Ask a Mormon Woman: My Spouse Has Chosen To Leave The Church. Now What?

Oct 15, 2012 by

Chris asks:

I am not exactly sure how this all works, but I’ve been on a search for the last couple of days for some answers. I am hoping I may find some here. My husband and I have been married for almost three years and we have a little girl. We both were brought up by lovely, goodly parents. We both served missions and met at BYU. We married in the SLC temple. A few months ago, my husband gradually told me, as he was gradually coming to this conclusion, that he no longer believed in the church and finally no longer believed in God. I am having a really hard time figuring out how I feel. I am upset that I am no longer a part of the cookie cutter plan, meaning, eternal marriage is no longer possible. I fear about how we will raise our children. Anyway, we love each other and we don’t want to divorce. Is there anyone out there who is/has gone through this similar situation and could shine a little light as far as what we can do to make our marriage work and how we can raise our child(ren possibly in the future) without too much disagreement? Any other tips or advice would be grately appreciated. Thanks!

Answer: by Brenda (and friends)

Dear Chris, I have been very anxious to answer your question but wanted to give you multiple women’s perspectives so I asked several of my friends to help respond.

Britt writes:

I’m sure this must be so devastating. What a shock. In your shock I’m sure there are going to be feelings that won’t endure…the hopelessness, the mourning of the marriage you thought you had, the feeling that you can never have an eternal marriage

I’m thrilled to hear you still loves your husband and he loves you. 

I’m a big believer that you learn eternal love by loving someone eternally. The persistence and patience and kindness that endure despite whatever challenge. …that is the most important thing to learn from marriage.

I would emphasize his good points…how he honors his role as a father, how he leads and guides your children in virtues-even when he doesn’t base them on the gospel. 

The details will take a lot of communication and creativity and inspiration. I have faith that God can guide you here…

Huge hugs while you recover from the first shock of it all and mourn a bit.

Elisa writes:

I think this is more common than we even realize, even with members who are still “attending”. I remember crying to my Dad about how hard it was to be “the strong one” always taking the kids to church alone and sitting alone, leading family prayer, scripture study and FHE. He looked at me and said “Buck Up Elisa. Thousands of women are in the same situation you are. You make the best of what it is and you do what you have to do. YOU keep your temple covenants and the Lord will bless you and your marriage.” And the Lord has. This is never an ideal situation, but a spouse choosing to not participate or further believe is no reason to break your temple covenants. My Father taught me to keep fighting for my covenants and do my part to keep them in tact and I am grateful for that lesson. 

Trials like these are as much about how we, the “believing spouse” chooses to respond (and receive and love) as it is a trial for the non believing spouse. Marriage is one of the purest ways to help us become like our Savior– learning how to love unconditionally, even in times of trial, heartbreak and sorrow. There is absolutely nothing that cannot be fixed through the Atonement. 

I personally believe that any marriage can be a successful marriage if two partners are willing to be open, honest and vulnerable with one another. Full Disclosure about everything –nothing can be left off the table — so you understand what you are working with. There are thousands of women in this situation who are the faithful ones — and the marriages still work. It’s just being able to communicate with each other what the boundaries are and finding a support in other women who are in the same situations.

Stephanie writes:

I’ll let others chime in with better personal experience, but I have to dispute the claim that “eternal marriage is no longer possible.” Some of Satan’s favorite tools are shame and despair. If those feelings can make us retreat from something we know is true, then he is victorious. I say the best thing you can do is hold on to three things: hope, your own covenants, and confidence/trust in the Lord.

Emily writes:

My parents were married in the temple, my Dad served a mission, but for a majority of my life he has been inactive in the church. There were times I hated the way the half-faith in my family tore us apart emotionally and spiritually, and there were times I was happy to go to Lagoon (a theme park) instead of church. It has been very hard on my mom, whose faith has wavered severely at times, who considered divorce at several points. Because my Dad lived without the gospel he was subjected to the buffetings of Satan in very real ways. As he now attempts to leave behind addictions and bad behaviors after 40 years of indulgence it is taking all he has to access the atonement. Without my Mom he would not have continued trying, he would have given up on himself. 

I’m very grateful that my parents stayed together through some very difficult experiences. Sometimes I think it was a near martyr effort on my Mom’s part. The majority of my siblings are inactive, but good people who I hope one day return to the faith of their childhoods. Because of my parent’s covenants I have faith that somehow we’ll be together, especially as my Dad continues down the path of repentance.This is the reality of just one example. 

Now in my own marriage I see that there are shadows of this experience in all marriages, even active temple marriages. People tell my husband and I that they see we have a close relationship, and we do, but it isn’t fluffy clouds and rainbows. We still disagree about our faith, about how to live it, and teach it to our children. Just last night I tried to seek his counsel about a problem and his response was so negative that I gave up. This is just the reality of living with another imperfect child of God.

Liz writes:

I think my situation would be different, as I married a non-LDS man who is still very much non-LDS. He has struggled with being as supportive as he historically has been, but he seems to be turning a corner recently, which is LOVELY.

Had I married a man who professed one set of beliefs, and then changed radically, that would be harder. But in our “mixed marriage”, setting boundaries and keeping communication open is really helpful. He knows better than to plan distracting things for church time; I don’t pressure him to attend with us (he does come for Christmas, Easter, special performances, and the Primary program, because he thinks that’s a riot.) 

Because he is a believing Christian, though, we’re not hitting that struggle of “I believe”/”Well, I don’t!”. I feel like our communication and cooperation is better when we have gospel-centered discussions. Even though he does not subscribe to every element of the LDS dogma, we can at least center on God, Christ, the Atonement, etc… the big stuff. If the blog-questioner’s husband is truly taking a time-out from ALL belief, that’s going to be sticky.

I’d say the best boundary one can draw would be, “Honey, I understand that you’re in a different place now, spiritually. I love you, and that is not going to change. Because I know you love me, too, I need for you to keep criticism of faith/God/etc out of family discussions so it won’t be chaotic or confusing for the kids. But I think we can definitely have some time, just the two of us, to share our thoughts and feelings together, because I want to know what you’re thinking about, and how I can be supportive of you, because I anticipate you continuing to be supportive of my practices of faith that are important to me.”

