Ask Mormon Girl: I’m a Mormon girl in love with an amazing non-Mormon man. Should I marry him?

How appropriate to celebrate this second night of Hannukah with not one but two queries about interfaith marriage.  Read them with me, dear AMG community, by the dwindling light of the menorah:

I am a single woman in my early 30s, and I’ve been a member of the Mormon Church my whole life. I learned to read by reading the Book of Mormon. I grew up in Utah, attended BYU, and served a mission. I can count on one hand the number of Sundays I’ve missed sacrament meeting in the past ten years. Mormonism is fundamental to my religious beliefs and my personal sense of identity, and it is the community that I identify with most strongly.

For about a year now, I’ve been dating a man who is not a member of our church (I’m avoiding the temptation here to go on a long digression about what an incredible person he is, how supportive he is of me, and how much I love him). Early in our relationship, I gave some thought to the question of whether I would ever be willing to marry a non-Mormon. As our relationship has progressed, this vague hypothetical question has led to some much more concrete thinking about what an interfaith marriage would be like for me, for him, and for us. How could I help a non-Mormon spouse to feel like a member of my ward family when he is not a member of my church? I am willing to add his religious observances to our worship as a couple and as a family, but should I also be willing to give up some of my participation in my own faith – for example by attending the temple or Sunday services slightly less often in order to spend more time as an entire family? Is it wrong to make those types of sacrifices? Is it wrong not to? Is it naive to think we could raise our children to fully participate in two different faiths? If it is even possible, would it strengthen or weaken their ability to develop a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father?

The doctrinal and afterlife issues around a non-temple marriage are an entirely different topic, and one that I am personally much more at peace with than my questions about how one might make an interfaith marriage work in this life.

 I realize that the answers to many of these questions may be different for every family, and that we need to continue to discuss them more as a couple as we continue to think about our future. Still, I would be interested to hear your perspective and that of your readers.

SN

And here:

For the first time in my life, at age twenty-seven, I am in a relationship that is good and loving and serious enough that I believe it may lead to marriage. The man I’m dating is amazingly kind, generous, intelligent, funny, honest, affectionate, and hard working. And while I’ve grown up in the Mormon church and been a member my whole life, this very good man was raised Catholic and now claims no church or religious faith. Like many single members of the church, I have often wondered whether I would be willing to marry someone outside of the temple, and over the past few years I have come to believe that I would be willing to do so. Now that my boyfriend and I are beginning to talk about a future together, though, I realize that I need to consider this question of marrying outside of the church very carefully. So much of what I have been taught during my lifetime as a member of the church has conditioned me to see any marriage that isn’t a temple marriage as as settling for less, even as disappointing to God, but I don’t think that marrying someone outside of the temple and striving for an eternal marriage are mutually exclusive. I have observed in relationships among friends and family inside and outside of the church that holding a temple recommend does not guarantee a strong, happy marriage. On the other hand, my religious faith is so much a part of who I am that I worry marrying someone who is not religious, let alone Mormon, may present obstacles I can’t even begin to anticipate.

I intend to spend some quality time in the temple, with my bishop, and with close family and friends as I think and pray my way through this decision, but I would also value your insights into this.

AD

Ladies, I sure can’t tell you who to marry, but because you asked, I’m going to say something here I’ve never said in public before:

I am not sorry I married outside the LDS faith.  Not one little bit.

The lessons I’ve learned?  Wow.  They could fill a book, the stories I could tell!  Like the other night when my husband was standing in front of the kitchen window in his pajamas threatening to shoot the inflatable snowpeople on the neighbor’s lawn with a BB gun because he so dislikes Costco Christmas cuteness in his line of sight.  Hilarity.

Interfaith marriage. Frequently hilarious.  But easy?  No, of course it’s not easy.  It’s freaking marriage!  And you will be shocked!  Shocked!  SHOCKED!  At just how frequently grown men miss the toilet when they pish (there’s some Yiddish for you) in the middle of the night.  By exactly how much ESPN gets watched in the course of a man-day.  And how little some men understand the value of a well-dusted baseboard.  It is positively shocking.

But wait a minute! you say. It’s not just non-Mormon spouses who love SportsCenter more than housework.  Exactly.  What I’m saying is that marriage itself is quite the learning experience—for everyone. It kicks just about everybody’s butt.  Interfaith marriage is but one variety of the learning experience.  And there are questions and lessons that dual-faith couples face that zero-faith or single-faith households do not.

Will people have feelings about your interfaith marriage?  Of course.  They might be disappointed, or overjoyed, or judgmental, or supportive.  And their feelings about your marriage are their business—not yours.  Of course, your parents will care most.  Especially if they’re Mormon and you’re Mormon and you’re marrying a non-Mormon, it may be pretty difficult.  It may change your relationship to them forever.  But that parent-child relationship was bound to change anyways as you become an adult.  All parent-child relationships do.  Be gentle with them and yourself.

What about the folks at church?  Only idiots are unfriendly to non-Mormon spouses.  Because what are Mormons about?  Converts, baby.  Converts!  Even if you and your spouse have a signed-in-blood pact that you will never try to convert him—it’s worth considering—the Mormons around you won’t be able to help themselves.  Missionaries will love your non-member husband, especially if he’s the friendly type.  Every new set will see your man with fresh and hungry eyes as a potential golden contact.  And unless they are total cretins your ward members will love him too.  And if you do belong to a ward full of cretins, you must do everyone a favor and just ignore them until they go extinct.  Because people who have problems with interfaith families must needs shortly become a thing of the past.  Today, at my ward sacrament meeting, in the back section of the chapel where I was sitting, all the women except one were Mormon wives in interfaith families.  Welcome to the future.

No, it’s not really important if other people have feelings about your interfaith marriage.  But it is important to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about how you feel about it.  And you must be honest in your conversation with God about it.  Mormon theology is pretty clear:  to go to the highest levels of heaven, you must marry a fellow Mormon in the Mormon temple.  But Mormon theology is also rich with opportunities for second chances.  I’m a firm believer in the God-is-big-life-is-long-there-is-a-plan-for-all-of-us school of Mormonism.  That’s because, it turns out, I largely failed the I-have-all-the-answers-worked-out-in-advance-and-execute-them-perfectly variety of Mormonism.  And guess what:  God roots for both our teams–the hopeful screw-ups and the straights.  God loves every last one of us, regardless of religious affiliation.

And here’s the big story God gave us to make sense of all these situations:  you have a choice in this life–stay in the garden naked and simple, stick to your holding pattern, or make a choice, take a bite, get dressed and go learn something.  Be fruitful and multiply.  Fall in love, learn, make some mistakes, laugh, serve other people, reproduce, and let the whole story start again.  That’s what it’s all about.

Do you really love him, honey?  Mazel tov. Is he really “amazingly kind, generous, intelligent, funny, honest, affectionate, and hard working”?  Tov meod. And can you talk about hard things together?  If so, then step away from the internet and go look him in the eyes and take his hands and start asking him all the questions you asked me.  Because if your marriage is going to make it, you’re going to have to talk and talk and talk about all this stuff until it’s all talked out, and then like all the other married couples around the world—interfaith or single faith or no faith at all; Hindu, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Methodist, Catholic, atheist–you can do the dishes, dance in the kitchen, worry over the bills, tuck in the kids, pull up the covers, watch the Daily Show, kiss goodnight, say your prayers (together, separately, what have you) and fall asleep.

There’s so much more to say—so very much more.  But as long as you’re in love and talking and working out all the details together, it should be okay.  I hope. Keep me posted, please. And if you do reproduce, keep an eye out for my friend Susan KatzMiller’s book On Being Both, due out next year from Beacon Press.

And now, a final word:  folks, I had hoped to launch an extravagant donations drive for the Family Acceptance Project in honor of Chrismukkah—and ten generous artists, authors, and crafters who read AMG donated amazing prizes.  But it turns out there’s some seriously tricky legal business around donations, raffles, and premiums.  So I’m going to just ask you straight out:  won’t you consider donating to the Family Acceptance Project this holiday season?  If you’re in the mood to give AMG a gift, send me a screenshot of your FAP donation receipt and I’ll add you to the honor roll on my blog.  Happy Hannukah!

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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96 Comments

Filed under marriage

96 responses to “Ask Mormon Girl: I’m a Mormon girl in love with an amazing non-Mormon man. Should I marry him?

  1. i would love to see the church focus on the qualities of a mate rather than their religious status. And by “church” i mean i want to hear this in GC- not just randomly supported through out wards or areas with smaller LDS populations. i’d also like to see non member spouses treated with respect-not as a potential baptism. *sigh* one can hope….

    • Or gender for that matter…I’m a gay man with an awesome boyfriend. It would be great to take him to church with out the looks of “you are going to hell, you know that right?”

      • Camylle

        I was thinking about this last night after listening to Radio West. They talked about the new website intended to clear up the mass confusion/(mis)understanding of gay and lesbian members of the church. Some of the guests talked about the importance of helping hard core mormons to be open and accepting to ALL their brothers and sisters in the church, regardless of sexual orientation. I got to thinking about how I and others in my ward might react if a same sex couple attended church and how those views might (WILL, fingers crossed) change over the next decade.
        I adore the show New Normal and one of my favorite episodes is when Bryan decides to go back to church and the Father is so cool with him. I watched that one multiple times and had fantasies about a Bishop behaving similarly– “Bring your family, we’d love to have you”.
        I have a friend who identifies as bi-gendered and often feels most comfortable in femme. His Bishop is very live and let live about it with him and I can’t wait for the day that such is the norm.
        Good luck to you and your boyfriend. For what it’s worth, if you’re ever in Provo I’d be happy to have you both sit with my family (me, my non-believing husband, and 2 daughters) in church.

      • Mike A

        Well you do understand the church’s stance in regard to your lifestyle right? Having gay tendancies or thoughts isn’t something the church condemns. In fact, the church is designed to help people come unto Christ, who is the only one who can change our hearts and help us overcome ourselves to come back to him. Everyone has their own sins and impure thoughts they need to overcome. When we let our thoughts and desires control our actions, that is when the church has to say “Hey, what you’re doing is not ok. You need to repent and change.” That has happened to me and I know changing isn’t easy but through Christ it’s possible…. and it’s worth it!!!!

    • I think your response is Bang on. What Mormon families don’t understand(and for the most part, they don’t want to understand) is how hurtful their son/daughter converting for marriage really is. Half the family is not allowed to attend the wedding(Temple)because that’s the goal and yet, they, are expected to support the couple. That’s just wrong, if you are going to marry a non member and expect the support of that persons family make sure you include “Everyone,’ in your family and go get sealed on your own time

  2. As my friend once said, when it comes to finding someone, it’s not about the religion, it’s about the person.

    • Mormongirl

      If you marry him, don’t marry him with the hope of changing or converting him. While that is the case sometimes, it Is much more of an exception than a rule. In the end, you have to decide what you’re willing to give up. Would you rather give up the prospect of being married in the temple, the assurance of children being raised in the church, and parts of Mormon culture for your boyfriend, or a great man for your beliefs? As these are probably the two most important things to you, it will most likely, be a very difficult decision…follow your heart and the spirit..Best wishes in whatever you decide!

