Part 1: What Happens When a Mormon Bishop Loses His Faith – Matthew & Elizabeth Shakespear Pt. 1

Part 2: What Happens When a Mormon Bishop & Single Mom Fall in Love? – Matthew & Elizabeth Shakespear Pt. 2

  • What happens when a Mormon bishop falls in love with a member of his congregation?  How could this happen?
  • What situation would make a divorced single mother returning to Mormon church activity fall in love with her married bishop?
  • In what ways does the calling of Mormon bishop, including both excessive time demands on the Bishop and the practice of one-on-one “worthiness” interviews with single women, put excessive strain on bishops, their marriages, and their families – making infidelity more likely?
  • Should divorced single women (or anyone for that matter) seek life counseling from a Mormon bishop?  Are bishops trained and qualified to do life counseling?
  • How could a bishop and a divorced single mother come to believe that they were both engaged in a God-approved polygamous relationship?  Does a story like this help us better understand the Chad Daybell / Lori Vallow story, or the Joseph Smith story?
  • What happens when a Mormon bishop loses his faith, while he is serving as bishop?  What type of pressure does that put on the bishop, his wife, and their family?
  • What is it like to be viewed as “the mistress” in a public relationship that is viewed as scandalous (i.e., a Mormon bishops falls in love with a ward member, loses his faith, asks to be released, and the entire ward/stake knows)?
  • What happens when a Mormon stake president is forced to release a Mormon bishop early?  What types of pressure does this situation put on the stake president, the ward, the bishop, and the bishop’s family?  How does the Mormon church handle such situations?
  • If you happen to fall in love with someone who isn’t your spouse mid-life, how do you decide whether to stay in the struggling or failed marriage to improve it vs. leave the marriage to seek greater joy/fulfillment?  Is there ever a time to “cut your losses” in a marriage and move on, or should most/all marriages be preserved at virtually all cost?
  • Can 2nd marriages work, with all the complexities of divorce, ex-spouses, step-children, etc.?  Or are they generally doomed to fail?
  • How in the world do you ever heal from a lifetime of trauma as a Mormon?  Is healing and growth possible?  If so, what are some resources that can be helpful?

Today’s epic two-part Mormon stories interview with Matthew and Elizabeth explores all of these questions, and much, much more.  Buckle in for a 7+ hour in-depth interview.

I promise you that you will not be disappointed with these two strong, vulnerable, inspiring humans.

 

Part 1:

Download MP3

 

Part 2:

Download MP3

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Part 1 Timecodes:
00:07:48 – Matthew’s Mormon story begins
00:16:47 – Orthodox Mormon family & upbringing
00:19:11 – Mormon Priesthood Legacy
00:20:52 – Teenage exploration into sexuality
00:32:01 – “Journey to have a testimony”
00:37:39 – Studying Evolution in College 00:42:27 – Matthew’s Mission
01:05:19 – Marriage & children
01:23:52 – Preaching against masturbation
01:34:41 – “Mormon Bishop Roulette”
01:44:58 – Being over-worked as a Bishop with a full-time job, wife and 6 children

Part 2 Timecodes:
00:02:28 – Elizabeth’s Mormon Story Begins
00:10:03 – Parents divorce & her unique exposure to Mormonism
00:12:24 – Experiences with pre-marital sex
00:14:49 – Married & divorced at a very young age
00:16:36 – Pursued Buddhism & other passions, stopped attending LDS church
00:17:24 – Second Marriage, first child, & second divorce
00:19:45 – Tried to re-consider Mormonism
00:24:57 – Ex-husband’s battle with substance abuse (father of her daughter)
00:27:28 – Moved back to her hometown & began attending again
00:32:59 – Elizabeth’s experience compared to an orthodox mormon upbringing
00:41:50 – Pity and Judgment from members of the church
00:48:58 – Elizabeth & Matthew’s stories converge 
00:52:54 – November 2015 policy & awareness of issues in the church
01:04:26 – Matthew & Elizabeth are introduced
01:13:56 – Girls Camp experiences 
01:19:36 – Interviewed for Stake President
01:30:53 – Personal revelation & making callings as a Bishop
02:02:02 – Matthew’s feminist awakening
02:09:53 – Issues that bishops are not trained to handle
02:16:59 – Depression & emotional trauma from difficult ward counseling
02:26:06 – Bishop Welfare Council
02:36:33 – Emotional intimacy begins to form
02:46:40 – Matthew’s testimony begins to crack
03:30:52 – Created “meaning” to rationalize the connection they felt to another
03:46:02 – Emotion vs. Logic in Mormonism
03:51:07 – Matthew expresses his doubts to the steak president
04:02:46 – Matthew tells his wife he wants to divorce
04:34:25 – Because he gave up the priesthood, Matthew’s children lose their trust in him
04:40:43 – Elizabeth being perceived as a “home wrecker”
05:02:58 – Being released as Bishop
05:14:07 – Matthew send his church resignation letter
05:21:13 – Closing questions & remarks

