Episode 171: Divorce in the LDS Culture

Zilpha talks with John and a mixed Mormon panel of divorcees and divorce attorneys, Colleen, Jesse, and Matthew about divorce within Mormonism.

Episode 171

72 comments on “Episode 171: Divorce in the LDS Culture”

  1. Matthew Reply

    Just for the record, I am neither a divorcee nor a divorce attorney, though I am an attorney and definitely a “mixed Mormon.” 

  2. Colleengehrig Reply

    Ok, so I listened and it sounds like I told Jesse I minded if he interrupted me which I did not mind at all:-)  I should learn to speak clearer.

  3. Kevin Reply

    Thanks to the panel, and to Zilpha and John for another excellent podcast.

    It was a very good idea to have divorce attorneys share their experiences. As somebody once said, if you want to know about Chevys, ask a Chevy dealer.

    The podcast also reminded me of Tolstoy’s observation that “Happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That might be restated for the narrow LDS paradigm as “Families that are alike are happy in the church, but every family that goes its own way is unhappy.”

  4. Elder Vader Reply

    The bureaucracy surrounding cancellation of temple sealings totally sounds like a lot of busy work.  Like so many other things in the church. 

    An anecdote I know.  A woman who got divorced after finding out her husband was gay, then re-married.  In order to marry another guy in the temple it took 3 years worth of work by her bishop to work it all out. 

    • Anonymous Reply

      yeah, if the paperwork isn’t done right from day one it will take years. If its all done  properly then it only takes about 3 months, maybe 5 months around the middle of the year due to their holiday month in HQ

  5. Elder Vader Reply

    Response to John Larsen on ‘there should be more divorce’ –

    This is an issue I’ve really struggled with.  I’ve seen spouses stick it out to save the marriage  for decades.  One example is a woman with several children, whose husband has a graduate degree, but he hasn’t really had gainful employment for 30 years.  On the one hand I want to honor her for being so committed and such a stable force in her family.  But on the other hand it makes me want to scream.  Because I don’t know what to call their relationship, but it isn’t a marriage. 

    I’m aware of other spouses who don’t have a healthy sexual relationship.  They go months and years without having sex.  She’s not attracted to him, he’s pissed off about it etc… The sexual relationship isn’t there.  They stay together for years and years.  I don’t know what you call that relationship, but I don’t call it a marriage.  What’s the point of sticking it out for years and years and being miserable? 

    A few conferences ago there were a couple of talks about how the boys need to man up and marry all the young single sisters.  Remember those talks?  Hey, there are all these special young girls, just waiting for you to marry them!  Get busy!  You don’t have to look very far to see highly dysfunctional marriages, or very painful divorces.  Pretty much in every ward there are examples of it.  Maybe this is a disturbing statistical trend that ‘The Brethren’ see, but is that really the best they can come up with?  Maybe young people are taking longer to get into relationships because it is the best choice for them. 

    Maybe more divorce really is needed. 

    Within the church, with all its emphasis on family, you’d expect to see a lot more emphasis on making things go right.  I don’t see anything like that.  It should be something the church is good at.  “Hey kids here are some things you need to know to make things go right.”  All you hear is crickets.  Say your prayers, read your scriptures, and pay your tithing.  That’ll do sheep.  That’ll do. 

    • Eyes opened wide Reply

      I stayed in my last marriage 5 additional years after my spouse cheated on me because of the bishop’s recommendation. During that time my ex-husband cheated on me 4 additional times.  I was staying for the children.  Well at least that is what I was telling myself.

      The lightbulb moment came for me when I realized I was an angry and unhappy woman.  Therefore if I was staying for the children, but they no longer knew their true mother, then I was certain I was not benefiting them? 

      When I finally got the courage to get out, my bishop could not understand why I would give up on my marriage.  Then he told my ex-husband that maybe I was having an affair to walk away from the marriage at this point.

      Now my children have their mother back and life is so much happier in our home.  My leaving was the best gift I could have ever given my children.  My relationship with them is stronger than ever. 

      • Elder Vader Reply

        Right.  If your spouse is repeatedly cheating on you… I’m not sure what the right word to describe the relationship is, but it isn’t a marriage.  Okay that isn’t exactly right, but its a soundbite sized response to give to someone who is encouraging a spouse to stick it out, when really the right decision is to run far, far away. 

      • Anonymous Reply

        Congratulations. You did the right thing.

        I’ve know several bishops who think the same way your bishop did and they are just dead wrong. but in this church no one can tell a bishop that, even a stake president will talk about the spirits guiding influence so there is really no solution to those mistaken bishops recommendations.

        well no, actually there is a solution: Don’t ask the Bishop what to do. Its between you and the Lord not you the Bishop and then the Lord as many utah members seem to believe.

  6. Gale Thorne Reply

    My wife left me just under a month ago because she couldn’t tolerate my disaffection, so the timing of this episode was pretty good for me as we are in the midst of our divorce.  Everything has thankfully proceeded amicably, thankfully.  While I love her, I know that her mind has been made up and disputing the divorce is pointless.

    One thing that really struck me is the question of sealing cancellations.  I don’t believe and am considering resigning my membership.  Would my resigning automatically result in a cancellation for her?  Would it make it easier for her to get remarried in the future?

    While this has been a difficult time for me and I am going through plenty of pain and sorrow, I do want her to be happy in whatever future relationship does come. Also… when she gets remarried I won’t have to pay alimony anymore.  Does anyone know what impact a resigned membership has on the believing divorcee?

