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Toxic Marriage/Toxic Church: One Woman’s Story--Show Transcript

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Toxic. It’s a word we’ve all been hearing a lot more over the last few years than we ever have before. But what does it really mean? How is toxic different from just regular old, bad or dysfunctional? Well, it may largely be semantics. And certainly every relationship and every faith system is imperfect. So ultimately, what it comes down to is a pattern that is persistent and never changes. It is the roller coaster that you have felt or experienced with a friend or family member. And it’s much like the cycle of abuse. In fact, it can become that, with its dysfunction and pain alternating with promises and seasons of joy and hope. Today, we’re going to talk about just that toxic marriage and toxic faith and how they interrelate.

Tara  01:08

Welcome to the Starting Over Stronger Show, where you’ll find help and hope for your divorce survival and recovery. Divorce well, live well.

Annie Allen  01:27

Welcome back to the Starting Over Stronger Divorce Survival and Recovery Show. Thank you again for joining us here today, where we bring you stories of those who have lived through their divorce and recovered and want to share a word with you about what they’ve learned through that. Today, we are going to be hearing from Tara. Tara is here to share her story of divorce survival and recovery. Hi, Tara.

Tara  01:53

Hi, Annie, how are you?

Annie Allen  01:54

I am great. Thank you so much for being here. And let’s just start with you telling the audience just a little bit about yourself.

Tara  02:01

Sure. So I am indeed single, still single after 10 years, mom of two girls, 21 and 19. The 19 year old still lives at home with me. Both of them work and are in college, and I work full time in adoption in the state of Utah.

Annie Allen  02:19

Well, thank you again for taking some time out of your day to spend with us talking about your divorce story. I guess what I want to say before you get started is just you know, today’s topic is about having a toxic marriage that is blended with a toxic church. And that’s going to look different for every person that it affects in different ways. So obviously, your story is unique. And then in some ways, it’s not, you know, because in every story, there are similarities for others who even if they have some situations that are different, they have some similarities and they can relate to the different parts of your story. So we are interested in just whatever it is that you want to tell us about your divorce survival and recovery. And I’ll just let you start now.

Tara  03:05

Great, thank you. So I was raised in the LDS church by a mother who is very active LDS. For people who do not know what that is, it’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, often referred to as the Mormons, although they have asked that they not be referred to as Mormons anymore. So in the LDS church, you are raised from the moment you could speak, walk, talk, that is your life and that is what your life revolves around. So they start you very young, in the understanding of the church and what the church expects from you. Definitely ran strongly by a patriarchy system, and you are taught that as a woman, you are to keep yourself pure and clean, so that someday you can marry the perfect priesthood holder in an LDS temple, and that you keep your law of chastity. That means that you refrain from wearing inappropriate clothing. You wear dresses, of course, you know, close to the knee or at the knee cap sleeves, no bikini snow, short shorts. They want you to keep yourself as as pure as you can be, so that you can meet this perfect spouse and be married in the temple. Of course, once you are married in the LDS temple, they do require that you wear a garment, what they call garments, which eludes to wearing clothing that, as I described, covers your legs to your knees and caps your sleeves of your tops. So it’s imperative that you keep all of these covenants within the church, so that you can meet this person and marry them in the temple.  So growing up, I did date outside of the LDS religion. I was raised in Wyoming and there were very few LDS people around my age so I dated outside of the LDS religion, but I knew someday that was my goal. Ultimately, I needed to marry somebody who was LDS. I went to college. I went to a smaller LDS college. BYU would be the big Mormon college, I went to what was called Rick’s college. It’s now BYU Idaho. I went to Rick’s college with the idea that I was going there to meet a mate. Ultimately, that is what we as LDS women do. You want to meet your eternal mate. I did not find a mate there. But I did end up moving to Utah after that and lived a couple of years in Utah before I did meet somebody who actually was LDS. In the moment, I felt like, here’s an LDS guy. He was actually not quite divorced from his first LDS marriage to a woman he had married in the LDS temple. She had left him for another man, and they had two small children. We were introduced to each other shortly before his divorce became final.  Here was a man who was LDS. He treated me like gold. He definitely was suffering from his wife leaving him. He was angry and extremely sad. So when I met him, I of course, was taken by his sadness and his need to be loved. I’m kind of a fixer. So that’s exactly what I did. I thought, I’m going to come in, and I’m going to love this man, and give him all I can possibly give him to make him feel better, and be a happier person again, despite his wife, having left him. Because he was LDS, that was a huge bonus. I, of course, had saved myself for marriage, which is what ultimately you want to do. You want to be pure and clean when you get married to your spouse. So I had specifically went into my dating life and with the understanding that I was not going to have sexual intercourse with anyone except for my spouse. So I had actually saved myself, and this was the person I thought that I should be with. We dated for well over a year. We did not have sex throughout that year, shockingly, which is something that now I look back on, I think I would have lived my early years much differently had I know what I know now, but he was good to me. He was kind to me, however, I did see things that were concerning in him, in his personality. I chalked it up to what he was dealing with an ex wife and not having his children full time and him seeing his ex wife with this new man that he knew very well. The man actually worked for my now ex-husband. So I saw a few things early on, that I chalked up to him just trying to process what had happened and what was happening in his life. He was going to church regularly, and we went together. And yet, I would see these fits of anger that would come out around his business with customers. I would see anger towards just things, whether it was a piece of equipment that wasn’t working correctly or a door that was jamming or something that spilled. Any small thing, he would just lose his mind. I witnessed one evening driving home late at night (well about 10pm) on the freeway, he was driving extremely erratically across the lines of traffic at 90 to 100 miles an hour in his truck. I was in there with him. I was, of course, scared. But I did not want to infuriate him anymore and he was upset at some drivers. So this is how he, still, handles drivers that have road rage, and we got pulled over and the police officer literally pulled a gun on us, and had him exit the vehicle, thinking that he probably was drunk or, you know, high on something. Thankfully, we were let go. But those kinds of things that took place that were scary. He did describe, on one occasion, prior to us meeting, where he had taken his small children who were two and five at the time, from the bed they were sleeping at his house, put them in the back of his truck, or the backseat of his truck, and put a gun on the front seat of his truck, and drove to his soon to be ex-wife’s house with these children in the backseat sleeping, on Christmas Eve, knowing that she was with this man that she had left him for. So in my innocent mind, I did not think of that as anything more than his sadness and his frustration at the situation that she had left him in, as opposed to looking at it as a potential anger issue, and what could have happened, had that new boyfriend of her stepped out of the home at midnight, with a gun sitting on his front seat. I did ask him what he thought he was going to do. He said, I have no idea. 