23 Comments

  1. Andrew March 31, 2021 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Another great episode.
    Maybe I missed something, am trying to understand- there was a fair bit of time explaining how JS made meaning of evolving things he learnt. And it seemed to be dismissed as ‘man made’, including polygamy. I agree with all that. What I don’t understand is how everyone then agreed ‘and we knew somehow that we had been sealed previously’. ?
    Thanks for being so open!

  2. Steve In Millcreek March 31, 2021 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    As a teenager, when there was an upcoming change in leadership, and I observed top LDS leaders go through the selection process for the next Stake President, dad talked me through that process. He said that there were several men who were worthy to be President; and the selected one was in a life position where he could serve now. It’s that simple. Being President is both “a big deal” and it’s not. Selected or not, everyone can advance the Gospel and the Church.

    I recall 3 Stake Presidents over 30 years, and each was a successful businessman, which does not mean that businessmen are more worthy or faithful than non-businessmen. Simply said, they show an ability to lead a team; and manage time well. Further, they were sufficiently financially set to not need more money. Often, his Stake Counselors are NOT copies of himself; and I presume it is his way to include skills and insights that he lacks.

    Whether the Church is true or not, led by God or not, I like and accept its general format of leadership. The idea that regular people serve other people in these ways is impressive to me. This does not mean that I disagree with your points, JD, or the points said by Matthew and Elisabeth. If the system needs improvement, make changes on its edges and not to scrap and start again.

    • Mike April 2, 2021 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      I understand your point and it is a beautiful thing to see members of an organization be able to serve that organization and its members in all aspects and roles. However, what is lacking greatly is training. I was a bishop for 5 years. Previous to being a bishop, I had served in 5 different bishoprics as either a counselor or executive secretary, an Elder’s Quorum president in 3 different wards, YM President, among other ward council callings – all of this should give me the proper training – right? Not even close. An ecclesiastical leader, especially in mormonism is viewed as someone who not only is wise and provides great advice, but they also have a special connection to God which provides them with even more power and ability. Therefore what they say should be followed to the T (I realize not everyone feels this way, but when I became a bishop I was surprised at the percentage of the ward who believe everything said by a bishop is of God). Another major issue in the mormon church is members are encouraged to go to their bishop for any and every issue they have. So as a successful businessman you also become an expert on mental illness, relationships and communication, physical illnesses, temporal needs and difficulties, marital issues, addictions of every kind, legal issues, and advice of every imaginable thing. Children are told to listen to your every word and do all you say. You can see that this could be problematic – especially when the only training I received was how to handle finances (which was really the only thing as a bishop I didn’t need training on). A bishop is thrown into the fire immediately. You are sustained in sacrament meeting and before you even get a chance to be set apart after the meeting you will have a line of people waiting to set up an appointment and discuss with you their deepest, darkest issues, their biggest problems, their addictions, their legal issues, their relationship issues, etc. You can see how a business man has very little exposure to an education on any of these things – but yeah, as far as organizing a ward – no problem. The only thing is no body has ever been mentally or emotionally scarred or damaged in the long term because someone is disorganized and can’t get a good RS president called in a short span of time. The damage comes when a man “acting as God” sits behind a desk and gives advice that he would honestly believe is good advice, but can unknowingly be damaging that specific person. And I can testify that I have seen the carnage of that in the members I had from previous bishops – and I’m sure the new bishop is seeing the carnage I have created as well.

  3. Randy March 31, 2021 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Lovely couple and I enjoyed most of the conversation. Now..not being unkind…. it’s just that some of the comments were really out there and left me wanting to skip though some what I would call reaching (climbing pun intended). 99% was good, 1% was too hard to relate to.

