A thread on Nom on "Best Practices for Achieving and Maintaining a Happy Marriage " prompted me to write the following and I wanted to get your answers to my question at the bottom of this post:
We are focusing a lot on what disbelief by one partner does to the relationship. Clearly, it can have different outcomes on the relationship for we know of some couples that end up disbelieving together, some that divorce, some that feel prolonged tension but work out some way to continue, some who never talk about it, some who respect each other's right to believe as they wish, etc.
I think one of the major factors that affect which route a couple will take when one becomes a disbeliever is the quality of the relationship before the paradigm shift. (Disclaimer: I am not saying it is the only factor, there are many, but I feel this is a very important one). Did each partner admire qualities in the other spouse, or did they think their partner was inferior to them? Was there equality in the power structure of the relationship or was there a dominant spouse? How well did each partner understand each other before the disbelief; were there secret inner conflicts that the partners did not feel comfortable or safe sharing with their partner? Did the couple view themselves as a team facing the challenges that arose together or as opponents wherein the problems resided in the other person? Was there a history of mistrust? How was the sex life; did one partner feel like they had to perform for the other or never got their own needs listened to and addressed?
There are probably many more questions I could ask, but the point I am getting at is I wonder if disbelief is treated the same as other difficulties in the relationship. Is it used as more ammo or evidence of inferiority? Is it used as one more thing that we just can't understand each other about? Etc.
My wife and I left the church together. Looking back, I think we handled the crises of my disbelief the same way that we handle other crises. We have an exceptional relationship and admire each other and do not quelch each other's individuality. We feel free to talk with each other about anything, even our own fears and weaknesses that we are embarrassed about and would rather not even think about ourselves. But, we know the other person will not use that information against us and we don't have to struggle with it alone. We have each other's back, even as we face our own personal struggles. We love each other so much and are truly grateful for what we do and provide for each other. We listen to each other's needs and try to meet them as best we can. These are the things that make our marriage great. I was very picky when choosing a spouse. I knew what I wanted and it took me until I was 27-years-old to find it, but I am very grateful that I did not marry the people I could have earlier, but waited until I found Lilly of the Field.
I did not know what her reaction to my disbelief might be and was a little scared to tell her. But, I knew that she would rather know than not and that we always shared everything so I told her. I invited her to read and study on her own about the BoA and the rest and she did and came to the same conclusion I did. She felt a desire to still attend for a little while, but I did not. So, we respected each other's choices in regards to attendance. Eventually, she could just not take LDS services anymore, so we started looking for a new community together and found the UU's.
This is kind of a personal question, but for those of you who are having difficulty with your spouses over your disbelief how was your relationship before, and for those of you who did not have as much marital trouble over your disbelief, how was your relationship before?