No marriage is perfect. Those marriages performed inside the holy temple do not get a stamp of guaranteed success on the certificate solely because it was officiated by a person with the sealing authority. There are couples in civil marriages who have beautiful relationships that others might envy but without the promise of eternity. For some, marriage can be a bit more difficult when their spouse does not share the same religious beliefs. For example, if the wife chooses to get baptized in later years and the husband does not, there will be some differences of opinion.
Of course, we would love to say that our spouses saw our gleaming examples of the love of Christ and ran for the waters of Mormon but that is a pretty lofty expectation. We cannot force anyone to accept the gospel, not spouse, children, friend or stranger. The Savior himself never compelled anyone to come unto Him. His invitation is always by one’s own free will. We should remember the same for our non-member spouses. Your spouse will always have their agency to choose to listen or to turn away from the principles of the gospel that we know and love.
Do not let the doctrines of the church become a source of contention, rather focus on the truths you share. You can find ways to strengthen your marriage while building your love of God. With the presence of the Holy Ghost in the home, you will be able to help bring more peace as you build upwards together instead of drifting apart.
In an Ensign magazine article written by several sisters whose husbands were not members, one of them said, “For a while, any contact [he] had with the Church was very stressful for me. I was constantly praying that someone would say the thing that would open his eyes and that no one would do or say anything that would offend him. Five years passed before I finally realized that during my own trip down the road of Church investigation, no one had smoothed out every bump or homogenized every personality for my benefit. There had been rough spots here and there; but through it all, I had retained my agency. When I decided to be baptized, I did so because I knew through prayer and study that the Church was true. Now I have accepted the fact that my husband is capable of making the same mature investigation of the Church whenever he is ready.”1
The Savior taught the parable of the sower whose seeds fell on different types of ground. This parable is symbolic of one’s readiness to receive the doctrines taught by the Lord. Perhaps some of the following ideas can help prepare the soil of your spouse’s heart.
-Share truths from the Book of Mormon that touch you personally.
-Talk about the experiences with the Holy Ghost if they are not too private. -Be willing to show gratitude for your spouse’s desire to give you room to grow closer to Heavenly Father. -Invite your spouse to activities or service projects where other members can offer friendship.
-Pray and study the Bible together.
-Express gratitude about what brings you peace.
Lastly, not all spouses want to hear anything regarding the Church doctrine, so please do not push your beliefs on someone who is not open to learning more. Please do not compare your spouse to members, or make your spouse feel like they have taken a back seat to your new life. The relationship between husband and wife is sacred no matter where the marriage began.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton said, “I have observed that in the happiest marriages both the husband and wife consider their relationship to be a pearl beyond price, a treasure of infinite worth.”2 Continually treat your spouse as your treasure and perhaps someday, he or she will treasure what you love as much as they treasure you.
1. When your spouse isn’t a member, March 1990 Ensign
2. “Marriage: Watch and Learn,” Elder L. Whitney Clayton, General Conference, April 2003