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But little things like that, that occurred through the one year that we were engaged prior to being married. The more I saw, things like that, or heard about things like that, I knew about three months prior to our wedding, that it probably wasn’t the best decision to marry this man, who I thought was going to be this great LDS standout guy. Nobody knew any of these things. I did not express any of this to my family. My mother was somewhat concerned when we first met and had her concerns throughout the process. But I dismissed them. I was 25. I wanted to think that I was mature enough to make decisions when it came to marriage. And 25 in the state of Utah is an old lady to be getting married. Most men, women, girls and boys, I really should call them are married at 20,21,22. My sister was almost 19, just shy of being 19 when she married. It’s very, very typical for LDS missionaries to come off of their missions, and marry almost right away. So you’re looking at 21 year old boys marrying 18, 19, 20 year old girls. So at 25, I felt like you know, I’m too old to be doing this any longer. You know, and I think I thought that I was having those wedding jitters. Everybody talks about it. And I thought, well, I’m just I’m trying to talk myself out of it. I’m sure it’s Satan. I’m sure it’s Satan trying to come between me and my eternal companion. Regardless of the fact that I had these feelings, I just felt like I needed to go through and get married, and dismiss Satan’s idea of stopping what potentially could be any eternal family in the LDS Church.  So three months later, we married and probably within a couple of years, I saw certain things that went outside of just the normal anger issue. I knew that he struggled with jealousy. I knew that when we were dating, anybody we came in contact with. He assumed was somebody from my past mail, any mail that we came in contact with contact with that I had known from previous five, six years of living in Utah, he assumed was somebody from my past, he assumed that it was somebody that I had had some sort of a relationship with. after our marriage, it didn’t change too much. But I did everything to protect him from concerns concerned that I was going to leave him like his first wife did. And you know, I can look back now thinking he never healed from that. first wife leaving him. He should have had some sort of therapy to get him through that I thought I was going to be able to be that therapist. I thought I was going to be able to love him so much and so hard that I was going to dispel all that thought that I was going to leave him the same way, and that was how our marriage was for 14 years. It was always a concern. If he thought I was talking to another man, then he assumed that I might be having a relationship with that man. It didn’t matter if it was our neighbor. Remember, I’m living in a very LDS neighborhood, very LDS community. We all went to church together. These are people that… that was our world. If we went out for dinner on Friday or Saturday night, it was with our LDS church, people. And if we went on vacation, it was with our LDS Church friends. And these people do not drink, they do not smoke. They live very clean lives. And this is who we spend our time with. He was close to all the men in our… it’s not called a congregation, but it’s the same thing as a congregation. In an LDS setting, it’s a ward… So he was very close to all the men. They golf together. Our business was a prominent business in the community, so he did work for all of these people because of his business. So he was in tight with all the men and he still is to this day, and I was friends with all the wives.  As time went on, I saw things that occurred that were shocking to me. Two years into our marriage, we went to my class reunion, and he drank alcohol in such a large consumption, I was shocked. First of all, I had no idea that he was drinking to begin with, and about halfway through the night, I thought, Oh my gosh! He’s actually drinking alcohol! And it just kept getting worse throughout the night, and I believe, looking back on it now, it was probably his way of coping with me being in a setting of high school peers that I had graduated with 10 years prior. It was how he coped with seeing me visiting with men, boys, guys… men that I had graduated from high school with who I remain very good friends with, even to this day, I have no interest in any of them. And still, to this day, I’ve been divorced 10 years and have no interest in any of those men. But they are good friends. We were a very small school. I graduated with 120 kids, so we all knew each other. It was a tight community. And he struggled with that. He definitely struggled when, of course, Facebook came out because then you start making friends. I mean, this was like, you know, towards the end of 2008, I think 2009 when Facebook really hit big. And you become friends with all of the people you went to high school with, especially when there’s only 120 of you.  