      • LK

        I believe, (and the Church teaches this also), that eventually everyone on earth will accept Christ & his Gospel & become completely righteous and a part of his Kingdom, though most will not do so until they get to Spirit Prison. But no one can move on to one of the 3 Kingdoms until they accept Christ and totally repent.

        After a spouse, LDS or not, repents & accepts & lives the Gospel, in this life or the next, then if the other spouse remained righteous they can then take their spouse to the Celestial Kingdom with them to be married forever. We can also save our errant children by our valiancy too.

        So it will just be for this life that it may be hard to have a non-believing spouse. And I wouldn’t worry about him/her believing in Mormonism so much as, believing in Christ and living his Gospel. If your spouse does that, no matter what religion they are or no religion at all, he or she is far ahead of most all LDS members or leaders on the road to the Celestial Kingdom, for it’s all about Christ, not the Church..

      • Ignacio m. Garcia

        I do not have a problem with much of what you say except the notion that “every one will accept the gospel in heaven” and things will be honkey dorey. This is the type of doctrine that Joseph rejected and so have the leaders of the church. No doubt that all rightetous persons will accept Christ but not everyone that dies will be righteous. And of course we have been taught–by Brigham Young, at least–that even when Christ comes during the Millenium there will be those who will not accept him as their Savior even if they accept him as the leader of the world. There will, in fact, still be churches besides our own. We all know people who know that the gospel is true but they will not accept it. With that same attitude they will rise up on the other side of the veil. I think we should give hope but let’s make sure we stay within the doctrine. I have recently seen too much of these false promises that people use to make others feel good. The reality is that while God gave us a gospel of love and stands always ready to give us a helping hand, his mercy will not rob his justice. Men and women must be willing to accept what they know to be true. No doubt that some will be valiant up on the other side of the veil, but just as sure there will others who will reject salvation because of their high mindedness. So, yes it is still better to marry within the covenant, and if you can’t or don’t then make sure you find a partner that will be righteous–and there are undoubtedly many of those. If they are not, heaven won’t change them.

      • How does “eventually everyone on earth will accept Christ & his Gospel…” affect people who aren’t Christian, like Jews (like me) and Muslims and Hindus, and etc? How does the LDS Church stand on people who aren’t Christian? Thanks.

  3. Dpj

    What a fascinating response (as always). I learned, growing up, that very principle, that you HAD to marry a member or your marriage was doomed. I also remember my father (a stake president) telling me the night before I got married that every single couple he had counseled through marriage struggles were not reading their scriptures or praying together every night. About two years into our marriage, I got sick of waiting in bed for him to come read scriptures with me. It was actually causing more of a rift than bringing us together. So, guess what… We stopped! And we don’t stress endlessly over prayers every night either. If we can say them together, great; if not? Not the end of the world. And you know what? We are still happily married :) happier than ever I might add. It has just made me realize that these formulas a lot of us Mormons learn growing up about how to have a happy marriage are, well, crap. I think what is most important is being willing to stick together through the hard times and being willing to say “staying with you is more important than my expectations of who you are supposed to be.” My mother also frequently pointed out how hard it was for member mothers to get their sons to church when “dad wanted to take them hunting” on Sunday. The sons inevitably went inactive later in life. Would they have stayed in the church if dad was a member? Who knows, but I think it was especially hard for the moms of young men. In the end, if the guy is the keeper you say he is then go with your gut. There will be struggles in marriage and childrearing whether or not he is a member. *i apologize in advance for any gross errors in grammar here, I am typing this on my iPhone. I am literally too lazy to get up and get the computer.*

  4. S. Pauni

    Having dealt with a similar issue all of last week I have a couple things to say.

    1. Some Mormons believe the Telestial Kingdom will be littered with spouses who refused to get baptized.

    2. I’d like to punch those Mormons square in the face.

    Big UP!

    S. Pauni

  5. Dolly

    I love how this applies to ALL marriages! Also, love how you describe how God has our backs and we can actually act on the notion of things hoped for that are not seen instead of the quaint pseudo idea that all things are known in advance, step by step, and lead to mortal and eternal bliss.

  6. Anon

    I absolutely agree with Joanna’s comments that who you marry is completely up to you – it’s your business and only you can determine who will make you the happiest.
    At the same time, I was really grateful for the heartfelt advice/input I got when I went through a similar situation. I wanted so badly to marry a guy who had recently left the church. I went to my mom for advice, and I was actually quite surprised at her response; she didn’t recommend it. I trusted her more than most because my dad isn’t a member of the church.
    Of course my parents love each other very much and would not choose another spouse, which is why her response caught me off guard. I think she felt that it was important for me to understand the types of challenges in an interfaith marriage. And of course, everyone has a different experience. But that’s why it’s so great to get many opinions and then determine what’s best for you.
    After a lot of thought during that relationship with a non-Mormon, I laid out exactly what struggles I was probably going to face:
    #1: I was worried about my own faith. If I didn’t have someone by my side that could always encourage me to read scriptures, perform my calling well, go to the temple, etc. etc., I was concerned that I would fall out of habit of those things. Is this a sign of my own weakness? Probably. But it’s there, all the same – it was a reality for me. I’m a firm believer that no one is “immune” from the possibility of doubt, inactivity, or a decline in faith. I wanted that full support (though I am certainly not saying that marrying a Mormon ensures that). It certainly wasn’t easy for my mom to get us all to church every Sunday by herself – and I’m not just talking about from a logistical point of view.
    #2: This was the biggest one for me. I thought about those deeply spiritual moments I had had in life and how special they were to me. I knew that I couldn’t really FULLY share those with a spouse who, while I’m sure would have loved to hear about them and would deeply appreciate them, would never believe that they were from God (the guy I was dating was an atheist). It made me sad to think that the thing that was most important my life – my faith – was something that I could never fully share with my husband.
    For me, the decision was never about “church.” It wasn’t about whether I would be judged by others or whether my ward would “accept” my non-Mormon husband. It was more about my own spirituality and our relationship in our marriage. I want to serve a mission in my old age with my husband. When I see the Lord’s hand in my life, I want my husband to see those experiences as beyond just a coincidence. When I receive revelation for myself or my family, I want my husband to believe that it’s true. I hope I can emphasize enough that these were my feelings and everyone’s experience is/will be different.
    If someone does decide on an interfaith marriage, my advice would be just like Joanna’s – Talk. Talk. Talk. – set your expectations for how you will raise your kids, and not just in a religious sense (in my home, the challenge was that my mom hated seeing my brother partying and drinking and she was heartbroken when he stopped coming to church, but my dad obviously didn’t have a problem with it – it caused a lot of tension).
    Also, I’d love to hear thoughts about the conclusions others have come to from an afterlife/doctrinal standpoint. Joanna mentioned that our theology is rich with opportunities for second chances. Of course I believe that – I’m not concerned with how many chances we all get. But what if we do get to the next life and my dad (or other non-Mormon spouses) still don’t accept the gospel?

  7. gisele

    I feel so close to you girls ´cause I´m almost 30’s and I´m just sooooooo tired to wait for a good member in the Church. Lately I´m thinking more about the person and not about the religion itself. I know it´s important but I´d terrible experiences with mormon men that I hadn´t out, so all of my dreams about a perfect marriage with a RM are just over. It´s very hard to make people understand your thoughts … many women prefer say: “I´ve an Eternal Marriage ´cause I´m sealed” than just admit they´re deeply unhappy with their dreamy husband, wedding and whatever else…
    Three years ago I´d say: “Don´t do that, it´s better to be alone than marry out the Church”, but today, I think it´s a matter just to the couple, without stereotypes, it´s you and the person. It´s not faded to fail. If you decide to marry this man, you both will find a way to be happy and have a wonderful marriage, not that perfect that we see in the Sundays at Church.
    I totally say: go girls, go be happy, go have your family.
    But be strong, ´cause you´ll have trouble times with family and friends…

  8. Heather M

    I absolutely believe not everyone has to marry within the LDS church, if it’s right for them. And no one has the right to judge you for your decision. My nonmember husband and I have been married for almost 18 years. I dated many LDS guys before him. None felt right, ever. But the idea of marrying my husband felt right from almost the get-go(and, my patriarchal blessing made so much more sense!). Interestingly, my parents felt the same way about him. I’m lucky, in that I have very supportive and nonjudgmental parents. Not every LDS person does, unfortunately. Regardless, it’s a decision not to be made lightly. And one should never enter into marriage with the intention of “someday…” It has worked for us. The decisions we have made in how to raise our kids have been our decisions alone. We feel good about our choices, but know it might not be the right path for everyone. In fact, no two couples’ paths are ever the same. An interfaith marriage can be done well or disastrously, or even only being made up as you go. For us it’s been a combination of intentional starting point decisions, and changes that have come along the way, as our marriage matures, we mature individually, and new ideas come our way. I would never change my decision to marry him. It hasn’t even crossed my mind once. Not in endless discussions of temple marriage, not ever. This is right for me and for us. Best wishes to those struggling with these big, life-altering decisions.

  9. Rawkcuf

    If I had one thing to add, mixed race marriages are quite similar. My experience has been that personal similarities and differences are a bigger element than cultural differences.
    Additionally, just as corporate cultures exist, so does it exist for every family. It is amazing how different values and outlooks, interpersonal relationships can be from family to family.
    At least people of different races are aware of those differences, and are on alert to deal with them. Most people of the same nationality usually aren’t.
    Also, as Joanna points out, men and women already inhabit a separate culture. Those differences aren’t quite so clear until one sees them up close and personal.

    • Rawkcuf, maybe your comment is like your name and intended backwards, but what do you mean by differences between races? How is being a different color, for instance, a “bigger” element?

      • Rawkcuf

        Kiliman, I think if you read my post one more time you will see that you have missed my point; an individual’s personality is far more essential to the person and the way that personality is in harmony with one’s spouse than any similarity of culture, race or country of origin.

      • That’s totally not what (Rawkcuf) said. The point made was that a parallel can be drawn between interfaith and interracial marriages. In all of these cases, PERSONAL differences are bigger than CULTURAL differences. Basically, if the people are alike enough to be able to relate to each other in a marriage, that’s more important than whether they come from the same culture…whether it be religion or race or gender.

    • Ok, “Fu<kwar" backwards, I get it that you see racial differences as "cultural" and on a level with religious differences and insignificant compared to personal differences. I would say though that racial differences are NOT like religious differences, certainly not those between Mo and Nomo. Racial differences can be very trivial–they really didn't come up much for my parents, for example–and are basically false differences. Religious differences, however are real. Whereas white and black may both sleep in on Sunday and tie their left shoes first, Mos have a set of behavioral norms that are in serious conflict with Nomo lifestyles. True Believer Mos base their actions on a set of priorities that make no sense to Nomos. Mixed races, however, are NOT tied into opposing beliefs and mixed races don't try to "convert" each other. "We're different colors" is insignificant on day two, but "conforming to the dictates of an intrusive, authoritarian religion is my top priority" is an ongoing problem for the Nomo spouse. There may be underlying personality similarities, but if the answer to "what shall I do next" is always trumped by a Morman frame of reference for one partner, but not the other, conflict is inevitable.