    • Gale Thorne Reply

      I just looked it up in the 2010 CHI, and found the following:

      “After a husband and wife have been sealed in a temple, if one of them is excommunicated or has his or her name removed from Church membership records, his or her temple blessings are revoked.  However, the sealing blessings of the innocent spouse and of children born in the covenant are not affected.”

      So, if I understand correctly, the church would view me as damned for the name removal, but still hold my ex-wife’s sealing “blessings” as whole and intact.  I presume that this means that she would still need to get a cancellation of said sealing in order to remarry in the future.  My only question now is whether my name removal would help the cancellation go through more smoothly later on, or if it is still a randomized result from the First Presidencies office.

      I’d love to hear from anyone who may have experienced this, or heard about a case like this.

      • Megan Reply

        That is illogical to the point of being ridiculous. Your sealing is cancelled due to your name-removal, but your wife’s sealing TO YOU is still intact? How is that possible? The blessings and endowments I can totally see, but how can one person be not sealed to someone who is sealed to them??

        Of course, I recently heard that although I had my name removed I’m still totally cleared for Celestial entry because my husband was killed before he went through that process. Since he’s still all endowed up and also is sealed to me apparently I might get in on a technicality. (if that doesn’t work I can try the ‘true and faithful parent’ card instead!) I wonder if it matters that he was a scotch-drinking, pipe-smoking heathen when he died…

        • shenpa warrior Reply

          Not ridiculous, in fact, I’d argue the opposite would be illogical and ridiculous. Of course, the church, nor those who leave it, can really do ANYTHING without someone thinking it’s ridiculous. Anyway, I think the church feels that one spouse leaving the faith should not result in the other spouse losing their blessings… e.g. punished for their own “sins” and not for the “sins” of their partner. I agree with that.

          • Megan

            No, I totally get the blessing thing and I agree – what I cannot logically understand is how one person can be sealed to another person and yet that other person is NOT sealed to the first. It’s like saying, here: I’m handcuffing you to this nice man over here, but he is definitely not handcuffed to you. That makes no sense. There’s a sealing, it is between two people, ergo both are involved. 

        • Gale Thorne Reply

          I think that the sealing is actually null and void, neither spouse is sealed to the other.  However, the “innocent” spouse doesn’t lose the “blessings” of the sealing.  I suppose that this means that in the accounting of heaven the “innocent” spouse will gain all of the blessings of the sealing, even if it’s gone, likely by being re-assigned to another faithful person.

          I’ve thought further on this and I think that a name removal would in fact cancel the sealing fully.  What I don’t know is what the administrative impact would be on a future remarriage.  Would my ex-wife still have to go through the same paperwork process for a sealing cancellation, or do they have a separate process for the former spouse of someone who is excommunicated or has had their name removed? Would me removing my name allow her to fast track the process down the road, or will administrative delays result in my paying more alimony?

          • Megan

            I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one – if that’s the way it works then why do women have to get cancellations and men don’t? That definitely seems that a woman’s blessings are dependent upon a man – and not just any man but a specific man to whom she is sealed. 

            I hope I don’t come off as confrontational here because that’s not what I’m trying to do; I’m honestly trying to understand how this works.

            Maybe part of the problem is I’m not clear just what the blessings of sealing are – what does the sealing actually do, and is it different for a man than a woman since the policy is different?

          • Gale Thorne

            Megan, I can’t post a reply directly to your latest comment so I’ll just put it here.

            The facts of Mormon theology create an unequal relationship between men and women, as “celestial” marriage will be many women to one man.  The sealing blessings are to be a part of such a celestial marriage and the granted the privileges available to that class. To preserve the “blessings” even after a sealing is cancelled would require being included in a different celestial marriage.  This would be the same for men and women, expect the women will have to deal with “sister-wives” and men will have multiple wives… but in either case not with the person with whom they had the sealing cancelled.

            A man doesn’t have to have the sealing cancelled because if his prior wife was faithful, she will simply remain one of his celestial wives.  If she was unfaithful, then the sealing wouldn’t hold, as she wouldn’t reach the degree of glory that allows for celestial marriage.

            A woman has great difficulty getting a cancellation because she can always be re-assigned in heaven if her husband in unfaithful (to the church, that is).  That’s how her “blessings” are preserved.  She can generally only get a cancellation if she has a new sealing lined up so her blessings are not possibly forfeited.

            Your instincts are correct.  There is an unequal economy in the Mormon heavens.  However, within the unequal economy the retention of sealing “blessings” makes a kind of half-sense when one member of the sealing is excommunicated or has his/her name removed.

          • Anonymous

            in reply to Megan: ” if that’s the way it works then why do women have to get cancellations and men don’t?”

            due to D&C sec:132. Church rests most of the sealing policies on that section and thereby continues to practice ‘the principal’ as set out in scripture although it doesn’t do it publically.

        • Anonymous Reply

          sealing blessings refer to access to the highest level in the celestial kingdom not only to a continuation of the earthly marriage. So if he breaks that link, well then yes, her marriage is over with but her blessing resulting from the sealing ordinance are still intact.

          But all blessings are also conditioned to worthiness so you can’t say that ‘because I’m sealed I will enter that highest level even though I’m a drug addict’ or ‘scotch drinker’ or something similar. Plus it isn’t a technicality. Many families who are sealed will have the parents in exaltation and their sealed children in the telestial kingdom but because they are sealed and the parents are worthy those parents will still claim and visit that kid in the telestial kingdom as theirs. and they will be linked throughout eternity. Not so with people like , say, jeffrey dalmer !