By that time, he was drinking quite regularly. He definitely is one that could easily become addicted to anything. It’s just his nature. And he’s very good for the most part at controlling it and watching it, but we had an issue with pornography about three, four years into our marriage that I had discovered on the computer… a large quantity of downloaded pornography that I was not aware of was there. And I was of course shocked. Now I look at it, you know, in the LDS community that is super frowned upon, like, you know, if you looked at porn one or two times, you’re addicted to porn. That’s what the LDS Church will say. And I was in that mindset. I really thought he was addicted to porn because of what I found on the computer. Do I feel like he’s addicted to porn now? No. And was he then? No, but in my mind, you know, that was a big red X across our family name, and he had an addiction. So I worried about that. I worried about the fact that he drank coffee of all things. Because that is a big no-no, in the LDS Church. Coffee. No, like black tea you can use. You can drink herbal tea, but no black tea. Yeah, those kind of things that were frowned upon. I took really to heart. So the alcohol was, of course, really, really hard for me. But initially the coffee was the hardest thing if you can believe that. Those were the kinds of things I hid, you know. I hid everything because I didn’t want to have to answer for his sins. Same with the pornography. Same with what, you know, to me is like, that’s ridiculous… like coffee and porn! I can’t believe that I was in that mindset.  I was also in the mindset as we were raising his boys, you know, that are now older throughout our marriage a little bit older and having our own girls, I was in the mindset that our family had to be the perfect LDS family. And we had to be the church every Sunday and LDS Church used to be three hours long. They’ve now capped it at two hours, but then, three hours of church every Sunday. Not to mention the time that you put in during the week, when they have extracurricular activities of the week with the young women and the young man, which are the teenagers, they call them young women, young men. Teenagers that had meetings during the week, scouting during the week, you know, just your regular church meetings during the week, outside of the three hours at church block on Sunday. So in in my mind, we had to be this perfect family so that we could reach the highest Kingdom after we left this earth, the celestial kingdom. That was our goal. So I did everything as a mother to make sure that we were doing everything perfectly right, according to the church, and that when I had to go answer to our church leaders, the bishop, who was you know, in the ward… he’s the big wig of the ward and his counselors. When I had to go answer to them, I could say yes, we, you know, we go to church on Sunday, and we do family home evening, and we pray often, and we read our scriptures, and we pay our 10% tithing. That’s a big thing with the LDS Church is, you know, you pay 10% tithing on your earnings. And our children were involved in everything, and I really forced his children. His children had no interest in being in the LDS Church, but when they were with us, I forced them to go to church. I had this motto, that you had a choice. Your choice was you could go to church happy, or you could go to church sad. But that was your choice. You went to church. That is the way I looked at everything when it involved the church because I had to be perfect, and I had to have my family be perfect. And we needed to look perfect everybody else. And I had to be able to answer to the bishop, that we were doing everything right. So that one day, we could all be an eternal family in the celestial kingdom, when we left this world. It was different within the home. Of course, nobody saw what was really happening. And within the home, nobody saw the struggle that was created because of that. The coffee struggle and my husband drinking that became, you know, a huge secret and the anger that his boys had against me and I had against them because they didn’t want to go to church and they didn’t want to participate in church the way we were supposed to as a family. It drove a huge, huge wedge between me and his children. Thankfully, 10 years now, 10 years later after our divorce is final, and I’m out of the church, I have the best relationship with them. I just have to add that… if I miss it later, I love and adore that like my own children. But at the time, it was all about looking good and being able to answer to the higher-up that we were good. I can remember specifically going in for your yearly meeting with the bishop. And that’s when you answer all the questions that, you know, making sure that you’re staying within what the church requires of you. I remember the bishop who was good friends with my husband, and who golfed with him regularly and did work with him regularly. I can remember the bishop saying, you know, asking about my husband and I said, I’ve gotten to the point in our relationship. This was towards the end that I just said, you know, that’s his business, and I can’t answer for him. You’ll have to ask him. But I know he was struggling. I mean, my husband was drinking to the point that he passed out every night by 8:30-9. He had, a couple years prior, put a tracker on my car because he “knew” I was leaving him or cheating on him. So I was constantly being traced and tracked. If I was 15 minutes late to being out with my girlfriends, the hammer would fall. All hell would break loose. He would you know wonder where I was or what I was doing or who I was with. I remember missing out on a lot of great opportunities to be with girlfriends and do things because I knew I had to be home. He could not function without me there.