  10. Rick

    I’d suggest that marriage is a difficult endeavor in any case. I think it was Spencer Kimball who counselled that before marriage you should keep your eyes wide open and then after marriage keep your eyes half shut. There’s a reason for that. Before marriage, we are in love and we don’t see the faults of our suitor, but after marriage, and the ardor cools down, those faults become glaring and become contention in the marriage. Culturally we have become so focused on our own happiness (individual rather than as a couple) that marriage is good for making me happy, and if I am not happy right now, it’s my spouse’s fault for not making me happy so I am going to leave. Obviously that’s a bit overdramatized, but it’s not really too far off. The point is, that marriage is difficult and it’s more than my happiness at stake.
    Within a cultural group marriage is hard. When you mix cultural groups you increase the difficulty. And mormonism is a wery strong cultutal group with it’s own attitudes, traditions and even language. I’m not saying do or don’t – I was wisely counseled years ago no to ever advise anyone to do or not do something – you get the blame if they follow your advice. Bet as Joanna has said there are some things you should think carefully about – and this needs to be done with your head, not your heart.
    As Joanne mentioned, should you marry interfaith, you will have lots of help from fellow ward members on converting your spouse. It’s with the best intentions – remember, we love our faith, we believe it, and so we believe those we love will love it as well – if only we can get them to get started. How will your spouse feel about that in 20 years?If you remain active, Church service is very demanding of our lives – not a Sunday thing. Is your spouse willing to give you up on Sundays, and half your weeknights? Not to mention if you happen to get called in the presidency of the RelSo, YW or Primary? And depending on his views of the Sabbath, you will probably get the tug of war on Sundays. And ultimately, if you husband is a really good man, why would your sons not look up to him and recognize him as the role model, and when they choose not to go on a mission, it’s hard to argue with Dad being such a good man. And after years of this struggle, will your love for him and desire to avoid the hassle cause you to reduce your activation? How do you really feel about that?
    Let’s look at the really deep question very carefully, and it’s important. Do you believe in the Gospel as taught by the Church? Do you truly believe in temple marriage as a requirement for Celestial attainment? If you really do, there’s a couple of things to think about. If you do believe it fully, are you not really going to want him to make the conversion ultimately? Will there be resentment later if he dosn’t? Now look at the flip side – if he loves you, and realizes you fully believe, how will he deal with the importance of the temple to you? Willl he build resentment at the struggle to get him to change (whether real or imagined)? Will he be happy knowing that you are giving up something of incredible importance to you? Will he possible convert just to make you happy without really buying into it? How do you feel about that?
    I’d suggest a real heart to heart with these questions laid out on the table. Remember, ultimately, that what you’re feeling isn’t love – it’s affection. Love is what we do, not what we feel. Affection will come and go based on our attitudes, and will not carry through the rough spots – married in the Church or outside. If you do marry, you should go into it fully and “cleave” to your spouse. Full respect and care.
    I do wonder if you ask this blog just to get supporting advice? Is your mind made up and you want justifying support? Ultimately, what does the Holy Ghost tell you – that’s the important question.
    Rick

    • Paul W.

      I appreciate Rick’s comments and agree with him.

      There is no question that God loves all of His children, and that obviously includes non-members. It would be ludicrous to think otherwise.

      But the issue of marrying a non-member raises two fundamental problems: (1) Do you believe in eternal marriage or not? I’ve long struggled with the commonly-held LDS notion that God would “split apart” families that don’t qualify for Celestial glory. That idea seems so contrary to the nature of God. I frankly don’t believe it. I think the LDS have been vastly over-simplifying that doctrine. But I do believe in modern prophets and that God gives no commandment that is not for our own happiness. So while I believe that, in fact, non-celestial families still can be together forever, I also think that there must be great merit to qualifying for the whole Enchilada–which I perhaps cannot fully appreciate at this time. In other words, eternal marriage really is worth it, I think. It is an act of faith. (That of course does not mean all eternal marriages should have been entered into or will succeed.)

      (2) At a much more practical level, a mixed religion marriage significantly increases the odds that your children will reject your faith. Now if your faith is not so strong to begin with, this perhaps is no big deal. But if your faith is a key part of your life, this is huge. My dear faithful LDS aunt married a good non-member man. Fifty years later, not one of her 3 children, her dozen grandchildren or her numerous great grandchildren is an active member of the LDS church. Most want nothing to do with the church. It is the greatest sadness of her life. And her husband now is dead and she is left to wonder about their future. (I would not fear as much as she does, but that is her reality.) Her experience may or may not be typical, but it is something to consider.

      It would be wonderful if children were mature adults that could take in all of the information about the world’s various faiths starting from a young age, and reach their own Enlightenment unscarred. But it’s hard enough to grow up faithful while reckoning with only one religion. Children thrive on clarity and consistency. Learning from a young age that any religion will do means that your children almost certainly will ultimately believe that any religion will do. (But of course this does not mean that mixed religion children cannot grow up to be LDS stalwarts.)

      All this said, God is love and fully understands and appreciates your problem. I believe that there will be a lot more mercy than justice being dished out at the judgment. But I also believe obedience brings greater blessings, even if I cannot fully appreciate that today on 12/12/12 at 9:45 am.

      May God bless you.

  11. Consider also the evolving perspective of the potential husband. When my wife and I married, we were very different, but I found all the differences delightful. I still feel enriched by the contrasts, but in the important things, we have largely come together. if she had been Christian, however, I would have run out of patience with that by now. Jesus might have seemed like a cute, imaginary playmate at first, but on some level I would have been expecting to help her get over it. Over the years, it would have felt increasingly burdensome to accommodate practices that seemed to me like superstition. The intrusion into my life of an apparently irrational belief that was immune to my influence would have been felt more keenly every year.

    If,”Surely this person I love will come to see things my way,” is the underlying thought for both of you now, perhaps eventually one of you will be right….or you may just be embarking on a long journey to a dead end.

  12. Joanna has written a good answer here. I’d like to add a few things.

    Since both of the people writing in to ask about this are female, I’ll point out that according to the 2008 Pew Survey of Religion in America, the gender ratio for the LDS church is pretty imbalanced. It’s male-female 44-56 vs. 48-52 for the general population. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and historically black denominational family had the worst gender ratio among Christian groups at 40-60; Mormons had the second-worst.

    Now the Pew survey only took into account self-identification, i. e. these respondents said, “Yes, I am Mormon.” It didn’t take into account actual activity or religious belief. I don’t have statistics on that, but I feel pretty certain that if you only counted active and/or believing Mormons, the gap would widen. These are also only the American statistics. Dozens of missionaries have told me that the gender ratios in other countries are far, far worse.

    What this means is that roughly 21% of Mormon women in America have little chance of finding a lifetime partner who is also Mormon. The divorce factor may allow some women to experience single-faith marriage at some point as some Mormon men marry multiple Mormon women over the course of their lifetimes, but the overall point stands: the church can’t supply husbands for all of you. It’s statistically impossible. The only options for these women involve seeking a partner outside of the church, or a lifetime of celibacy.

    And there I think Joanna’s “Garden of Eden” analogy is very apt, because Mormons believe Adam and Eve were presented with conflicting commandments: do not eat from the tree vs. multiply and replenish the earth. Mormons are told to marry within the church, but they’re also told to procreate. If it seems one is unable to find a spouse within the church, which commandment do you keep?

    In regards to the difficulties of the “interfaith” part of interfaith marriage, I have found the question of “what to do with the children” to be the hardest part. We decided to raise our children as “both,” but that doesn’t automatically solve everything. At what age do you baptize? If your spouse believes in infant baptism, will you allow the children to have that? If your spouse thinks 8 is too young to get baptized, are you all right with waiting until they are older? Our daughter is 6.5 years old, and that is the question we will soon be facing, because I do think 8 is too young to get baptized. In my view, baptism at 8 is just a variation on infant baptism. And I’m sensing that I’m going to break a lot of hearts on my husband’s side of the family when I say “no” to it. On top of that, if you really love your own faith, you’ll probably come to feel really sad that your child isn’t being raised exclusively in it.

    Good luck to both of you on working this out, and if you decide that interfaith marriage is something you can handle and your gentlemen turn out to be the right men for you, then welcome to the club.

    • Q

      I was thinking the same thing when I read this. Single women who are educated, regardless of religion, are also going to find similar gender imbalances among their educated peers nowadays.

      Spending a lifetime single is not something most people would choose to do, but fear of being forever single should never be a deciding factor in entering a marriage, lest serious problems go unaddressed before serious commitments are made.

      LDS theology heavily promotes the idea that marriage and family are an important source of happiness in this life, not just the next. We’re repeatedly told that everyone will get their chance even if it’s not in this life, but at the same time, it’s hard for me to imagine a God that expects 20% of Mormon women to effectively become nuns. I suspect that some in the church leadership are already wrestling with what they should or shouldn’t say publicly about this issue because it’s not going away.

      • Q ~ There was an interesting blog post a few years ago wherein a young woman in her late 20s asked a Seventy that very question. Here.

        From her summary, he just did not understand her dilemma at all. It kind of made me smack my head and say, “This is why the church needs female GAs.”

  13. AJH

    I have been happily married to a non-mormon for 20 years. I am active in church, I take my kids regularly, and I have callings. I believe strongly that I was meant to marry my spouse.

    Having said that, I believe strongly that it takes a special individual who can remain active in the church and have a non-traditional marriage. It is not something that should be taken lightly. And as many posters stated, it is something that needs to be seriously discussed with your potential partner.

    Additionally, you need to take stock of your beliefs and acknowledge they may change overtime. Right now, you may be satisfied with not trying to encourage your husband to become a member, but based on my own experience, if you truly care for him–you just simply won’t be able to help yourself. You will desire to have that eternal marriage, to have that support in taking kids to church, to be able to talk docterine with a like-minded individual.

    Finally, the decision of whom you marry is really between you and God. Have those candid conversations with HIM, ponder, and listen closely for the guidance of the Holy Ghost. If this is someone you are to marry, then the rest will take care of itself.

  14. Sarah

    As an atheist (with Buddhist undertones) who married a non-practicing, god-believing Mormon at the height of his questioning, I find this so interesting to me. We have been married a mere 3.5 years, together for 7, and religion (understandably) doesn’t have a huge place for us. We are raising our boys “everything and nothing.”

    But I do still largely consider us an interfaith couple. There are things I don’t understand about his upbringing, things that ended up leading him away from the church — just as there are things he doesn’t understand about mine, things that have lead me to a belief in people over a deity. The most important thing is an open dialogue, as you say, and utmost respect for the other person.

