By Elena Thurston
I was sealed in the Mormon temple when I was 20 years-old. I had known my husband less than a year when we were married but something must have worked because we were married for 18 years and had 4 beautiful kids.
Eventually I discovered my new sexuality and we separated. But a lot of aspects of our relationship worked well, and as I begin a new and beautiful relationship with my girlfriend, I am determined to bring all the good with me and let go of the not-so-good. Mormons are known for their focus on marriage and family, so there was a lot of good to bring along.
- Continue to date Mormons preach the efficacy of a weekly date night for continuing the romance past the honeymoon years. When our oldest baby was just four months, my ex-husband and I made sure to find a sitter and keep the dates coming. Those nights away from the house and filled with adult conversation were key to keeping my sanity during those young motherhood years.
Kristen and I discovered each other in a whirlwind romance and as we settled down into real life with kids and jobs and carpooling, I worried whether we’d be able to keep that love buzz going. It’s certainly not there all the time, and it definitely helps that the kids are old enough that sitters aren’t required.
So I still make a point to plan a night out every week. We shed the personas of Mom and Bonus Mom and find each other’s eyes again. We find a kid-free restaurant, we keep our phones hidden, and we always feel that rush of love as we hold hands back to the car.
- Weird is Good. Mormons are weird. And they aren’t just okay with that; they embrace the weirdness. They cling to the concept of “be in the world, but not of the world.” The idea was that to be more like God, you’d end up being less like everyone else and that was okay. As a Mormon, I learned to deal with awkward social situations, how to answer unnerving questions from strangers, and how to make unpopular choices.
Where we live, there are very very very few openly gay couples. Did I say a few? I mean even less. We live in one of the most right-wing districts in the entire United States. To say that Kristen and I are weird in our neighborhood is a complete and total understatement. Most of the children in our neighborhood have never heard that lesbian couples exist, let alone meet one in real life. We get stares, giggles, awkward pauses, a lack of play date invitations, and even hate mail. Basically just like being Mormon!
- The best thing I can do for my kids is love my partner. Mormons make it clear that marriages need to prioritize their partners over their children. This was startling to hear at first. In my young mind, there was nothing more precious than that tiny baby. Even the man I loved.
But as the kids grew and watched everything we did and said, it became obvious that showing them how a healthy relationship functions could be one of the most important life lessons we taught them. We showed them how to work together toward a goal, how to let go of the small stuff, and how to serve each other during rough patches.
Ironically, loving my ex-husband and modeling that for my children is what led to the end of the marriage. Once it was clear to me that my ex and I were not going to be intimate again, I knew that wasn’t the healthy marriage I wanted to show to my kids. Children deserve to see date nights and cuddles on the couch and stolen kisses in the kitchen. They deserve to see their parents in love. And we just weren’t any more. Continuing to fake it wasn’t fair for anyone in our family — me, my former spouse, or the kids.
Now our children get to see their mom in a whole new relationship dynamic and completely in love. Not only are there date nights, cuddles, and kisses, but their minds have been opened up to the fact that love doesn’t exist in just one box. Love comes in a lot of different ways and sometimes, if you let it, it’ll completely blow your mind.