Annie Allen  25:13

How long did that all go on? How many years did you do it like that?

Tara  25:17

Fourteen years of the jealousy and anger. Fourteen years.

Annie Allen  25:25

Do you remember when you felt like it really shifted? Like you were doing, maybe doing all the same things you’d always been doing, but all of a sudden, you were thinking about it differently.

Tara  25:39

Probably about eight or nine years in maybe. I mean, there were things that happened along the way that I put on the shelf, like the drinking two years in when he could have got wasted my classroom. And that was two years in the pornography was about three and a half, four years in. And those things that really shook me up, I put on a shelf, which is really what I did with a lot of things with the church in general with the LDS Church in general, I would shelf them as a good friend of mine who stated one time that you’re really good at compartmentalizing. And that’s what I did. I compartmentalize all the little things along the way.

Annie Allen  26:20

And so it was eight or nine years in when you really started to see things differently. And then how long before you felt like you could do things differently?

Tara  26:30

Do things in what way?

Annie Allen  26:32

Like if you felt that I can’t go out with my girlfriends, you chose to do it anyway?

Tara  26:39

I never did.

Annie Allen  26:40

You never did. So when did you decide that because of that you were going to file for divorce or, you know, when when did it shift to I’m not going to live this life anymore?

Tara  26:53

So probably so that was about the 14 year mark, just a little before the 14 year mark. I said to him, that we need to get some counseling. So we did go through counseling, marriage counseling. It seemed to help a little bit. He did some one on one, and he was doing really well until one day he just lost it. I came home and he was just beyond angry and said all she wants is my money, and I’m sick of doing this. And so he was done doing the whole counseling thing. His drinking had gotten really bad. Only one or two of our friends knew about it. And the one friend came to me his good friend and said, you’ve got to stop, you’ve got to talk to him, we have to do an intervention. So I finally did. I was scared. Because of his… I was very scared to say anything. But I finally said, this has to end. This has to stop, and he agreed. And he quit drinking for about three days. After three days, I noticed that he was back. And I thought well, at this point, I’m going to I’m just going to keep living as best as I can live. And it was scary. And I tried not to leave the girls. One time I did leave the girls and I had a friend say, how do you even leave the girls there? If something happened, he can’t even be driving them. So little things like that that happened over the next couple of months. Then my downfall. My big no-no was I started talking to somebody at the gym, a male who was also married and going through his own marriage issues. Started telling me about what he was going through as we’re riding spin bikes next to each other in the spin room. He was an open book telling me he just moved to our community. After a couple of weeks, I thought you know what, here’s somebody I can tell.

