple marriage related to eternity only. I’m sure that her vision included temple marriage in the here and now. She had an idea of what her experience in this life, mortality, would look like. How often have we been saddened and devastated over unmet expectations and curve balls. I think that Janelle has a very positive outlook and approach when raising her children regarding the gospel. Also, Janelle praised Rich’s many attributes wonderfully. I’m sure that he would be proud that she seemed to choose her words carefully and thoughtfully.
I wish you well, Janelle, truly.
I have been distanced from the church since I was a young missionary, way back in the early 1970s. Yet my “issues” are less concerned with the “historical” aspects of the church’s founders than it is with most people who “leave the church”. My wonderful wife of 36+ years was very aware of these aspects before we wed, in the temple. However, the adjustment she had to make was most difficult; principally because of her definition of “self” was founded upon the church’s view; rather how she saw “herself in the church”. Could the church be blamed for her perspective? I think not; she is responsible for her self. Even after all these decades we still will do the “rounds” when various events arise; but we respect each other more than we care about being “right”. She usually agrees with my analysis of the events in discussion; our disagreement usually concerns her “world view” (the glass is half full) verses my “world view” (the glass is half empty) and how we are to respond to these events. She wants to be the “good person” (what would Jesus do – show kindness and compassion) while I want to be the “intelligent person” (what would Jesus do – over turn the money changer’s tables).
I have missed out on two of my children’s temple weddings, because when I have honestly voiced my perspectives with the local leadership, even though I have done all the requirements, they have felt “inspired” to refuse a recommend, because they didn’t like my “attitude”? This stance was particularly hard on my wife’s perspective of the church representing the kindness and compassion mentioned above, but she has maintained that the church is the best place for her to serve.
Just for your information my “issues” with the local leaders are actually politically based, as opposed to being historical or doctrine in nature. Specifically the role of government; which I feel is nothing more nor less than part of the “secret combination” (along with big corporations and the banking system)warned of in the B of M. Of course since a few of the local leaders are employed by the government and banking industry, this explains why a my “attitude” would be repellent to them!
What has made the difference in maintaining a strong and growing relationship between my wife and I has been the level and number of spiritual experiences we have had independently and together. Even though I am disaffected with the church, I know that the spiritual aspect of mortality is as real as the physical. I believe what happened to Joe Smith because I have had similar experiences. Joe Smith was a mortal, so was any other human that the God(s)have interacted with. To expect “perfection” in fallen mortals is just to set one’s self up for disappointment at some point in the future! So my experiences, of fallen mortals in the church, have had no negative impact on my faith or knowledge in Deity. Rather, I have been driven to seek His insights and perspectives in regards to every thing in my life…and I have been blessed (commanded to take her as my wife, by the Deity directly) with her support in everything; because I could see that I wasn’t going to obtain much spiritual direction from the church’s leaders; besides why would any church leader be expected to give me divine instruction; that’s God’s job not theirs!
Most people I know use a “formula” approach to running their lives in mortality. By this I mean that they look at how others do things and pattern their thinking and behavior after these others. The definition of the self is initially formed through this process of “socialization” and then at some future point this “would view” runs aground on the rocks of experience. As this happened to me I determined that I could not blame any one else for my choices. So though I have compassion for the Mormons (and any one else) who think that the expression of “true” faith is to follow the “formula” handed down from heaven, through Salt Lake (the church’s programs); it drives me to frustration when I come up against the constant accusation that I can’t have Divine “revelation” because I don’t keep the “formula” to their satisfaction; but I have them never the less!
Well, there is my story; and I’m sticking to it.
I made a comment here a few days ago and it seems to have been removed. I know you saw it Mr. Dehlin, as I got a FaceBook friend request from you, which I accepted. I was having a hard time listening to Janelle and that it seemed that she was acting like the LDS church was “the other woman”. Well, I am back to listen to part 2. Janelle, you are one lucky woman if all you have to complain about is that your husband is questioning the LDS church. My husband was raised LDS, his dad commited adultry many times, many divorces in his LDS family. Much drug abuse. Count your blessings, my dear. It sounds like your husband is a keeper.
