The 5th year saw dramatic changes. We’re settling in a new place, literally and figuratively. I’m discovering new sides of him, he’s becoming acquainted with new sides of me (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse). If I’m being completely honest, I will admit that I struggled to find a wedding picture to share. I’m having a hard time separating our wedding day from our Mormonism, and there are a lot of feelings to sort through in that area. One thing I do know – I would never wish away a path that led me to him. Whatever forever means, I’m so glad we are sharing it with each other.
I’ve had this post on my mind for a long time now, but I felt I couldn’t write it until I revealed the enormous shift I’ve made over the past year. If you didn’t know that I had left Mormonism how could what I am about to say come across as anything other than pandering? I needed you to know that I am in a different place so that I could atone for my past mistakes. I choose the word atone carefully, knowing that my recent declaration could make it sound as though I am trying to be clever. But I know of no better word than atone to convey a complete cleansing, which is what I need. Some of the things I’ve said in the past hurt people in really deep ways and I want to shed the baggage that comes along with realizing that. This does not mean I recognize all of the mistakes I’ve ever made or will continue to make, or that I have the ability to own up to each and every one of them. I am deeply flawed, and within that bundle of flaws comes pride and shame, both which prevent me from being all that I want to be. I’ll keep chipping away at those stones that burden my progress, but for now I hope those I have hurt will accept the apologies I am offering up below and know that they come from the truest part of myself that I am mentally and emotionally able to lay bare.
Most of these apologies are related to my Mormon mindset, but I will start with one that has no relation to the faith of my childhood. While I was pregnant I wrote a post called I’m Gonna Climb That Mountain (those who were hurt by this post have requested that it be made unavailable to the public so that the hurtful messages I voiced within it can’t be spread any further). I’m not sure anymore what I was trying to convey, but reading back over it I can see that it was a terrible post and I said a lot of hurtful things. I’ve been ashamed of that post for a long time, but haven’t allowed myself to take it down because I didn’t want to hide behind my ability to make posts private or delete them altogether. I think women should birth how and where they want. I am sorry that I made any woman feel like her birth plans or birth experience weren’t good enough. I think mothers should have every opportunity to choose the birth experience that leaves them feeling empowered and triumphant, because that is how I felt after the births of my babies and that is what I want every woman to have as well. I think that some women do everything they can to give birth a certain way and it turns out to be something else entirely. Those women should have the opportunity to grieve the loss of a great dream while they simultaneously celebrate the arrival of their little one(s), and no one should ever criticize them for doing so. There is no mountain. There’s just a pregnant woman doing her best for the life she carries inside of her, and then there is a beautiful mother doing her best for her child.
And now for the opinions and thought processes that were a product of my personal history and religious tradition. A wonderful thing to note is that not all of those who come from my community or belong to the Mormon faith think or act the way I did; they are much better people than I. But when I shifted away from Mormonism and a worldview shaped by my youth I left old hurtful attitudes behind and I can’t untangle where these attitudes began and how much of a role my past played in nurturing them. All I can do is acknowledge that they were a part of the Jenna of the past and that I want to leave them behind forever and move toward the better Jenna of the future. Read more →
Marrying him was, without a doubt, the best decision I’ve ever made. This year we’re keeping our celebration low-key. A movie on our new couch in our new home with our new baby kicking away in my belly.
We are entirely different people than we were 4 years ago, but we’re still choosing each other every day. I love our life together.
You’ll always be my favorite.
Five years + three weeks ago, I said I wanted to be with you. Today is the anniversary of the day you said yes.
I love us. You’ll always be my favorite.
I forwarded myself this link with the title “best article ever on marriage from a Mormon perspective“.
And I seriously think it is. I read it out loud to That Husband as we were going to bed last night and we had a great discussion revolving around several of the topics. A few of my favorite points:
- Mormon divorce statistics aren’t really that different from the rest of the country [we have a lot of room to improve]
- We are not only marrying incredibly young, we are going from meeting-dating-engagement-marriage in a matter of weeks, and it’s not good
- Surprise, our sex lives are probably different [better] than what most people would expect for a group of mostly-conservatives
An aside prompted by the article:
So often in Mormon circles women will say “It’s a huge problem for so many females in the church to be told sex is bad one day, then you get married, and it’s okay the next.” This is why sex is an issue for my Mormon girlfriends.
But something Lambert said made me realize I don’t really think that’s the problem. I think our actual problem is differences regarding what is okay and what is not okay between husband and wife. The LDS Church position today is that couples should decide what is appropriate for their own relationship, and it is none of the leadership’s business, but several decades ago this was not the case. Couples were being asked very personal questions about their intimate life by their church leaders, and opinions were given regarding what should be eliminated from the bedroom. I feel like I can’t stress enough that we don’t live in that kind of time anymore, but I think that the culture hasn’t yet shifted to fully accepting that it’s between the couple and shouldn’t be determined by past statements from leaders. This is where a lot of marital troubles can arise, specifically when women do something with their husband that makes them feel “unholy”, and they don’t talk it out with their spouse. The solution here is better communication during marriage, but also before. If you think X is okay, but your spouse thinks XXX is okay, you’re in for some rough surprises if you don’t have sex until marriage. To my single friends: talk about this before the wedding night.
Back to my favorite points:
- Unrealistic expectations about how dreamy and easy marriage will be [prince riding in on a white horse and taking his princess to a castle in a fairyland] make a difficult thing ever more difficult
- Gender roles and living in a patriarchal society
- Judging our spouse if they don’t “choose the right”, based on what we think is right [he gives the example of a husband watching an R rated movie, and the wife struggling to deal with his choice]
- Dealing with change as our spouse becomes a different person than they were when you got married. What they believe might change, and that is hard to accept in a culture that stresses that a family must all stay together in order to sit down for family dinner every night in the Celestial Kingdom.
And the article titled “Thou Shalt Not Coerce They Spouse” is a must read. I’ve read it several times over the past few days and every time I like it more. Particularly this line:
Everybody changes, even if it’s just to become even more insecure and inflexible and dogmatic about their original beliefs. Assuming that everything else in the relationship is cool, it’s the height of irony to divorce someone over God, particularly since faith in him is supposed to be all about patience, forgiveness, and love. Frankly, who better deserves this kind of treatment than the person you vowed to love forever?
This post is all over the place. I wanted to share it with the Mormons who read, because I think it can make our culture/marriages stronger to talk about these things. I wanted to share it with those who aren’t Mormon because if you come from a religious conservative background some of these things will probably apply. And I know there are many of you who don’t fit into the former two categories, but have an abiding interest in these sort of things and will have interesting opinions to share below.