      • Anonymous Reply

        direct answers are: yes, she needs to do a cancellation to be sealed to
        someone else. and No, your name removal will not affect the process for
        her and she will still need to ask you for a letter from you explaining
        what went wrong in the marriage that lead to divorce.

        If you
        want to help her, write a letter now, and curtious one saying that
        because of your dissafection with the church she decided to divorce and
        you don’t blame her for that and wish her all the best etc

        It is
        almost sure to be approved since A-its a woman asking for cancellation
        and not a clearance and B-you don’t object to her remarrying in the
        temple, right?

        By the way, you aren’t ‘damned’ but relagated to
        the terrestrial kingdom in mormon theology. Also her still having the
        blessings of the sealing intack means that she can still access the
        highest level of the celestial kingdom and have children but she will
        eventually have to find another man to be there with her, maybe Joseph
        Smith will be the saving male!!

  7. Elder Vader Reply

    Glad someone mentioned toward the end there that men often get their children taken away in divorce.  A lot of wreckage goes around with divorce. 

    Not to belabor the point, but you’d kind of expect to see more of a focus on helping things go right in marriage, within the institutional church.  I totally don’t see that at all.

    Also, I’ve seen numerous times the whole divorce, then everyone in the congregation has to take sides. 

  8. Jason Reply

    Thank you for a great podcast. 

    When I told my highly orthodox father I was getting divorced, his immediate response was “I find when divorce occurs, it’s because somebody isn’t living the gospel.”  I was offended for about 2 seconds, then I realized that he was speaking from his worldview, and that was just his way of bringing me into it.  That moment of realization was a real positive experience for me because I recognized that the all-to-common condescending orthodox LDS social outlook is unworthy of being motivation or intimidation, and it could not affect me.

    I also appreciate the way this podcast emphasized divorce as a solution, not a problem.  I agree.  We need to remove the stigmas that surround divorce.  As Colleen so well stated, the experience itself is painful enough.  The only regret I have about my divorce is that it didn’t happen several years earlier. 

  9. Elder Vader Reply

    Another link ME listeners might find interesting. 

    http://fisheaters.com/garbagegeneration.html

    It’s a book called ‘The Garbage Generation’ by Daniel Amneus. — It might as well be titled ‘How Feminism Destroyed The American Family’

    Kind of long.  Kind of rambly.  But I can totally imagine the likes of Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Peterson, & Boyd K. Packer reading that book for their book club, and forever after being totally convinced that feminism is an enemy to the church, and that opinion just bouncing around in the LDS upper leadership echo chamber. 

    I remember one night at BYU, hanging out with a female friend of mine.  We ended up talking into the night.  She tried to communicate how feminism was actually a good thing for the church, and how the church was missing out on so much by not embracing it.  She told me stories of friends of hers who were being abused by their husbands and the church leadership believed the priesthood holder over the woman.  I thought I understood what she was saying, but it really didn’t compute.  I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that such a thing could really go down in the one true church….  A few years later I witnessed it first hand.  There was a priesthood holder abusing his authority, and totally lying about it.  Because this guy was better at lying than the other person was at telling the real story, the lie was believed.  It shook me hard to see that at the time.  But it didn’t shake me loose from the church. 

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Vader, I need to say it, and it isn’t said often enough: I really love your posts. Imagine I click “Like” on every one of them from now on. That will save me some time. 😉

  10. Anon Reply

    I came out as gay to my wife a few years ago having not kissed a guy ever. At the same time I told her that I didn’t believe the church was true, and that I couldn’t go any more. In her despair she went to her family and our bishop. The bishop made clear that I didn’t belong in the church. I was his ward clerk for years. In anger I had my name removed from the records.

    From the beginning, I told my wife we would have to get divorced at some point, but have I kept with the marriage. My wife refuses to be any part of a divorce unless there is abuse. She says she will suffer through it. I have tried several therapists. The last one was a really good post-Mormon woman, but I had to stop going. Our sessions were demonstrating that divorce was the best option, and it scared both of us.

    My biggest fear is not being with my children anymore. I have been completely private about my homosexuality, but I have been willing to talk about my Mormon disaffection. This alone has caused my world to collapse so that I feel like all I have left in life are my two beautiful children. That scene in the movie “Hope Floats” where the dad is driving away and the little girl is chasing after him keeps running through my head. I feel like my dad was never there for me emotionally, and I don’t want to be that dad.

    I have been gradually convinced that divorce is not as bad as I remembered feeling it was as a devoted member. Still, I hate to be alone, and I hate to leave my kids to be raised by a devout Mormon mother. Many days she is such a tyrant. I also fear that my son may be gay, and I don’t want him raised in that environment.

    Leaving the church has cut me off as a father enough from my children in the eyes of all the extended family who are all devout Mormons as far as I can tell. Getting divorced because I am gay would completely sever my fatherhood. Whether I stay or leave, it just seems like a lot of pain for me. That’s why I stay. It just seems better for everyone else if I tough it out.

    Thanks for this podcast. It made me not feel so alone, selfish, and evil.

    • Eric Reply

      Wow, thanks for sharing that.  I won’t pretend to know what you should do.  It sounds like an impossibly difficult situation.  Hopefully talking about it in places like this will help you work out the best solution.

    • Tierza Reply

      Thanks for sharing your story.  How terribly sad and complicated.  I wish you the very best as you make your way forward.  I suspect, though, from the tone of your post, that whatever happens, your kids will know (or at least, come to realize) that you are there for them and love them very much.  