Kaylie writes: 

I think that it’s important for a believing spouse to work through his/her own feelings. If you feel betrayed or hurt, if you feel like your dream has died, that’s totally legitimate and you need to grieve for losing what you wanted.

I think, too, that the best thing you can do for someone who doesn’t believe is to listen. DH is working through stuff, he gets really frustrated when he tries to explain his struggles and the other person starts defending the Church and telling him why he’s wrong. There’s a place for standing up for your beliefs, but I think that part of unconditional love is accepting the other person without an agenda. Which is hard when you’re scared and when the other person doesn’t appreciate what’s sacred to you. The old cliché holds true here: People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.

Anonymous writes:

My own experience started out differently. My husband was not a member of the church when I met him. He took the missionary discussions and was baptized about 4 months before we were married. Of course, we could not go to the temple at that point because he’d been a member only 4 months. He said we would go as soon as he’d been a member for a year. During the year, he changed his mind and we did not get to the temple for 13 years. He finally decided to get active so we could go to the temple – long story, doesn’t matter as far as the answer to the question goes. We were sealed in the temple, our four children were sealed to us. After the sealing he would not speak to me. That lasted a couple of weeks – finally he told me he would never step foot in the temple again, he has kept his promise – we have been married 42 years. He attends church once or twice a year, just sacrament meeting if I am singing or when I was sustained as Relief Society President, or something else special is happening. I do not know why he has always been so resistant to the gospel, he will not talk about it – NOT ONE WORD.

If you choose to stay married, and stay active – and especially if you hope to rear your children in the gospel, I believe you will need a strong testimony and the ability to withstand persecution. It is one thing when persecution comes from some outside source. When it comes from inside the most intimate relationship any of us ever has, it’s incredibly difficult to hold on to your sanity, much less your testimony and your marriage.

The reason I am still married is that my husband and I are both very stubborn, and don’t give up easily. I have talked about leaving more often than he has. I think the pain of our separate views about the church and God has been more severe on my side, I don’t really know as he WILL NOT talk about it. I have prayed thousands of times for direction and several times very pointedly asking God whether it was ok for me to leave. The prayers for direction have invariably been answered along the lines of, have patience, be loving, forgive, ask his (my husband’s) forgiveness, respond with kindness, etc etc etc. Then I usually have to say a second prayer that goes something like, “I can’t do it, Father, you will have to give me the strength to be a better person than I am, because I can’t have patience, be loving, I can’t forgive, I certainly can’t ask for his forgiveness with any sincerity, and I DO NOT WANT to be kind to him.” The strength has been given just as requested. When I have asked for permission to leave, I have repeatedly been told no. Once I heard the words in my mind, “I know him better than you do, I love him more than you do, hang on – stay married.”

The last time I asked, which was a long time ago now, the answer was very pointed and the tone of “voice” I heard in my head felt final. The words I heard in my mind were “I have never given you permission to leave him.” That last time, I had really been collecting slights and reasons to be angry for a couple of years, piling them up so I could justify, finally, that I just couldn’t take it any more. So when I heard “I have never given you permission to leave.” I said, “Then what do I do with the pain, it’s crushing me; I cannot do this any more.” I heard in my mind, “Give it to me.” I sat and cried, and then said, “Here” and I got up and went on with my life. The pain left – not completely immediately, but it did leave. And for hurts that have come since then, I have prayed and given them to Him right then, instead of stockpiling them. I still constantly ask for help to be a better person than I am, because on my own, I could never do it.

I like to pray when I’m driving by myself or walking alone out in the hills. Recently I was telling Heavenly Father how grateful I was that I had stayed married, and thanking Him for strengthening and softening me so I could stay active in the gospel that I love with all of my heart, and also stay married. I love my husband, he loves me, but we are not together in the gospel and it is a tough road. We have had four children. Two are active, two are not. I don’t know if it would have been different if we had taught them the gospel together.

I believe my husband will some day embrace the gospel and his temple covenants. If I am wrong, I still know that God told me to stay. I have kept my covenants and God has taken away the pain – there is still longing sometimes to share the gospel I love so much with the man I love, but the pain is gone. (It only took decades.)

The only advice I know is: Pray. Pray constantly. Ask for direction. Keep your covenants. Get further into the gospel than you have ever been. Hang on and when hanging on gets impossible pray for His strength to make it possible. Teach your children by word and example. Pray your heart out for them, because it will be hard for them too. After you ask God what He would have you do, do it. Your answer might be different than mine. But if the answer comes from God, it will be the right answer for you, and for your husband, and your daughter.I will pray for you.


Dear Chris, and the thousands of women around the world who are like you, what I hope you got out of these little messages is we care. You are not alone. Nearly all of the women who responded to your question have experienced a type of spiritual widowhood. What I liked best about anonymous’ message was her admonition for you to seek God’s guidance for you and your family, and that no two situations are the same. I know of no life that follows the cookie cutter plan you spoke of in your question, but I do know that God cares about you and your husband.

This morning as I led my family in scripture study and prayer we read the parable of the lost coin as found in Luke 15.

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her neighbors together saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I have lost.

I believe that through the atonement of Jesus Christ all that has been lost will eventually be found. I hope that when you find your coin – the coin of hope, of strength or testimony I hope you will write us back and let us rejoice with you.

Much love to you and yours,




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  1. Chris

    Thank you to everyone who responded to my blog post.I felt peace and comfort in my heart to know that I am not alone and regardless to my spiritual widowhood and hardship I may face in the future, I still can find happiness. I will definitely follow your advice and counsel. Again, thank you so much!

  2. anonymous

    Oh how I wish my comment could contain the answer to this piece of the LDS puzzle. In my years as a Latter-day Saint, and many they have been as old as I am and born into the church, I have experienced as many of the non-normal scenarios as any woman can. With this piece, too many pieces ring true. After I turned down several good LDS/RM proposals, I finally set out to serve a mission myself in hopes of figuring out life. After my mission I met a man that was not of my faith. This meeting changed my life and altered all the dreams that any little primary child or Beehive every had.