  4. Nancy March 31, 2021 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Men who serve as bishop believe they are helping and serving the ward members- but are they? Or are they there to maintain orthodoxy and obedience of the ward members? They aren’t trained counselors so any good advice they may give is pretty much luck. In fact, I had a bishop who was a trained counselor. He totally dropped the ball on an alleged child abuse case in our ward. So even there loyalty to the church leaders was more important than safety of a child. All the worthiness interviews, tithing settlement meetings and such seem like service, once again to top leaders not to ward members. I learned early on not to confide in any bishop, even ones that I thought were pretty good men, because any thing I might tell them was not confidential. The ward members problems were discussed freely during ward leadership meetings and then spread from there to the entire ward. I never looked forward to meeting the bishop one on one because it usually was for a calling or an interview where inappropriate questions were asked. I’m glad to be done with their” service” quite frankly.

  5. Paul March 31, 2021 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Wow, Mathew and Elizabeth….what a heart/gut wrenching experience you’ve been through in recent times…an incredible journey. So brave of you to share your experiences and open yourselves up to the possible judgment and alienation that may result. Even so, you may be surprised at how well this could be received…I for one was glued, and so appreciate you doing this.
    For you, Mathew, just contemplating separation and divorce is massive ( I’m going through it currently after 30 yrs together, it’s almost unfathomable how to do it at this stage of life) but in your case, add to that having 6 children and being a Bishop too!…I’m in awe of your courage and honesty, and you too,Elizabeth.
    I resigned my membership about 8 years ago. It wasn’t a problem at home cos I was the only practicing member, plus I was a convert so it was never my family or community culture…even so, it was a huge experience in breaking away…times of self doubt and guilt feelings.
    I knew much of the historical issues and inconsistencies at the time, but as I found out more, it was very interesting to me that I had the same “spiritual confirmation” in leaving the church as I did in joining, hmmm!
    The church loves cliches such as ” The glory of God is intelligence”….just don’t use it to evaluate the church eh!
    My conclusion was that none of the church claims and story stands up to simple reason or factual evaluation. There became no other choice as I honestly,fairly and intelligently spent days, weeks and months studying it all.
    Anyway, I can tell you that spirituality does flourish outside of the church…being free from organized religion allows your own spirituality to expand and grow. I’m also a life long meditator, and have recently published a book on the method I’ve developed….I assure you that there’s only growth and expansion ahead for both of you too.
    Thanks so much.

  6. JS April 1, 2021 at 6:05 am - Reply

    Interesting Podcast and perspectives shared, however I do not understand why it is celebrated or seen as positive that Matthew left his wife and family. It seems to me that the damage caused by that to his wife and 6 children is far greater than any supposed damage caused by the church and/or any callings that Matthew or any others have served in. Actually, it seems like in this example, the church was very reasonable and loving in their response. Some ward members spoke their peace, but that is not reflective of the church as a whole. The reality is that any calling you perform in the church is voluntary and if life is getting too complicated or busy as was stated in this podcast, then you can ask for a release….and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it happens all the time. The calling is not more important than your job or family or even well being. The church is careful about the folks that are asked to serve in leadership and look for people that have the situation to handle a demanding calling such as Bishop. Additionally, it is clear that during the interview process, Matthew let himself get way too close to someone that he was supposed to be ministering to (and yes there is training and common sense that should be applied here). They were communicating way too much together, there interviews were probably way too long and overtime he opened his heart to Elizabeth and chose her over his family. To me that is the most sad part. He stopped “cleaving unto his wife”, he was focused on too many other things, rather than putting his focus on his wife and his family, which does not have anything to do with the church. In fact, the church teaches the opposite…”no success can compensate for failure in the home”.
    I know it is a challenge, I have been serving as Bishop for 4 years and have a young family. We have had our challenges, but have worked hard to make time for each other and try to see each other has people and for who we really are and to love each other and our kids….and we would have challenges even if I wasn’t serving in this calling or any other calling in the church. I just do not see how this experience is reflective of the church and most people’s experience in the church. I do not see this as most people’s experience with serving as Bishop or any other calling in the church. I do not see this as appropriate action taken by Matthew while he served as Bishop, it seems to me that he made his choices and that it did not have anything to do with the church. If he has a serious faith crisis, then he should not be serving as Bishop. If he got too close to someone that he was ministering to, that is on him. Most have positive/uplifting experiences with their Bishops…who are men doing their best to serve other people, organize a loving and united congregation and help bring people together in the name of Jesus Christ. There are countless divorces, marriages, widows, orphans, homeless and otherwise needy folks that have been blessed, supported and loved by Bishops in the church….as well as many other folks that serve in the church…as often the Bishop will delegate many ministering responsibilities. We should hear more positive experiences from church members…something more reflective of what the majority experience….rather than always focusing on the negative or what I would say is the “Non or No Longer Mormon” story