I thought this podcast was well done. Natasha did an excellent job with this. I appreciate Janelle willingness to share her experiences and feelings. This is not an easy thing to do. Especially in a context where after putting yourself out there you can be criticized. I think it shows a lot of strength that Janelle is staying with her husband and putting her family first. Her husband sounds like a great guy. I have a good friend who is going through a similar experience and this podcast helped me understand what she is going through. I think this will help me be a better friend to her.
It is important to look at different viewpoints. I think it is really hard for the person that is leaving the church. The judgment they receive is unfair. It was nice to get a look at what it is like for the spouse. I see that it is no small thing what they are going through. Maybe I’m too liberal, but I think everyone deserves to tell their story and be heard.
It is easy to criticize what other’s are feeling. I don’t view emotions or feelings as good or bad, they just are. We don’t choose our feelings. We can choose what we do with them and affect them through our actions and thoughts. I want to validate Janelle’s very real feelings.
Janelle, thank you for sharing your story and for your example.
I was so grateful to listen to this podcast. I went through an extremely similar experience as Janelle. My marriage just ended in divorce in August. My XH felt very at fault for causing me sadness and felt that he would not be able to make me happy. Although, I tried to tell him that I loved him and wanted him. I was going through a mourning period and I didn’t know how to be better. I even tried to find other women in similar situations, and tried to understand how all of this could work out. I did not have many examples that made things work after a spouse became disaffected from the church. We were both returned missionaries and I was VERY “stalwart” and I was completely devastated at the news that my XH had decided that he did not believe in the church and that he might not even believe in God.
Although he said these things I did not want to end our marriage.
I also announced to all of the RS about what was happening so that no one would speculate.
My XH did nothing to cause me to want to get a divorce and I felt that I had started to get into a better place as far as grieving the disaffection of my spouse. I still would have sad moments, but it wasn’t a “cry fest” every time I thought of it.
We did not feel safe enough in our relationship to discuss things that were so raw.
He chose to push us away. He chose a life without a believing spouse over that of feeling like he would be dissapointing me and the kids.
I wish there was more information out there about how to make a marriage work in the LDS culture when a spouse has disaffected.
It is so much different than if one is to choose someone that doesn’t believe from the beginning.
Anyway, I can completely relate and am devastated that my marriage has ended. I am hoping that by some miracle things will be able to work out.
Neither of us were prepared as to how much disaffection would rock the relationship and lifestyles we would both want in life.
Thank you for sharing. If I would have listened to this before my divorce I would have truly been comforted to know that someone had a similar situation but was making it work.
My XH listened to your podcast yesterday and he is actually the one that recommended it to me. It also really touched him and helped him understand a little bit more about where I was coming from.
I found this podcast very sad. I found little to relate to even though my husband disaffected from the church 7 years before me. I could deal with him leaving. I understood why. I accepted him unconditionally. The issue that I had was the abuse of LDS toward me and indirectly toward my husband. ” He is going to hell!” “Im not telling you to go home and give him a ultamatum today but ask him this… what were you thinking when you made promises to me over the alter!”
“Well ,Ive heard of women that let their men walk all over them but….” implying that I let him mow over me.
The constand miss understanding why he would not go It lead me to search and realize the Mormon church is flawed all the way through history.
“I wish there was more information out there about how to make a marriage work in the LDS culture when a spouse has disaffected.”
