In this 3-part series, Dan and Laurie Gallagher discuss Laurie’s loss of faith in the LDS Church (while Dan remains a believer), and how that led to an actual strengthening of their marriage and family relationships.

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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  1. MonkeyMo June 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Great interview!!! I have only listened to the 1st part, but I am really enjoying the discussion. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

  2. Henri June 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Another great, great, great podcast. If only I could share it with DW.

    I sincerely believe that John D. is doing more good for relationships between Mormons and former Mormons than anyone else I am aware of with these interviews. The only problem is getting those firmly planted in the church to listen to them.

    Thanks John, and thanks Dan and Laurie. You have given me some hope again.

  3. Bill June 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    This discussion could have been my wife and I. Especially the part about reading Buddhist books in the parking lot during church! I literally found myself finishing both of their thoughts and comments. What it came down to for me was the fact that I had always said that my wife and family were the most important things in my life. When She became disaffected, it gave me a chance to put my money where my mouth had been. When push came to shove, I would have given up the church to keep the peace. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. We are both very happy and she feels more spiritual than ever before.

  4. George Windes June 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    I had a little disconnect with this podcast until Part 3. Then it came together beautifully. I loved John’s question to “alternate LDS” Dan, “Why do you stay (in the church)?” I really loved hearing the key words, RESPECT and LOVE mentioned over and over. Those who know me, know I see the church as a designated parking lot along a street of churches. It is just a church. Family, love, respect, joy, all so much more important in the infinite life of man.

    I wish there had been time for one more question. I would have liked to know (since my mother said it’s an absolute in life and momma never lied), if either Dan or Laurie have considered if major changes can yet come in the future?
    Will Dan possibly conclude that being with Laurie on a lazy Sunday morning has strong merit. Will Laurie decide that the friendships in a typical LDS ward would be rewarding as they become empty nesters or enter their golden years? Maybe a one and a half hour LDS block (ha!) could become part of her vision.

    PS: A thousand yards up the road from my ward house is a handsome Buddhist temple. I have walked through their peace garden several times. Members there have smiled and bowed to me (and me to them). So therapeutic…

  5. Dan Gallagher June 5, 2010 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Thanks for the kind words, all.

    George, in answer to your question, one of the many things I have learned in all this is that one cannot get too tied to a specific vision of the future. Which is a long way of saying that I have no idea what “major changes” are still in store.

    I don’t suspect I’ll ever lose my feelings about the good that has come in my life through my activity with the LDS Church. My activity in the future will always be based on whether I think it still brings a net positive to my life and that of my kids. I can certainly conceive of situations were this would not be so, but it’s not my reality right now, so I chose to live in the present and try to maximize the good out of the situation. This is not new at all for me – it’s what I have been doing for most of my adult life in the Church. Hope that helps somewhat. Thanks for the question.

  6. George Windes June 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the response. As a cultural Mormon, I will also be grateful for the good which has come into my life via the church. Always a urban Indian, I got sent to the Navajo Rez on my mission. That experience with my own people in our traditional lands = priceless. I will always be grateful.

    A major change toward church came in my sunset years. A half century of service dissolved with the aggressive push of Proposition 8 here in California. It caused me become a cafeteria Mormon. I understand your one day at the time approach to life. Wait till you are three score and ten, said approach is even more prevalent.

    Still, old men have visions. I can see you and Laurie bonding in yoga, even as I see you enjoying a sacrament meeting together occasionally. The Navajo say it best, “In beauty it is finished.” It ties to a journey of life well lived. I suspect you will make the journey together…

  7. Danko June 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I too have come to love much of the Buddhist teachings, and I find the self-deterministic ethics to be quite compatible with Mormonism. But I have a hard time getting the same quality of inspiration through meditation that I find through prayer. Perhaps it’s easier for me to listen to a power higher than myself. You related the story about getting an answer to your prayers regarding polygamy, so I’m guessing you have some kind of testimony of prayer. But as a Buddhist, do you still practice praying to a higher power, or do you rely only on self-realization? I have many other questions about Buddhism that maybe you can help me with, coming from a Mormon background.

    John, I really appreciated the comments you shared about when we try to give our kids everything (universalism) we might end up giving them nothing, although I understand you were quoting other peoples’ perspectives. I think it is important for kids to have a storyline with clearly-defined standards and goals (as long as it’s not too future-oriented and not just the monthly checklist).

    John, when you spoke to a higher-up in the church who told you that they want disbelieving Mormons to stay, why did he ask you to not reveal his name? Why is it a secret? And is he concerned about getting in trouble or something?

