My first husband stopped going to church and I immediately felt on the outside of the Mormon community. Anyone in a relationship where one side goes to church and the other side doesn’t, it feels super hard to maintain. To this day, I have never seen a community of people so willing to help one another. The lengths people go for each other in the Mormon community is unbelievable. The downside is you have to be all in or not at all. The minute you start to question, or when I stopped being as active as I once was, it was a very strange place to be.
There were a lot of red flags looking back. I know I should not have married the first man I did, but marrying young in the LDS church is the cultural norm. If you wait, all the good guys are taken. If you’re twenty-five and single, good luck.
The church was all I ever knew growing up and I met my first husband there. I was under the expectation of, ‘We’re going to stay in the church and we’re going have a family in the church.’ I think you can overlook qualities in your partner with the notion that together you’re going to lead a certain lifestyle. It was incredibly hard for me when he started to read a lot of literature questioning the Mormon church and he decided to stop going. I had a big problem with that. I didn’t want him to stop going— this is what we signed up for and this is what we’re supposed to do.
On multiple levels, from both sides, our marriage was not good. It felt like a massive disappointment: You get married; you’re married for all time and eternity; and this is already terrible. By the time I graduated college I asked for a divorce.
There’s a lot of confusing things about the eternal family structure in the LDS faith. A man can be sealed to multiple women, but a woman can only be sealed to one man. That supports the idea of polygamy in the afterlife and presents a lot of challenges to Mormon women who try to remarry after civil divorce or if their first husband dies. They’re already sealed and can’t be sealed again, or they have to pick which person to be sealed to.
If I had stuck with the church I know I would have continued to try to make a terrible relationship work. I was just conditioned to think that marriage for all of time and eternity takes work, and I just wasn’t working hard enough. Looking back I wish I’d been more true to myself earlier. I do not regret leaving my husband or the church. I’m in a much better place now.