Mormon wedding

Newly weds holding hands image courtesy Shutterstock (http://shutr.bz/11k2P2S)

According to Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book Till Faith Do Us Part, 36% of American marriages are now interfaith (when all brands of Protestantism are lumped together). This is up from 15 percent in 1988 and 25 percent in 2006.

But there’s a significant outlier to the national trend toward intermarriage. My own part-member family notwithstanding, Mormons are the least likely of any religious group to marry outside the fold, at just 12%.

Here are seven reasons Riley gives for the low rates of interfaith marriages among Mormons. The first is obvious; a few others make good sense when you stop to think about them; and the last one is surprising but likely all too true.

1)   The theology of eternal families confirms same-faith marriage as a goal for all Mormons.

This statement is going to seem obvious to Latter-day Saints, who are schooled from diaperhood that their families can be together forever—if their parents are married in the temple. But while Mormonism is hardly unique in its theological belief that families can be eternal, it makes that belief concretely contingent upon a particular wedding ceremony in an LDS temple, to which only orthodox Mormons are admitted.

2)   Mormon young people serve missions at exactly the time when many might drift away from organized religion.

Mormons, Riley says, don’t countenance the notion of a prolonged adolescence for twentysomethings. Even as the general culture makes more allowances than ever before for “emerging adults” to find themselves, possibly experiment with other faiths, change geographical locations frequently, and date (and maybe even cohabit with) multiple partners, Mormonism sends its college-age people on missions to learn responsibility and take personal ownership of their faith. And when they return, they are encouraged to marry as soon as possible—to other active members of the Church. Moreover, the Church makes meeting other eligible Saints easier with singles wards, which aren’t perfect but certainly contribute to the formation of endogamous unions.

3)   Mormons prohibit premarital sex.

Marriage ages for Mormons, while creeping up slightly, are still well below the national average. Since people who marry later in life are significantly more likely to marry someone of another religion or no religion, the Mormon prohibition of premarital sex—and the lower marriage ages that tend to result from it—have protected Mormonism against interfaith marriage.

4)   The LDS Church is run by laypeople and thus requires a significant time commitment on the part of an entire family.

Looking past the important twenty-something years of dating, Riley explores how interfaith families respond to the later challenges and complexities of raising children when the partners don’t agree on religion. This is difficult in the LDS faith, where so much is expected of ordinary members. It’s not just a matter of which church to attend; what about tithing? Will we pay it, and to whom? Will the kids go to early-morning seminary? If so, who’s going to get up at 5:00 to drive them? Etc. Mormons, Riley says, are expected to have high levels of religious commitment, which may be offputting to prospective non-Mormon spouses (though this theory undermines the book’s overall argument that most young interfaith couples blithely assume early on that love will conquer all and don’t plan in advance for possible areas of conflict).

wedding rings5)   Mormons are loving and welcoming toward part-member families.

This seems on the surface to be a counterintuitive argument—if Mormons are kind and accepting of interfaith marriages and the people in them, as Riley claims from her interviews and research (and as our family has experienced firsthand, with only a few exceptions in two decades), wouldn’t the opposite be true? Wouldn’t there be more interfaith, part-Mormon marriages? Riley says that in Mormonism, there is no stigma attached to being in a part-member marriage. For example, there is no shaming of interfaith children (like one story in the book of an evangelical Sunday School teacher who told one of her students that Mommy was going to hell because she didn’t come to church–!). But instead of creating more interfaith marriages, this persistent, long-term welcome mat actually cuts down on such marriages because . . .

6)   As many as one-third of marriages that start out as part-Mormon become same-faith marriages over time.

Aha. Because of Mormonism’s strong emphasis on missionary work, approximately a third of part-member marriages will become same-faith marriages when the other spouse converts, sometimes many years down the road. (Incidentally, non-Mormon wives are almost twice as likely to convert to Mormonism as non-Mormon husbands.) These numbers are far higher than postmarital conversions in other religions, particularly in Judaism. There are several stories in the book of non-Jewish spouses who decided to convert but had to repeatedly bang on the door of the synagogue to be accepted, since conversion is not the norm. Mormons, by contrast, exude a “calm and quiet confidence that there are important truths to be found in the LDS faith” and that “their community is one that people should want to join.”

