My relationship to Mormonism is like my marriage.
When I first married my husband, I thought he was one way. Handsome, funny, vibrant, talented, charismatic, intelligent.
And he is all of those things — and much, much more.
But the more I got to know him, the more I became acquainted with his faults. His inflexibility, his quickness to anger, his tendency to withdraw emotionally even when I need him.
It was a terrifying discovery.
Because as a young woman, idealistic and naive, I believed that love makes everything better — and that “better” means smoother, simpler, without stress or strain.
What, then, to do when I discovered that it was harder than I thought it would be? That along with the intimacy and joy, I’d be fighting through pain, frustration, anxiety, even heartache?
If it’s really right, shouldn’t it be easier than this?
NOTE: This post is rated PG-13 for swearing. I got fired up. You’ve been warned.
A self-described “Molly Mormon” named Kathy wrote in to Dr. Elia, who I guess is some sort of shrink. Kathy is having an ongoing conflict with her husband over their level of church activity. She’s fearful for her family’s eternal salvation because her husband says you can still get to heaven without listening to General Conference (gasp!), occasionally missing church to go camping (horrors!) or…brace yourselves now…not attending the temple and “just living good.”
Dr. Elia, she writes, am I being too churchy? What can I do to help my marriage?
Dr. Elia’s answer: “The main issue afflicting your marriage is lack of spiritual intimacy.” He then goes on to offer the solution–which is, essentially: “Change your husband” (because, obviously, that always works) by doing the following things…
- Have a heart-to-heart with your husband, and bring in the bishop if necessary to “moderate” the discussion (because I know I’m always so grateful when I get ratted on)
- Read the scriptures and your patriarchal blessings together
- Ask him if he wants the kids to become heathens?
- If all else fails, remember that everyone always gets what’s coming to them, and at some point your husband is going to realize how much he needs God; let’s just hope it’s not too painful when it happens (though he’d totally deserve it, the bastard)
Uhhh…hello? There’s so much wrong with this advice, I don’t even know where to start.
You see, on many levels, I was Kathy, just a couple of years ago. I can totally picture her, struggling day after day to do everything she thinks she’s supposed to do—raise the perfect children, have the perfect family—and she’s terrified God’s going to keep them from her if they don’t measure up. And what bothers me most is that in five short paragraphs, this so-called “expert” succeeded in further entrenching this miserable woman in her perfectionist, legalistic worldview…set her up to take a confrontational, oppositional position against her husband…and utterly failed to correct her destructive doctrine.
Who the hell pays people to come up with this crap?
WORST. ADVICE. EVER.
Well, I’m no shrink. But if I were in her shoes (and I was), here’s what I’d wish someone would tell me: Read the rest of this entry