    I also think a willingness to look into the other person’s beliefs on your own is important, too. There is a lot about Mormonism I am still struggling to understand, but I am reading faith-based memoirs and studying up on Mormonism (as well as other religions but the relevance here is on Mormonism). I know my husband appreciates me looking into it because he knows I am doing it to gain an understanding into the culture he was raised in. And he is reading one of my favorite Buddhist-based books, in an effort to understand my beliefs. The independent work is just as important as the work we do as a couple.

    Additionally, knowing that faith can change throughout a person’s life is crucial. Life is a journey and going through it with a true partner, and a mutual respect for curiosity, is so far greatly rewarding.

  15. Sherry

    The most important thing to know is LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT, then ACT ON IT whichever way it leads you. I married a NOMO after a lengthy temple marriage and divorce. Like you I grew up with and taught the standard LDS beliefs about temple marriage, celestial kingdom, etc. After my divorce I dated Mormon men – disastrous. Then I met my DH, who was not LDS and we fell in love. He has no vices, is the happiest person I know, is a healthy role model of manhood for my teen daughter and loves me to the depth of his soul. Initially I thought he would join the church and life would get back on the only track I knew. It didn’t happen and he has no desire to join the church. He says he’ll join when I can baptize him! I’ve had to re-think many beliefs I had about the church since we married almost ten years ago. I simply do NOT believe he and I will not be together after we die. He treats me 1000% better than my LDS x ever did so I don’t believe Mother and Father will punish us for him not being a Mormon. Sadly, my ward shuns us. I even had someone tell me I should know better than to marry a nomo. And a YW leader feels soory for my daughter who is growing up in a home without the priesthood. I gave her a piece of my mind as my home is much happier and healthy now then when I was married to my x. In my experience, life-long member, many Mormons have difficulty thinking outside the box, and putting forth effort to inclue and love. As Joanna said, marriage takes some work no matter what, but being married to your best friend, and listening to the spirit brings great blessings. Don’t be swayed by well-meaning members who fear for you or use guilt to sway your decision. Simply listen to the spirt, you and your beloved – pray together if you feel that’s appropriate. You;ll get the answer you need…prayers and blessings for you both.

    • Carl

      I do agree with everything y’all talk about. I’m in the same situation. I have a girlfriend who isn’t LDS, and I’m thinking on how it will affect our future lives together, since we are even thinking on marriage. However, and this might sound sad. I do believe we won’t attain Celestial Kingdom together if we are not sealed in the temple.

      I don’t believe Heavenly Father is a mean God who separates families, I truly don’t. However, I believe there are rules set, and we receive certain blessings when we obey said rules. I believe rules are to be obeyed. And as Elder Oaks said, there are so may things we still don’t understand about love and law. I recommend that talk.

      In the end, God is a just God. He’ll see us and judge us accordingly, with all his love and respect for the law given as well, for justice cannot rob mercy, nor mercy can rob justice. I have to ponder if I’d be willing to sacrifice an eternity for a whole happy earthly life. That’s what my knowledge of the gospel leads me to think.

      I’d want to believe it’s not like that, that there’s some other hope or way, but so far no revelation concerning that, so that truth stays.

  16. AmyW.

    I love my non-member husband of nearly 20 years. He is truly my soulmate and I shudder to think that if I had not chosen to marry outside of the church, I would not have had this life with him. On the other hand some of the personal challenges I have had as a result of marrying him have been so difficult and damaging to me that I don’t know if I would be able to do it again if I had a redo. I suppose it depends on your personality. I have a tendency to be overly sensative emotionally and the trauma of being forced to choose between someone I love and want to spend the rest of my with and Eternal Mormon Celestial Salvation caused me extensive emotional damage that I have struggled with ever since. Maybe it was because I was so young when I made the choice, maybe it was because I was the oldest child in an extremely active family with parents that just expected me to be a shining example to the younger kids. I don’t know. It’s just that when I did make the choice my self esteem in relation to my family just crumbled and our relationship has been difficult and strained ever since. Maybe things would be have different if I had been older or if I had not been so fragile. I don’t know.

    • I feel to say, if you hear this, Amy, in time, it will all come round right. Your relationship with your family will be healed, and so will you.
      That’s my feeling, anyway. I appreciate your honest, and I really like the way you phrased things, particularly this sentence: “I shudder to think that if I had not chosen to marry outside of the church, I would not have had this life with him.”
      Like JoAnna, I definitely believe in a God of second, third, and fiftieth chances.

      • AmyW.

        Thank you for your comments. I am hopeful and do feel some healing. I have just had to accept/forgive myself first. God Bless!

  17. Sam-I-am

    I grew up in a part-member family, and I’ve seen it at work in marriages of friends. Here’s the problem:

    If you have a literal belief that you need to have a temple marriage to go to the celestial kingdom, you will always keep a secret desire to convert your spouse. That desire (that they be someone other than who they were when they married you) is toxic to a relationship. It will poison your marriage until the end — of your life, your marriage, or your belief.

    On the other hand, if you believe God is bigger than we can imagine, and is not constrained by religious dogma, you have as good a chance as any at a happy, thriving relationship. But you are setting yourself up to leave the Church more easily, and even if you agree the children will be raised Mormon, your kids will likely not continue to participate in the Church as adults.

    If your situation is the first, don’t marry outside the church! And if your situation is the second, well, I don’t have any good advice to help you through this decision. More importantly, I don’t think it’s my place to push other people one way or the other on their spiritual journey. It makes me happy that more non-dogmatic people are staying with the Church, but many don’t.

  18. Stephanie

    To the two wondering sisters…You both appear to be with loving, incredibly supportive men. Go for it! There is NO guarantee that marrying a returned missionary (RM) in the temple equates with love and happiness. I still love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I can be part of a church family whether my spouse goes or not. I have known many women who have married non-members and are happy. Should either of you sisters raise your children and wonder what faith will they choose? Let them explore and see the many people who love Heavenly Father and serve him with all their heart. In the end, no matter how many missions we’ve served, no matter how many temple trips we have attended, no matter how many callings we’ve had, it is a loving Father, through his Son, that will care for us and those we love throughout eternity. I hope you’ll both send invitations to AMG so we can rejoice in your happiness with you.
    Stephanie

  19. Great questions, and a terrific answer, Joanna. My one word answer to these questions is “Yes.” I have long been an advocate for thirty-something Mormon women who have the opportunity to marry a good non-LDS man over a bad LDS man or no man at all. Ms. Jack is right about the demographics. If you really want to get married, you’re going to have to be open to an inter-faith match.

    Yes, talk talk talk about everything yoiu can think of, but beyond that I would suggest pre-marital counseling from people knowledgeable in each tradition at play (this will probably take two different counselors, who might be faith-based). If there is mutual respect and support for each other’s tradition, that will go a long way to making it work.

    Never marry someone with the goal of a post-marriage conversion. If yoiu’re going to marry him, you’ve got to take conversion off the table. As for the Mormon cohort he will be exposed to, I have two thoughts: (1) prepare him for it so he can encounter awkward attempts at conversion with good humor, and (2) I once saw a woman who had just moved into the ward stand up in GD class to introduce herself, and she gave a little speech that her husband was indeed not a member of the Church, but he was not to be a subject of conversion attempts and she would appreciate it if the ward would support her in this. And so far as I could tell, it worked and no one tried to drag her husband into the church. If you don’t want people to try to convert your husband, stand up and say so, forecfully. If you don’t, people are going to assume that you’re just dying inside that he’s not a member and that you secretly will relish their attempts at conversion. You need to disabuse them of this notion.

    Good luck!

  20. pam

    I agree with everything you have said and would like to remind these sisters of some fundamental things that they won’t have in their marriages. You won’t have the priesthood when you need a blessing. you won’t have the family prayer and scripture study with a focus towards eternity because you aren’t married in the temple. Your children won’t be sealed to you. Your husband won’t be able to give your children a father’s blessing when they are blessed as babies. your husband won’t be able to baptize his children or give them a beginning of the school year blessing. He won’t hold church callings. You have to make the decision as to what you want your home and your children to have in that home. Do you want a home that is focused on the church with all of the blessings there of or a home that is devoid of the blessings of the priesthood, Sundays without your husband at your side at church with your children celebrating in the gospel. I made the decision not to have those things when I married a non-member. At the time I didn’t understand what I was missing until i had children and wanted that feeling of family. Because I have a husband that is not a member I have a quasi like status in the ward. I’m a part but not a part of the ward. I’m married but single. and now that my children are grown I am again alone at church. I know that nothing is perfect that even marriages solemnized in the temple don’t survive but at least if you do marry a member you have a better chance of making your marriage work then if you aren’t. Pray a lot. Heavenly Father will give you guidance if you listen with an open heart and contrite spirit as always. God Bless.

  21. selkie

    Oh my goodness. I’m so loving this discussion. I’ve been married to a wonderful non-member for over 20 years. He is kind, clever, loving, and a a great father to our three kids, (and yes, a challenge – he’s a HUSBAND) My dad was a non-member too, so I know this story from the child’s perspective as well. When I was in my 20s I thought, “I will bring this man into the Church and everything will turn out right” (whatever that means). Truth be told, he doesn’t care to attend any church, though he believes strongly in God and is a Christian. He doesn’t like organized religion though, seeing the damage the organizations have done. But our marriage is strong, and our children are good people. We strive to improve each other. We try to make this place a little better than we found it. I have missed the Church in some ways, and certainly the blessings of a temple marriage. That being said, we have built something beautiful and good, have modeled loving responsibility and accountability to our kids, and I am certain I am with the man God chose for me. My fear has been that because I chose this path I would be excommunicated, or disfellowshipped, which I couldn’t bear, so I just stopped going to Church. Now, reading this blog, I’m considering going back. Not sure I’ll be welcomed, still not sure I’m up to the challenge, but I’m praying about it.

    • If you feel called to go, that’s your heart. I say, Follow your heart.
      I can’t imagine you will be punished in any way for going to church! Accept yourself, and feel God accepting you, and everything else will follow. I can relate, as I am in the process of “returning” to church as well.

  22. sammie

    I am a happily married mono-faith guy who has no testimony of dusted base boards. Dear MG, what does “Tov Meod” mean?
    Paul W.

  23. AP

    I was recently married to my husband in the Twin Falls, Idaho temple for time and all eternity. I grew up believing that when, where, and by what authority I was married were equally important to whom I married. When my husband and I were sealed, I finally understood why my Dad had been stressing this to me my entire life. The doctrine that families can be together forever is not meant to be offensive, it’s meant to be the most compelling and peace-giving promise that can possibly be made to us in this life.

    That said, my husband’s grandmother married a wonderful non-member man that she grew up with and fell in love with. They were married at age 19 with no idea what the future would hold, even though her parents really didn’t approve. He later converted to her faith and was called to be a temple sealer. He sealed my husband and I on our wedding day. God works by small and simple means to bring about His great and eternal purposes. You should ask Him what you should do, as no one else can see the end from the beginning and no one else has perfect love for you and for your potential husband. I know from my own experience that God has the answers and that He speaks to those individuals who humbly seek Him. But I also know that He loves us so much that He would never take away our ability to choose for ourselves.