    • Joshua Reply

      Anon,

      Thanks for sharing.  I can appreciate your struggle of staying married or getting a divorce.  I struggle with similar feelings, although not from a gay view.  I am in the process of leaving the church, and am looking for a marriage counselor/therapist who is familiar with Mormonism.

      My wife is still fully committed to the LDS religion.  We don’t have any children, but have been married for 8 years, and our marriage is beginning to become very difficult.  Could you reply w/ the name and contact info. of the therapist you and your wife used?

      I should mention that I’m in Scottsdale, AZ, but am willing to travel to a therapist. Even if the distance is too far, perhaps your therapist knows of a counselor who is in Arizona.

      Thanks in advance for your help

  11. Ensign Reply

    Great podcast.  My wife and I have been fortunate to navigate our exit together and come out stronger.  But, it has pained us to watch a few of our frineds that are going through the process, or leading up to it.  In the end we just wish them a speedy journey to it’s conclusion and on to a happier place.

    One of my favorite quotes on divorce is, “Why is divorce so expensive?  Because it’s worth it!”  Now when somebody says that they are recently divorced, my repsonse is, “Congradulations!” 

  12. Kyle Harris Reply

    In response to John’s story about children being sealed to their mother’s ex-husband. That is actually in a way still true. Let me tell you my situation. 
    My mother was sealed to her first husband and they had my older brother. Her husband died in a car accident before my brother was even a year old. Later she married my father. Because she was already sealed to her first husband she could not be sealed to my father. They were married for time only in the Salt Lake temple. My dad legally adopted my brother and my parents then went on to have 5 more kids. 
    Here is the messed up part. According to the church me and all of my siblings are sealed to my mom and her first husband. 
    Imagine that from his point of view. He marries a woman who already has a kid, legally adopts the child, has five more kids and then he is told that in the afterlife none of those kids are really his. 
    I know for a fact that this caused a lot of pain for my dad, although I never heard him mention it. My mom told me recently that she knew it was a problem and actually tried to get her first sealing cancelled so she could be sealed to my dad. The church refused. I am convinced that this issue was a contributing factor in my parents eventual divorce.   
    And then of course from my point of view, and that of my siblings, we are sealed to a man that we never even knew. While our own father is going to be left out. 
    I bet you can guess what I was told when I brought up that concern. 

    • Brad Reply

      I have friends who are in the same situation. The woman had a child while sealed to her husband, who died shortly thereafter. She went on to marry a non-member and had another child with him. He recently joined the church and was getting ready to attend the temple. The wife wanted her previous sealing to be cancelled, and wanted to get sealed to her current husband. They started the long process of a sealing cancellation. During all this, the stake president dropped the bomb that since the wife’s previous sealing was still ‘intact’, her youngest child (the biological child of the current husband) is officially sealed to the deceased first husband. Furthermore, he warned them that a sealing cancellation was a long and ardous process that would likely take at least a year.

      So they started the application process.The application got into very intimate matters, and asked for detailed decriptions of ‘serious’ transgressions, EVEN those that she had repented of. I’m sure it really bothered her, but she wanted to do the right thing. I can only imagine what the husband might have been thinking, joining this church and finding out his biological son was not really his in the eyes of the church.

      Luckily for them, the process was complete in under a year, and they were able to be sealed. They seem happy. According to my wife who attended the ceremony, there was a weird part where the sealer referred to the first-born child (the biological daughter of the deceased spouse). He said something like she is OK because she has been previously sealed. Apparently she didn’t hold hands with the rest of the family during this part.

      I won’t lie, this seems all kinds of crazy to me. It feels like the church has infused so much meaning into the sealing process. And then along comes aberrations like this, and we cannot make exceptions because of the apparently grand importance of the sealing. Would it detract from the supposed sacredness of a sealing to just let a woman with children be sealed to another man, and trust God to sort it out afterwards?

      • Elder Vader Reply

        This is the kind of example that explodes the neat and tidy idea of families are forever.  

        I remember the first time a woman told me that she wanted to cancel the first sealing to be sealed to her new husband.  I totally felt compassion for the deceased first husband, like the woman was betraying her deceased spouse.  I thought to myself:  “I guess families are forever unless you die, then your wife will have no problem getting unsealed, and remarried.”  

        Looking back, I was being ridiculous.  

    • Anonymous Reply

      Yes, this is correct. I had a case too of a young woman of 24 who wanted to marry in the Temple and it turned out that she was actually a widow -no one knew- and sealed in Tonga. So she went through the process but the answer was no, denied and can’t reapply because she’s a widow.

      Church simply doesn’t allow women to be sealed to two men, however in geneology yes, you can ‘seal’ a woman to all her husbands to be able to complete the lines for the children, since they have to be sealed to both parents.

      So why will they allow it in geneologly but not in real life? President Monson,,..any answers. I know several people who want this changed.

  13. Chuck Borough Reply

    I think we have come a long way in our country regarding divorce. I believe all fifty states now require no “grounds.” If one person wants a divorce, there is a divorce. There are many countries which still force people to stay together unhappily.

  14. Anonymous Reply

    Question for the panel:  Do you guys see any dirty divorce tactics in LDS culture?  I’m talking about stuff like the wife getting a preemptive restraining order for the custody battle etc…?   I know there’s often the ‘picking sides’ dynamic going on, where the differing parties make accusations against each other and their friends feel like they have to pick sides.  I’m wondering about the harsher stuff.  I read Alec Baldwin’s book and was curious if it happens in the LDS culture?