    Dan, it seems that the reason why you stayed is because you were never really hardcore LDS, and the reason why your wife left is because she was. My wife and I have the same situation, and it’s a strange how it tends to play out this way.
    I appreciated hearing about your practical approach to Mormonism, and feel that the opportunity/requirement to practice your beliefs is what makes Mormonism so special, in comparison to many other churches. In deciding where to nurture one’s soul, I think it comes down to what type of system one prefers, highly structured, less structured, or unstructured, which depends, to a large extent, on a person’s age, maturity level, thought-processes, learning style, etc. Laurie’s comments that she “outgrew” Mormonism make complete sense, in this regard. It sounds as if she’s still on the same path, but working at a different level or in different areas, which is, fundamentally and theoretically, a very Mormon thing to do.

  8. Jared Stein June 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    John, really impressed by the work you are doing capturing and sharing these nontraditional stories. You’re providing needed and diverse perspective that delivers authenticity and provides depth to perceptions of Utah/LDS communities.

  9. Glenn June 6, 2010 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Nice job guys. Yes, the Beatles (not Huey Lewis) did say “All you need is love.” But they also said “I am the Walrus (john)” and “the Walrus was Paul” so who knows what to believe. Koo Koo Kachoob.

  10. Rhonda June 6, 2010 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    This interview (all three parts) was very interesting. I understand why John states that this couple is one of his favourites. They seem strong and supportive of one another without having to stand in each others’ shadow. I am impressed by how both articulated their experiences in a way that kept me engaged and their responses provided great consistency despite the different ways that John asked similar questions. Their responses were believable and I needed to hear them as many times as John asked them. Thanks John!

    My husband is not lds and I am a recently returning to church. Laurie mentioned how different she and her husband are and that is the same with my husband and I. I understand the deep level of collaboration regarding religion and spirituality in Dan and Laurie’s marriage relationship b/c my husband, who is not religious at all, is deeply spiritual and a huge source of strength to me. It is the underlying love, respect, and support that holds us together. This interview made me grateful that, like Dan and Laurie, my husband and I came together and created a foundation that was not overwhelmingingly religious or not. Our foundation is supporting our walk and all the changes that we are experiencing, especially since I’ve returned to church. Thanks again for your inteview of hope.

  11. Laurie June 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Bill – thanks for sharing. There are so many people who have similar stories to you and I. Somehow it feels comforting to know that we’re not alone.

    Hi Danko,

    Regarding meditation and prayer, I’ve found that my spiritual practices keep changing as I go. I used to use prayer almost as a necessity before meditating, as if I couldn’t empty my mind until I’d offered it all up to the Lord. At the time, I just assumed that was OK and had a big mish-mash of prayer and meditation. Right now, “my” god has a little g and is not anthropomorphic. When I refer to god, I mean this amazing, beautiful, mystical force that moves through all of us and the universe. Sitting in meditation is easier now because I feel more connected to the divine within, and there’s less to chat about internally! So I guess that yes, I believe in a mystical power, but not as a being or deity or avatar. I do love to embrace the many forms of god in avatar though, and the symbolism there. My kids also love to learn about the many faces and forms of god.

    Thanks for the great comments. I have to agree that we need an interview with an orthodox Mormon who is struggling! Now if only we could find someone willing to chat with John… !

  12. Joseph June 8, 2010 at 10:45 am - Reply

    I have been an orthodox Mormon struggling. After a few years, I finally gave in: it is not an easy position to occupy for too long.

  13. Scott June 9, 2010 at 10:03 am - Reply

    this interview was awesome… all three of you had excellent points that have given me much to think about. my favorite of all moments was laurie’s answer to john’s question of “is your marriage better than it was before” in part 3… when she said she didn’t know what love meant before going through this experience with dan. that really hit me. thank you for doing this.

  14. Jason June 12, 2010 at 12:35 am - Reply

    Excellent interview. One of the best so far (in my opinion). John just keeps one-upping himself. Thanks Dan and Laurie for taking the time to share. It means more than you know to many of us. So a crazy thought, would it be possible to interview a divorced couple, one that wasn’t able to work things out. I’ve herd many couples say, after the divorce, that neither one was “Christ like” enough and have many regrets. Thanks a million John. Keep up the good work. And to everyone else who listened and experienced anything thought provoking from this (believer or non) DONATE!!!!!!!! I can’t imagine the time John spends doing this, and I’m quite sure its not for profit. It’s not like he’s asking for a % of anything!

  15. Todd June 23, 2010 at 12:49 am - Reply

    I just wanted to thank you for the courage for doing this pod cast. My wife and I are in a similar situation. I will say that it is nice to know you’re not alone and others have these same struggles. It’s pretty sad when you feel better to hear others are struggling with the same problems.

