My Good Grief

Sep 30, 2011

Seven and a half years ago me and my husband got married in the LDS Temple and started an exciting life together. We spent a year finishing our degrees at BYU and then immediately moved to Cairo, Egypt to study. Egypt was followed by a stint in Yemen, a difficult yet invigorating experience that opened my eyes to a world far removed from my own. Next we moved to the East Coast to go to graduate school and fell in love with some of the East's great cities. Graduate school led to my husband's securing a job with the Foreign Service, a job he had dreamed of and worked for since high school. We had our first baby a few months before leaving for our first post, again to the Arab world where we were both comfortable and excited to be. Our second baby came mid-way through that first tour, during which time we found out our next post would be in China. This was great news. In December of last year we returned to the States for my husband to do a year of Chinese language training. 

There is the outer shell of our lives that many friends and family have looked at with envy and admiration. And we've always felt really lucky to have the experiences we did, but there was so much more going on under the surface that even our closest relatives and friends had no idea about. 

An important part of this whole story is that during my young adult years, my father was unfaithful to my mother and left the Church. I watched them go through a divorce and we all experienced severe heart-ache during these several years. I felt like I learned so much from watching them go through this, and I was going to get it right in marriage. Thank goodness I could learn from their mistakes and not have to make them myself! 

I don't know if I really believe that I am so beholden to my subconscious mind that I was bound to choose someone like my dad so I could fix him. I like to think I have more control over my choices than that. But whatever the case, after a few years of marriage I found that my worst fears were indeed coming true. I watched my husband drift away from the Church, and it created heavy resentment in me. He knew I feared what had happened to my dad and promised me many times that he would never do that. That he would always be faithful; to me, to the Church, to our family. Little did I know the conflict that was raging in his own heart all of this time.  Little did I know that I had married a gay man. 

He has always known he was gay, but we are Mormons. He was never under any illusion that that life was ok for a believer. He knew what was expected of a good Mormon boy, so he did what he was supposed to, trusting that it would make him happy. Mission, marriage, kids. And we were happy for a while. But the further he drifted from the Church the harder it was for him to be satisfied with this life he now convinced himself he never really wanted. He tried making me into something else, thinking that maybe if I fulfilled other expectations he could deal with the rest. Naturally I felt his dissatisfaction and had no lens to see it through except that of my own pain in not feeling wanted or accepted. Not knowing his real issue, I did everything I knew how to do to draw the marriage back together, and he tried too. We had a temple marriage and a family and a life worth preserving.  

We returned to the States in December of this year and finally admitted to each other that we were unhappy and probably not right for each other. Had we not had children I think the separation would have begun all those months ago, but we were both aware that a divorce now would be selfish and that we owed it to our boys, who we adore more than we can say, to keep the family together. And we kept trying, but to no avail. He was the first to bring up divorce, and once the topic was breached it became very difficult not to keep coming back to it. Things only got harder, especially when he declared to me one night that he was no longer a member of the Church and didn't want me to expect anything from him on that front.

Finally, just a few months ago, in a moment of desperate courage he finally opened up and told me he was gay. And he sobbed and shook and apologized for so many hard years. In that moment, all of the compassion and understanding I'd been praying for for years, were mine. God opened up my mind and I could finally see the struggle his whole life had been. All of his issues with the Church and with life now made sense to me, and it no longer seemed like just selfishness that kept him from being what I thought he should be. As odd as it may seem, this was the best thing that had happened to us in years. Suddenly it was easy to be friends and we reveled in this transformation of our relationship. We had a few really nice weeks and thought maybe we could just go on like this forever, now that our expectations were more realistic. We could just stop trying so hard to fit each other into molds we were never going to fit.

And then he was unfaithful. I felt caught up in the whirlwind of life with my reality changing at every turn. I have gone to the Lord again and again for guidance as this was, for me, the point at which I'd always said I would leave. I was as open and committed to hearing God's voice as I have ever been in my life. And while I believe with all my heart that God is on the side of families, He has been very clear to me that I am not to stay in this marriage. So we are in the midst of a divorce. And I am about to be a single mom. Trying to carve out a new life for myself on alimony and child support. And it is scary. 

But if you remember anything from my story, let it be this: God is so real. I have never been more keenly aware of how little and weak and ignorant I am. I feel like a small child standing alone in the middle of a strange, bustling, dirty city with a vague idea of where I want to be, but no idea how to get there. And I realize that setting off in a certain direction based on whatever wisdom I have could lead me to an even darker, scarier place. But I'm looking up, and God is looking down - and He's reaching out to me. And I'm putting all my faith in His omniscience, knowing that if I can hold onto His hand and keep ahold of it, that me and my little family are going to be ok, wherever our road my lead. 