7)   People don’t like Mormons.

This to me is the most surprising reason for the low rates of part-Mormon marriages. Frankly, a whole lot of Americans flat-out don’t like us, or at least don’t know much about us. Interfaith marriage tends to increase when a religious group becomes assimilated, which is slowly happening with Mormons. But 2007 research indicating that “only 53% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Mormons.”* (And oddly, post-election surveys after the much-ballyhooed 2012 “Mormon Moment” show that those numbers have barely budged since 2007.)

Speaking for myself, I was sorry to read that the overall rates of marital dissatisfaction and divorce are noticeably higher for interfaith than for same-faith couples. Such problems have not been my experience in being married to a 100% awesome Protestant husband. Tonight is the 25th anniversary of the evening we met, so forgive me if I’m a little gushy.

People ask me sometimes whether it’s hard for me that my husband is not Mormon. Or they want to know, on a practical level, how we make our interfaith family work. If you’re interested, you can read this article I wrote about that subject ten years ago. Not much has changed since then except that my husband is now Episcopalian instead of Methodist, and our daughter—who was given the right to choose for herself when she turned eight, the Mormon age of accountability—has generally followed in his Episcopalian footsteps, with time off the Canterbury Trail now and again to attend YW activities and LDS ward potlucks.

Sure, it’s complicated. And sure, there are compromises, but a healthy marriage is built on mutual compromise. I’ve no desire to change my husband, and he is equally respectful of my choices. I am proud to be in the 12%.

 

The images of the wedding rings and the Mormon temple wedding are from Shutterstock.com, and are used with permission.

* I had misunderstood this stat in the original post and corrected it on 5/10/13. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out! And in case you’re interested, the Pew study is referenced on p. 189 of Riley’s book.

 

35 Comments

  1. Me too and the 12%, being part of a mixed faith marriage, I don’t know how technically we fall into it all, my husband is a 100% great guy but also 100% non religious. He is respectful of my faith ways as much as I’m respectful of his non faith ways. Sometimes I get a little sad about it when the whole eternal family mantra gets drilled into my kids tender hearts, that is realm for them to figure out with some help maybe from mom and dad. I do sometimes wish that husband and I saw eye to eye about cosmology that resonates deeply with me, but there is so much that we do see eye to eye on, deep stuff, important stuff and we complement each other so well, there is so much to be grateful for. I know marrying him was the right thing for me and has been such an incalculable blessing, that I really don’t worry about it 99.9% of the time. Thanks again for a tender thoughtful post, enjoy your first meeting anniversary date.

  2. kitty d shrout

    Our personal Ward would not have survived if everyone married within the faith. At one time the only converts we got were spouses…Thank Heavenly Father we now have a lot of move ins…However our nucleus Ward is still part member families that eventually convert or go inactive. I’m a spouse convert of over 50 years….But my grandson is 5th generation Mormon….all Kentucky. No intermarriage with “Western” Mormons….

  3. Jana Riess

    Thanks for these great comments, and for sharing your own stories.

    I just found out that Ben Park did a great blog post about this book and topic last month for Patheos. “Can a faith tradition with strong truth claims and a seemingly exclusive understanding of marriage avoid the pitfalls of separatism and tribalism?” he asks. Here’s a link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peculiarpeople/2013/04/mormonism-interfaith-marriage-and-the-practice-of-pluralism/

  4. Hi there,
    Great article. I really enjoyed it and have encountered a lot of what you wrote about.
    One objection: LDS “leaders” are not laymen. Laymen means not ordained — I challenge you to find a branch/ward/stake leader who is not ordained.

  5. “Speaking for myself, I was sorry to read that the overall rates of marital dissatisfaction and divorce are noticeably higher for interfaith than for same-faith couples. Such problems have not been my experience in being married to a 100% awesome Protestant husband.”

    That’s because Protestants are Mormons. ;-)

  6. Mormonism is rather unique in it’s “theological” belief that families can be eternal. Yes, most people of other faiths believe that too, but it is not “theological”. For example, there is no biblical basis for eternal families – for most Christians especially, then, that means there can never be a theological basis, since they believe all revelation ended with the bible. Mormonism’s belief on marriage however, is extra-biblical, coming as revelation long after the Bible was written. As a evangelical friend explained to me once, she knew that her marriage would end at death and was fine with that – even though she loved her husband.