Someone needs to do this for a dissertation sometime, if it hasn’t been done already. Not even just LDS culture, but marriage and religion in general, where one spouse loses faith or decides to leave… A really big deal. At the same time, issues like this are MUCH bigger when there is not enough underlying emotionally safety, accessibility, responsiveness, engagement, etc…
[…] Much has been done at Mormon Stories (and elsewhere) on one spouse leaving the church or just experiencing a change in beliefs in marriage. There seem to be many couples who divorce or have significant marital problems related to loss of faith. How widespread do you think this is among Mormons? Is it a problem in other religions? While very important, I’m not very interested in how and why the church and/or the culture may influence marital problems around this issue. I’m wondering about the process of what happens for both partners. […]
First time I’ve commented on one of these MS episodes… I’ve listened to ALL of them (except that one that got pulled before I downloaded it). But as someone who’s worked as an analyst (product, business, etc.), I greatly appreciate knowing _why_ I lose customers. Since this one makes me re-think the usefulness of Mormon Stories, I thought it only fair that I let you know why.
In fairness, I applaud Janelle for her courage and putting herself out there. Not many do it, especially of the believer “side,” so I thank her for that.
But two aspects of this interview killed it for me. They are:
1) As other criticisms have already pointed out, I thought it was incredibly one-sided. This was evidenced by both parties being believers and zero opposing viewpoint. (Having her husband on also or having Natasha ask more prodding questions or posing hypotheticals like John often does would have helped.) Natasha, in spite of your “interviewer not therapist” comment earlier, I must say I thought to myself many times during it that you came across as a therapist – completely honoring (uncritically) the patient’s world view. Not objective interview at all.
I’ve loved some episodes of MS (and also Mo. Expression) where true believers make their case or state their piece. This isn’t about the content disagreeing with my view. But this was not like those cases. This only made me feel pity for Janelle who clearly is unwilling to question her world view in any meaningful way and shows complete unwillingness to compromise. I gasped at Janelle’s great disappointment when the husband took their child on a bike ride instead of going to church. REALLY!? Oh. My. Heck. I almost drove off the road.
Janelle’s husband must get the award for the most acquiescent apostate I’ve ever heard of!
(Were it me, that proved I’d have been out of that marriage instantly. The Mormon church is _provably_ not what it claims. The techniques it uses are _provably_ cult-like in many aspects which research _has proven_ foster belief regardless of truthfulness. And – for certain personalities – the orthodox culture and organization is _provably_ hurtful. How about you actually compromise!? Unbelievable. (On the upside, it made me realize my own TBM wife’s reaction was much more rational.))
2) Number two. An odd one. And sort of petty – I realize. Sorry.
But Natasha, when you talk, sometimes you finish a phrase with an audible nasal exhale. (I know, petty, right?) But here’s the thing… It sounds like “contempt” or “frustration” to me. It’s like those subtle body language cues we barely notice but that affect our mood. I _intellectually_ realize you don’t mean anything by it. But it’s offputting to me. Weird. I know. Sorry. Maybe just changing the microphone or something could fix that. It was hard to get past.
For me, Mormon Stories is on the bubble. I have about 6 podcasts I listen to regularly and it’s too much. This is now in the short list of ones to cut, for me. Just thought you should know.
Janelle and Natasha,
I really appreciated this interview. And I’ll tell you why. My husband informed me of his feelings and of his disenchantment with the LDS religion about 9 months ago. This has been very difficult for me, and for him… He was a straight A peter priesthood all his life. It has been very hard for him to understand why, after all he’s done he doesn’t have a testimony. He plead with Heavenly Father for years and sought after him and felt no answer, which broke his heart. As a “True Believing Mormon” I don’t understand it either and it saddens me and leaves me confused at his situation. So, this led my husband to explore and learn about church history and it further lengthened the gap of what he used to believe and what he now believes.
When my husband sat me down, told me his heart breaking story, told me he’s not going to the temple anymore, not wearing his garments anymore, and would not paying tithing or fast offerings anymore I was devastated. He then told me he didn’t believe in the scriptures or the prophets either. I knew his faith had been weakening, but to this extent I was unaware. I remember going to bed that night and feeling like I was in some kind of a nightmare, my world felt over. All my dreams since I was 18 of having a righteous priesthood leader in the home and of that ultimate spiritual union and intimacy with a spouse, along with an Eternal Family felt gone forever. The next morning I hoped it was only a bad dream, but it wasn’t of course.
