Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For Better or Worse?

When I was a kid there was this comic, "For Better or Worse," in the daily paper. I always read these little snippets of a young family's life, but it wasn't very funny at all and the title alone mystified me. You're a bad could your life possibly be?

Now, that phrase has a deeper meaning- perhaps one that was alluded to in the comic by virtue of marriage alone. But as someone who has never been married, I wonder:

What's the "worse" mean?

There are some obvious causes for divorce, in my book. I won't even go into the obvious here. But...what about falling away spiritually? There is no guarantee, you know. As we've all learned by now, all testimonies are different and even the most faithful at one point may have weaknesses in others. Your background does not determine your faithfulness. It's just a jumping off point for when you start making your own decisions. And what happens to the faithful when their good decisions, for better or for worse, don't result with the expected, desired outcome? What IF your loved one has a change of faith? What IF your spouse chooses to no longer be diligent in their calling or study scriptures or say prayers anymore? What IF???

So when you are married in the temple, I don't know if you agree to "better or for worse," but I do wonder- at a rising divorce rate quickly joining the secular world's 50% average- what do you do when someone in your marriage decides to change their mind? Not about their commitment to YOU, but to their faith?


k8 said...

my feelings on this have changed over the years...i used to see your spouse going inactive as good grounds for divorce. now that i have watched all kinds of people go through crises of faith, or periods of laziness or whatever, I think marital vows ought to be strong enough to withstand someone going through a rough testimony period. Ultimately the only person's faith you can control is your own and I just think that if you are committed to someone, and committed to weather any storm together, you signed up for this one too. I would hate for my husband to have questions or doubts about the Gospel and feel like he couldn't talk to me about it because I might leave him and take the kids. People lose their faith, really often they come back to it though and in the meantime, divorce is an awful thing to put your family through when there is a good chance you are dealing with a temporary situation. You don't have a guarantee that the inactivity will last forever any more than you have an ironclad guarantee that your devout spouse will always remain faithful to the Church. Unless he suddenly wants you to start going to swingers clubs and pressuring you to do stuff you don't want to do, I think you honor your vows and figure out how to deal while the spouse works out whatever they are dealing with.

Tannerama said...

Not Divorce worthy unless it becomes a detriment to your family. As in, the spouse derides you for living your faith, setting a bad example for your children, etc.

Because there is always a chance that they will regain that testimony.

For me? Adultery, and abuse of ANY kind are the only grounds for divorce.

f*bomb. said...

This stemmed from a friend asking me, "what if your husband did the UNTHINKABLE...would you leave?" Considering I don't know who this man I'm married to might be, I'm left with simply, "WHAT is the UNTHINKABLE?!?" My imagination is fierce and it seemed like an impossiblity for me to be with a mass murderer, so I came up with un-thinkable...He leaves the church. Which almost made me laugh (sorta), since that pretty much brings me back to square one of dating anyhow. So...UnTHINKable? I don't know if it's as dramatic as that. Sad. Kind of a bummer. Disappointing...but...Maybe I just need to imagine what WOULD be "UnTHINKable!"

...Why? What's wrong with a little swingin'?

k8 said...

the only things that are unthinkable to me would involve violence or sexual abuse. anything else is pretty thinkable.

Anonymous said...

here's a question: what if your spouse lost his/her mind? You know, went crazy. What if they were going to have to live in a mental institution for the rest of their lives? would you stay? what kind of life would that be for you? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........

ilikethe said...

It would be nice to marry someone you actually love for real where you believe in them (their potential) strongly enough that this is not a question. You'd give everything for them. Reminds me of Joseph Smith's comment regarding Emma where he said (hopefully sincerely) that "he'd go to hell for that woman." She went through hell for him, that's for sure.

f*bomb. said...

Wow, Like...Excellent point.

I do have new views on "potential-" mostly, "don't bank on it" comes to mind. But you consider things like disfigurement, terminal illness, psychosis, etc...those are things they didn't necessarily CHOOSE...but leaving the gospel? Well...That's a choice, right? So if the one you're with chooses to make life changes that don't include what you had originally planned, where does that leave you in the relationship?

k8 said...

woah, it leaves you in a marriage with a contingency clause. "i'll stay married to you as long as you remain exactly the person you were the day we got married." yikes. people change-i'll go back to my original assertion that the only testimony you can control 100% is your own.

i think you might be surprised at how many people are in varying states of "activity" even amongst the people you see there every sunday. I have a good friend who is totally 100% committed, she's the primary president in her ward but her once truer than true husband is totally inactive now. Yeah he goes to church with her every sunday but as far as believing the church is true? he's done. but they have just about the most rock solid marriage I have ever seen. Because she loves and supports him no matter what-it's not contingent on anything but his commitment and faithfulness to the promises they made to each other when they got married. she hopes he changes his mind someday but in the meantime, he's a devoted husband and father and there are plenty of women around her in crappy marriages to men with temple recommends. marriage means sticking through the rough patches and inactivity is a rough patch, not justification to jump ship in a hard situation. (again, unless your spouse is giving the kids drugs and porn or something.)

The Meesh said...

A dear friend of mine married a guy, who after 7 years of marriage decided he didn't believe in the Gospel anymore. He said he'd prayed and read the Book of Mormon and just didn't get anything. Shortly thereafter he left the Church which devastated my friend but she loved him and was committed to him - in whatever form he was. An even shorter while after that he was caught in an affair, at which point the marriage ended.

Later it came out that he'd been into porn since they'd gotten married 7 years prior. It is obvious to me that his involvement with it slowly sucked the spiritual life out of him and no amount of "desire" on his part to be in the Church was enough to combat the power of porn. In this case leaving the Church was an excuse he could use to wedge between him and his wife so he could feel justified in his affair. His commitment to her was gone. But here's the crazy part, she would have taken him back. In a heart beat. Not because she's desperate or needy, but because she loved him. She was his and he was hers. If he had been even slightly apologetic or showed any sign of wanting to make it work, they probably would still be together. Is that better or worse, I don't know. But it shows what really makes a marriage work: commitment.

There are a million and one excuses (there are no reasons) for leaving the Church. There are even more for leaving a marriage. And since marriage is the highest and most important part of the Gospel, there's going to be crazy stuff going down to test and try and break a marriage. Just as a testimony needs to be nurtured everyday so does a marriage and if that mutual commitment still exists between two people (however faint) a marriage can survive.

Bottom line for me: if we are mutually committed to each other we can work through even the ugliest of stuff.

f*bomb. said...

One of you guys needs to marry these girls. They are hardcore loyal and are bound to get your handcart out of any mire.
Which is one of the many reasons why I love them so!

Anonymous said...

out of fairness to the girl-sided/biased blog, it happens to men, too.
i am a woman married to a wonderful guy and we are sealed. after a few years of marriage i stopped believing in the church and it's weird doctrines (and meesh, you're wrong, there are reasons, not just excuses). i believed for years but didn't know if was true and prayed for conformation for years. i got nothing. last year i asked if it was NOT true and got a clear peaceful, light answer that it is not. i have a friend who got the same answer as me. i am not involved in any other sin besides things like being impatient or a cuss word slipping now and then, i have a high profile calling at church (that luckily doesn't require testimony bearing). i just don't think it's true. but, i believe the concepts it teaches are good for most part.
i may or may not stay in the church my whole life, but no matter, my husband is loyal and devoted 100%. and i appreciate so much that he doesn't inflict his religious opinions on me.

f*bomb. said...

Wow, Anonymous.
I think I love you.
Thank you for your sincere, honest and understanding response. You are welcome to contribute any time.