How to strengthen your marriage when your spouse is less-active or non-LDS

During a period of inactivity, I met and married my husband, a non-member. When I decided to go back to Church, he was extremely resistant and angry. He did everything in his power to get me not to go, and I did everything in my power to get him to go with me.

When I changed my attitude, things got progressively better. He now supports me in my calling and gives me positive encouragement. What I did to make a difference was the following:- Accept him exactly for who and what he is. He is a child of God and God loves him. I must love him even though I may not like some of his actions.

Honor him as the head of the family. He deserves love and respect from me because he is my husband. As I show increased love, so does he.

Discuss tithing. Come to an understanding that he approves. He will receive the blessings of paying tithing and you will be a full tithe payer in the eyes of the Lord. (My husband even writes the check.)

Invite him to Church and other activities when moved by the Spirit. He may not go every time but will feel welcome. When you show by example what positive influence the gospel is in your life, he will feel your love and concern.

Share spiritual experiences. He will be blessed by your obedience and will better understand the gospel.

Pray for him. The Lord will touch you both in ways you never imagined. This life is the time to prepare to meet God, to prepare to be an eternal companion. - Kathy Denke, Thompson Falls, Mont.

What we did:

Put the Lord first

As a Church member for 35 years with a non-LDS husband, I have found, through much trial and error, there are keys in strengthening marriage in a part-member home: Put the Lord first in every way, showing an increase of faith, regular study, prayer and the fulfillment of commitments to the Lord. All else falls into place. In doing so, the Spirit comes. The Spirit cannot bring disharmony. Many times I fall down on these commitments and have found at these times life has not been harmonious.

Love the Lord and love your spouse. - Nita Creighton, Dumfries, Scotland

Falling in love again

One thing that I have learned is Satan is real. He rejoices when marriages deteriorate. One of the first steps we took to help our relationship was that we resolved not to talk about Church issues together for a couple of months. If you don't talk about it you cannot argue. This was much like a child's "time out." It allowed time to settle ill feelings. Another thing that I have learned was that as I did the things which I knew were right, and as I strengthened my testimony and lived the principles of the gospel, our marriage improved and everything in life just fell into place.

Lastly, one of the most important things I have learned through these last couple of years is that when marriages struggle, we tend to carry around negative attitudes. I spent a lot of wasteful time dwelling on the attributes my husband didn't have. After a lot of prayer and fasting I have worked to change my attitude and dwell on the positive. It is like falling in love with your spouse all over again. - Name withheld, Salt Lake City, Utah

Renewed commitment

I have found many things that have strengthened my marriage and at times helped me to continue in my marriage. An important counsel I relied on was when the prophets said that divorce was selfish. There were times I felt divorce would be justified and we separated twice. When I counseled with Church leaders I was reminded that my husband was still my brother in the gospel. Later, I would think about what divorce would do to the family - the children shuffled between homes and how my husband would miss them. Then I would realize I could not do that to them or to him.

With this renewed commitment, I found the most important thing I could do was to always attend Church. And I have done this raising four children in the gospel. - Ann Haddox, Sterling, Alaska

Guidance of Spirit

My non-LDS husband has gone from one who would never say a prayer, step foot in a Church building or have any kind of religious conversation to one who always waits for a blessing at mealtime; participates in prayers and discussions with missionaries, home teachers and family; helps put on Church socials; and has been to many Church functions.

I could not have known what to do over the past 18 years without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When my husband was treated as a Church member, he came to feel accepted and worthy. I remind him often that I look forward to being with him for eternity and how special he is. It has taken many years, but he now talks about it and knows what he needs to do. Love, patience, following the advice of your bishop and listening to the Spirit works every day. When I find myself wanting to change his ways that are not in harmony with the Lord's, I concentrate on changing myself, and every time the Lord blesses me with what I need at the time. - Christina Montoya, Alamogordo, N.M.

Remember the good

Don't criticize your spouse - to your spouse, your children, those outside your marriage or to yourself. Resist the temptation to compare your spouse or yourself to other members of the Church. If you find yourself doing this, make a list of all the good things your spouse does/is. Tell your spouse you appreciate those good things. - Name and location withheld

Listen to spouse

I found that I was often afraid to hear what my spouse had to say, or I was ready to tune it out because he didn't "believe." I felt I knew more or had more access to inspiration because he did not hold the priesthood. When I learned (by the Spirit) to listen to what he had to say and to believe in his judgment, our marriage improved dramatically, and so did our circumstances. I now have a partner in my marriage.

I am forever grateful to him for loving me despite my shortcomings. - Maggy Dobbins, Woodland, Calif.

How to checklist:

1 Live the gospel yourself; seek guidance of Spirit.

2 Don't criticize; love, respect, accept your spouse.

3 Seek harmony; listen to counsel of Church leaders.

4 Seek to change your own attitude; make home a haven.

Write to us:

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Nov. 7 "How to make the hymns more meaningful in our lives."

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Nov. 21 "How to apply teachings of Church auxiliaries in your home."

Nov. 28 "How to help someone cope with death of loved one."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to avoid greed," "How to make transition from being newly married to becoming new parents," "How to plan ahead for the different stages of life," "How to avoid the gambling trap."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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