Annie Allen  28:51

Tara  32:12

He doesn’t know anybody. Everybody in our community knew us because of our business, and the businesses that we’d had in the community for 30 years. And I said, here’s somebody I can tell. So I started telling this guy about what I was dealing with. And of course, he was sympathetic and felt bad, and was a good listening ear. And he agreed to talk to me about it for probably six weeks. So this was about six weeks after… this was about six weeks after I’d asked Chris to stop drinking. He started drinking again. Six more weeks of talking to this gentleman and I literally… we had started talking in LDS Church parking lots if you can believe that, but that’s what I would do. I’m like, I can’t talk to you about any of this when we’re at the gym because everybody knows me. And I knew, of course I knew I was being followed, but we would meet an LDS Church parking lots that went on for about two weeks that we would meet every other day, every three days in LDS Church parking lots. I knew it was a poor decision. I knew I should never be talking to somebody else about my marriage. I knew this was not in good standings with LDS church. So I met him, oh gosh, this would have been three months after asking Chris to stop drinking. Three months later, I met this man in the parking lot. And I said, I cannot, we cannot talk anymore. You need to go off and figure out your life and your marriage. And I have got to figure out how I’m going to survive mine. I knew… I wasn’t going to get divorced. I just knew I needed to work on something or find a different strategy. And literally as we were sitting in an LDS Church parking lot, 11:30am in the morning, the children in the neighborhood all around us are out playing. And he and I are visiting about this and I’m saying we cannot talk anymore. I cannot do this, you know, especially my marriage and so forth. And sure enough, came my husband across the parking lot. Which I guess I should expect, because he tracked me everywhere. So you know, I knew he had a tracer on my car. He came flying into the parking lot, got out of his vehicle, grabbed ahold of this guy, pulled him from the vehicle, which this guy is about a foot taller than my now ex-husband. And of course when he stood up and my ex-husband is yelling at him, you mother-effing I probably shouldn’t use them. But you name it. He used every word that he could possibly use on the guy. And the guy said, Dude, I’m this isn’t what you think. I’m not having sex with your wife. Please, you know, calm down, and my husband turned into his truck and pulled out a gun and pointed at the guy and said, I’m going to blow your mother-effing brains out. And the guy said, Please, please put the gun away. Please, this is not what you think. There’s nothing going on her. We are not having an affair. And my husband was not going to listen to anything. So he proceeded to about 15-20 minutes of screaming and yelling, taking everything out of my vehicle, throwing it, destroying it, sunglasses, I had two phones, because I was working at the time and on business that I couldn’t had to have a separate phone for, taking my phone. Anything that he could get his hands on, he destroyed, crushed threw, broke inside my vehicle. And I stood in the parking lot watching this all happen. While this, this friend was trying to call my husband down and there was no calming him down. Finally, my friend got in his vehicle and left. And I stood there with my arms folded looking at the tire on my husband’s truck and thought, I just reached the surface of an ocean I’ve been treading water in and could not breathe for however many years? I am breathing, I am finally breathing. And my life is going to do a 180 degree turn. I will never be able to touch him again. I will never be able to live in the same house with him again. And I am losing my beautiful home. I had built my beautiful dream home about eight years prior to this. I am losing my great… I have two beautiful vehicles, snowmobiles, boats, you name it, I had it all. I had everything I could ever want. And I did not care.

Annie Allen  36:58

In that moment in the parking lot, you were having that realization?

Tara  37:02

Absolutely. I knew my life was about to do 180. I knew I was losing everything. And I was actually breathing. Like I had the biggest, like surge of oxygen that entered my body. And I was on the surface of an ocean that I had been drowning in. And it was the most freeing experience! And I had nothing. Like he’s standing there screaming and yelling, and every name in the book, I’m this… I’m a bit*h, I’m a wh*re.

Annie Allen  37:36

And you’re like somewhere else entirely?

Tara  37:38

And I did not care. I just stood there. I didn’t even have a tear to shed. He got in his truck, and he said, we’ll see who’s alive in the next, you know, hour or whatever. Which I didn’t feel like he was going to kill me. I don’t know if he thought, I’m sure he thought about killing the other guy in this in this case, and certainly it was no different than what he went through with his first wife leaving him. I had no interest in leaving my husband, none whatsoever. That was not my plan, and I just wanted out. And I didn’t realize I wanted out. And three days… three or four days later… Actually, no… let me just… I do have to state this… a little bit later in that afternoon, about six hours later that afternoon. Granted, I’m still in the LDS church, I’m still trying to do everything that’s right. And I called my mom, who knew nothing. Nobody knew anything. Nobody knew anything about what our life was like behind doors. And I called my mom and she was just so sad and upset. I mean, this is a woman who dedicated her whole life to the LDS Church. She was a temple worker. She was by the book. And she was devastated. And she agreed to meet me and go with me back to my home and get a few things and get my children and get out. And it was about six hours later because I had a lot of work to do. And I’m sure he tracked me. I know he tracked me all day long. You know, staying somewhat behind me, but I know he tracked me all day. And she met m, got my car with me. I went to my house at 3:30 in the afternoon my kids just come home from work or school. And he pulled up literally seconds later. That’s how I knew he was following me because he knew I was at the house. And he proceeded to get out of his truck and just the same words, worse, this time he was drunk. He claims that he was sober at 11:30 in the morning when he pulled the gun. But this time he was definitely drunk. And he started calling me names. Of course my mother broke down bawling and couldn’t believe that he was saying all these things. And as she asked him to stop swearing at me and he couldn’t care. He couldn’t have cared less what my mother said. And he said you, you don’t love me, you’ve never loved me only love Rick, which is my brother-in-law. Which is the funniest part of the whole thing is that the only person he brought up was my brother-in-law. You only love him, you’ve never loved me. And she said, That’s not true. We love you, we want to help you, we’re here for you. And he said, look at your look at your daughter. She’s just standing there. She’s just a wh*re. She’s a c*nt. She’s not allowed back in this house. She has nothing. And I didn’t. I just stood there with my arms folded, just looking at him and just watching him because I was just, I was so done. I didn’t realize it, but I was just so done. And I finally, I had to say something. I just, I had to say something that sounded like I cared. And I said, you shouldn’t be driving like this, you’ve got to stop. And he told me to get my sh*t and get out of the house. And he got in the truck, left beautiful skid marks across the driveway that were there for eight years that we got to look at for the next eight years! Every time I went to the house, there they were, as a reminder. It was a great reminder, actually. And he nearly missed my daughter who walked around from the front of the house as he was backing out by seconds. He could have just torn right over her. And she was, of course, scared and saying what’s wrong with dad? And my mother said, you have to call the police. And I said I can’t, you know, like, I can’t, I can’t call the police. I mean, that means everybody in the neighborhood would know! That means the ward would know, the bishop, everybody would know. But she said, you’ve got to call the police. So I did. And sure enough, my house is now… police officers at it and I had to tell them the whole story and tell them that he’s been drinking and I’m grabbing stuff. I just wanted to get out of the house and get to my mom’s and get to safety. And sure enough, they did find him in the community at another LDS Church parking lot. Oddly enough. I don’t know what it is with LDS Church parking lots… but they’re on every corner here in Utah. So that would explain a lot. And they did arrest him. They arrested him there in that parking lot. They never did find the gun. I’m not sure what he did with the gun. But I mean, he does have guns. So that’s not unusual.