  7. Bill McClymonds April 1, 2021 at 9:17 am - Reply

    There was a whole lot revealed in this interview. As I listened, I couldn’t help thinking about some very deep conversations I had with a young adult who was a child of divorce. As you might guess, those conversations were quite emotional at times. Because of the age of the person when the divorce was taking place, the situation was completely out of the control of the young adult I was speaking with. I considered that person an innocent victim of divorce.

    It is my opinion that the children involved in this situation are also innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control. Unfortunately, they will all have to face the emotional consequences of the divorce situation for years to come. I know very little about Matthew’s wife but I think he said her name is Stephanie. Based on what was revealed during the interview, it would surprise me very much if Stephanie did not think she had been deceived and betrayed. Without hearing her side of the story, there isn’t much more I can write about her situation but I did feel a significant amount of empathy for what she must be going through.

    Elizabeth obviously had a very difficult childhood and Matthew was raised in a belief system that I think is problematic. I have expressed Some of my thoughts about why I disagree with the teachings of the Latter-day Saint Church in the comment section of prior podcasts. One podcast that I commented on is here: https://mormonstories.org/podcast/contemplative-mormonism-jana-spangler/ another is here: https://mormonstories.org/podcast/finding-spirituality-after-mormonism/. The linked podcast comments also link to other podcast comments I have made. My point is that in some ways, both Elizabeth and Matthew could also be considered victims of their upbringing or circumstances.

    As some of those reading might already know, I am a mainstream Christian. While I do think there was sin involved in this situation, I am also a sinner. In my case, I am a sinner saved by the grace provided through the death of Jesus on the cross. My forgiveness and salvation is not a wage I have earned. It is a free gift. Jesus words on the cross were “It is finished”. I understand that to mean that He paid the price in full for my sin when He died on the cross. I can’t do anything more to earn salvation . . . but I do have to accept the gift he provided.

    Since Elizabeth, and possibly also Matthew seem to be leaning heavily on Buddhist philosophy, I would like to point out some of the differences between what I understand to be the Buddhist perspective and the Christian perspective about sin. I know Elizabeth has a strong Buddhist perspective but I also know not all Buddhists think the same way. For that reason I will be writing about Buddhism and sin in general in comparison to the mainstream Christian understanding of sin.

    As I understand Buddhism, there is no such thing as sin because there is no deity to sin against. I think it was Elizabeth who said “you need to learn to forgive yourself”. While I agree with her to a certain extent, I think it is important to keep in mind that simply forgiving yourself won’t cut it if the Bible is true. For a Christian, repentance and turning from sin are very important. Yes, it is important to also forgive yourself, but only after you have asked the Jesus of the Bible to forgive your sin and cleanse you from your unrighteousness. In my opinion, that is the only thing that will really cleanse a person’s soul. Of course, it is always better to also ask for forgiveness from those you have sinned against.

    As far as I know, there is no evidence that Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) has progressed to some other form. All we know is that he is dead. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Both Biblical and extra-biblical sources attest to that fact. In addition to reading the New Testament, a very simple place to start investigating the resurrection of Jesus is by searching for Mike Winger (a fairly humble young pastor) and the word resurrection on YouTube. In my opinion, it makes more sense to trust the evidence for Jesus than to trust the lack of evidence for a transformed or enlightened Buddha.

    While Buddhism relies on unsupported speculation that individuals will progress to higher forms of enlightenment while learning how to lessen suffering, Christianity is supported by the evidence that Jesus suffered and died on the cross to forgive our sin . . . and then bodily rose from the grave. As a result, those who put their trust and confidence in the Jesus of the Bible as their Lord and Savior will find relief from suffering during an eternity spent with God and Jesus in the one and only highest heaven.

    I think it takes real forgiveness of sin to have real peace with a situation like divorce. It is also my opinion that real forgiveness only comes from God. That is why it is my hope that all who have sinned in this situation will repent of their sin and turn to the Jesus of the Bible for real forgiveness and eventually real healing.