    It was a long hard road to my husbands conversion and a short stay in activity. Then several years ago it was transgression that took him from activity. Anger and pride can break down a once faithful member but it also takes a toll on the marriage and family as a whole. I have lived the majority of the scenarios in the previous comments. Through it all my feelings have gone from hurt and anger to despair and depression. Its a vicious cycle, where I vacillate back and forth not knowing what to do or what I really feel. Throughout these 25 years I have been instructed by the Spirit in these consistent areas: First, I kept my covenants and if I continue to do so I can expect the Lord to fulfill his promises, “all that the Father hath.” Secondly, no matter what my husband does, it can not negate the love of my Heavenly Father and Savior have for me. That love is something I must hold tightly too. Third, the adversary will twist and manipulate everything he can to confuse me and throw me off course. Finally, this life is about opposition. Some of us will have beautiful marriages, some of us will struggle. Some spouses will be eternally faithful, others not. Whatever part of the vineyard you are planted in, serve well.

    I will be the first to admit I often forget these tender lessons. Nonetheless, Father is patient with me. He knows my earthly test is a difficult one. He knows that I might not always bear it well, but in that, He also knows that I am striving daily to love and serve my husband, to keep my covenants. If I seek for His peace during the hard times, and know that they come in the lonely pews during Sacrament meeting, in the change of morals or values of the man I married, in the struggles with the children and the evaluate both sides, His peace will help me get through.

    With this being a new trial, know that many different emotions will come to you. Pray about them, journal about them, seek out a support system that listens, but does not feed any ill will. I learned the hard way that when I became bitter, my attitude affected my behavior and neither of those helped the marriage at all. Bottom line, believe in the promises. As difficult as that is. Seat your testimony in the knowledge you have that the Lord is aware of you hurts and pains, He will make good on every tear.

    I pray that you can find peace. It is there.

  3. Anonymous too

    I have recieved great peace through these words of wisdom. I am like the original blogger in some ways. Only I committed a terrible sin and in the process of working through forgiveness my husband felt ultimate betrayal. Not only from me, but from the church. He still cannot forgive me and there are time I feel I am not worthy of forgiveness. I attend church by myself now and try to tell myself I am doing what I can to do the right things. I have a strong testimony of the atonement and our Saviors love. I will just continue to persevere and hope that one day Heavenly Father will bless my husband to come back to the gospel. Bless your hearts for sharing words of support. It has been much needed.

  4. M

    Thank you so much for what has been written here. I have found myself reading this and nodding again and again. If nothing else, it soothes the soul to know there are others in the same predicament.
    There are a couple conclusions that I have come to in the years of dealing with this type of situation that may be of use to someone else.
    First, as LDS women we are very good at fixing things, situations and people. When we see that someone needs something, we jump to it wholeheartedly. In this situation, though, you have to really realize the importance of the right for each of us to choose. That means the he is allowed the choice (and consequences) of leaving. Trying to fix it can often make it worse. You have to come to the acceptance that is his right to make that choice and it is not your responsibility, or often even ability, to “fix” him. Often, the more you try, the more a wedge can be pushed between you both. Accept his choice as his right, but make sure he knows that you too have the right to choose your path as well.
    Secondly, it is not your fault. Pray for a softening of his heart and for continued love, but if you put the weight of blame on yourself and try to change yourself to change him, you’ll only be crushed under the weight of a guilt that shouldn’t be yours to carry.
    Third, reconsider expectations. I think, growing up in the church, we all have this vision of being married to a man who turns out to be the youngest Stake Pres. ever so when he leaves the church you are left floundering. The longer you keep those expectations the more time you have for resentment to build up. Don’t let past expectations blind you to the qualities that still make him a good man. He may never be the next Bishop, but perhaps he’s an amazing romantic, excellent with money or simply a kind soul. Forget the expectations of what might have been and find and focus on the beauty of the reality. Just because he’s “not a good Mormon” doesn’t mean he’s not a good man.
    Forth, find the silver lining. I was born and raised in the church so I spent a lot of my life resting my beliefs on my parent’s testimony. Once I was married in the temple, I was able to rest on my husband’s. When he left, I was devastated and found that my foundations were pretty feeble. I had to draw a line in the sand at some point and decide then and there that I was going to be the head of the household when it came to all things spiritual. That meant I was going to have to get a real testimony for myself. I believe myself to be a strong woman with a strong knowledge of many different points of the church today. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t been forced to do it on my own.
    Fifth, don’t think that you will lose out on anything because of your husband’s choice. God doesn’t need our prayers to act. He has commanded us to pray and so we should, but He can bless us whenever He wants to. Never underestimate the power of your own prayers. Certainly, whenever you are able and in need, you can and should bring in a Priesthood holder to bless your family. But if, for any reason, that can’t happen, don’t think your prayers have no power. He knows your needs and the righteous desires of your heart and when done in faith, will bless you as much as any “perfect” family out there is blessed.
    Finally, it’s okay to cry. It is not an easy road to walk alone. There is a serious sense of betrayal, loss and lack of hope that happens the first time your husband tells you he’s leaving the church and I’m here to say hints of that will keep coming back from time to time. You’ll have your up days and your down days. Rejoice in the good days and in the harder times, find a quiet moment and just cry for a bit. Allowing yourself to mourn from time to time frees you up walk strong all those other days.
    Just remember you aren’t alone and as the church grows, so does the numbers of women who are single or have inactive husbands. Find them and befriend them. There is always strength in numbers and you’ll find a strength by being able to share with someone else the experiences you are both facing.

  5. Di

    Is there anyway you can locate me several support group of believers with nonbeliever spouse? I would like to have some support as well.


  6. Di,
    I know some women who are in this situation, but I’m not personally aware of a support group. Have you checked on Facebook? Email me at mormonwomen a/ if you want to know more about how to connect with the women I know.

  7. Rachel

    I just want to thank those who have posted. I’m about a year into this storm…er, hurricane, having a particularly difficult day (bawling like a baby in the grocery store parking lot) and needed to find some support. Married in the temple in 2003, my best friend and the one I could ALWAYS find comfort in has given up the good fight. It’s time for me to stand on my own two feet now and it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever encountered. The scripture Matthew 10:39: He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. -came into my mind this morning. I realized that “losing my life” was letting go of the dreams I had for the nobler cause of serving my husband and loving him. And all you women with this suffering know what a Herculean attempt that is. It will take a miracle; many miracles to get me through this, but I have a deep feeling this was the way that would give me the best chances of getting back home to my Father. And maybe this is the way that would give my husband the best chance to get home too. My darkest fear of course lies in the destiny of my three beautiful boys. I just have to trust in The Lord that all things are within his sight, even little old unremarkable me, clinging for dear life in this never ending storm.