    • Jesse Reply

      I see that stuff all the time.  Orders of Protection (restraining orders) are incredibly common, if there has been any kind of abuse, threats, etc.  They are often legitimate, but parents also use them improperly as fast and easy temporary custody mechanisms (which drives me nuts).  These kind of “dirty” tactics as you call them are extremely common in family law, including the LDS cases.  But let me repeat that there are plenty of cases of legitimate protective orders.  

      • ColleenGehrig Reply

        I agree with Jesse. I see it all the time.  Protective Orders happen and many times are legit. During a divorce proceeding I have a heightened sense of “what is the real purpose of this” and certainly let client’s know that if they are trying to use a Protective Order to gain the upper hand in divorce/custody it is almost certain to backfire.  If I sense that is what is going on I certainly advise, many times successfully, for the client to take another more effective route. 
         

        • Colleengehrig Reply

          Last clarification:  I am glad I am able to convince them to take another route if they are thinking to get the upperhand through one of these tactics because ultimately it is the kids who will suffer and luckily with some guidance they are able to pursue another path.  I think it supports that divorce bring out the worst in the best people.

  15. Jenkins Reply

    Here’s my story…  I got a divorce in 2007.  I found out my wife was cheating on me which was the BEST thing that she has ever done for me.  It was the first time in a long horrible marriage that divorce was an option for me.  The thing is that everyone knew she was a nut job but no one from church leaders to my parents would recommend that we get a divorce.  

    So I finally left her, took the kids (there was emotional abuse going on) and she went home to central america for three months without saying a word to me or the kids.  When she finally returned it was because I had filed divorce papers and the Bishop either personally funded or used ward funds to pay her plane ticket home.  So I now count myself lucky to have 50/50 custody with an emotionally abusive, in my opinion borderline personality disorder, not able to drive, can’t hold a job to save her life woman.  On top of all that the only way she can afford to stay in the country is handouts from the church and the church keeps giving out handouts despite the fact that she has satellite television, internet access, takes a taxi to drop off and pick up the kids from school and go anywhere else, eats out several days a week (Pizza Hut pizza) and is an all around horrible spender.

    So I’ve now remarried, I have no desire to be sealed to the person I’m officially sealed to.  My complaint is, if they actually believe the Sealing Power has the power to seal on earth as it does in heaven do they not understand that I do not want to be connected to that person in any way?  I am trying to remove ALL ties I possibly can with that mistake and the church, while saying that the Sealing Power is real is also telling me that it doesn’t really matter in this life.  So is it real or not?  To me, the church is telling me I shouldn’t worry about it because it will all be sorted out in the next life.  Which, in essence, tells me they don’t actually believe it does anything in this life.

    • Anonymous Reply

      yeah, good points. It is all rather ridiculus isn’t it?

      But I can let you in on a secret, Bishop and stake presidents resort to that ‘will be sorted in the next life’ when they know it can’t be solved here at all due to church policies. We could cancel a sealing for a man because they do have the power to do so but then there would be more applications to go through, so I guess that’s why they don’t and leave it all to the afterlife

  16. Matt Reply

    In discussing divorce rates, it is my understanding that divorce rates among temple marriages is identical to divorce rates in other religions where couples are practicing.  This was emphasized in a marriage and family course I took years ago.  I think this makes sense and is consistent with the discussion in the podcast: issues related to differing beliefs can have a huge impact on the marriage.   

  17. Matt Reply

    I can’t believe I forgot about this 1st presidency message from James E. Faust, but the podcast triggered my memory. My favorite part: 

    Many years ago when I was practicing law, I was consulted by a woman who wanted a divorce from her husband on grounds that, in my opinion, seemed justified. After the divorce was concluded, I did not see her again for many years. In a chance meeting with her on the street, I noticed that the years of loneliness and discouragement were evident in her once-beautiful face.
    After we passed a few pleasantries, she was quick to say that life had not been rich and rewarding for her and that she was tired of facing the struggle alone. Then she startled me by disclosing, “Bad as it was, if I had to do it over again and had known then what I do now, I would not have sought the divorce. This is worse.”
    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=db0b6f708ee71110VgnVCM100000176f620a____

  18. Chuck Borough Reply

    In reference to the speech that Zilpha referred to by Spencer W. Kimball, wherein he said divorce was becoming too easy, etc.: In this discussion there was John’s reference to a couple who had both said they had a happy marriage – and then the boy was caught looking at porn and masturbating – and then immediately a filing for divorce. This may be a case of divorcing too easily. I know in my own 42-year marriage, there have been times for both of us that a “thought” of divorce has come, but that counting to ten deal can be very useful. I liked John’s suggestion about the year of trying and then recognizing it should be finished. Colleen’s five years may have been overdoing it, but there must be some comfort in knowing that there was some real time before giving up. I thoroughly enjoyed everyone in this discussion.

    • Colleengehrig Reply

      Chuck:  I agree, 5 years was over doing it.  I chalk some of those years up to my age and time in school.  I think everyone needs to try, but if I could go back I would have bounced about probably about 2 years earlier.

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Yes – I went 2 1/2 years in a bad marriage and have now been married for 42 years. (2 1/2 was quite enough.) (smile)

  19. Anonymous Reply

    Stats on Temple marriages are generally wrong and skewed towards the active population because, as with most of the people that take part in these panels, people leave the church first, then they end up in the address unkown file (especially outside the US) and then later on divorce but the church doesn’t find out about it because they are inactive and/or address unknown.

    So I wouldn’t trust any church statistics on divorces for Temple marriages because the church simply doesn’t find out about all the divorces of temple marriages.