Luckily, time, it seems to heal all things, and despite the bumps and trials we are still a mostly happy functioning family, but with a lot of problems to solve and work out. I don’t know how things will pan out on the other side of the veil, but I do know the most important thing is for our family to stay together and for me and my husband to work make our home a heaven on earth. Sometimes things get really hard and super discouraging, but I know that leaving him would be a billion times more devastating than working through this problem and would not help anything. I just have to think about our wedding day and how beautiful it was, or our children, how happy they are and I know I just need to endure and try to meet him in the middle as much as I can.
I haven’t talked to my family or friends about any of our struggles, I just can’t bring myself to do it. And I can’t think of anyone that I know who could understand how I feel. And I am afraid of how people will look at me and my husband…like I am a failure or something…. or look at us as dysfunctional, and am so afraid of being judged and being felt sorry for. I really feel like there is no one for me to talk to about this. This interview has really lifted my burden. Seeing another couple and how they have gone through what I we are going through to nearly a T has been so therapeutic. I don’t feel so alone, and so totally unique in my trials.
Janelle and Natasha,
I really appreciated this interview. And I’ll tell you why. My
husband informed me of his feelings and of his disenchantment with the LDS
religion about 9 months ago. This has been very difficult for me, and for
him… He was a straight A peter priesthood all his life. It has been
very hard for him to understand why, after all he’s done he doesn’t have a
testimony. He plead with Heavenly Father for years and sought after him
and felt no answer, which broke his heart. As a “True Believing
Mormon” I don’t understand it either and it saddens me and leaves me
confused at his situation. So, this led my husband to explore and learn
about church history and it further lengthened the gap of what he used to believe
and what he now believes.
When my husband sat me down, told me his heart breaking story, told me he’s not
going to the temple anymore, not wearing his garments anymore, and would
not paying tithing or fast offerings anymore I was devastated. He then
told me he didn’t believe in the scriptures or the prophets either. I
knew his faith had been weakening, but to this extent I was unaware. I
remember going to bed that night and feeling like I was in some kind of a
nightmare, my world felt over. All my dreams since I was 18 of having a
righteous priesthood leader in the home and of that ultimate spiritual union
and intimacy with a spouse, along with an Eternal Family felt gone
forever. The next morning I hoped it was only a bad dream, but it wasn’t
Luckily, time, it seems to heal all things, and despite the bumps and trials we
are still a mostly happy functioning family, but with a lot of problems to
solve and work out. I don’t know how things will pan out on the other
side of the veil, but I do know the most important thing is for our family to
stay together and for me and my husband to work make our home a heaven on
earth. Sometimes things get really hard and super discouraging, but I
know that leaving him would be a billion times more devastating than working
through this problem and would not help anything. I just have to think
about our wedding day and how beautiful it was, or our children, how happy they
are and I know I just need to endure and try to meet him in the middle as much
as I can.
I haven’t talked to my family or friends about any of our struggles, I just
can’t bring myself to do it. And I can’t think of anyone that I know who
could understand how I feel. And I am afraid of how people will look at
me and my husband…like I am a failure or something…. or look at us as
dysfunctional, and am so afraid of being judged and being felt sorry for.
I really feel like there is no one for me to talk to about this. This
interview has really lifted my burden. Seeing another couple and how they
have gone through what I we are going through to nearly a T has been so
therapeutic. I don’t feel so alone, and so totally unique in my trial.
I am going through this right now with my husband…he just told me yesterday he doesn’t believe in the church anymore due to things he read online. Thank you for posting this..I feel so much of what is being shared when she learned about her husband’s dissatisfaction with the church. I would love it if she would contact me if she has the time. I am really hurt and disappointed and am an emotional mess. I am trying to figure out where to go from here and I’d love to be able to talk to someone about it.