Annie Allen  42:16

So that day, you had decided… you said earlier, you were done. How long was it before you were actually initiated… or a divorce was initiated?

Tara  42:30

It was about a month I went to the bishop. I told the bishop what had happened. Of course, he was in shock. Like he couldn’t believe it. I don’t think he believed anything I told him. And he just said, Wow, that was his response. The LDS Church teaches their bishops that they are to counsel marriages, counsel couples to keep their marriages together. That is, they’re not counselors, they’re not, you know, licensed counselors whatsoever. But that is what they… that’s what they are trained to do… or told to do to keep you do everything to do to keep the marriage together. And I told him, I thought I don’t think I can do this. And he said, I need you to give me three or four weeks, just give me three or four weeks. And I was on the countdown. I wanted… I wanted out. Three or four weeks to be done so that I could say, Yep, nothing’s changed. And part of me was like, okay, maybe this can change, maybe something can change now. And I’m going to pray. And I’m going to do this and that. Also, because of the circumstances, I failed to mention, I was given a disciplinary notification based on what I had done. Because that was not appropriate for me to meet with another married man like that. So I was the one who was put on a disciplinary form, and I was the one who was not allowed to pray in church anymore, you know, for a while for a few weeks. I was like, Okay, hold on, I’m the one who gets in trouble? Yet he went to jail for pulling a gun, and, you know, drinking and all these things, and I’m the one? But you know, he came back to the bishop being remorseful and asking for forgiveness. And he literally became like the perfect spouse in that month. And I was happy for him. I was glad that he had stopped drinking. And he was going to church and he was getting blessings from the priesthood holders in the church. And he was reading books to help him be better. And I was happy that he was doing that. But it wasn’t changing where I was and I couldn’t decide where I was. And a month, about a month later as we were coming home from a vacation, my husband lost it on me because I had done nothing to try to fix our situation. And I said, Well, I actually have a marriage coach I think we should attend. So three days later, we went to a marriage coach, and I explained everything to the marriage coach. Chris explained his side of things. The marriage coach wrote on a big huge whiteboard, and one side of the board he put “I love you” and on the other side of the board, he put “I hate you.” And he drew a line between them, and he was explaining where people are. And of course, he described my husband as the I Love You person. And sure enough, my husband said, Yeah, I love her, I love you. And the whole time I’m thinking, I am not at I hate you. Like I didn’t hate him. And he was explaining to me where he can save a marriage where one person’s at I love you and one person’s at I hate you. And it’s really tough, but he can even save a marriage where one or both people are at I hate you. But he said there’s another place. I’m like, he’s gonna ask me where I am on this line. I don’t know where on this line, like, I guess I’m somewhere in between, I don’t know. And then he drew the line out farther past I hate you, and he wrote “I am indifferent.” And I said, Yeah, that’s me! And I had never thought about it in those terms, but yes, I am the indifferent person. And he said, for the indifferent person, they are happy that the I love the person is doing all these things. And they see the I love the person becoming the perfect spouse, but it doesn’t change their indifference. And he said, in my 14 years of doing this, I’ve never saved a marriage where one person was that I love you and one person was that I am indifferent. And I said, there you go. That’s it.

Annie Allen  46:22

And that’s powerful too. I say all the time to people that you know, when you’re still like fixated on an ex, for example, and knowing everything they do, and you’re just so angry at them. You’re still closer to love than you are to healed.

Tara  46:38


Annie Allen  46:38

Because when you get to, I don’t care. I don’t wish you evil. I don’t… you know, I hope you have a great life, but I’m… I’m done, you know, done is done. And it’s just so far from like you said on that timeline of I love you. It’s definitely where you need to get to, to heal.