  20. Steve Kimball Reply

    My experience with divorce and temple divorce.  After a marriage over 23 years, I was “released from my Priesthood duties in the marriage” in a blessing by the Stake President and Bishop.  I had asked for a blessing for help with the marital problem.  I left thinking God had spoken and felt pretty sick and hurt knowing my marriage had no chance.  This was later confirmed thru “the spirit” to two LDS counselors who I’d been referred to by the SP.  So I gave up.  In reality I held on while a lot of very bad things were happening however looking back I now feel these people put in the final nail and it was never their place.  After the painful civil divorce I met another women.  I went to my bishop believing I could remarry but needed a temple divorce.  To my surprise my bishop laughed out loud and said “your just getting a leg up on all of us on living the Celestial Law of marriage, all you need is a temple clearance.  This was the first I heard of a temple clearance.  I then looked it up and learned I could be married eternally to more than one woman. I refused.  My LDS girlfriend then went thru the opposite side of this and was met with an answer that remarriage required “a few years” and was told she needed to wait.  We still have never married.  Her family is hurt because their daughter is living in sin.  Apparently the punishment phase for women who divorce is dependent on men who think spirits will tell them when the suffering is sufficient.  Ultimately this is what lead me to examine my faith and learn it wasn’t what it claimed to be.  I’m happily in a relationship unmarried, happier then I ever was in my temple marriage where that still gives me nightmares…in regards to the pre-1990 temple ceremony.  My personal experience is that the LDS Church, hurts the  very institution it claims to place so much importance on.

  21. Steve Kimball Reply

    My experience with divorce and temple divorce.  After a marriage over 23 years, I was “released from my Priesthood duties in the marriage” in a blessing by the Stake President and Bishop.  I had asked for a blessing for help with the marital problem.  I left thinking God had spoken and felt pretty sick and hurt knowing my marriage had no chance.  This was later confirmed thru “the spirit” to two LDS counselors who I’d been referred to by the SP.  So I gave up.  In reality I held on while a lot of very bad things were happening however looking back I now feel these people put in the final nail and it was never their place.  After the painful civil divorce I met another women.  I went to my bishop believing I could remarry but needed a temple divorce.  To my surprise my bishop laughed out loud and said “your just getting a leg up on all of us on living the Celestial Law of marriage, all you need is a temple clearance.  This was the first I heard of a temple clearance.  I then looked it up and learned I could be married eternally to more than one woman. I refused.  My LDS girlfriend then went thru the opposite side of this and was met with an answer that remarriage required “a few years” and was told she needed to wait.  We still have never married.  Her family is hurt because their daughter is living in sin.  Apparently the punishment phase for women who divorce is dependent on men who think spirits will tell them when the suffering is sufficient.  Ultimately this is what lead me to examine my faith and learn it wasn’t what it claimed to be.  I’m happily in a relationship unmarried, happier then I ever was in my temple marriage where that still gives me nightmares…in regards to the pre-1990 temple ceremony.  My personal experience is that the LDS Church, hurts the  very institution it claims to place so much importance on.

  22. Steve Kimball Reply

    My experience with divorce and temple divorce.  After a marriage over 23 years, I was “released from my Priesthood duties in the marriage” in a blessing by the Stake President and Bishop.  I had asked for a blessing for help with the marital problem.  I left thinking God had spoken and felt pretty sick and hurt knowing my marriage had no chance.  This was later confirmed thru “the spirit” to two LDS counselors who I’d been referred to by the SP.  So I gave up.  In reality I held on while a lot of very bad things were happening however looking back I now feel these people put in the final nail and it was never their place.  After the painful civil divorce I met another women.  I went to my bishop believing I could remarry but needed a temple divorce.  To my surprise my bishop laughed out loud and said “your just getting a leg up on all of us on living the Celestial Law of marriage, all you need is a temple clearance.  This was the first I heard of a temple clearance.  I then looked it up and learned I could be married eternally to more than one woman. I refused.  My LDS girlfriend then went thru the opposite side of this and was met with an answer that remarriage required “a few years” and was told she needed to wait.  We still have never married.  Her family is hurt because their daughter is living in sin.  Apparently the punishment phase for women who divorce is dependent on men who think spirits will tell them when the suffering is sufficient.  Ultimately this is what lead me to examine my faith and learn it wasn’t what it claimed to be.  I’m happily in a relationship unmarried, happier then I ever was in my temple marriage where that still gives me nightmares…in regards to the pre-1990 temple ceremony.  My personal experience is that the LDS Church, hurts the  very institution it claims to place so much importance on.

    • Brad Reply

      Do I understand you correctly? Your girlfriend was married in the temple, got divorced, and then tried to marry you, but was told she had to wait? That is demeaning, sexist, and just plain wrong. How long ago was this?

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        She needs to have the first marriage cancelled, which is difficult. This is because polygamy works only one way. The husband may have more than one wife, but never may the wife have more than one husband. Really, folks, how much scripture have you seen written by a woman? We speak of a “mother in heaven,” but we have no name for her nor do we ever speak to her nor do we accept any doctrine from her. My mother on Earth would have had a cow if I could learn only from Dad. It’s insane.