  7. When I was twenty I dated another twenty year old, a catholic man I had met at work. I worked as a maid, the only Mormon among at least 10 Italian catholic maids. My boyfriend was on the maintenance crew and also of Italian descent.

    I believe the reason he was interested in me was because I didn’t jump into bed with him at the mention of the word. His brother was “forced” into marriage because his girlfriend got pregnant, and my boyfriend didn’t want the same thing to happen to him.

    As we spent more time dating, our relationship faltered. He didn’t want to talk about anything that had to do with Mormonism, and that was my life. I had grown up in an all-Mormon community, studied at BYU, and had gone to that large city for a summer job. I’m not diagnosed, but may also have Asperger Syndrome–in any case, communication with anyone has always been difficult for me.

    He invited me to a party with his family, and we worked out that there would be non-alcoholic drinks available. Later, he asked me to marry him. I refused.

    On hearing about our breakup, one of the other maids challenged me belligerently as to why. I knew she expected, and wouldn’t have accepted for religion to be the issue. I also knew that everything in my way of life as a Mormon conflicted with his way of life. I said simply, “I wouldn’t be happy;” and she accepted that.

    It took me thirteen more years of dating Mormons, Protestants, Catholics and Atheists before I met my best friend, another life-long Mormon to whom I have now been married for 31 years.

  8. Thanks for the article. It is well written.

    I don’t agree with your seventh principle, “People Don’t Like Mormons.” Of course SOME people (bigots, I’d say) could categorically dismiss a whole faith as unlikable, but I’d say that’s the exception.

    I would also suggest there is another convoluted reason LDS interfaith marrying is so rare. Mormonism is “intense.” Its followers are VERY devoted to it. Most every member devotes hours and hours to the faith every week. And when a non-Mormon “suitor” looks into the faith on-line, they find that all of that devotion is given to a religion about which there is abundant information on the Internet, and for the most part, that information is anything but favorable. People learn the First Vision had a bunch of versions, that the Book of Abraham is of doubtful origin, that Joseph Smith had a 14 year-old wife and took as wives women already married to men he had dispatched on distant “missions.” So I think non-Mormons look at all this, look at the Mormon they may be interested in, and end up wondering if they can be affiliated with someone who buys into it all and gives so much to the faith.

    • I lived in Utah for 3 1/2 years.
      As a non-Mormon, it sucked. Living there is the reason I HATE Mormons.
      You raise your women to be weak and subservient and not care about their own futures beyond finding a “good, Mormon” husband and to not care about their own careers or life beyond marriage and providing back to the church.
      It’s stifling, it’s horrible and it’s a very unfair, misogynistic religion that I can’t wait until it eventually dies out.

  9. If Riley concluded that “there is no stigma attached to being in a part-member marriage,” then I think she doesn’t understand Mormon culture very well. There are many stigmas in Mormon culture, only some of which relate to the actual doctrine. Here are a few: part-member families, being single, being childless, being single but not childless, being an unemployed male, being a male who decided not to go on a mission, being an employed mom (fine to have a career until you have your first baby as long as you don’t let your career delay childbearing), having an addiction (illicit drugs, alcohol, pornography and gambling — but eating disorders and materialism are rarely mentioned and, in a cultural sense, sometimes actually encouraged — a prescription addiction will not have the same stigma as an addiction to street drugs), body piercing, tattoos, marriages that didn’t originate in the temple, divorced people, homosexuals, liberals, parents with disobedient children, mental illness, even converts. I’m going to stop now even though the list can go on.