Tara  47:00

Absolutely. I could, I could have never explained it better. Like I was like, I have no idea where I am until he explained to us and yeah, yeah, absolutely right. I am indifferent. And it didn’t matter what he could have done for me. It just wouldn’t matter. He could have given me a million dollars to stay with him. And he would have, he would have done anything. Absolutely anything for me to stay. And I had zero interest. I was ready to live in a trailer next to the river bottom.

Annie Allen  47:32

Right. And you know what, it’s just as well, because it when those big changes are made fast, they don’t last. You know? So yeah, he might have been willing to do anything to get you back, but he would have only been willing to do anything for a certain amount of time. And then it would have been just like it was before. And you know, so it’s good that you know, you could sense that… so then you know, so you decided to file then I guess?

Tara  47:56

Yeah, so that went from marriage coaching to divorce mediation. It took about four months of pure hell, absolute pure hell. And of course, the church was, you know, frowned upon that… they weren’t super happy. I don’t think they knew what to do with me. Like, who is this person who’s leaving?  You know, church leaders were close to him. And they all saw the good things that he was doing, and all these great changes he was making. And I saw it too, but you know, they were his friend, and they were his, you know, somebody that they worked closely with. And so they really weren’t not sure, I could tell, they didn’t know really what to do with me.

Annie Allen  48:35

Were you just leaving the marriage or were you leaving the church too?

Tara  48:38

Just the marriage. I was going to church every Sunday. I was teaching my little primary class. I had cute little primary kids and I teach them every Sunday and even after our divorce was final when our divorce was final four months later, we both remained living in the house. That was part of the deal is that I would live upstairs. Our home was like two separate houses. I will live upstairs with the girls, and he was he was supposed to stay downstairs. But of course, he abruptly came up after that whole discussion and said Just so you know, I will never stay downstairs. I will be up here whenever I want. I was like, okay… and I just stuck it out for the rest of the school year because I didn’t want to disrupt my children’s lives. And which was probably the worst thing I could have done for myself personally. But, you know, he didn’t have to give me any money. I think he was all about that. You have to give me any money until I left. He’s supposed to give me like $200 a month I had to prove it to him with receipts. I mean, it was just, it was just crazy, that I won’t go into, but by the time I finally got to the end of the school year, I was like I got to get out of here! I cannot stay here, and I actually called the bishop and I said to him, can you please just send somebody and this is a ward that… you have to know the LDS people… I mean, they’re all about service. And their standard when somebody moves is to help move. I  mean everybody chips in and helps, and everybody just loves one another. And so I called and I said, if there’s any way you could. I’m moving out the state, if you could just send one man, just one man to stand by the house and just watch, because I was so afraid of what my ex-husband was going to do. I said, I just need to be protected. If you could just send one person to watch. I don’t need your help. My whole family showed up to help. And the day came and not one person showed up to watch. And thankfully, my sweet brother-in-law… that of course, my ex-husband, thought the whole family loved and only loved my brother-in-law, not him… was there to help calm my ex-,husband and he was not claiming… it was not pretty. But my brother-in-law did a great job of trying to keep him somewhat calm as I removed things from the home. And soon after I learned of all the things that he had ruined things that I had packed, and he destroyed my clothing, he went through my clothing with a box cutter, and box cut the crotches of all of my jeans, the backs of my coats, just random little cuts in in clothing. He just destroyed anything he could possibly get his hands on before I left the house. And about probably two weeks after I left the house, I lost my brakes on a major road here in Utah. And the only person who had had my vehicle was when I begged him and I asked him please, I don’t have the money to replace my rotors. I will buy the rotors, if you can take it and have your mechanic replace the rotors. He took my vehicle and he was the only person who had my vehicle. And this would have been about three, four weeks later, I lost my brakes. And I took it to three different mechanics including the dealership and they all said someone has poured something… someone has sabotaged your brake line, someone has put something into your brake line, which of course I tried to claim on my insurance. And he was good buddies, good golfing buddies with our insurance guy, and he had it denied. So of course, Lexus wanted $6500 to fix. I had nothing, I had no money, he wasn’t giving me any money at this point. And finally got that repaired for half the cost. But it was those little things that that I dealt with, even after leaving the house, even leaving him.

Annie Allen  49:06

How long did your divorce take?