  23. Anonymous Reply

    There are a few mistakes as per usual. Actually a divorced man cannot be Bishop or stake president counselor or patriarch since the form to recommend them in MLS doesn’t allow it. (unless they changed their proceedure in the last year)

    I served as stake exe clerk for just over 8 years and was bishop for 5 years before that and I’ve done many many applications for clearances and cancelations (and recommendations for bishops). My stake president was a bit of a brute and made me do all the paperwork (and he’d turn his answering machine on at around 8pm until the wife turned it off the next morning around 10am, so all the calls from Salt lake chasing things up would come to me, and always at around 3am-4am due to the time difference!!!them darn yanks!!!) 

    So in my experience it is easier for women to get cancelations then men clearances due to the famous Sara’s Law thing. They listen to what the ex-wife says practically always but not always what the ex-hubby says. For example, my worst case was a man who was serving as 2nd counselor in his bishopric. He’s wife had cheated, thrown him out, became an evangelist, and was later excommunicated by her ward for adultery. She never returned to church since she is an evangelist now. But the man stayed in church in another stake (ours) met a girl, baptized her, married her civily was then in the bishopric, with 2 kids, and so they asked to be Sealed and did all the papaerwork. It took just under 2 years all up, stalled twice in church HQ because of the letters, which some unknown and unseen staff member said didn’t address why they divorced (as if it wasn’t clear!) then because her ex’s letter was provided but the Bishop who did one on her behalf because she refused to. But Salt Lake actually called the woman at 4am (was in Australia) and asked her why she didn’t provide a letter and she claimed that she wanted to but the bishop didn’t let her -not true since he wrote it because she refused to do so-.

    So finally she writes the letter, says that her ex beat her up a lot and that’s why she cheated on him and left the church. I remember it detailing several confrontations and was about 2 A4 pages long.

    So I sent everything back to HQ and we got an answer in only weeks saying Denied, reapply after one year. So basically the church accepted the word of an excommunicated adulteress who is now an evangelical over he word of a very peaceful bishopric counselor whoes current wife says he has never even raised his voice at her.

    We were all appalled, asked for clarification and HQ send a counselor from the Temple presidency and our assigned area authorithy to ‘train’ us in the sealing application process. The counselor said that in the millenium it didn’t matter who was sealed to whom since we would all love each other (????@$^) and the area authority insisted that we don’t appeal a first presidency decision nor question it. And that was it. This brother didn’t reapply again after the year was up because now his wife wasn’t sure about the church but luckily she came around and they reaplied after about 4 years later and were then granted permission -bassed on all the same documentation.

    So wtf is the best way to describe what happened. Plus there are several other stories I could tell about sealing policies which will just further prove that it is all over the place and a mess with Bishops asking the wrong questions etc (but I’ll be writting for hours) as the lady lawyer (forgot her name sorry) said so eloquently here on this podcast.

  24. Anonymous Reply

    direct answers are: yes, she needs to do a cancellation to be sealed to someone else. and No, your name removal will not affect the process for her and she will still need to ask you for a letter from you explaining what went wrong in the marriage that lead to divorce.

    If you want to help her, write a letter now, and curtious one saying that because of your dissafection with the church she decided to divorce and you don’t blame her for that and wish her all the best etc

    It is almost sure to be approved since A-its a woman asking for cancellation and not a clearance and B-you don’t object to her remarrying in the temple, right?

    By the way, you aren’t ‘damned’ but relagated to the terrestrial kingdom in mormon theology. Also her still having the blessings of the sealing intack means that she can still access the highest level of the celestial kingdom and have children but she will eventually have to find another man to be there with her, maybe Joseph Smith will be the saving male!!

  25. Kneephi Reply

    I loved the podcast as always. Thanks!  Some quick thoughts:

    1. It would be interesting to know how often the common problems in Mormon marriages leading to divorce that were discussed in the podcast occur in non-Mormon marriages.  I can’t imagine, for example, that adult internet sites is only an issue for Mormons, and the divorce lawyers perspective outside of Utah would be interesting on that.

    2, Among the unique factors contributing to the difficulty of divorce in Mormon culture I think a big one that wasn’t discussed is that women are encouraged to stay home with the kids-thus making it even more difficult to divorce financially.

    3. I agree with John that divorce needs to be easier in society in general but I think it should be pointed out that of a necessity it almost always will be very difficult.  A partnership like marriage has natural entanglements-emotionally, financially and especially with children-that regardless of how much society becomes open to divorce it will be hard to negotiate. 

  26. Jen Reply

    Here’s my story: First marriage. 19. In the temple. NO CLUE what I was getting into. He was sexually and emotionally violent. Luckily (for me), he stopped going to church which gave me permission to leave him. SO so so glad he did, otherwise I might still be there!

    Second marriage: 24. In the temple. Still beyond naive, but a little wisened. We were a horrible match. The only thing we had in common was the church. I triggered him. He triggered me. He got physically violent. I developed an eating disorder. All of our church leaders told us to stick it out. I eventually left the church (completely unrelated to the marriage, I just had to get away from the controlling bullshit of the church). We eventually decided TOGETHER divorce was the best option. He’s now one of my best friends. He has had several bishops and church leaders tell him not to spend time with me. One even told him that by associating with me (an evil apostate) he was not eligible for a temple recommend. He moved shortly after that. New bishop doesn’t think that.

    My divorces were the best decision I ever made. I am not meant to be a wife. I don’t plan on ever marrying again, because I don’t want to be tied down in the way I was. I don’t want to belong to anyone but myself. I will not “give myself” to anyone. But… I currently share a house with a male friend. It’s awesome. We each come and go as we please. We make plans together sometimes, we talk, we laugh, we eat together when we’re both here, we watch TV together, we go fishing and riding and hiking together. When his kids come over, sometimes I’m around, sometimes I’m not… I spend time with my parents and siblings and feel very comfortable being “single” there. I don’t need my friend to join me.
    LDS culture has all kinds of crazy ideas about what marriage should and shouldn’t be. Although a lot of people stay married – I agree with John, there should definitely be MORE divorces. An ended marriage is NOT a failed marriage. I view marriage #2 as incredibly successful – I learned about myself, who I am, what I want out of life. He learned how to love instead of always trying to control. And now we are both growing more than we ever could have if we had stayed together.