  8. Rachel, I’m so sorry for what you are going through. Your faith is very evident in your comment. May you feel God’s peace and strength.

    Are you seeking support? We’ve got a lot of resources listed on various posts about different options for support. Or email hopeandhealinglds a/ gmail for a list of options.

  9. Anonymous LDS sister

    I am grateful that I found this post and have been able to read these words of support and encouragement. Chris, I can very much relate to you and to many of the other sisters who have commented here. My husband was a very new convert to the Church when we got married. One year later, we were married in the temple. He attended church with me regularly for the first 7 years of our marriage, but never really accepted callings or went home teaching, and rarely went to the temple with me. But he was willing to have scripture study & FHE, etc. However, he gradually became less and less active in church and then stopped going altogether, saying he no longer had a testimony of the restored gospel. It has been many years that I have taken our children to church by myself, carried out FHE, family prayer, scripture study, etc. He doesn’t want me to pay tithes or fast offerings, which has been very difficult for me to accept. I have mourned for years over the loss of our gospel-centered marriage. I have also felt anger, frustration, depression, and bitterness. I have watched priestholders in my ward who are very active & faithful in their callings & temple attendance and felt envy. I know all of these feelings are wrong and have just been hurting me and holding me back from having the Spirit and blessings from the Lord. I have contemplated divorce numerous times, but have always felt like I need to stay with my husband and still love him and support him no matter what. I have renewed determination to do this after seeing that other women are in similar situations and have been happily married to their spouses despite their differences in spiritual and religious matters. I know that the Lord knows me and my husband and children and would not ask me to stay in my marriage if it was going to be detrimental to any of us. I will continue to pray for my husband and my marriage and have faith that it will all work out one way or the other in the end. May others in similar circumstances also have God’s blessings.

  10. Rebekkah

    I am glad I found these posts 🙂 I have to say I am not exactly in the same situation in fact I am a daughter who’s grand parents went through, and now parents are going through this situation, and now also my auntie and uncle. My father has been on a gospel roller coaster and at this particular moment the lowest point seems to have no end. His parents split up after his father went inactive, while his mum remained very strong in the gospel. My parents are still together but it seems the only thing that sticks them together is a piece of paper and my younger sisters. Last year I was talking to one of our church leaders and he talked about the blessings and responsibility of agency, concluding with the fact I should love and forgive, he quoted “charity never faileth”. WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE SO HARD !!!!! I feel as if he doesn’t respect/support me and my choices. I am preparing to go on a mission, I am getting my papers handed in in November. I want so desperately to be worthy to teach but how can I if I cannot find room in my heart to forgive and love.
    I used to have such a good relationship but now I don’t know what to say. I feel as if I cant talk about anything gospel related because I get the impression that he thinks I am trying to convert him again and so it is like talking to a brick wall. The ‘key’ is love and I know that. but what I don’t know is how.

  11. Anonymous

    I have recently started going back to church after an on again off again activity in the church since I was 15 years old. I am scared and very confused about the situation. My husband is also a member but inactive also. He is so great and very supportive about me coming back to the church. He is okay with all of it as long as I don’t become hurt. But he doesn’t want to be apart of it. although he is coming on his own will with me to sacrament on Sundays he doesn’t want to do anything at home though. I have come to realize and see that I desperatly want to be married in the temple to him it is the most important thing to me now. I am married previously to a man in the temple but want to be sealed to my husband now. I don’t want to be sealed to my ex. If I am sealed to my husband I wont need to be worried about being sealed to my ex. But the most important thing is I will know I am sealed to my husband in the next life and that is the greatest gift I could ever have. I have been soul searching, and praying about what I can do to help myself in this situation but mostly to help my husband. I don’t want to push him but I want him to know I will be here and that God has been with us this whole time… whether he believes it or not. Any suggestions, it would help me so much.

  12. Anonymous,

    I am sure your feelings give voice to what many feel as they desire to be sealed to someone who is not interested in church at the time. As I read your comment, I thought of a couple of quotes I read recently. These actually come from the family support manual for those who have loved ones in addiction, but I think the principles can apply to people in this situation as well.

    “We may feel powerless because we have little control over what our loved one chooses to do or the consequences of those choices. The gospel teaches us that we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27). We can use our agency to better our situation and make righteous choices regardless of our circumstances. Elder David A. Bednar counseled, “As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:14)” (“The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 44).”


    “We want to have eternal families, but our loved ones’ [choices] can threaten our hopes. Fearing we may lose our eternal family may cause us to experience significant feelings of grief. We may find ourselves in a crisis of faith and be tempted to give up on Heavenly Father’s plan. Many of us feel that we are just hanging on, clinging to God out of habit, reflex, or desperation. It can be hard to move forward through the pain of broken promises and threatened dreams. The choice we face is whether or not to have faith in God, even when we can’t see how God’s promises will be kept. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

    “We cannot control and we are not responsible for the choices of others, even when they impact us so painfully. I am sure the Lord loves and blesses husbands and wives who lovingly try to help spouses….

    “Whatever the outcome and no matter how difficult your experiences, you have the promise that you will not be denied the blessings of eternal family relationships if you love the Lord, keep His commandments, and just do the best you can” (“Divorce,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 73).”

    I can’t imagine how hard this must be. I do encourage you to do all you can to build your faith and stay anchored to the Savior. You might find some value in reading through the loved ones’ support manual at Again, although it’s written for loved ones of those in addiction, the principles of healing and hope and peace for the loved one seem to me to be potentially very powerful for loved ones of those who are currently choosing not to be active in the Church. As you focus on your faith, you can feel even closer to God and He will guide you every step along the way, to be able to honor your journey and give your husband space to make his choices, all while trusting in the wonderful and eternal promises of God.