    • I have to disagree, LDR. All the scenarios which you listed, in which a person may feel a stigma attached to them because of their personal situations, ideologies and/or political leans – are self-inflicted. They judge themselves by what they see in the church as “common” practice or “common” expectations. The vast majority of the stigmas you mentioned are NOT unique to the LDS faith. Making a judgment on someone who is different and goes through life differently than MOST Mormons, isn’t a hallmark of “Mormon culture.” And it is natural for the person that doesn’t go through the commonalities with other Mormon families and people, to stand out and stick out as being the odd-duck and it isn’t a negative thing – no one says it has to be or that it is. Realizing that one is different from the rest, isn’t a bad thing. I was a convert, my parents weren’t ever married in the temple, so I felt left out and felt singled out and excluded during classes about families being together forever, but I literally WAS NOT. It took time for me to mature and understand that because I was a different type of Mormon, it didn’t mean that I was any less or any worse of a Mormon, or not a real Mormon. I judged myself – no one ever said or did any thing to make me feel that way.
      At some point, people that perceive themselves to be different have to understand that no one is judging them and no one thinks any less of them either. This isn’t just about being a Mormon and what one thinks a “Mormon” is, it is about living in a world that is constantly testing the boundaries of families, of nations, of belief values and relationships. People’s personal choices become a unique experience to them and a central conduit in which they use those experiences to evaluate themselves and to find where in the world they fit best.
      Of all the things you mentioned – what bothered me the most was your mention of “liberals” being a oddity in the LDS faith…have YOU been to Virginia? D.C.? California? I had a good laugh visiting a ward in Virginia where a teacher made some comment against conservative Mormons…and a few months before I heard a comment in California against Liberal Mormons…so there really isn’t a bias here of any kind on political leans. Even in the same faith – these “commonalities” change, therefore it isn’t Mormon culture and what you list aren’t specific to Mormonism.

  10. An interesting read. Of course, the chances of interfaith marriage go up the older one gets, especially for single Mormon women. Along with that comes the struggle to come to terms with the fact that the temple marriage encouraged “from diaperhood” may not happen, simply because of the highly skewed ratio in favour of single Mormon men.

  11. Aleesa
    That is one issue that really troubles me.
    I have a couple friends who have been in the difficult position of having to choose to (probably) either remain single for the rest of their lives, or to mary a non-member.
    It is an awful position to have to be in for someone who has dreamed of a temple marriage their whole lives.
    I certainly can’t look down on anyone who chooses to not remain alone. In fact, my mother married my father when he was not a member – fortunately that one worked out, he converted shortly afterward, but it doesn’t always.

  12. lance sjogren

    It would seem to me that the biggest reason someone would be reluctant to marry a mormon is that they they must marry a religion along with a person.

  13. “good news for low rates of Mormon interfaith marriage but bad news for Mormonism’s overall acceptance into the mainstream.” I’m not a Mormon, but “acceptance into the mainstream”, if you look at other once-outsider religions like Catholicism and Judaism, always means the diminishment of the faith community, both in clarity and in numbers. You should be happy you are not popular.

    BTW, Mormonism is a work of extraordinary religious imagination; definitely not mainstream Christianity. Why do you guys try so hard to sanitize yourselves? No one believes it and you look like you’re ashamed of what makes you so different.

  14. I personally find it kind of sad that Mormon’s aren’t or at least showing more support of interfaith marriages. I’m 20 years old and live in the Salt Lake valley area. I’m reaching the point where from now till about five years I want to enter a marriage commitment. I have quite high standards but am no where near religious. When I see those who are active in the LDS religion I can clearly see that their standards are at the highest degree, and it interests me 100%. I am not interested in changing my beliefs for someone else, but I am interested in the qualities of most LDS women. It would be awesome to meet some who can tolerate/compromise with someone who doesn’t participate in any religion at all.

  15. trytoseeitmyway

    I was an atheist when I married a Mormon girl. Best decision I ever made. Sixteen years and three kids later, I was baptized. Second best decision.

  16. I simply don’t believe that “53% of Americans did not personally know a Mormon.” US statistics alone makes that statement mathematically impossible. Likely 53% of Americans don’t know that someone they know is Mormon (such as a teacher, dentist, etc.). Although I’ve been LDS for almost 30 years and a RM, I don’t go around declaring to the world that I’m Mormon, so I know for a fact that co-workers past and present may have no clue. And most Mormons I know are similar.

    Also, I remember receiving a surprising amount of marriage proposals from men totally willing to deal with my religion. There seemed to be a strange allure to them dating someone who was a virgin, didn’t drink, and wanted a family. This isn’t to slam on women who aren’t virgins or don’t want a family, I’m just saying that I was surprised at how attractive those aspects of my life were to men who seemed to be very open-minded to women’s issues. Although I agree that marrying an active Mormon is marrying the religion and all the hundreds of people in the local wards/stake that are woven into any Mormon’s life.