Tara  52:52

It only took four months. But I stayed in the house, basically three more months after the divorce was final, I stayed for three more months in the house, just to keep things somewhat normal for my children so they could get on and off the bus at the home, they’d always known, that they’d known forever, before I left, and I did not want the home. It was huge. And I didn’t want to have to come up with the money to pay for the home. I had no interest in staying in the home. And I got one vehicle and he were supposed to cover the insurance on it. Of course, when the brake line went out the insurance, you know, he wouldn’t cover the brake line with insurance. And he covered the insurance for a few more months. And then he was done, and he wasn’t about to pay me. It was probably about the same time that I lost the brakes in the car that I read a book that had to do with one of the great historians in the LDS church, who his daughter wrote the book, and it was about her experience with her father, and the sexual abuse she suffered from him and how it was covered up by the LDS church. And it was in that moment that I thought, there is a problem here. There’s a problem. Women are not heard. And the patriarchy runs super deep in that church and they’ve got each other’s back. They will always back, they will always back the men. And we are just simply therefore holding the families together and having children. It was in that moment, I was like I can’t keep doing this. This is not… and it still took me probably three years to completely walk away from it all. It was a slow process. All those things that I told you I had put on a shelf. I’m not going to church. Those shelves started breaking. After that experience of not having one person from the ward come and watch and make sure I was safe. And then reading that book and knowing even something that happened to me. When my mom was married her second husband, he also tried to become this great LDS man. And yet I knew that he was a predator. I knew that he, had my sister and I not been strong enough, he would have tried something sexual. He did things that were not appropriate, but never did anything, you know, necessarily sexual with either of us. Well, that I know of. And those kinds of things are what are covered up in the church. Those are the things that people don’t talk about, don’t want to talk about. And if they are talked about, it’s swept under the rug, no one knows.

Annie Allen  55:38

So all in the space of a year or so, your marriage crumbled, your faith system as it were crumbled? How do you summarize all that in your mind and your experience and your recovery?

Tara  55:57

Wow, there’s a lot to summarize, but I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t change any of it. I think the, the church taught me some great values, some great things. It also taught me some not great things that I know better now. And so I do better. And I raise my children differently. I let my children think for themselves. I’ve let them experience life outside of, of course, the church now. So they, they have a whole different look on life. They’re my greatest teachers now. Because everything I missed out on for those 40-42 years. I’m learning now through them and their experiences. Yeah, it’s amazing. And I, it’s very hard for me to even discuss this still, because such a large percentage of my family is still in. I have to be very careful. And I have to remember, I also have a Catholic side of my family. My father’s side, his family’s Catholic. He was raised Catholic, non-practicing now, but I have to remember that I always respected their church and their beliefs. And, and I always was supportive of them going to mass on Christmas Eve, or my grandmother going to mass every Saturday afternoon, like I was respectful of that. And I knew that’s what made her happy. I have to remind myself now, this is what makes my mom’s side of the family happy. And I have to love and support them and not let my thoughts and my feelings come between our relationship, if that makes sense.

Annie Allen  57:55

Absolutely. And I think the best thing about everything that you’ve shared here today is that the way that you learn to overcome was to extend grace to those around you who may not believe like you do now, because your beliefs have changed. And to allow your children to experience a graceful way of living and understanding the world. And I honestly, I think that’s the best gift that you could get out of an experience like that.

Tara  58:27

Absolutely! To see it through my children’s eyes has been amazing.

Annie Allen  58:31

Mm hmm. Well, thank you, again, Tara, so much for being here and sharing your story or just your vulnerability, your transparency. I know that there are listeners to who this will make a difference in their lives. And they will take further steps in their journey toward healing by hearing what you’ve shared today. And there is so much more to this topic. In fact, you know, as I listened to your story, I didn’t want to let it end. So I let you just tell the whole story, and because of the time, I have decided, I’m going to make this a two part episode, which I’ve actually never done before. But there’s a lot to the similarities, and you know, just understanding how a toxic marriage and a toxic church operate, how you get drawn in, what happens when you’re there, what happens when you leave, and I don’t want to, you know, make this be like a two-hour episode. So what I’m going to do is just finish here with you today and then I’m going to record a solo-cast recapping your story with this understanding of how toxic relationships work, and that goes for romantic relationships as well as church relationships.  So, listeners, I know there was just so much here today… such deep and painful stuff. If you find yourself in these shoes, I want you to know there is help. There are people and resources that are prepared and passionate about helping you and all you have to do is reach out. We know because we were once there, just how hard that can be. And so I just want to encourage you to start today by just exploring the website. See if there’s anything there that resonates with you. If you haven’t yet, I welcome you to schedule a discovery call. That’s my gift to you to learn more about you, your situation, to be able to answer any questions you have and to share how I might be able to come alongside you to ease you through this difficult time. And it’s my pleasure to meet you here each week with a new story or conversation to explore all that is important to you as you go through divorce. So just as a reminder, you can email me anytime. If you have questions, you want to explore today’s topic or divorce coaching, and of course I’d always like to hear what topics you want to hear on the show so we can continue to provide you with quality content.

Here's PART 2!

Until we meet again, remember you do not have to do divorce alone. There is help as you divorce and hope as you are starting over stronger.


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