  13. Annie smith

    I read how the women have been faithful to their covenants and they joy in the good parts of the marriage. But what if the man who was once everything good and righteous changes to a different person? Prescription drug addictions and porn emails to his email. Which he’s overcome and gotten his recommend back but… Abuse and yelling and hateful words and staying in bed for the entire time off for a thanksgiving holiday? A week before he’s in the temple and loving. A week later I hate him. I’m sitting alone in church. The kids are adults and home too. I just dont have the energy to orchestrate all of their salvation any more I’m just so unhappy. I see no joy or hope. My husband is not the man I married. There’s little to keep me engaged. There’s no consistency. He claims he can’t be happy without some artificial stimulant. He takes a mood stabilizer which helps but he will purposefully not take it so he came depressed and feel sorry for himself. We haven’t had intimacy for months. I’m ready to quit but all the money is gone to lawyers because he got arrested and we are working to get his felony reduced to a misdemeanor. He didn’t do anything awful. Just in New York if you own a gun and bullets you are breaking their laws. We just moved and hadn’t gotten them re registered here and during a medical emergency where he had been mixing prescription drugs he had a bout of amnesiatic crazy behavior and then claimed he was having a heart attack so we called an ambulance and in NY cops come instead. It escalated badly. They beat him up which resulted in damage to his knee which he’d just had operation in. This the extra pills. He’s since had torn rotator and biceps surgery. He missed six months of work which has basically bankrupted us and he gained 40 lbs. I get he’s had a hard time. But I’m not the reason this happened. His choices made this happen. I just don’t have any assurance that once over we have any future if he doesn’t want to live a happy life. I’m drained I have begun to lose hope. Thinking about running away from it all. But. My 23 year old daughter lives with us going to school. I don’t want to upset her growth from where she was. I want to be sure she can take care of herself. She left the church as well. Everyone in my house has no duty to God but for me. Anyone make it through something like this?

  14. Annie, I am so sorry for what you are going through!

    Please know there are many women who have walked in shoes similar to yours. I would highly encourage finding a support group for wives of those in addiction. There are formal groups (such as the Church’s family support program (,, (they have 12-step S-Anon groups), S-Anon, Nar-Anon, and many more. What you are feeling (the weariness and hopelessness) is so, so normal (as awful as it is). It isn’t your job to manage everyone’s salvation…just your own (and I don’t say that to say run and drop everything…just that these kinds of support groups can help you recenter and connect with yourself and God so that you can get clarity about what to do…because God can guide you in your situation to know what to do).

    Addiction wreaks havoc in relationships and women share time and time again that it helps so much to first know you are not alone and reach out to others who get this and can help you know what has helped them find some healing and clarity.

    There are also informal groups like at the forum at, (a blog aggregator where you can read some other women’s stories),, Togetherness Project.

    Many, many women have also found a lot of benefit from a free six-week workshop from Addo Recovery. You can find their free videos on YouTube (channel Addo Recovery) and/or go to their site to sign up for the six-week workshop that also includes some assessments and other things. They are doing some really excellent things to provide support for wives.

    I will be praying for you, and if you want to email me at mormonwoman a/ gmail I could perhaps even connect you personally with some of the women who are on the forefront of helping other women.

  15. Jennifer

    I am working through a similar situation. My husband has always struggled with the church in some way, but recently his struggle has become very personal and serious. I have gone through the myriad of emotions mentioned here by others through the realization that my husband doesn’t believe as he once did and may leave the church.

    I struggle all the time wondering if I have the strength to live this life wondering about my husband’s eternal welfare for all the years ahead of us. My biggest concern, as mentioned, is how his feelings toward the church will affect my children. I struggle because as so many others have said, I did everything I was supposed to do to ensure an eternal marriage and I am now facing the possibility of continuing this road alone without my husband.

    Despite all these emotions and struggles I have learned many amazing things as well. The Lord has been close to me and has revealed to me my own weaknesses and where I need to change. I have gained an AMAZING understanding of the Love of my Savoir and His incredible patience not only with me but with my husband. I have really learned how incredibly compassionate Christ is that His patience and long suffering is so much more than I ever had imagined and that gives me hope that He won’t give up on my husband.

    The greatest answer I got when this hit the roof was to love my husband, as so many people have said. I have had to diligently seek God’s help in finding this love, and I have learned to love him. As a result our marriage has never been stronger. It doesn’t take away the pain of the reality I am facing, nor does it negate the need I have for regular tears, but loving him and letting him choose his path to follow has brought us closer together than we have ever been before.

    Thank you all for your great comments. They have given me strength to know that I can continue through this despite my desire to run away.

    As a miracle, my grandfather who has been inactive most of his adult life, just told me this past weekend that he is trying to get himself ready to go to the temple. I do not know if he will succeed, but this is a reminder to me that there is always hope in a sole. I still try to remember, “It will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”

  16. sad and tired of fighting.

    This post has been an answer to my prayers, at least in part.
    I am not sure I am as brave as you ladies. After years of him neglecting me and our children, discovering a porn addiction and my husband cheating on me with a member of our ward. I now have this horrible trial to go through as well…
    No one else that I have talked to seems to have advice that helps. It seems that the only comfort I receive comes from knowing that the Savior knows what I am going through. But even then the weight of all of this is just too much sometimes.
    He stopped wearing his temple garments yesterday and I can barely look at him with out wanting to burst into tears.
    I want to do what is best for all my family, including my husband. But the fear of another ball dropping makes me wonder if it would just be better to give up on us and focus on a better future. And maybe there is someone out there who will be better for me and my kids.

  17. elizabeth

    I see on here there are some of you who need a support group. I found a fabulous one on Facebook. If you search on Facebook for a group called Another Testament of Marriage, you can send a message to the group admin and asked to be added to it. Its a private group and is run by a nice couple in Idaho Falls. They are in a mixed marriage and needed some support so they started the group as support. All of us on there have a spouse who is struggling or has left the church. Some of us on there are struggling with our own faith crisis as well and some are not. There are rules if you are going to post about something that may be troubling to put a warning before the post. Its been a great support to me the last 6 months to have people to talk to, to get ideas of books to read, podcasts to listen to and counselor suggestions.

  18. Diane

    Thanks for all these words of wisdom. Can’t believe I finally found help after loads if time searching. Having my husband take his name off church records

  19. Diane

    Sad and tired of fighting, I know exactly what you mean when you comment about the garments. I could only turn and walk away for the first few weeks of facing that after almost thirty years of seeing him in garments. You just have to do your own journey in all of this. Heavenly Father does help you though. Today has been a day of despair for me. My spouse has changed a lot and he sees the change as something better like he has outgrown me. I will join that Facebook group. Thanks for the heads up about it.