    • Jana Riess

      Thank you so much for asking about that stat. I just looked it up again because when you mentioned it, I thought, “She’s right; that can’t be correct.” The fault is mine. I misunderstood what the Pew question asked: The study showed that “only 53% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Mormons,” not that 53% did not know a Mormon personally. I have corrected the error and apologize for my mistake. And if you’d like to look at where that in in Riley’s book, it’s on p. 189. Sorry again, and thanks for catching this.

  17. i attend a lutheran church now. bu i have become very interested in the mormon church. there is this amazing mormon guy i know. and i think if you fall in love with someone who belives in jesus as our savior, that’s all that matters. if you give the love of your life just because of some doctrinal differences, that’s sad. one huge question i want to ask, and have asked, but i’ve never gotten an answer on. it doesn’t bother you that you will not receive the celstial kindgom? please answer, and tell why you are ok with that. i would love to know there is hope for me.

    • Jana Riess

      Dear Megan,

      I’m sorry I have not yet responded to the email you sent; I have been traveling.

      Congratulations on meeting a wonderful potential partner. I tend to agree with you that we need to trust God and respect one another’s beliefs rather than allowing doctrinal differences to drive us apart.

      As for the Celestial Kingdom, since I don’t know you I can only speak from my own experience. I have learned from personal revelation that my husband, who is not Mormon, and I will be together in eternity. God will work out the details of this; it is only our job to love Christ and one another as best we can. The rest will take care of itself.

      Best wishes with your relationship. Abide in prayer and ask God for guidance about this.