  24. Sarah

    Re: Anon, “Also, I’d love to hear thoughts about the conclusions others have come to from an afterlife/doctrinal standpoint.”

    I would need to ask my husband again. But last I checked he has a quasi-Mormon view of the afterlife that isn’t as exclusive (or is more liberal). He sees all families being able to stay together. He isn’t sure about the man-as-god part of it. I believe when you die, you die, and you live on in memories and hearts. We know that we can’t ever be sure of what “really happens” but our individual beliefs in this are enough for us :) I think he is still figuring these things out and I love him for it.

  25. Melly Buttermilk

    I married outside the church and have no regrets. Sure, I get kind of sick with the occasional lessons in church that devolve into marriage shaming(“only temple marriage is true marriage!”) but I know that one’s religion is not a guarantee of successful or unsuccessful marriage.

  26. Lauren Ard

    Something you didn’t mention here – talk the HELL out of everything that might come up in the future, whether it’s an interfaith marriage or not. You are going to be surprised how much stuff comes up after marriage that you never thought about discussing while dating (like the fact that my husband actually hates kids, which never came up until we got married because he knows we are “supposed to” have kids so he didn’t think it relevant to share that he didn’t particularly “want” kids when he was intending to be righteous and have them anyway. Most of our arguments have involved me nagging him to help care for his children who he loves, but doesn’t really want to spend time with).

    Anyway, before you marry you should work out anything hypothetical that might come up in the future. For instance, you probably want your children to be baptized into the Mormon faith when they are eight – is your fiancee okay with that? Is he aware that if your children are faithful members of the church they might end of marrying in the temple and he would not be allowed to attend the ceremony? Are you going to keep the sabbath holy as a family, or is he going to take the kids out for pizza after church, leaving you home to observe alone? Think of every possible scenario you can think of!

    As Joanna said, there are a lot of surprises in marriage, but it’s not just about the cleaning or the sports. It’s about trying to mesh two different world views, which are different enough as it is even when you share the same faith! Adding an interfaith element means you have many more adjustments to make. Work out as many as you can before marriage happens. I hope that makes sense.

  27. Charles

    A non-Mormon potential husband must be made aware that he will be excluded from certain moments in his children’s lives, and replaced with proxies who are authorized to perform blessings. He will not be permitted to bless the child in front of the ward, for instance, so you will have to choose to forego that ritual or find someone else to stand in for the father, which he may not be comfortable with. He will have to be okay with being thought not good enough to help in circumstances in which you believe that priesthood power is needed. He will have to wait outside if his children marry in the temple. These exclusions, dictated by doctrine, hold the potential to create wedges between you, both immediately, and in the long term.

    It is crucial to recognize that Mormonism has elements of belief, practice, and custom that work to make interfaith marriages especially difficult and inconvenient for both spouses. This is by design. If you want to go against that trend, one of you will almost certainly change perspective. If he shifts your way, you’d better hope he isn’t going through the Mormon motions for you (or to finally put an end to the constant conversion pressure), or he will eventually resent it. If you shift his way, be prepared for the social costs of inactivity–plus, if you really believe the doctrine, a crisis of faith.

    The fact that you bring your query to Joanna Brooks rather than church authorities reveals much. You know what the official line of the church is, and what bishops and stake presidents are likely to say. Joanna ‘s perspective is different, and I suspect healthier, but definitely more in line with what you likely want to be true.

    • Libby

      In my home ward, the non-member son of one of the members of the Bishopbric was able to stand up with the Priesthood and hold his baby girl while they gave her baby blessing. I thought it was beautiful that they included him in the circle, even though he was not a Priesthood holder.

  28. Bob

    I married a recent convert girl — she may as well have been a nonmember — and less than a year later we got an annulment. It was the *hardest* year of my life, by far. She had some deep psychological and emotional issues, which were the biggest reason things were so hard, and ultimately the reason we got the annulment, but I need to tell everybody reading this post how hard it was to be with someone who didn’t care about the Gospel as much as I did. I have always been active in the Church, but felt kind of “fringe” the last few years because I was an older single, and didn’t feel like I fit in much anymore. Being married to this woman fixed that though, it taught be that being Mormon is in my very DNA — it is not just a part of me, it *is* my very being. I didn’t realize until I had a wife with a very superficial conversion to the Gospel just how deeply the Gospel has been driven into every part of my soul — how utterly completely important the Gospel is to me, how much I care about it, and how much I *need* the ones closest to me in my life to feel the same way and to be similarly motivated — living the Gospel is heavy lifting for one, and it is unbearable if you’re trying to lift the load for two (one of whose agency you have no power over). I can’t tell you how painful it is to be with someone who spiritually drags her feet every single day, who doesn’t share one’s own eternal perspective, who doesn’t want the same things, who doesn’t understand why we’re supposed to keep the commandments and fights keeping them constantly, who doesn’t have the same desire or commitment or fervor for the Gospel. It was not just frustrating but also saddening and stressful. I was *not* spiritually equally yoked with her, which is one of the most important aspects of a marriage. I will never lurk on the fringes again, I’m back on board 100%. And I would *never* encourage anybody to make the choice I made. If you aren’t on the same spiritual plane as your significant other, you will become spiritually exhausted and disheartened once the novelty of being with them wears off — and it will drag you down faster than you could possibly have imagined.

    • In all love and friendship, Bob, I feel your former wife’s pain in having been with someone who would ascribe the failed relationship to her weakness alone.

    • Rawkcuf

      I think Bob, the answer can be found in your comment. It appears your marriage wasn’t working, not because of not being on the ‘same spiritual plane’, but that she was working on, ‘deep psychological and emotional issues.’ Not giving her the freedom to deal with the issues and insisting she live up to your religious standard, may have been asking an awful lot of her.
      I suspect there are a lot of people who, when they have troubles with disparate ‘levels’ of faith, are actually dealing with control issues. As different people, isn’t it only natural that we all find ourselves at different places on our faith journeys? Too often, I think, priesthood holders think that being overly controlling, they are simply wielding their authority in the home. I think we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously.

  29. DT

    As a life long member, on my 2nd temple marriage, having 4 grown daughters, having read all of the above, I say -GO FOR IT! How many chances will a girl have to find such a wonderful husband candidate? It sounds like you have found a good one. I personally would NOT walk away from him, just because he’s not a Mormon. Life is not perfect. Almost everything is complicated. Go for the joy, the experiences, the children to come! Live life fully. Do your best. It sounds like you HAVE done your best in the past. Why would you behave any different now?

  30. To the person who asked tov meod means “very good” in Hebrew.

  31. Sherry

    IE – the comment about not having a husband to give priesthood blessings, etc. YOUR prayers are just as efficacious as a priesthood holders are. Believe that because it’s true! I can pray for and with my youngest daughter and bless her thru prayer. I was married to a “righteous” Mormon man who gave blessings after I pleaded until he decided I/ the kids were sick or needy enough, yet he jumped at every phone call from others to give blessings. We have family prayer every day and read the scriptures occasionally. When I taught GD we discussd the lessons. When my nomo husband does go to church we discuss the talks. He is 110% supportive of me and dd. I lived in a “perfect” LDS home with nine children where we had scriptures, prayer, temple, activities – you name it – we did it all – yet our marriage was full of ugly abuse and secrets. I would NEVER give up the lovely marriage I have now for the marriage I had for 29 years to a Mormon man. Please realize I know how the church works, was extremely active and raised good kids. Again, don’t buy into the Mormon notion that if you marry a nomo you are doomed and no longer celestial kingdom material. I am the same good faithful woman I always was, just on a different path than I ever expected, one full of insights and blessings I never knew could exist. God and Goddess ARE bigger than the Mormon church. Listen to the still small voice….whether you marry your nomo or not…just listen…..you’ll know, I promise. When you make the best choice for you, blessings will follow.

    • Amy

      I agree–if my faith can move mountains, why couldn’t my prayers (in faith) heal my children?

      • Ignacio m. Garcia

        I think prayers are very valuable and do heal but let’s not forget that the Lord provided the Priesthood for a reason. We might not always like the way some priesthood holders act, but to disparage the priesthood is not being responsible. That is why there are home teachers, friends, family members, neighbors–to provide priesthood blessings. When those are not around or when the circumstances or the spirit indicate otherwise then prayer is more than enough. But let’s work to make things better not to start doubting the way the priesthood was designed. There is much that needs to change and many hearts to educate but if we doubt some of the fundamentals then why not all of them. Let’s not be Mormons because we “grew up being one” or because ‘that’s where we feel comfortable”. All those are reasons to give the church some elbow room but they are not reasons for actually staying. We need to believe fully and then we make choices, not the other way around.

  32. eman

    One thing often overlooked is that even if you DO marry a faithful, testimony toting RM, he STILL might go through a faith crisis and leave the church later in life. As a previous commented said, NO ONE is exempt from this possibility. And of course, when it happens, no one (the leaver or the faithful spouse) could have predicted it. So my advise? Follow your heart and live life with no regrets!

  33. Mandy

    I am 27, LDS, and 5 days away from marrying my own amazing non-Mormon man. During the past year and a half, I’ve shared many of your thoughts and questions. I just wanted to let SN and AD know that, if you decide to choose this path, you are not alone. I would love to someday find myself sitting in the pew with you, sharing this amazing journey!

  34. Tricia

    Joanna — this is one of your best! I had tears in my eyes and goosebumps while reading it. Love the way you normalize the challenges of being married. It does kick your butt!!

    My lineage goes back to Navoo and as a child I went to church even though my family wasn’t active. As a budding feminist, I left the church in my teens. Forty plus years later I met my incredibly wonderful fabulous Mormon husband. Stunned by the power of our relationship and my love for him, I really tried to be in the church again for him but it just wasn’t me. This was hugely disappointing for him and created some very tense times.

    But now, we embrace our spiritual differences. We learn sooooooo much from each other. We have almost daily prayers, scripture reading, and lengthy discussions about our beliefs. My husband has gone from proselytizing and thinking he knows it all to a real spiritual seeker, albeit with a strong testimony in the church. I have rediscovered what I love about the church but choose not to attend or participate.

    I agree with what you and so many of the other replies have said: find a way to talk talk talk and completely give up the idea of conversion. Listen with an open heart and curiosity.

  35. Amy

    No easy answers here. I married a non-member over 20 years ago. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. Every bishop, new set of missionaries, home teacher, etc. for twenty years thought they’d be the person to convert him. About ten years ago, I realized I needed to quit qualifying my excellent husband (who is a better man than many Mormon men I know), I realized I needed to raise my kids to think of him as completely equal to the men they knew at church. It has worked and my children are very protective of their father. Almost weekly, someone at church will say something to my children such as “if only your father would join the church, your family would be perfect”! My 16 year old daughter told her Bishop who made that comment, that she thought her dad was great just the way he was. In the long run, being married to a nonmember has made me a better person. I’ve been forced to contemplate the gospel on a much different level. As for my kids, I think it has been very hard for them to feel 100% accepted, and they definitely don’t view the church as the only way in life. You need to make very sure that you’re ok with having the less than “perfect” Mormon life.