  20. Michelle

    Thank you for all of your comments and shared experiences. I am in my second temple marriage. My first husband and I were married in the temple shortly after his mission in our early 20’s. He was so full of light and slowly he fell into pornography, drinking, smoking, staying out all night (all the while lying about everything) and then decided he didn’t have a testimony. I begged him to go to counseling which we did, but he ultimately decided he did not want to have the family life and that he didn’t have to answer to anyone especially God (who he now said didn’t exist), and left when our daughter was 7 months old. The horrible divorce took 2 years and many more for my heart to heal. I was a single mom for 7 years, solely supporting my daughter.

    Then 4 years ago I married a wonderful man who had lived faithfully in the gospel for 36 years. You would think the odds of him staying active would be pretty good…apparently not! Like my first husband, he too has decided that God does not exist and is now actively searching out tons of anti-mormon websites and literature. I really feel it is to find justification for his new found belief system. He started experimenting with alcohol, which was not a positive experience for him, yet he continues to secretly try different kinds. I am left just feeling hopeless and in the dark about what he is thinking or doing. cannot even begin to express the depth of my sorrow. It is killing me! I feel so devastated and heartbroken and have cried rivers of tears. I have felt so alone and it is reassuring (but also sad) to know there are so many in a similar situation. Satan is raging and the scripture “Men’s hearts will fail them” comes to mind.

    Our marriage has been an uphill battle, but one that we have fought and we have struggled to hold on to. He really struggles with anxiety/depression and anger issues. I have been frightened on several occasions with his outbursts of rage (but he has never struck me or the children) and in our most recent counseling has made commitments to not have further outbursts. I struggle from low self-esteem, which seems even lower now. We have seen 2 different counselors off and on for basically the whole 4 years of our marriage.

    With all of this said, I think one of the main things that has kept me hanging on and fighting for my marriage this long was the fact that we both made covenants to God and to one another in the temple and we were BOTH fighting for an eternal marriage. And at the end of the day, we had the same beliefs and goals for our family and that single uniting factor overshadowed the other difficulties in our marriage. I can still hear heartfelt spiritual comments he made about hopes for our future (that I knew were inspired by the spirit). I mourn the loss of deeply spiritual conversations we had. I think the saddest part is watching that spirit fade (again, as it did with my first husband). I am weeping as I write this. Apparently I just needed someone else to know, because I have felt so alone. I don’t know if I can stick it out, though I do love him with all my heart. I just don’t know how much tragedy my heart can take. I continue to pray to God that he will “come to a knowledge of the truth” as Alma’s father prayed for his son. I don’t know what else to say, so I am just going to post what I have written.

    I do want to say thank you for all the very heartfelt and compassionate advice that everyone shared. Truly I have some praying and soul-searching to do to see what it is that God wants of me, and then pray for the strength to carry out His plan, whatever it is.

  21. K

    thank you, everyone. It’s very nice to know there are so many others who understand the heartache.

  22. charle

    It sounds like your second relationship from his perspective found an independent lady to can fend for her and child self and his paychecks can go for other things than the bills and rent, etc. Is he only a conversation piece to you? I would bet that he was always a sneaker. Drinking is a common thing to fall back on when you know the way to cover it up. You learn the side affects in many ways. He thought, I bet, that you were his cover and supporter in not the monetary ways of his drinking. Smoking or around smoke can’t be covered up. Add layers of cologne, like no shower smells, is a dead clue he was some place he shouldn’t go. To some degree, turn the blind side to the alcohol and continue to teach your child the Word of Wisdom. I assume you are all members even if he is inactive.

  23. J

    I have been living this for over 2 years. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. My husband is a convert to the church and we got married 2 months before he joined the church. Once we could go through the temple to be sealed as a family we did just that. Everything was going good, (or so I thought) until just over 2 years ago when he sat me down and told me he didn’t have a testimony of the church and didn’t know if he ever did. I was completely devastated. I was so blind-sided by this I didn’t even know what to say or how to feel. I was angry. I felt betrayed. I saw all my hopes & dreams of an Eternal family go out the window. Little by little over the next year and a half I would get little glimmers of hope especially since he was still going to sacrament meeting with my on Sundays. Earlier this year he stopped going to church with me all together and I was blind-sided again where I felt all hope was lost with regards to my husband and the church. He told me that he felt the church was all about deceit and misrepresentation. He went on an on an on about how awful the church was. At that point in time I didn’t think our marriage was going to last. I wondered what to do. I went to my Bishop as I had so many times before and he was at a loss of words. I received a priesthood blessing and felt a calming peace come over me. I love my husband but hate his decision to leave the church. I’ve been promised that as long as I keep my covenants & my children stay strong that regardless of what my husband decides to do the children are sealed to me forever. I’m still angry at the situation I’ve been put in and for what he’s done to me and the kids, but some days are easier. I fast every fast Sunday for him & pray for him daily. My prayers haven’t been answered yet, and maybe that won’t happen in this life, but I’m doing everything I can do to save my kids and myself. I hope that this helps….

  24. Kalee Tillotson

    I am going through the same thing with my husband and it is devastating for me. I need a support group, is there any??

  25. mitchell

    I have been married three times. The first two were LDS men, the first one went inactive. My current husband is not LDS and we have a wonderful relationship. Neither previous divorces occurred due to issues with the Church but were due to abuses in the relationship. One of the biggest problems with Church members is equating temple marriage in this life with happiness in life and progress in the next. There are millions and millions of people with no record of ever having lived who have not been married in a temple. Seems to me it will all be worked out to the Lord’s satisfaction. The teachings of Jesus Christ point to loving behavior IN THIS LIFE. Nothing was ever said about perfection in a relationship. When Christ mentioned perfection it was in reference to our own personal behavior and NOT in reference to being a requirement for loving someone else. Seems to me that personal perfection is directly proportional to our ability to love, care, and show concern for those who are not where we are spiritually. How much more Godlike could it be? Isn’t that what the Lord does for us? And that is exactly what brings about happiness in a marriage. Stay. Love. and be Happy.

