Keeping a Latter-day Saint Marriage Alive: Q&A

Excerpts from a conversation with a friend which have broad application.




  1. Disclaimer: Limitations of and Suggested Sources for 3rd Party Marriage Advice
  2. “My spouse wants to change me”
  3. “My partner says I’m not giving my best effort since we got married”
  4. “My partner complains that I’m a stay at home mom, says I don’t do anything”
  5. “My spouse and I have been arguing a lot, serious side effects are arising”
  6. “Some say I shouldn’t make such a big deal of our marriage issues”
  7. “My spouse says my criticism of him and the opinion of my therapist are one sided and thus irrelevant”
  8. Note: a few things to do regularly


Disclaimer: Limitations of and Suggested Sources for 3rd Party Marriage Advice

You’re aware that when possible we keep marital issues inside the marriage, but you also understand that more serious/ongoing issues can necessitate a different approach.

Your councilor and bishop can go into more specifics and detailed plans for your marriage, I will keep things on a general basis.

Since I only know a little about your situation some of what I say can be irrelevant or offensive, so apologies in advance.



  1. “My spouse wants to change me, is nagging et.”


The wanting to change your spouse thing is tough, because we want to help each other be our best selves, but the issue is when we are impatient or proud about how we go about that. I’m sure there are things in your husband you’d like to change, just like there are things in you he would like to change.  I’ve heard some speak of accepting their partner as they are; there is much of that which needs to go on, but a high expression of love is seeking someone’s growth. But this must be done in the Lord’s way and time.



  1. “My partner says I’m not giving my best effort since we got married”


As for a complaint of not giving full effort since marriage, we often have ideas pre-marriage which don’t reflect reality post marriage. It’s natural to want ‘Zion’ to come faster than its coming, but we have much to learn about what ‘Zion’/ideal really is, and how to get there. It’s like the ancient missionary question ‘why doesn’t God just send angels to preach and baptize everyone?’ The answer being baptizing is only half the goal, the other half is teaching missionaries how to work with people.  Having the weekly family meeting will help spousal complaints be regular and from both sides rather than occasional blowups from one side or the other.


  1. “My partner complains that I’m a stay at home mom, says I don’t do anything”


As for being a stay at home mom, my wife is too. I think that is a very special arrangement. I think a core issue here is that we must avoid comparing ourselves to others. It’s also quite popular to have both spouses contribute to the family income; That may or may not be the right thing for your family. I for one believe housekeeping and childrearing is more than a full-time job. Different families have different systems of who does what, it seems the best is to let whoever is most interested/skilled in a thing oversee that thing, be it shopping, cooking, budgeting etc., though both should be sensitive to each other’s needs and wants.


  1. “My spouse and I have been arguing a lot, serious side effects are arising”


– Something that me and everyone else needs is marriage education. I’ve been married about 5 years, studied family life in college, and still it’s hard for me often to work on my marriage. Point being, it’s hard for any man to deal with emotional/marital issues.  You can suggest to your husband in a polite but important way that you want to do regular marriage education studies with him, be that in an informal (the YouTube videos, or reading marriage books together) or if he is willing, seeing a bishop together (can see him alone too, but seeing him together is genius) or a therapist together. Your husband holds religion as a high priority so try and get an LDS therapist. My wife and I worked with a great lady at the BYU therapy place named Lauren Barnes her contact info is 247 TLRB (801) 422-3889 Your bishop will likely have other local resources for therapists.   Men often resist therapy so you may have to be creative (and patient).

-One of my favorite therapists is Dr. John Gottman. He has lots of YouTube videos which make for good FHE and date night material. Short clips that help start conversations etc. Gottman is famous for his ‘4 horsemen of the apocalypse’ (defensiveness, contempt, stonewalling, criticism) which he says if remain present in a relationship will, like the apocalyptic horsemen, bring destruction to a marriage. Gottman gives examples of these. I.e. Defensiveness is when you tell someone an issue and they throw it back at you rather than taking accountability for it. Stonewalling would be like refusing to go to couples counseling. Criticism would be like focusing on the lacking aspects of one’s spouse.


  1. “Some say I shouldn’t make such a big deal of our marriage issues”


-This brings up another thing I wanted to mention: when people are dismissive about your marriage problems, saying it’s just a phase, give it time, etc., beware that council. Divorce is a real thing and happens to amazing people like your husband and yourself who find themselves in difficult, even if only temporarily difficult, circumstances. Marriages need lots of maintaining, its particularly hard for men to understand that. If your husband is anything like me, he will think he is doing a great job, and learn that he needs to do even more to meet the high bar marriage sets for men to rise to. I think men underestimate how difficult managing a marriage can be, I know I do.  Getting your spouse to be committed to relationship education and maintenance is perhaps the biggest hurtle. This doesn’t mean be doom and gloom, it means follow your promptings about issues that need addressing. You can do this while heeding the council of your therapist to ‘not let things bother you so much’.

-I recently discovered FB groups, there’s one called LDS healthy sexuality for women where women can bring up hard marriage questions in a private group. There are others but that’s one I know of specifically for women. I’ll bet they’re willing to talk about more than just sexuality since everything plays into sexuality. There’s probably some called ‘LDS mothers’ or ‘LDS marriage’ which may be a better fit for you. I like LDS groups because they have a unique understanding of the standards and ideas we face as LDS people. There are some FB groups like these for men.


  1. “My spouse says my criticism of him and the opinion of my therapist is one sided and thus irrelevant”


-The idea about a ‘paradigm shift’ being irrelevant because its only your perspective; That’s where couples therapy is so key: getting him to go with you to see bishop & therapist. It’s important that you both feel like your voice is being heard! Only then can you build solutions together. To me, this is sort of impossible if only 1 of you is getting therapy. Some people don’t trust therapists but trust bishops, you may need to start there and get to couples therapy a little later. If that’s the situation, it would help if a bishop could suggest to you together that you have marriage counseling. Often the church will even pay for it. I was a finance clerk I know. If you’ve hit a wall and he won’t talk to bishop with you, let him know how serious this is – the suicidality, the thoughts of running, etc. Tell him you love him but that you need help, and that to get that help he needs to be present for the therapy/bishop meetings at least some of the time. (The school of psychology and the school of family studies sort of split on this idea: the need for individual therapy vs the need for therapy with family members involved, that’s why I studied family studies instead of psychology, my strong belief in couple’s therapy.) Seeing a bishop together for a while may be sufficient and you won’t need to see a professional therapist together. Bishops are a good place to start. Bishops can discern council for you, often that council is to get professional counseling. Again, most guys resist the idea of counseling; ya’ll may not need it but with the symptoms you described, I’d say better safe than sorry, and it can only help. There is no shame in getting couples therapy, only shame in avoiding marital problems. And don’t be ashamed of your symptoms. I’m not saying I know what ya’ll should do, I’m just saying that therapy is in my experience 95% of the time helpful for these important situations/road blocks. Ya’ll may do a few months and sort things out and be good to go, ya’ll may need to do couples therapy for a long-term basis – either way, it’s worth it if it means saving a marriage or making a good marriage into a great marriage. You may be able to sort things out without therapy, but one thing is certain: some sorting out needs to happen, and it’s probably not going to happen overnight.


  1. Note: a few things to do regularly:


-A few housekeeping items: Make sure you’re doing these specific things the prophets have suggested for family success: 1. Couple prayer 2. Couple scripture study 3. Family meeting (for planning, budgeting, bringing up issues, giving compliments, etc.) 4. Weekly date night 5. Monthly temple. These aren’t the end solution, but they’re important to move things forward. (*Not the endgame, but gamechangers)



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