    The great thing is I finally see a possible light in the situation that for a long time seemed so dark and hopeless.

    Thanks again… it helped a lot… more than you will ever know.

  16. Swearing Elder June 30, 2010 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Thanks, Dan and Laurie! This was great to hear. If only I could get my wife to listen to this…

  17. David August 20, 2010 at 8:37 am - Reply

    I would have found this more interesting had it been the husband who doubted.

    It’s a lot easier to navigate differences of belief when the wife is the doubter. Husbands tend to tolerate inactivity from a wife without feeling their salvation is threatened. My experience has been when the husband doubts, the marriage is doomed.

  18. Marshall Bond August 20, 2010 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Agreed, with the added observation and reasoning that the loss of the man’s priesthood in the family and home causes an incredible wedge to form in the marriage.

  19. […] Laurie and Dan Gallagher — a mixed-faith couple previously featured on Mormon Stories. […]

  20. John October 3, 2010 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Dan and Laurie’s story was really profound and holds true to me and my wife’s relationship and beliefe status, except I’m the one who is a lot like Laurie in the respect of seeking out my own happiness through means outside the church. Like Laurie, I have chewed off all the meat on the bone and everything just ran dry. I couldn’t stand sitting in on the same redundant church discussions every sunday anymore. It was just unfullfilling and I’d just get more upset every time I went back to church to listen to what I felt were ignorant testimonies and messages people were giving.

    It’s been a struggle for my wife and I too, because although my wife has grown up in a strong mormon family and went on a mission, she still has faith in her belief, but at the same time has respected my views in the past couple of years, just not before that when we were at each others necks about what is true or not.

    We also have been going through counseling as well, which has helped. In a lot of respects, my wife’s and my story sounds very much like Dan and Laurie’s, although we do have different reasons why we have made the decisions we have made. Thanks for sharing, it was inspirational and refreshing to hear and know that there has been another couple that has had very similar struggles as us. We know what you both have been going through, except we don’t have kids yet. I’m sure you understand what we’ve been going through as well.

    Thanks again for sharing your time and real true life story with us. To me, it feels like I’ve found a diamond in the ruff, because I was feeling very a lone in this for so long. So Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    I’ve shared my story to several people but never on line. I’m still debating whether I should or not. It’s pretty deep and personal, although I know many others have probably went trough similar circumstances, although not quite the same. Maybe some time in the near future, if I feel comfortable and brave enough to share.

  21. Sophia October 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Laurie! We are cut from the same mold girl!! Thank you for existing, being found, and being open to sharing your story so those of us like you just entering this new perspective. Where you once were I am at now. Thank you for this website and what it stands for! Bravo!

  22. Grandpianodude March 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Really impressed with the respect and love that was shown between Laurie and Dan. Laurie is so well spoken and seemingly well adjusted you can’t help but think she made the right choice. Loved the “sometime it’s not my thing” comment regarding why she isn’t attending church regularly Great interview!

  23. Amsashton May 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Wow. This was wonderful, but definitely ideal. Unfortunately, most believers do not hold this open-mindedness, probably in part because the church does not truly encourage alternative, religious learning outside of the church once baptized.

  24. Omame July 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I am coming to this podcast somewhat late and I have only listened to the first session. It could be my story so far. I am the one who has left. I appreciate hearing both points of view. It has helped me understand my husband’s reaction to some of things we talked about. I thought I was being careful and questioning, not antagonistic, but he could only hear it as attacking the church. I look forward to listening to the remaining sessions and hopefully getting my husband to listen as well. Thank-you all.

  25. L. Miller July 25, 2011 at 2:37 am - Reply

    I love this podcast.  Me and my husband are struggling through this and I found how you guys have worked your way through it to be very helpful.  I love what Laurie said about how this problem has truly taught them to love each other, because loving someone who has the same beliefs and thinks the same is pretty easy to do, but to love someone who is totally different from yourself is to love on a whole new higher level.  This really inspires me and gives me ideas about how I can improve my marriage with my non-believing husband.  My husband now considers himself agnostic, while I am a…used to be a hardcore orthodox Mormon…I say used to be because I am learning to compromise and let go of many of my Mormon culture beliefs and decide what’s really important to me and what isn’t in order to make our marriage and family work harmoniously.  I see how this challenge can strengthen my marriage.  I love what Dan said about why he doesn’t think people should give up on their marriages when this problem occurs, he really had some great insights.  Thank you both, so much.   John did an awesome job at asking the right questions too.

    • Anonymous July 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm - Reply


      So happy to have been of some assistance!

      John Dehlin

  26. […] How to Improve Your Marriage After One of You Loses Their Testimony […]

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