How To Have An Interfaith Mormon Feminist Marriage

I started writing here ostensibly to talk about marriage, and how it works as a Mormon and a feminist. I didn’t know any other Mormons in interfaith relationships and for years I couldn’t even find any on the Internet. After a lifetime of being warned about the dangers of marrying a non-member,* I was anxious to confront and deal with any issues that might arise from mine and Robert’s lack of shared faith and harm our relationship, and also to prevent any strain that our relationship might impose on my own beliefs and participation in the LDS church. Statistics show the couples who do not belong to the same religion are more likely to get divorced than those who do. I completely understood this statistic, and wanted nothing to do with it. I figured if the internet wasn’t going to cough up any role models for me, I’d make myself the role model, and write publicly, honestly, about my interfaith marriage. Maybe it would help me ferret out more people like me.

I was also anxious to deal with the complications marriage presented to my feminist ideals. I can’t remember ever not identifying as a feminist, but it wasn’t until I got engaged that I saw clearly that the world had laid out very different paths for me and Robert, based on nothing more than our difference in sex. For four years, we walked the same road, rode the same highway, swam the same stream, even when we had no idea where we were going, even when I up and moved halfway across the country one, two, three times, leaving him in Arizona, even when he was living on a bicycle and sleeping in tents and refusing to tell me if, when, whether he would eventually be joining me in Michigan, even when I was a Mormon and he would never be a Mormon and I cried to him again and again, you know what this means, right? it means we can’t get married. We knew, everybody knew, there was no difference between Sandy and Robert. We would stay together because we were the same. We knew we were the same, even after he proposed, even after we got married, but it was like everybody else forgot. Everybody forgot that Robert must have wanted to get married too, when they asked if I was excited and if he was scared. When we got married, they forgot the ways we are the same, but also the ways we are different. Everybody forgot that I spent seven years in higher education and spent tens of thousands of dollars to become a lawyer, when they asked what Robert was going to do to support us and when were we going to have kids and when was I going to quit that great job I hadn’t even started yet. Everybody forgot that Robert spent five years cooking for me and keeping his place spotlessly clean and generally caring way more than I did what kind of apartment we would live in, what kind of furniture we owned, and how to make our lives look and feel the way we wanted them to look and feel. I was afraid that, in getting married, I would forget, too. I was afraid of forgetting the things that made Robert and I the same, and the things that made us different. I was afraid they would be washed away by the overpowering cultural narrative about the way things are supposed to be. I figured that if the world wasn’t going to tell me how to have an egalitarian marriage, we would make the rules up as we went along, and I would write them down. Publicly, honestly. Maybe ferret out a more people like me.

Very quickly, this blog stopped being about that, and you may have noticed that I’ve more or less stopped writing here. Because, you guys, my marriage is fine. Things are fine. Feminist Mormon Interfaith marriages are easy, when you’ve got the right person by your side. Although clearly I’m not out of things to say on the subject, so you may see me back with a little more regularity in the coming months.

*Non-member is a term that LDS people use to refer to people who aren’t, well, members of the church. I never actually call Robert a non-member, because I think it’s sort of rude. Nobody likes to be defined as not belonging. Jana Reiss says it’s like saying, “This is my husband. . . . You know, the non-entity.” (Source.)

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3 Responses to How To Have An Interfaith Mormon Feminist Marriage

  1. I am speechless…your passion and love defy any stereotypes you address. How can anyone challenge or criticize the incredible bond you and Robert share? You always have my attention and support!

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a feminist Mormon woman about to get engaged to an ex-Catholic man, all I can say is thanks for sharing. This has been really valuable for me to read.

    • Sandy says:

      I’m so glad! Congratulations on your upcoming engagement! I am so happy to know that there is another couple joining our tribe. I remember being where you are and being excited and terrified all at once and not knowing how to handle the conflicting emotion. I don’t know anything about you or your relationship, but I can say that even with your religious differences, it has the potential to be great. (My partner is an ex-Catholic as well, and I think it’s the perfect complement to my Mormon-ness.)

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