    • This blog accommodates some frank admissions about that which is less than wonderful about LDS. What happens if outsiders then say, “Ugh?” If you reveal that you continue to take your children to a church where they are told “almost weekly” that their family is not ok as it is, should nomos and exmos remain silent (or at least uncritical) so as not to discourage further revelations? Or should everyone continue to be fully open about what they experience and what they think about other people’s experiences?

    • You are the woman of valor (eshet khayil) sung about by Solomon in Proverbs 31 (http://judaism.about.com/od/shabbatprayersblessings/f/eshetchayil.htm). Good for you, good for your husband, and definitely good for your childen. You are brave and good people and seem to be raising wonderful children who will be lights for everyone with whom they come in contact. Many blessings to you. And Happy Holidays.

  36. Lesley

    I am a non-Mormon woman married to a Mormon man…which seems to be a less common scenario in the LDS world. My husband and I have been together since we were 18-year-olds at university trying to figure out where we stood with the faiths we had grown up in. I grew away from mine as my husband (then-boyfriend) slowly grew closer to his Mormon faith. Our “inter-faith relationship” can be awkward, difficult, and hilarious at times, but it works. OF COURSE he’d love for me to convert…but he never attempts to convert me, never…well, rarely :) scorns my much less specific beliefs, and seems to believe that Heavenly Father brought us together for a purpose. He is Melchizedek Priesthood Leader and I’m a regular non-member attendee of our tiny Canadian branch. I have no plans to convert now or in the future, but I’m a part of our little LDS community and I try to support my husband in his efforts to live his faith while staying true to my own beliefs. Our relationship is not perfect, not easy, but absolutely amazing. It works, though, because I know that his beliefs have great worth. Does the man whom you’re considering marrying value your faith? Can he see the good in it, or does he focus on the more controversial aspects? Does he have a faith similarly conversion-focused (as I could see that being a challenge). Is he willing to, nay, interested! in talking about these things…not constantly, of course, but enough to work things out? I believe that we are all on different paths, but that it is possible for us to travel on different paths side-by-side. All the best!

  37. As a man who married a non-Mormon woman, my story has a slightly different view point, but it comes down to essentially the same principles. I tried to date Mormon women, honestly. For whatever reason, none of them ever seemed that interested in me (I freely admit this could have been cluelessness on my part), and so never turned serious. In retrospect, I believe I was being led to my current spouse. That is not to say that I couldn’t have had a very fulfilling marriage to a member, but our Father presented me with a different path, and after multiple confirmations and some additional reasoning on my part, I chose the path that I knew would be more difficult.Had I known how much more difficult, I’m not sure I would have made that choice, but I’m glad I did.

    Before I proposed, I actually broke up with my partner for a month – mostly due to family pressure. I spent a lot of time on my knees and made several trips to the temple before I felt l could trust that what I knew I wanted to be promptings actually were. I also know that whenever exceptions are made, there are reasons. Here is a list of reasons I feel apply to my situation – some of them in retrospect:

    * There are many righteous people who are not members of this church who are blinded by the philosophies of men. They may need much more than casual contact with the church to see the truth in it. My wife and her family are a good example of this.
    * My wife makes me a better person. She has opened my eyes to many parts of our national culture that are not in harmony with righteousness. She encourages me to develop my skills and talents, and provides an example in several of those areas.
    * Through her, I have been able to represent Mormons to many people who have otherwise had little contact with the church.
    * Her mother is a professional (inasmuch as there is such a thing) genealogist, and because of her relationship with me, has volunteered her time to various church-related genealogical pursuits, and has defended Mormons in genealogical circles.
    * Eventually, though I believe it will happen in this life I will be content if it happens in the next, I am certain she will accept baptism and all of the covenants that go along with it. How am I certain? Because she already lives the covenants in most of the meaningful ways.

    Don’t get me wrong, she is nearly as stubborn in her disbelief of the church as I am in my belief, and there are a lot of things that are very hard and discouraging. Raising our children as believers is proving to be very tricky. I am also certain that there are callings and opportunities that I would have had, were I married to a faithful LDS woman, that I have missed. I have had to compromise more often than I would have liked. It would be so much easier to just give in to the temptation to stay home from church with her (which I’ve done more than I care to admit) and to shirk my callings. Were I that kind of person, I don’t think God would have prompted me with the approval to marry her.

    Ultimately, it comes down to this. Marriage is meant to be eternal. It is hard work. There are those in the church who don’t fully appreciate this – as my divorced parents could tell you. If you don’t have the determination and faith necessary to stick to both the church and your partner, or you fear your partner doesn’t have that determination, don’t do it. Otherwise, happiness can be found in any relationship. And if you can make it to the Tree of Life and still be with your partner, guess what? You’ve brought them with you.

  38. Ignacio m. Garcia

    Marrying a non-Mormon is not something you do it is something that happens. By that I mean that we ought to consider simply marrying within the faith and in the temple for all the reasons that people have given. But sometimes it doesn’t happen. When we obsess over it we start acting like a customer in a clothing store wondering what he or she will look like if they wear that particular wardrobe. Real love just happens. I don’t mean that you don’t try to know the person or don’t put some thought into it, but rather that real love just happens and you deal with it. I would never encourage or advise one of my children to marry outside the covenant–and yes temple marriage does have a eternal purpose–but if it happened, it happened, and that person would have a wonderful pair of in-laws (a little too arrogant there) because they are God’s children. And no I would not pressure them to convert but as a Latter-day Saint I would pray for them to convert as I do for many people I know and love. If it happens, it happens, and if not well that’s really too bad because I still think it is the right thing to do. But it would not change my love for that person. People have agency but that doesn’t mean we are simply “okay” with people making choices that do not give them an opportunity to live the fullness of the gospel. If we don’t fully believe in the blessings of a temple marriage we make a mistake. But life is long and eternal and all righteous people will choose the right at the end. So, make sure you love the person and don’t make excuses for your faith and if he or she loves you they will let you live the fullness of your gospel just as you would them. The children will be a blessing of a challenge and you’ll figure it out, but they must know that they have a choice. Righteous love does conquer all but in some cases it takes a lot longer than we are willing to wait.

  39. Leah Vanessa

    Another brilliant piece, Joanna! Thank you!

  40. Joe Bloggs

    I can’t answer your question but some thoughts. Religious affiliation is not the only criteria when selecting a spouse. As we can see there are lots of Mormon men you wouldn’t want to be married to. Personally I married in the temple to my spouse, a convert, and my spouse has difficulty being the “perfect” Mormon. For me this has been an opportunity to increase my love, tolerance, compassion and acceptance. It has been very difficult to reconcile our two expectations, hopes and dreams. We are not a “perfect” Mormon couple and we have had to choose the level of involvement with the church we can handle. As someone born and raised in the church this has been very difficult to moderate and there is some social pressure to become more involved. The perception can be that if you don’t jump to every activity and opportunity to serve you must be weak.
    I knew a woman who married a man who converted to the church and she spent the rest of their married life telling him he was not good enough. What a miserable state. Ultimately they divorced. This always seemed terribly wrong to me. Marriage is serious business and we are in it together despite our spouses shortcomings. (Some exceptions and valid reasons do exist for divorce but self righteousness is not on of them).
    I believe in temple marriage, and in the importance of those covenants. My grandmother’s patriarchal blessing tells her not to settle for anything less than a temple marriage. She went ahead a married a non member. We all wondered why should would go against such a blessing. However her husband joined the church a few years after their marriage. He was not a prominent man in the church. A quiet, hard working immigrant but dedicated and faithful. Their son grew up to become a temple president. Several of the apostles have grown up in part member homes. In fact David Bednar’s experiences in a part member home have had such a profound impact on the way he thinks about religion. He has never said a disparaging word about his mother.
    The brethren have taught that there is an ideal pattern for marriage. Not all of us are able to achieve that ideal but we are to strive for it. I also think that if marriage outside the covenant is a sin, it is not so grave as to be unforgivable.
    If you feel peaceful with your decision and you feel it is right that should be helpful. We are not judged only for what we do but why we do it. It might be better to marry than to leave many important aspects of one’s life unfulfilled. Even without temple covenants marriage is a noble and worthy institution.

  41. dwise

    Interesting discussion. As a father whose first daughter just married this summer, I have a Dad’s concern. Marriage to the right person is wonderful. Marriage to the wrong person is extremely difficult. As a parent, we hope our children will make life choices that will give them the greatest chance of happiness. And sometimes I think we equate easiness with happiness. So when our children bring home a potential mate that has cultural, racial, religious or other big differences then our child, our concerns immediately flare up. What you are potentially choosing is certainly not the easiest path. But is it the path that will make you the happiest? Only you will know. Ignore the busy-bodies who want to condemn your significant other. But please also know that the people who love you are hoping you make the right decision because they want you to be happy. If we could look into a crystal ball and see that this choice in mate will make you incredibly happy in this life, then I think Dads the church over would say “let the next life worry about itself. God will help you both work this out.”

    • dwise–You wrote “So when our children bring home a potential mate that has cultural, racial, religious or other big differences then our child, our concerns immediately flare up.” ….Ok, so what concerns do you have about the biggest difference of all–when your child brings home a potential mate of a completely different gender? How is that gonna work?

  42. Michelle

    Honestly, I have given up on lds men as a single 25 year old. Ive realized for the most part they are just too proudful and do not treat women very get. My experience with non members has been so much more meaningful and caring.

  43. mike

    Here are my thoughts as someone who grew up with a non-mormon father and as someone who married a non-mormon girl. First, my dad was a wonderful husband to my mother (the greatest mom on earth), and a wonderful father to me. But his absence in the spiritual side of my life, and that of my mother, was very hard. Though my mother never openly complained about this, I could see it in her eyes. As for me, I recall spending a lot of Sundays at sporting events with my dad. When I acquired a personal testimony of the gospel as a teen, and made my own decisions regarding my faith, I felt very alone. There were times my dad would get upset with me when I didn’t want to help him spend 4-5 hours working in the yard on Sundays because I held the Sabbath as a day of rest. He did not like the idea of early morning seminary and he told me I was old enough to make my own choice to serve a mission, but he strongly advised against it. I remember attending numerous priesthood meetings by myself and wishing dad were next to me. I also recall wishing he could give me a father’s blessing. Again, I deeply love my dad, but these were things that I had to deal with. To those contemplating marrying someone who is not mormon, please don’t underestimate the impact that it may have on your children. I’m not saying don’t do it, or that a non-mormon father is detrimental to a boy (or girl’s) life (it’s not), but there will be some missed opportunities in that child’s spiritual life.