  26. Kalee and others in this situation — we are working on creating a private forum space where women whose spouses are struggling with their faith and/or who have left the Church can share their experiences, inspiration, etc. with each other.

  27. mitchell, thanks for sharing your personal experience. So glad to hear that you have found and built a marriage that is happy and healthy.

    If I may share a though, I do think there is a key difference in your situation and with the situation of women whose husbands lose their faith after years of marriage. You chose to marry someone not of your faith. You knew what you were going into to some great degree, and you obviously had the common threads and foundation to build a happy relationship, as well as understandings about how to negotiate the faith differences.

    This pain that women express isn’t just about temple marriage vs. not, nor is it a plea for perfection. It’s about a significant loss and shift (and, unfortunately, sometimes even lies and betrayal (and sometimes hidden sin — not always, but sometimes) that come to light through the process.

    That isn’t to say that love still isn’t a true principle, but the process of healing and learning to readjust, if both parties want to work on the marriage, takes time. For some, ‘just stay’ might work, but for many, there is a process, and I think respecting that reality acknowledges that people need God’s help through hard things.

    I’ve seen enough people go through this, too, to know that sometimes a loss of faith can also includes abusive behavior — the very reason you chose to end your first two marriages.

    My only point is this — there is no one right answer. Each situation is its own situation, and my observation is that often first women need support. I’m not talking feeding some victim-y mindset, or hateful husband-bashing, or unrealistic expectations or perfectionism, but support as though they have lost a family member to death. When your marriage is built first and foremost on a spiritual common ground and that common ground is lost, that’s a big deal. IMO, they need to find God’s love and healing, and then with that foundation and with God’s inspiration and the Savior’s help, they can see clearly what to do in the marriage.

  28. J

    Thank you all for your words. I’ve spent the morning once again sobbing over my situation. Finding this website is an answer to my prayer. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear today. My husband and I had the eternal marriage I had always hoped and dreamed of. Twenty years, three kids later and he has lost his testimony as well as taking his garments off. It has been five years since he told me he didn’t believe, and still the pain consumes me at times. The majority are good days of loving each other and helping each other parent our three children. But there is a real spiritual loneliness that hits occasionally, and I realize our relationship and family is missing a vital connecting piece. I am trying with all my might to be a spiritual leader in my home, and teach my children the gospel. It is hard ladies. REALLY HARD. Spiritual widowhood is a lonely place. I worry constantly about my kids. My life is not what I had hoped and dreamed it would be. But I am learning to give my pain to the Savior and trust him with all of my heart. I believe He is helping me every single day. I love all of you and am grateful for your words. We are sisters in this.

  29. Ang

    Thank you for this post and wisdom /advice. My husband and I were sealed in the temple, he served a mission… And after 13 years of marriage he just told me he doesn’t believe in God. To say I’m broken right now would be an understatement. Thank you for some direction and peace. May God continue to bless you all.

  30. Carol

    May I offer some hope? My husband decided he no longer believed in the Church or the plan of salvation 12 years after we had married in the Temple.I continued to stay active and took our 6 children to church. He would come to any sacrament meeting they had talks to give after I pointed out he would support them if they were doing things in school. After27 years he has returned to activity. He is the ward clerk and we are going to the Temple for a 3 day visit next week. It hasn’t been easy and I have no advice to offer but if you both love each other then hang on. He could come back any time.

  31. B.

    I am going through this right now and it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I have found peace in all you ladies’ comments. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I find comfort my Heavenly Father knows me and will help me. Everyday I cry. Some days are happy days. Some are sad and I feel lonely. Husband stopped wearing his garments this week and like others have said, I can barely look at him without them. It feels so weird. I am afraid of what it will be next. I will look into that facebook group. Much love. B.

  32. Anonymous

    When I was a teenager my father announced that he had no testimony. It was a devastating experience. I felt at sea, very much alone and it took many years to come to know how very personally involved Heavenly Father is in our lives — in the very small details even. I know that now, but it took a couple of decades to really learn it. My father actively tore at my own faith and that of my siblings. Half have left the church formally.

    Married now. My spouse wanted to leave the church at one point but didn’t give up on God. Just wanted to attend a different denomination. I didn’t feel I had enough of a testimony to say no to that. I went to other churches a couple of times, but said that I still wanted to be LDS. Ultimately my spouse came around and we were active in the LDS church. Recently my spouse has again expressed a desire to leave the church, but then changed course (again). Oddly, this time around I know I have it in me to stay faithful to my covenants and I am doing it. Not easy.

    For me, a big light bulb moment was to realize that my choices needed to reflect what I want, deep inside, what I value. I can’t make my choices out of response or reaction to my spouse. I need to choose, actively, what I want to be. Otherwise I just end up turning all of the power over to my spouse. And I choose to love, as much as I am capable of.

    I think often of the story of Cory Ten Boom, in The Hiding Place. This woman, and her sister and elderly father were imprisoned in a concentration camp. One day a guard was beating her sister. Cory’s sister looked at her, while this was going on, and in the midst of being beaten, called out “Don’t hate!” This incredible person, this amazing woman CHOSE who she would be. She did not let the actions of the guard dictate how she would be.

    I see the same thing in the savior. Unjustly tried, mocked, scourged and nailed to a cross, he says “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This, instead of railings and anger and retribution. He knew who he wanted to be and he held onto that. It is a serious thing to love unconditionally, to chose that course regardless of what those around us are doing. I would suggest that the ability to do it is founded on a vision of each other that can only come from God, a vision of the value of each human being that goes so far beyond our own. It is a gift, to have that vision. But it makes it possible, at least in my experience, to then choose to love, even as others choose to distance themselves from us, or hurt us.

    I don’t want to say let yourself be hurt. But I do want to say that we should chose to love because we are children of Heavenly Parents and that is our heritage and our own best true selves.

  33. C. L.

    Finding this page is a godsend. I am relieved to know I’m not truly alone in feeling everything that has been discussed here. Also looking for a support group. My husband hasn’t even told his family and most of his friends about his faith crisis after a year, so it’s left me feeling extra alone because I don’t feel like it’s my place to “out” him. Thank you for the shared experiences and advice here.