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Your line: “An ended marriage is NOT a failed marriage.” This is so true. An ending does not mean there was a failure. People say the dinosaurs “failed,” because they are now extinct. They lasted far longer than we probably will last, but when humans become extinct, that will not a be a failure, just an end. Death also is not a failure. Religions galore have tried to pretend there is no such thing as death, because death is viewed as a failure. I will die, and that will be the end of me, but I am not a failure. Death, by the way, is “the permanent end,” not some doorway to another part of something. We have birds, etc., that it appears evolved from dinosaurs, so in that way, the dinosaurs continue. We may continue in that way also, but eventually all life on Earth will end. The Earth is not a failure, but one of the most remarkable successes of which we are aware in the universe. There are marriages which are failures, and they, of course, should be ended, but there are also successful marriages which still end, some in divorce, some by a death.

  27. Chuck Borough Reply

    Maybe marriage ceremonies should say, “Until death or divorce should we part.” That puts some clarity to the option for escape. Our problem is that we want it to be “romantic,” and pretend it is eternal. This is not just for Mormons. “Until the Twelfth of Never,” and a hundred other songs bear this out. Everyone wants it to last forever. 

  28. dweeble Reply

    The podcast stopped at 1:35 and did not finish. BTW this is an excellent subject. Thank you!

  29. Jacob Brown Reply

    Early Thoughts on Marriage
    by Nathaniel Cotton (1705-1788)

    Those awful words “Till death do part”
    May well alarm the youthful heart:
    No after-thought when once a wife;
    The die is cast, and cast for life;
    Yet thousands venture every day,
    As some base passion leads the way.

    Pert Sylvia talks of wedlock-scenes,
    Though hardly entered on her teens;
    Smiles on her whining spark, and hears
    The sugared speech with raptured ears;
    Impatient of a parent’s rule,
    She leaves her sire, and weds a fool;
    Want enters at the guardless door,
    And Love is fled, to come no more.

    Attend, my fair, to wisdom’s voice,
    A better fate shall crown thy choice,
    A married life, to speak the best,
    Is all a lottery contest:
    Yet if my fair-one will be wise,
    I will ensure my girl a prize;
    Though not a prize to match thy worth,
    Perhaps thy equal’s not on earth.

    ‘Tis an important point to know,
    There’s no perfection here below.
    Man’s an odd compound after all,
    And ever has been since the Fall.
    Say, that he loves you from his soul,
    Still Man is proud, nor brooks control.
    And though a slave in love’s soft school,
    In wedlock claims his right to rule.
    The best, in short, has faults about him,
    If few those faults, you must not flout him.

  30. Anonymous Reply

    Ok…   does the Temple Sealer have the authority from
    God, THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, or not?

     

    The
    Sealer performs the ordinance that determines if I am a fornicator , adultery
    or in a blessed relationship.

     

    If
    he represents God and performs required ordinances that my personal relationship
    with God pivots on, whether I am in Gods favor or a damned, then WHY DOESN’T THE
    CHURCH TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THAT AUTHORITY?

     

    I can
    understand the Churches position to honor civil marriages however once a couple
    has gone before THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE then it should be that ordinance or
    authority that pivots whether I am a fornicator or not.  Not an elected official having local jurisdiction.

     

    It’s
    my experience that the Church doesn’t recognize its own authority within its
    own organization and that’s authority is given by THE CREATOR of THE UNIVERSE
    AND ALL THAT’S IN IT.

     

    For
    example, a Temple married couple gets a civil divorce and then the ex-wife
    remarries.  Now if we are all in agreement
    that the Sealer is God or represents God then what type of relationship is
    this?  If the Church is consistent and
    takes ownership of its authority then the civil ex-wife is an adultery.  Same for the man except he can marry a
    second wife in the Temple because we are POLIGAMIST!!

     

    It’s
    my position that if the Sealing has no real power now, within the Church’s own
    organization, then how can I trust it to have any real meaning in the life to
    come. 

     

    Think
    of this while on your commute home today.  While driving home on the freeway, imagine a
    man stepping out onto the freeway holding his hand up and motioning the traffic
    to stop.  What happens?  Nothing. Hopefully he doesn’t get himself killed.   Now imagine a State Trooper stepping out
    onto the freeway holding his hand up and motioning the traffic to stop.  What happens?   You stop. Even if it’s a busy 7 lane freeway
    you stop and so does everyone else.  Why,,,because
    the AUTHORITY IS REAL.    My point is that authority is real however this
    authority is only granted from a state!!!  
    If God, The CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, gives you authority what
    happens and how do you treat it?

     

    Either
    this is real or it is not!

     

     

    Perhaps
    you can see how, after being a converted TBM for 27yrs, my disaffection began. 

     

    I find out my lovely bride is cheating

     

    Civil divorce

     

    Questions concerning my temple marriage

     

    2000 hrs. of research, reading, pondering and
    praying.

     

    Church goes from Devine to man made.

  31. Scottieslg Reply

    One question I had… Do you see more women who divorce men who left the church or more men divorce women for leaving the church?

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