    As for deciding to marry someone who is not mormon, here is how I made the decision. I met my wife at the age of 27. She literally showed up at my apartment one night, wholly unexpected. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love. She was not living many “church standards” when we met and she made very clear to me that she didn’t want me to try to convert her to mormonism. Anything she learned about mormonsim, she wanted to learn on her own. This was hard for me because my faith is deeply rooted within me. In many ways, she was everything that I ever wanted in a spouse, but in other ways she was not what I ever expected. I wanted to be able to fully share my faith with my spouse, but this expectation was now up in the air. I also expected that my spouse would be temple worthy and that I would get married in the temple, which was not the case. But I loved this girl more than anything in life. I recall reading a talk from Elder Nelson in which he indicated that the church teaches general principles and does not spend time teaching exceptions to general principles. He said that if there is an exception, it is for the individual to obtain through the spirit. I decided that if the church taught the general principle that couples should be married in the temple (and that was not possible for me if I married this girl), then I should see if my choice would be an exception to the rule. Without going into too much personal detail, I received a very real, strong prompting that I should marry this girl. This came about after many hours and many days of prayer, scripture study, going to the temple, receiving a priesthood blessing, and speaking with people I greatly trust (my mom, especially). Looking back, I can say that when I received this answer to my prayers, I was at one of the most spiritually high moments of my life. I was spiritually prepared to receive the answer that I sought. That was my experience. To others making this consideration, I would certainly suggest that you converse with your Father in Heaven about this important choice. If He can answer prayers to help you find missing car keys, He surely can help you understand who it is that you should marry.

  44. Paul B

    Dear Ladies,

    Wonderful insight here from Joanna and all the rest.

    A couple of quick thoughts:

    1. Trust your instincts and your spiritual promptings. Don’t abandon your own judgement. You have been blessed with the equipment to make such decisions.
    2. Marriage is unbelievably amazing and indescribably painful; I have been at it for 28 years with my soul mate. Pres Kimball said, “marriage can be more or an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive.” This kind of love only is forged through extraordinary sacrifice from both for both. It comes from growing old TOGETHER. It does not come from common religion or personality or even values; it only comes through mutual self transcendence. To me, the core question is, is this person inclined toward self transcendence (are the inclined, desirous, self aware enough to be selfless). If they are, run to the altar, in or out of the temple!

  45. Loved reading your response, Joanna! I sure hope she marries him!

  46. LilyTiger

    I have been married to a non-mo for 5 years, and like AMG, I don’t regret it one bit. I would do it all over again and thank my lucky stars that I found this man, that he loves, and that I love him. It’s a miracle whenever you find that.

    Yes, as mentioned, there are particular challenges associated with interfaith marriages, and I don’t wish to downplay those. However, for me, there have been some perks too. My faith, while less orthodox, has certainly matured. I am more compassionate towards people who I would have stigmatized earlier. As my husband learns about Mormonism I get to see it through his fresh eyes. I get to experience the joys of his culture, which I never would have known otherwise. I get to spend my life with someone who was not raised on fear and guilt and strict gender roles. (Please note: I know a lot of Mormons who were also not raised on fear and guilt and strict gender roles–but I was, as were many of my peers.)

    I prayed about whether to marry this man, and I felt (and still feel strongly) that it was right for me. Reconciling this with the doctrine of temple marriage is trickier. But God works in mysterious ways. Eternity is a long time. In the end–the very end–God loves my husband even more than I love him. And that makes me what my husband calls an “optimistic Mormon.”

    Good luck!

  47. Old Skool

    Having married over the course of my life not one but two wonderful non-Mormon men (one Jewish and one low-church Protestant), I can say that my own spirituality has been profoundly deepened and enriched by the perspective that these two God-fearing and spiritually mature people offered me, and by my participation in the observances of their traditions. I have a better and fuller relationship with God because my own practice has been supplemented by additional observance. And I have a more stable understanding of my own Mormon observance because I’ve defined it for myself, not having to accede to someone else’s interpretation of it. Marriage is hard, period. And, if we’re lucky, hard is wonderful because it lets us expand into capacities we don’t have. There will always be difference between spouses. Marriage offers a chance to develop generosity of spirit and a willingness to be improved by the one we love, no matter what faith tradition he or she may claim.

  48. M Zefirov

    I have been reading this blog for a while now but this is the first time I have felt I needed to add my two cents in. I was born and raised in the LDS faith. My parents, siblings and grandparents are all active members; as am I. I was off travelling the world when I met and fell madly in love with a deployed Marine. He was the best decision I have ever made in my life, hands down. He is not a member and has told me he is not going to convert. I love talking religion with him and I have never pressured him to change his habits or anything else about him. He was also born in Russia during the 80s and did not come to the United States until 2003 so we sometimes deal with cultural differences as well as religious.
    The important things that keep our marriage a happy, healthy, and very loving one are the same things that keep any other marriage alive and well. Unconditional love, excellent communication, and unwavering support. My husband not only supports me going to church he encourages it because he knows that it is a part of me and makes me happy. He doesn’t mind when the missionaries stop by and likes having them.over for dinner. He is coming to church with me and our daughter for the ward Christmas program. And he likes the idea of us raising our daughter with the values the Mormon church instills on their youth. He has let me be a stay-at-home mother while trying to launch my own business and has offered love and support every step of the way.
    Before I met my husband I had dated quite a few members and some relationships were quite serious but I never felt right about it. By the end of the first date with my husband I knew I wanted him to be a part of my life. At the end of the second date I knew I needed him in my life. And after dating a few months we both knew we wanted to get married. While a part of me is sad about not having a temple marriage and getting sealed together I have hope that this could change while we are on this earth and I have faith in an ever-loving Father in Heaven who is kind and just and will be able to provide a way for my family to live together in the eternities.
    The important part of finding a partner to marry does not, in my opinion, revolve around whether or not you are of the same religion. I have many friends and members of my family who married within the church and later divorced. The important thing is whether or not your spouse will support you in your endevours to live your religion. Good communication, love, support and understanding are the things you should consider. Some of my family approves of my marriage and some does not. As time has gone by I realized that the opinons of others is not important to me and oddly enough those who did not originally approve have had their hearts and minds changed by the love my husband shows me, our daughter, and the members of my family.
    Forget what anyone else says or expects of you. Pray about it and follow your heart.

  49. RT

    Oh this is a great set of questions. I married my non-member husband 6 1/2 years ago after dating for 7 years. I went to BYU. We had a long distant relationship for 3 years. I dated a lot of Mormon guys during that time because we both wanted to make sure I knew what I was “giving up” if I married my husband. No one could compare to the man I married. He fit me- does that make sense? The way he wanted to live his life, the family he wanted to have, the wife he dreamt of- matched the type of person I longed for. Once I saw that I could be the person I am, and he WANTED me to be the person I am- an active LDS woman- then the pieces just fell into place.

    I’m not gonna lie- some people have said some HORRIBLE things over the years. I left a youth conference (I was a YSA leader) because one of the adult chaperones (who didn’t know me) derided my decision to marry my husband in front of the kids I was leading. It was 2 1/2 weeks before my wedding. I didn’t bring up my wedding, but a young girl asked me about my engagement ring and when I said I was getting married, they asked what temple and I said he wasn’t a member.) I’ve been told I will become inactive. That my heavenly father hates my decision to marry my husband. That my children won’t be religious, etc, etc, etc.

    I don’t believe in a god who hates my husband because he questions. I don’t believe he hates a relationship based on so much love. I don’t think he pities my children who have it so well- two loving parents who want nothing but the best for them, and who want them to question everything to find the right path.

    When people say women should live in celibacy and alone if they can’t find a mormon husband, it makes me furious. Live alone? But why? If you don’t meet a good righteous mormon, what is wrong with a good righteous man? If your heart longs for children, a family and love- why should you stop yourself holding out for some mystical Mormon man to swoop you off your feet. You’ve already been swept- he’s right there in front of you. And if he loves you as much as you love him? Well the pieces will all fall into place.

    Someday my husband may not be able to attend his children’s sealing ceremony. He knows that is a possibility. But that was also a possibility if he had married a non-mormon. You can’t predict the future. Live your life. Love the man you are going to marry- warts and all (he loves yours as well). Talk. Compromise. Be a family. There is no such thing as a perfect Mormon family- regardless of whether the parents are sealed or not. There are such things as perfect loving families though. That is a goal worth fighting for.

  50. Jam

    I understand your internal conflict completely and my heart goes out to you. I grew up in a very strict Mormon home and dated only Mormon men until I met my (now) husband. As I started to date and fall in love with my husband, almost everyone I knew was against it. I had many extremely hurtful things said to me, along with an intervention hosted by my married-in-the-temple-and-divorced grandmother. The thing is, even though no one else trusted my decision, I prayed about it daily for our entire relationship. With minimal support on my side and going against everything I had grown up learning, I had to trust my relationship with God. He gave me a very clear answer that this was right. Make sure that you get that answer-whether it’s a yes or a no, during difficult times I have always fallen back on that affirmation. Trust yourself, trust God and enjoy the beautiful relationship that you have. A good man is not defined by his religion and a great marriage is not defined by where it takes place. God knows the big picture.
    Of course there are difficult challenges ahead, just don’t go in thinking that you are going to change him. If you marry him, you are committing to accepting him without the church and all that this entails. There have been times in my marriage where I have been frustrated and angry by his lack of change. I have finally learned to pray to change my heart, not his. Work on myself, not him.
    Good luck and my prayers are with you.

  51. Connor Stubbs

    Gday all.
    What a bozza topic. As a life long LDS, RM, temple married, twice ex’ed, three times baptised and remarried to a lapsed Catholic, can I please suggest something? Life will chuck all sorts of bouncers at you. For me, one of those bouncers is my marriage to the most wonderful woman alive. I made a conscious decision to marry outside the church for my own reasons. And occasionally I have queried the wisdom of that choice. HOWEVER, I know that the woman I am with is a perfect match for me. She may never join the join the church. I understand that, and accept that. But she understands that I am committed to the Gospel, and will never leave it either. So we don’t get Sunday morning sleep-ins? Too bad. She attended my re-baptism, has seen me give talks in sacrament, and I’ve sung in the church choir at her grandmothers house just before she passed on. Wonderful memories made for both of us.
    Look, as a shelia, its no different from a bloke. Pray. Seek advice, and like the chick said, talk and talk and talk untill its all sorted out in your mind, and in his.
    Best of luck, and God bless.
    Toki

  52. Kelly S.

    Accept people how they are now–don’t try to see them how the church says they should be. We should never make a person our “project” by hoping they will change, or that members/missionaries will see them as a “golden contact”. If you can love them unconditionally with how they are now, then I say go for it. You may come to a point in your life when you decide the church isn’t true–what if you would have given up your opportunity to be with this person solely because they weren’t mormon?

