Questions and Answers

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“Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Sept. 2008, 58–61

Questions and Answers

What are some ways I can strengthen myself and progress spiritually when my spouse is not supportive of my Church activity?

I have discovered a few things that have helped me as I have struggled in my situation.

Pray. This simple act is a phenomenal source of strength. The love and support that Heavenly Father pours into my heart has sustained me in difficult times. I have found it important to pray for my husband. I also pray for the capacity to remain calm and loving rather than giving in to resentment and anger. Prayer has helped me to grow spiritually as I learn to depend on the Lord for things I cannot control.

Attend the temple. Whether you are endowed or not, attend the temple regularly if you can. I have found that simply being at the temple has given me additional strength and filled me with peace.

Find time to be alone. It can be difficult to feel the Spirit when your spouse is not supportive of Church activity. Feeling the promptings of the Holy Ghost is essential to personal growth. Find a regular time each day to be alone so that you can study and ponder the scriptures and pray. Such times of concentrated spiritual feasting will give you strength and sustain you through difficult times.

Go to church and take the sacrament. Even if you can participate in no other Church activity, try to make Sunday worship mandatory for yourself. Taking the sacrament will remind you of the covenants you made and will help you remember the importance of the gospel in your life. Associating with other ward members on Sunday allows you to build friendships with others who share your beliefs.

Seek priesthood blessings. I have found priesthood blessings to be a tremendous source of comfort. They have given me strength to hold firm to my beliefs and encouragement to continue progressing.

Remember that growth is personal, so don’t compare yourself to others; instead, look at where you have been and where you are now.

Nichole Gray, Iowa

Make friends in the ward and invite them over to your house to socialize with you and your family. Encourage your friends not to actively proselyte your spouse. Rather, they should simply be people with whom you can share friendships and recreational activities, such as watching movies, playing games, or talking about life and other interests. As your spouse comes to know and enjoy the company of other Latter-day Saints, he or she will likely become more open to your membership and Church attendance.

Peter Conti-Brown, California

My husband was not active for a period of 14 years. During the first seven years, while attending church regularly with our children, I felt as if I were walking on eggshells with regard to our Church participation. It was very stressful for all of us.

After seven years I decided to pursue regular Church participation, but I made sure to coordinate with my husband’s schedule. For instance, after consulting with my husband, instead of holding family home evenings on Monday night, my children and I held family home afternoon while my husband was working. We had family prayer and read our scriptures in the morning after he’d gone to work, and we always prayed for him.

I drove the children to Mutual or arranged rides so that the activities did not interrupt my husband’s schedule. When there was a fireside, I would tell him what time we were leaving and when to expect us home, and I promised we’d bring him a treat if the refreshments included chocolate.

I also marked all Church activities and meetings on the family calendar so there were no surprises. After a few months he came to accept and even expect our activity. Eventually he even encouraged our children to be ready on time.

Our children were eventually baptized at ages 14 and 15, after their father gave permission. By adapting our activity to accommodate my husband’s needs and feelings, the peace of the Spirit filled our home. I find courage in knowing that Heavenly Father knows me and is aware that I try to do my best every day.

Name Withheld

Although my husband and I were married in the temple, he has not been active for most of our 25 years together. In the beginning, I attended church feeling resentful that my husband wasn’t with me. I later realized that my negative thoughts created discouragement, frustration, and self-pity, which blocked the Spirit. I decided that this was not how I wanted to live and tried diligently to be cheerful and optimistic. Instead of thinking about the qualities my husband lacked, I started praying for him. I focused on the good qualities I already enjoyed about my husband. My suggestion is to pray for your marriage and then act on your prayers by showing support and appreciation to your spouse.

Name Withheld

I make an effort to be considerate of my nonmember spouse’s time at home by carefully planning my Church participation. I fulfill Church responsibilities while he is at work. For example, I do my visiting teaching and prepare Primary lessons during the day. I attend the temple during the week with other sisters who are in similar situations.

Relief Society home, family, and personal enrichment meeting is usually my only night away from home. My husband doesn’t mind, especially when I bring him some leftover dessert! I reserve Saturdays just for him. It is our “family home day.”

Over the years, my husband has become more and more tolerant of my Church activity. He knows it is important to me and appreciates that I try to be considerate of his needs and that I value our time together.

Connie Thompson, Texas

Because my wife is not a member of the Church, my activity and spiritual strength have to be self-motivated. This can be challenging because the person who is closest to me is not yet interested in some of the things that are most important to me. In turn, there is a responsibility to keep myself strong but also help her realize that great joy exists through living the gospel. As I’m able to keep myself strong, there is an increased likelihood that the latter can be accomplished.

To strengthen my spirituality, I’ve found there is significant value in being consistent with the basics. These include scripture study, prayer, attending meetings, and magnifying Church callings. Consistently adhering to basic practices has allowed me to receive strength and revelation and has ultimately helped me to gracefully endure the challenges life places before me.

Remaining consistent also helps from a missionary perspective. I am better able to do what’s right and remain strong spiritually, thereby setting a good example and being better able to lift and inspire those around me.

Name Withheld

My husband served a mission and we married in the temple, but he became less active after our marriage. He didn’t care to participate in family home evening, family or couple prayer, temple attendance, or even scripture reading. In fact, it created conflict when I tried to include these activities in our home. I had agency to make my own choices, but I needed to do so carefully so as not to contribute to the contention between us. I found other ways to strengthen my children and myself spiritually that did not create conflict in our home.

I read the scriptures privately and made sure our children had access to the scriptures. I also purchased adaptations of the scriptures for children with audiotapes that my young children enjoyed listening to before going to sleep at night. They each had a small picture of Jesus Christ near their beds as a quiet reminder to follow His example and pray to Heavenly Father.

We enjoyed Church music and Primary songs in the car as I drove them to school and other activities. I talked to my children about spiritual things as we went through our daily activities. This was our time to share our thoughts, experiences, feelings, and testimonies with each other.

When my children were old enough for me to leave them at home, I began attending the temple each month. These temple visits provided me time to deeply reflect and ponder on spiritual matters. In the temple I felt comforted concerning my situation and received the strength to carry on.

Most important, I counseled with my Heavenly Father each day. Through personal revelation I was given direction on how to manage my difficult situation and help my children to live gospel standards. I no longer felt alone in my efforts to raise my children in the gospel. Although my marriage continued to deteriorate and eventually ended in divorce, I developed a deep trust in my Savior in my hour of need. My children have strong testimonies and have now served missions and married in the temple. In seeking the guidance of the Lord, I found I could have a gospel-centered home and achieve happiness despite our circumstances.

Name Withheld

Photographs by Robert Casey, posed by models.