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  19. I HAD A STRANGE EXPERIENCE WITH LDS PEOPLE. FIRST OF ALL I MET A GROUP A FAMILY AND COWORKERS. THEY WERE GOING TO BE IN THE SAME TOWN I WAS GOING AND I WAS ON MY ON AND THE YOUNG MALE SINGLE GUY SAID TO ME THAT I COULD MEET THAN AND HIS FRIENDS AT THE OTHER CITY. AFTER DINNER I WAS ON MY TABLE AND THEM AT THEIR TABLE BUT WE SPOKE A BIT. HE ASKED ME MY MAIL I WAS SURPRISED BUT OK.. WHATEVER. SO AFTER 2 DAYS I WENT TO THE OTHER CITY AND MESSEGE HIM AS HE SAID DO ME . IN THESAME TIME HE SEND ME THE ADRESS OF THE PLACE HE WAS GOING TO BE WITH HIS FRIENDS. OK, I SAID I DIDN’T KNOW IF I COULD MAKE THAT BUT WOULD TRY AND HE MESSAGE ME AGAIN TELLING HOW TO GO SO I SAID OK I LL . ARRIVING THERE WAS THE PARENS AND PARENTS COUPLE WHOM WAS BIRTHDAY (IMAGENE HOW EMBARASSING WAS), …THEY YOUNG FRIENDS HAD PLANS FOR AFTER BUT EVEN BEFORE HE MENTIONED THAT HIS MOTHER SAID TO ME WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR TONIGHT… I WAS SO, BUT SO EMBARASSED THAT I SAID WAS GOING TO DO THIS OR THAT, SO I CALLED THE WAITER AND ASKED MY FOOD TO GO CAUSE I ARRIVED AFTER THEM AND DIDN’T WANT THEM TO BE LATE FOR THE EVENT… THE STRANGE THING WAS THAT THE GUY JUST PUT HIS HEAD DOWN WHEN SHE SAID THAT, IN ADDITION WHEN I ARRIVED HE SAID TO HER, MON DO YOU REMEMBER JULIA FROM SAN JOSE RESTAURANT WE MET… LIKE HE HADAN’T SAID ANYTHIING TO ANYBODY JUST TO HIS FRIEND… THE GIRLS DIDN’T EVEN LOOK AT ME… WAS HORRIBLE, THE GUY WAS FINE, HE DID EVERYTHING TO MAKE ME FEEL CONFORTABLE AT THAT BIG TABLE AND STARTED TALKING ABOUT HOW WE MET. HE WAS KIND. WE DIDN’T SPEAK WE WEREN’T CLOSE AT THE TABLE BUT I CAN’T COMPLAIN. AFTER HE SAID TO ME WAS GOOD YOU COME, STAY WITH US, WAS IT. AND HE SAID HE WAS SURE HE WAS GOING TO MY TOWN AGAIN . AND I COULD GO TO HIS, AND AFTER ALL I SAID TO HIM … DYING INSIDE.. YES MAYBE ONE DAY… REALLY DYING INSIDE… AND HE REAPETED AGAIN… SO AFTER THAT I STAYED MORE THAN 10 DAYS WITHOUT SPEAKING OR EVEN ON INTERNET. AND HE DIDN’T LOOK FOR ME EITHER, WHAT I TOUGHT WAS STRANGE EVEN ON MY BIRTH… ANYWAY I HAD TO MESSAGE HIM, HE WAS KIND BUT I SAW HE WAS AVOIDING ME. HE ANSWERED BUT ALL THAT ENTHUSIASM THAT HE SHOWED HAD GONNE AND I DIDN’T KNOW WHY AND I DON’T UNTIL NOW. IT’S SO HORRIBLE. HURTS EVEN MORE. I LIKED TALKING TO HIM EVEN SUCH A LITTLE BECAUSE I WAS TOO SHY TO TALK TO SOMEBODY WHO HAD NEVES LOOKED FOR ME ON INTERNET AND I SAW JUST TWICE. ANYWAY HE REPLAYED MY MESSAGES ALWAYS SOMETIMES FASTER OR SOMETIMES IN 2 OR3 DAYS, ALWAYS RESPECT HIM NORMALLY THINGS BECAUSE I THOUGHT ABOUT BEING FRIENDS AND I MEAN THAT. THAN WHEN HE BIRTH CAME THE MOST STRANGE THING HAPPENED… I SEND HIM A PRIVATE MESSAGE, I USED TO DO THAT BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW ABOUT HABITS FROM THE CHURCH OR IF HE HAD MET SOMEBODY WHATEVER… HE READ THAT OK, THEN HE DIDN’T ANSWER OK, THEN HE POSTED A THANK MESSAGE TO EVERYBODY..I PUT A LIKE AND IN 3 DAYS THE MESSAGE HAD GONNE FROM MY FEED, AND WHEN I LOOKED AT HIS TIMELINE THE WAS NO MY LIKE ANYMORE…. I FELT SO, BUT SO BAD…. NEVER SEEN SOMETHING SO CRUEL BEFORE, I READ HE WAS DATING SOMEBODY, OK, WHAT… CAN’T COMUNICATE JUST WITH ME… THIS IS TOO CRAZY… SO. AFTER A MONTH I JUST SEND HIM A MESSAGE AND SAID EVERYTHING WAS OK, THAT I WISH HIM ALL THE BEST IN LIFE AND PROBABLY WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN… BECAUSE I’VE NEVER FELT SO HURT IN MY ENTIRE LIFE… I HAVEN’T SEEN EVEN ONE PIC OF THIS PERSON… AT THE FACEBOOK… WHAT’S WRONG WITH THOSE PEOPLE.. MAKE ME THINK HE WANTS ME TO FEEL BAD AND MAYBE HE FEELS GOOD DOING THIS TO PEOPLE, MIGHT HAVE A EGO PROBLEM…. DON’T KNOW AND WILL NEVER… NOW ,DON’T SPEAK … DO’NT KEEP IN TOUCH… DON’T KNOW… AND I FEEL CONFUSED… HOPE THOSE PEOPLE FIND HAPPINESS AND THE REAL GOD. BECAUSE MY HEART WAS OPENED TO ALL PEOPLE NOT TO A RELIGION AND NOW I THINK THAT LDS PEOPLE ARE NOT OPEN TO PEOPLE BUT TO THEIR PEOPLE AND THEIR RELIGION… THEIR GROUP. THEIR BELIVES…. THAT’S WHAT I THINK ABOUT IT NOW. MIGHT BE WRONG BUT… HIM FOR EXAMPLE WANTED TO SHOW ME THAT I DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING INTERESTING TO SHAREWITH HIM… THAT WAS HORRIBLE… NEVER FELT SO WITHOUT VALUE… AFTER. DURING THE DINNER HE PUT ME ON TOP, AFTER THAT…. PROBLABLY BECAUSE OF HIS FAMILY … HE STARTED DOING THAT, ME… I THOUGHT HE WAS WONDERFUL… HARDWORKING, NICE, POLITE, GOOD LOOKING… ETC… BUT HE NOW FOR ME IS SOMEONE WITH A STONE HEART WHO DOESN’T HAVEANYTHING INSIDE AND NO LOVE OR ANYTHING TO SHARE WITH ANYBODY, IN ADDITION A LYER…. AND A HORRIBLE PERSON, THE LDS ARE LDS BUDDIES THEY DON’T HAVE NON LDS BUDDIES IT’S A LIE…..