  53. As more and more people marry out of their faith, the subject of interfaith marriage will become more and more important. I’m married to a man who identifies as a deist: He believes in God, but also believes that God is everywhere, and therefore does not need to be worshipped in a specific place of worship with specific prayers. He’s very uncomfortable with organized religion, so when I go to synagogue I go alone, unless there’s some special event. Would I like to have him by my side? Sure. But my relationship with him is worth this small sacrifice. In addition to your religious leaders, there are counselors who specialize in interfaith couples. You and your fiancee might want to get in touch with one to work out the day-to-day issues of an interfaith marriage. Much good luck, and keep us in the loop. And a happy ChristmaChannuKwanzaKah to everyone.

  54. why me

    Going back in time, it was never encouraged for people to marry outside their faith and this covered most christian religions in the United States. Catholics basically married catholics and protestants basically married protestants. For example, the irish, polish and the italians basically intermarried. There are many catholic families with these three main ethnic groups within it. And Mormons were basically encouraged to marry other mormons. Why? To prevent problems from developing in the marriage over in what faith the possible children should be raised.
    The Mormon church is certainly a time consuming church. It is not easy for a nonmember spouse to understand a three hour worship block plus callings etc. And the nonmember spouse may just put pressure on the member spouse to spend more time with them. Not easy. Much better to marry in the faith if possible. And for mormons, the goal is always a temple marriage and a marriage for the eternities.

  55. When I hear some of the issues going on in Mormon Land, I usually say to myself…. “I’m so glad my parents taught us out of the LDS norm.” Who we married, member or non member was not an issue. They would be more concerned with… ” Are they abusive? Are they a functioning member in society. Can they keep a job and or clean up after themselves? Do they understand Genderoles don’t have to play a role in the home and that you can cut the grass and pick up the yard like they can do laundry and cook? Will they try and “change” your mind in how you worship, what you believe and how you worship? What does that say about us and Mormons if we aren’t accepting of others? I can’t imagine finding that Awesome man I want to share my life with and then voicing to him…. “Marry you? Sorry, I can’t, I’m a mormon. You aren’t” How would that make him feel, What kind of Christian example is that? It would put him in a position of feeling less and being looked down on. What would THAT example tell him about the Church? He may never want anything to do with Mormons or the church again.

    I’ve never once heard my parent voice any disappointment in how or who me or my siblings would choose as a spouse. I don’t know if that’s a Black mormong thing (I’m sure it’s not, we have enough issues in the church w/o adding this one) A midwest Mormon thing (Pride myself in being a Michigan Mormon….espeicially while living in Utah) or Just a Dudley mormon thing.(My family is pretty awesome in the church. We like to keep things interesting ;) j/k)
    I’m amazed how some LDS wards get it right and some get it Wrong…. and i mean REAL WRONG!
    . I’ve been in some PHENOMINAL wards where the members realize that Their job as a ward family is to Teach the Gospel and Love whoever enters the doors of the house of the Lord. It really can be that simple. All the other stuff… is crap! leave the judgements to those in authority to make those judgements. Eventually I hope each wards get to a point where they know that as a ward family our job is simply to make sure that each person, member or non member knows that when they enter the house of the Lord, they are loved. No one should feel excluded from the House of the Lord. We need to get over ourselves and start loving each other how the Lord intended.

  56. ckat22

    life-long mormons leave. devout atheists convert to god-endorsing zealots. and everything in between those extremems happens. people change and the most we can hope for in any relationship that matters to us is that we change in compatible ways and that all parties are willing to work to stay close and connected.

  57. I came across President Monson’s 2002 Ensign speech “Pathways to Perfection” where he stated, “Each of us has the responsibility to choose. You may ask, “Are decisions really that important? I say to you, decisions determine destiny. You can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences.”

    Food for thought.

  58. Deusdictum

    The thing about General Authorities and General Conference, is that they give general counsel that is meant for the general population. Should we try to heed their counsel and marry in the Church? Yes, because that is generally what is best.

    Bishops vary between repeating what General Authorities say because it’s safe and giving inspired counsel that is solely intended for the particular individual they are advising. (Note: the latter can still be the former; the former is not always the latter.)

    Whatever your leaders have said, consider their counsel, give it the weight it deserves, then counsel with your Heavenly Father about your own situation. Be open to the wisdom the Spirit will share. Bask in its confirmation for a bit until you’re truly confident, then go and do whatever it has confirmed to you is right, whichever route that is.

    God can’t fault a sincere heart with real intent if it’s following the Spirit to the best of its ability.

  59. Sunny

    You know what? Living in an interfaith, marriage can be hell. It really can. It can burn, and it can burn you hardcore. And yes, some people are unbelievably stupid about it. Also, they won’t leave your husband alone, so be prepared.

    Otherwise, TG, in some ways, I didn’t marry an LDS person. Not that I don’t ever want to marry in the temple….it is my heart’s desire, but I couldn’t have grown like I have in delusion LDS land. Some of the stuff this culture comes up with I just couldn’t realistically grasp or do the rest of my life.

    So, really, you’re the one marrying that person, not the people around you. The church really needs to tailor to more partial LDS families, imho. Do what feels right. Do what makes you eternally happy but don’t settle because once you’re tied, the fun never stops. God told me to marry my husband. I’m here, and while marriage isn’t easy, I am glad I got married. I love my husband with my whole soul.

    Also, it kinda sucks he doesn’t hold the priesthood.

    Also, be prepared for Mormon jokes. My husband makes them…I prolly shouldn’t laugh.

  60. As a general authority I knew, now deceased, told me in the mid-eighties…If you find a good man who is not LDS, marry him. The Brethren, as I understand, don’t want us to be alone. If you can’t find a good LDS man, why give up all this man has to offer. So many people have joined the church due to their righteous spouses…Chieko Okazaki’s husband, for one. But you’re the only one who can make the decision.

    Blessings.

  61. Anon

    I have frequently run the following “mind experiment”: would it be better to (1) married unhappily in the Temple, or (2) be single my whole life, or (3) married happily outside the Temple? I used to think long ago maybe (1) (because we could work it out and in the next life we would see past each other’s weaknesses, or something), then I thought (2) (since sealing is so crucial, but marriage serves a purpose, so it’s better stay single than be unhappily sealed), then I “progressed” to (3) (since at least then I’d be “happy”). However, then I went and actually *did* (3). And it was the most miserable and lousy choice I ever made. The marriage didn’t last long because of emotional stability issues in my then-spouse, but I was also miserable because of how torn the marriage was in spiritual matters. I now think that (2) is the only reasonable choice to make, even as a man — staying single my whole life — until and unless I find the woman whom I cannot live without, the woman who is a true companion to me. I don’t believe that is possible outside the Temple, because true companionship requires both friendship AND being equally yoked in spiritual matters. Don’t make the same mistake I made.

  62. Lisa Miller

    I’ve been married to a non-member for ten fantastic years. He is absolutely, hands-down my favorite human being on the planet. He’ll go to church to support me and help with the kids, he’ll even come help clean the church, participate in E.Q. moves and activities, etc., but he really doesn’t have much interest in religious matters. Having seen many examples of the disaster it becomes when a member spouse pushes, coerces, ultimatums the non-member spouse into being baptized, I have very assiduously steered clear of those methods from the start. I’d also say that temple marriage is certainly no fix all for marital issues, I’ve known some temple married couples who had problems that would make your head spin. Just as secular marriages have problems, so do temple marriages. I married a person, not a religion. My husband, regardless of religious affiliation, is a beloved son of our Heavenly Father who is very much worthy of my love, affection and dedication. It isn’t without its challenges, and I can’t say I haven’t been frustrated at times with his lack of interest, or that I don’t wish he could give our children a priesthood blessing, but for me, he’s worth it. Honestly, the thing that makes me the craziest is the missionaries. LOL. Every new set in our ward looks at him as fresh meat. They’re so eager. All that being said, no one can tell you what is right for you except Heavenly Father. It’s the seminary answers, read your scriptures, go to church, pray. You’ll know.

  63. Nicki

    Hi, I’m a non Mormon woman married to a Mormon man since 2003. We have a happy marriage. I’m so thankful to have him and his family in my life.

    A couple of things I run into most is that people assume I am also Mormon. It doesn’t bother me that they think that. I let people assume what they will. But, if they find out that I’m not Mormon, but my husband is they ask me “Is that allowed? Did he get kicked out of the church for marrying you?” I answer the best I can. Yes, it’s allowed. No, he didn’t get kicked out. And then there’s a stream of questions that they ask, that I will now send them to this blog to figure out for themselves, as I don’t feel equipped to answer as a non Mormon :)

  64. eMMY

    EMMY
    HI, I read all the postes, I found some advice in them, but still confuse abt my future. I am dating a wonderful man, amazing. intelligent, funny, honest, affectionate, and hard working. He is in a way to become a Ex mormon. After his mission he lost faith on everything for some reasons. I met him in 2010 at USU I move to BYU the distance make us broke up. I am trying to help him stay at the church nth work, I think if I really love him like I always tell him I should let him chose and love him the way he is. My sisters married to the temple served a mission etc…., Honestley I become a mormon when i was 14 cuz my familly said so not cuz I wanted to, where I come from the traditions is so hard to live, Now I move to USA I can make some choices. Iam 24, my bf going to move to Troy NY for his master he ask me to move with him, I want to but Iam afraid we will never get married. Of course we are talking abt kids and marriage all the time. He want to wait at least one year before he makes any decision he want to take it slow. We beeen dating for one year now + 3 month in 2010 we were dating we broke up when i moved to BYU. I am really in love with him. I don’t know what gonna happend if I chose to move with him. Please Help.

    • That other guy

      The best advice I can give is stay true to yourself. I was never more miserable than when I (briefly) married a woman that wasn’t anywhere near as committed or converted to the Gospel as I was, in whom the Gospel was not driven down into the deepest corners of her heart, like it was with me. I had been teetering on the fringes for quite a long time, mostly coming to Church but not really being present, because I felt like an outcast as an older single. Nothing fixed that issue in me as fast as being almost inseparably bound to a woman that pushed back and kicked screaming against the pricks every time I wanted to make some sort of spiritual effort. I learned the meaning of being “equally yoked”, or more accurately, I learned what it means to be extremely unequally yoked. I learned that marriage is about bringing two separate wills into one union, and if those wills are not already mostly aligned from the start, in the important things, there will be some serious issues, especially if you care about respecting the other person’s agency, but you also care about an issue that they may strongly disagree with you on. I learned how truly very Mormon I really am, to the deepest part of my soul. And I learned how freeing that is. I will never teeter again — and I will never marry someone again that doesn’t have the same conviction and conversion that I have.

  65. Rose

    To me, life is all about growth–so ask yourself–will I grow more staying single and focusing my life on the church, or will I grow more branching out, looking at life from different perspectives, and allowing myself to see options I have not yet considered. If the “church” limits your growth by limiting your choices can it be all that true?

  66. Eddie

    God brought the two of us together, and we are truly in love. As a non-Mormon male widower Catholic contemplating marrying a devout temple recommended widow, I thank you all for the wonderful blog. I pray the holy Spirit will provide guidance to both of us, and that love conquers all.

  67. G

    Marry a person based on his character, not his religion. Just don’t marry a ‘character’.

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