I read an article by an LDS women named Violet M. Tate, which was called: When the Lord Changed My Heart. Her husband drank a lot and she had spent her entire marriage angry and blaming him for her unhappiness. She finally went to a meeting that supported spouses’ and this is what she shared:
“I told them of all the years my family had suffered. I told them about the heartache my husband had brought to my eleven children. All the blame was his; all the problems were his doing. After all, didn’t I attend church every week? Wasn’t I the better person of the two of us? Hurt and angry, I was too blind to see that some of the blame was mine. I wanted to make him responsible for all of our unhappiness.
When I finished, the leader said quietly, “We want you to know one thing, Mrs. Tate. You are not here to do anything about your husband’s drinking. Nothing you can do will ever make him stop. He’s got to want to do that himself. You are here to preserve your own sanity.”
Many spouses’ who have changed their beliefs about the LDS church begin to pick up some new habits that go against what we have been taught our whole lives as Mormons. Some may begin drinking alcohol, looking at pornography, drinking coffee, cursing more etc. It can feel heartbreaking when they decide to no longer share the same beliefs in the gospel, but now this adds a new layer that many women don’t know how to navigate.
I want to reiterate what that leader said to Sister Tate: This is not about your husband’s drinking (or fill in any new habit), he has to want to stop it for himself. This is about helping you preserve your own sanity.
There are two steps that will help you when there are some new habits added to the relationship.
1- Get to a loving place. You want to start by getting to a more loving place in your mind about the whole thing. You can write out all your thoughts about it on paper and pray to Heavenly Father to help change your heart. To help you to see where your husband is coming from. Ask to feel the Lord’s love for you, He understands how you feel and still loves your husband.
2- Set a loving boundary. When setting a boundary, you don’t want it to come from a place of anger, resentment, fear etc. This will result in you still trying to change and control your husband. Boundaries are set from a place of love for you and for your spouse. If your husband chooses to be hurt or upset, it is not on you so long as you have approached it from a positive place. What happens in the end is you can move forward in your relationship from a place of authenticity and without resentment. Your relationships become genuine and intimate when you’re willing to do this work.
Here is one example of how it can look if your spouse started having alcohol in the home:
You approach your spouse from a loving place and say, “I’m not going to ask you to stop or ask you to change. I just want you to know some of my concerns about having alcohol in the home.” This part requires you to be brave and open about how you are feeling about it all. Once you have shared some of your personal concerns (not judgements), then you see if there are some ways you can come up with together that would work for you both. “I really prefer the kids don’t see alcohol in the home, is there a way we can have it in the garage.” etc.
It doesn’t matter how your spouse reacts or responds to you- you are honoring yourself and trying to find a way to keep more peace in the home. Some husbands will completely understand and be supportive. Some will say they still want to have it in the house and don’t think it is a big deal if the kids see it. The point is that you want to share how you feel and first come up with a solution that feels win/win for both of you. You want your beliefs to still be respected, so you need to respect his new beliefs (not agree or condone them, but respect his agency).
If your spouse is someone who is not willing to come up with a solution that works for you both, then you can state your loving boundary: If you drink alcohol in the home, then I will take a drive with the kids or go visit the neighbor etc. A loving boundary is never about changing them, it is about what YOU are going to do- that is all you have control over. Sometimes you can say the boundary out loud to the person or sometimes you can just do it. The key is to always follow through with your boundaries.
Setting loving boundaries has the potential to add so much intimacy and peace in your life, you don’t have to harbor all those negative feelings about his behavior and build resentment. Remember, this takes the bravest kind of love. To honor yourself by sharing how you feel, while loving your spouse on his path. It is his path, not yours. Keep love on your path.
I can help walk you through this process of setting loving boundaries and getting to a place where you can give them with love. Set-up a free coaching session to start feeling more peace around the new habits. Click Here: I want a Free session