  20. Sorry for being late to the discussion. Great article! I saw someone mention once on Feminist Mormon Housewives that on some level, all marriages are interfaith marriages. No two people will believe the exact same about everything. My wife and I married after only knowing each other for five months, which isn’t very long and something I hope our children don’t do. While there was a lot that we didn’t know about each other, there were some things I’d assumed that every faithful Latter Day Saint believed and I was shocked when I found out she didn’t agree with me on those things. Granted, none of them were major, but were little things like whether you should pay tithing on monetary gifts (I said yes, she said no), whether you should stay dressed in your Sunday clothes all day (she said yes, I said no), or how often you should go to the temple if one is close by (she felt once a month with the ward was fine, while I was accustomed to going every week when I was single and thought once a month wasn’t enough).

      • Thank you for your lovely article. It’s amazing how any theological reference seems to stir such heat and fervor! I grew up in a rather anti-clerical home and attended a very liberal high school in Manhattan ( with Eric Holder and David Axelrod) and frankly felt I had no use for religion. I was nominally Catholic (completely unschooled in religion and non church attending) and most of my girlfriends were Jewish but equally secular. So how did I become Mormon?
        After marrying an exciting Italian-American artist we moved to Europe where she pursued her art and I studied veterinary medicine. What initially was an amorous adventure of young love in Italy quickly slid into a hollow despair of broken dreams. She brokenhearted, returned to the States, and I was left empty and alone. My confident worldliness was gone. My smug secularism gave no comfort.
        It was only because two decent, kind hearted missionaries left their small towns, girlfriends, and buddies at home, and give two years of their young lives to serve a mission, that I came to know who Jesus Christ was. It was the beginning of a new life. I asked my wife to return. She did and 30 years later we have 5 children (our youngest daughter from China) and are more firmly united in purpose than ever. Now I did mention that she was Italian so don’t think life is not without it’s melodrama. I do tell her often that I will serve her until I die, and she answers with complete New York indifference. We both acknowledge that we have successfully overcome the obstacles of life in a world that is increasingly hostile to marriage, because of our faith in God.
        Couples of different faiths? Love God.
        Couples of the same faith? Love God.
        Want a subtle and nuanced answer to all our problems? The gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be actively lived (especially by those of us who say we are followers). He will make all things right in the end.

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  22. I’m engaged and will be getting married in less than a year. My fiancé is very wonderful, truly my best friend! Jacob is a Mormon and I am not. This has literally been the only hardship in our relationship. I have spent countless hours preying that we would be lead in the same path (religion wise) I know this is the person I want to be with and I don’t want to change him! So I will love and support him! I know marriage is going to be challenging to say the least, especially raising children! After reading this I feel so much more confident in knowing it’ll all work out and God has a plan for us even as a “interfaith” couple:) I’m looking forward to the future and the challenge! Thanks so much for posting your article it was exactly what I needed!

    • Jana Riess

      Halley, best wishes to you. I’m a Mormon who has been happily married for 22.5 years to a Protestant, and I can testify from experience that an interfaith marriage can be wonderful and rewarding. Good luck!

  23. Jay, I am sorry that happened to you, and s**t happens and we wonder why what did I do. It isn’t your fault, it isn’t, you can try to find blame somewhere but it isn’t worth it. You have to pick up the peaces and continue on. Thank you for your candid and personal comments.

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