And this is where the "good grief" part comes in. I am in earnest when I say that I would pay this price again to have such intimate experiences with my Heavenly Father as I've had in the last few months. Jesus Christ said, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn of me; . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) These are promises that I now have first-hand knowledge of. In a world of such chaos and turmoil as this is, I can think of no other way to safely travail these waters than to trust in God and His promises. Knowing He loves me and wants me to be happy is all I need to drive me to my knees in search of guidance, and it is there that I've found so much more than just guidance. I've found peace. Priceless.



Comments

Ashley on 09/30/2011
You're a strong person. It sounds like two boys are incredibly lucky to have you as their mom. Trials are hard, but it seems like you have found the person who will help you most...our Savior. Sending love from Idaho.

Rebecca Jeppson on 09/30/2011
Today has been one of THEE worst days in my life. Your words are very comforting and I thank you for them. God bless you, your soon to be ex and your sweet children.

natalie on 09/30/2011
Wow. Wow...You are a STRONG woman and you can do this. God is in the details and I know He has the best plan for us in mind. As long as we are on His side, he'll be on ours. Thanks for sharing.

Von on 09/30/2011
Your story is much like my family. My Dad decided he was gay his whole life when I was 9, I am the youngest of 4 children. I am so glad that you are sharing your story, I felt very alone growing up. Hopefully this will help someone else, because you are not alone in this trial. Trying to explain to people my Dad is married to another man is hard, because people always say...HOW DID YOU GET HERE if your Dad has been gay his whole life!? I don't understand it myself... Sending prayers in your behalf and to your sweet boys.

Anonymousx2 on 10/02/2011
I can relate to this story very well, except from the other side. I'm a gay man, born and raised in the Church, served an honorable mission. I know what it's like trying to fit in the mold that is taught to us since we're kids. It is something I battled with for many, many years before ultimately leaving the Church. I'm sorry to hear that your husband faltered in his vows and covenants to you and your family, and I can guarantee that the pain he has caused will live with him for the rest of his life. But I also can't help but think that Heavenly Father's plan is for us to be happy, for you and your husband. You now share children, and while there may be some stigma associated with your husband's sexuality, I honestly doubt it has an impact on his love for his children, and most likely for you as their mother. I hope you and your husband are able find the comfort you are looking for. I imagine he probably feels betrayed by Heavenly Father for trying his best to live the life the Church has set, and failing -- I know I did. There are not words available to describe the anger, frustration, and depression that came with my losing battle -- and for my search for happiness, because at the end of the day, that's the whole point, right? To love, be loved, and be happy? I hope you continue to stay in touch with him and that the negative experience that scarred your marriage doesn't change the innate love you have for him.

ADHD and Depression on 10/10/2011
Your story is very inspirational. A lot of people try to stay together for the wrong reasons. I believe you made your best effort to try to keep your marriage together. But sometimes, it's just not enough. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous on 10/14/2011
Hmmm . . . all I can say is this. I grew up in the LDS faith, my parents are divorced, and I too know the pain that causes to children (let alone dealing with infidelity or sexual orientation issues). I am now close to 40 years old, married for several years with children. (I am female). I have discovered that I am no longer active in the church and have little, if any faith anymore. Sure, we need to be who we are. But you know what? Despite not believing anymore, I choose to honor my marriage vows. Non-Mormons are just as accountable for their commitments as Mormons. Why does leaving the church give you some kind of free pass to cheat on your spouse? It absolutely does not. I also deal with some same-sex attraction issues. But I would never, ever use that as an excuse to cheat on my husband. There are people suffering all over the world, and yes, we should strive to be happy. But you deal with the hand you are dealt, you find happiness and gratitude in your situation. I'm not trying to bag on your husband. Well, maybe I am. He should not have cheated. You did not deserve that, at all. You have a right to be mad, angry, and a right to leave. He threw away his life, if you ask me. For those people who also deal with same-sex attraction issues, being gay doesn't give you a right to undo the commitments you made. You stay faithful, damnit!! You be honest with your spouse about your struggle. Maybe they reject you, but if they love you, they usually don't. Life is hard, and you can still be happy, if you decide to be.

Shannon norton on 01/04/2012
Wow. I don't know what to say but want to just say, I am so happy to hear of your faith in Christ. Your words of trust love and faith in Him are so beautifully written and echo a same and familiar voice I feel inside myself. I am sorry this has happened and that you have to go through the pain of dealing with it, but also how wonderful it has brought you so close to Him. I have adjusted to a plan that I never knew He had for me and my family, and while it is still difficult, it is very rewarding and oh so meaningful. I wish for all of God's blessings to be upon you!

Sophia Grace on 01/13/2012
I've been finding the moments of shimmering joy in my grief, too.

Jenn Hoff on 06/27/2012
What a difficult thing. Thank you for sharing your story, and best of luck with the new chapter in your life. I'm sorry for your grief and for all that you're going through!

Inspirational Sayings About Life on 02/07/2013
Great post!! truly inspiring/insightful.


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