  34. Laura

    It really is comforting to know I’m not alone, my husband left the church 4 years ago and I’ve been trying to find women going through the same situation, to have some support. It was extremely beyond heart breaking when he told me, my world and hopes and dreams were all shattered in a single moment. I was so sad and Afraid and also mad at him for doing this to me, to our family! We went through a very dark time after that, almost called it quits because he was in the bitter phase of his transition and being so pushy about trying to de-convert me and that made me furious of course. We stayed up late almost every night arguing about religion. It was utterly exhausting in every way, I was drained of energy, I felt absolutely no love towards my husband, I was not attracted to him at all. I would feel pain every time I looked into his eyes- I was not looking at the same man I married, he changed… For the worse. I felt pangs of heavy sadness for all the things I’ve lost- no priesthood in the home, no partner for temple, church, scripture study etc. I felt hopeless. And then a miracle happened and I knew what God wanted me to do- love him unconditionally. Now that was SUPER hard for me because I didn’t feel like he deserved my love, I was he one keeping our covenants, I deserve better!! But I prayed hard to feel attracted to him again and to see him through Gods eyes. I served him without anything in return, I would still often feel so hurt and so alone and angry that he wasn’t treating me the same way, the way I should be loved as a wife, but I had to get my love and feelings of self worth from God. He was and is my strength. After a while things got easier for me to do, I fell in love with him again. We still have extremely hard times, but he is respectful, supportive and loving to me and our kids and even though there are other problems on top of this trial, things are working out. I can’t justify breaking up a family over these things, I know they can be worked through. It’s just going to take an extremely large amount of patience, perseverance, love and kindness. I love him more than I did before and believe that with God’s help and strength we can do hard things.

    BTW- does anyone know of a Facebook group that is directed specifically towards lds women like us who have had their husbands leave the church?? If not, I could create one, would anyone Join? I am really feeling a huge need to give and reciwved support with others who understand!

  35. Laura

    Me again! After much searching and asking around I decided to start a FB group myself! It’s called LDS Wives Whose Husband Left the Church. Anyone who wants to come join is welcome! I hope for us all to be able to help support, uplift, encourage and listen to each other.

  36. A.

    Laura. Can you post the link as I can’t find the page by searching? Thanks for creating this group and for all those who have shared their experiences, in this string. it has really provided me with much needed comfort to know there are so many of you who have made it or continue to work through this extremely difficult time in our lives.

  37. J

    Thank you all for your comments. I read them on a daily basis as this has been my life the past year. Something I never thought would happen to me. It helps so much to know I am not alone in this trial. I too would love to know of a Facebook page that is available to support. All of you who have posted have been an inspiration and I thank you all for sharing

  38. Sarah

    Hi Everyone.
    Read the information that your husbands are reading. With love and faith you will have a much better understanding of his journey.

  39. Micki Oliphant

    I have started a support group on Facebook called Support for LDS Women Whose Spouses (or family) Have Left the Church. You could refer women to that if you want. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading all the comments.

  40. Kendy Ferguson

    I am soooo grateful I found this! I was reading about some women who’s husbands had left and a lot of them just didn’t seem to be as concerned about staying active and faithful. I don’t feel that way at all! I actually have been going through this since July 2012. I did a lot of crying and was very depressed for a few years. I too cried the day my husband bought underwear that were hiding in his dresser and started wearing them. My husband was very angry and bitter and I had to hear all the ugly stuff from him. I was sent several mixed faith couple podcasts from a high profile excommunicated man (I’m sure many of you know him). I don’t even want to mention his name because I don’t like him!!

    I noticed that even though these couples seemed to be working out and were happy I didn’t like what the believing spouse was willing to give up in order to make it work. The church, or should I say, the gospel taught through the LDS Church is my life. This trial has actually made me hunger for more of it. I love it! I had an experience when my mother passed away when I was 17 that I will never deny and I know that the LDS Church houses the same spirit I experienced that day. I was able to study abroad at the Jerusalem Center in Israel. Another testimony building experience I will forever be grateful for. My love of the Savior and this gospel was so strengthened.

    I decided to talk to a church historian who was my home teacher as a child. It was so helpful. I then decided to read Rough Stone Rolling because my husband kept throwing stuff at me that I didn’t know all the details to and knowing my husband hates reading things thoroughly because of his dyslexia I knew he had only skimmed it. I went into my studying prayerfully and I continued to take an institute class simultaneously to stay balanced. I actually loved it. It just strengthened my testimony of Joseph’s true and sincere character and his mortal faults like mine.

    I then was invited by a friend to a FAIR Mormon conference that next August which sounded strange to me at first but after that conference I felt so great. They are church historians, scholars, people who have gone through faith crises, etc. who make it their goal to faithfully answer any critical questions thrown at the church. I now go every year and look so forward to it. There are some amazing podcasts on their website:

    So, five years later…I still have my hard days, but many good days again. I can’t say I’m as attracted to my husband as I was when he was active in the church. We took a trip together in 2008 to the Philippines where he served and he was so happy and lit up around to these people. I will never forget that trip. It’s who I like to picture him as being. I love that someone earlier pointed out how we are all learning unconditional love and the more we move forward and love them the more Christ-like we can become. Because you know what… it’s hard guys!!!

    I would like to share one scripture that I heard in a great podcast I heard. It’s what gave me the faith to keep moving on and working on our marriage. It’s 1 Corinthians 7:12-15. I love in verse 14 that it says that the husband/wife is sanctified by the wife/husband. I hope that as I grow and learn and remain strong that it will help him in the long run.

    I really would love to be able to talk with some of you when I’m having a tough day. It looked like Laura above had tried to start a Facebook group but I can’t find it. Does anyone know if that ever existed? I have a few friends in the same boat that would really appreciate something like this also. I need to hear and learn about others that love the gospel and are choosing to remain faithful. Thank you all.

  41. Kendy Ferguson

    I left a comment last week. I really would like to know if there is a support group for women going through this? It looked like Laura above had tried to start one. Does anyone know if that exists?

  42. Kendy,

    Sorry for the delay in publishing your comments. Someone recently provided a link to a FB group, and I’ve tried to pull together a forum space but so far we haven’t been able to get it off the ground. If you want to email me at mormonwomen at gmail, I can let you know if that forum ever does get started.

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