    I understand that the situation is much more complex and involved than what can be revealed during a limited video presentation but, in my mind, there is no doubt that sin played a significant part in the divorce. I am simply suggesting that anyone who feels guilt probably is guilty of sin. I am also suggesting that a long term relationship with Jesus is the path that I think will provide the most reasonable chance for the greatest degree of recovery and freedom from the guilt of sin that I think will otherwise be a burden throughout the life anyone who feels guilt as a result of this situation.

    Having said these things, I do think it took a lot of courage for Matthew and Elizabeth to give this interview. Their openness and honesty during the podcast is commendable. I do thank them and sincerely wish them well.

    Bill McClymonds

  8. Anne April 1, 2021 at 10:30 am - Reply

    I appreciate their vulnerability. However they didn’t seem authentic to me. It was gut wrenching when she said she was willing to babysit for him so he could go out with his wife. Obviously by then, they had feelings for each other….and that means she didn’t have good intentions. In or out of church their behavior was wrong.

    • Cathy Volpe April 4, 2021 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Anne, I had the same feeling as you. And I have to agree.

  9. JL April 1, 2021 at 10:44 am - Reply

    I listened to their story very intensely. It was fascinating and at the end it turned tragic. I’m afraid that both M&E missed the point. Myself as a former bishop felt things for sisters that I cared very much. But I knew that those feelings were not real. They were the response of my brain to an emotional void that needed to be filled. Both M&E rationalized their feelings and in the process brought more pain and agony to his wife and children. It is inconsequential whether the church is true or not. This would have happened in any church. The “counseling” got out of hands. There is no excuse. Both of you should have stopped the “counseling” immediately.

    Matthew, you should have received counseling and kept your marriage alive. Matthew, you throw in the towel just because you felt a connection with E. and in the process you ruined your relation with your family and beyond. A man must do what a man must do – make your family relationship work unless there is abuse which in this case there was not (I hope). Both of you have given the Church the upper hand in this tragic story.

    • Grant April 3, 2021 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Very well said (I as a former Bishop and high counselor who also has left the church.) She was vulnerable and this should have been recognized and ended very early on. Thanks for your thoughts.

  10. Tina April 1, 2021 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I am wondering, when Matthew lost his faith in the Church and if there had not been another woman involved, would he then have divorced his wife? On the other hand, maybe his wife would have divorced him instead when he left the Church.

    I wish Matthew and Elisabeth all the best!

  11. Andrea April 1, 2021 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I was glued to this episode but the elephant in the room is his ex-wife. I know this wasn’t her interview but as a former bishops wife my heart breaks for her. The bishop gets A LOT of reinforcement and love from ward members who “love the bishop.” The wife on the other hand doesn’t get those kudos but suffers in many ways. The marriage is neglected because other women and their home problems t ale. precedence. A bishop husband can ignore his personal responsibilities and he’s still a “great bishop.” His wife on the other hand, taking care of 6 children and doing it s alone much of the time. Her self-care? I feel some sympathy for Mathew, but I’m frustrated where this story ended up. I feel for the ex-wife.

  12. RobG April 2, 2021 at 2:04 am - Reply

    This one was a bit of challenge to watch. While there are plenty of good and valid reasons to judge Mormonism and the Mormon church both false and toxic, and not all marriages should necessarily survive — and it’s easy to be sympathetic to everyone involved here, including the ex-wife and children — it’s not totally clear from the outside looking in that more was gained than was lost. Hopefully so.

    I was glad to know that the ex-wife had re-married and hopefully there’s joy and happiness and fulfillment for her in that.

    Few things are as deadening and draining as a marriage relationship where connection and intimacy have died and been lost. The only way I can reasonably imagine their marriage staying together without being draining or deadening for both Matthew and his ex-wife would have been if she had joined with him in a heart-felt transition out of Mormonism and that sounded highly unlikely.

    And there are few things in life that are as enlivening and life-giving as a relationship with a genuine shared connection and intimacy. You can’t begrudge either Elizabeth or Matthew that.

    Still, something was difficult in watching and hearing this one, and probably related to the children.

    Best wishes for Matthew and Elizabeth. From this POV, discovering the Mormon church is false is always a point for truth and honesty which, in theory, anyway, should always be a good thing.

  13. RobG April 2, 2021 at 3:13 am - Reply

    I had a bishop when I was a teenage Mormon who would comment during the bishop’s “worthiness interview” only that we ‘shouldn’t masturbate too much.’ And I’m only consciously aware right now listening to this and looking back on my old ward experience, that I don’t ever remember any youth in that ward ever not passing or blessing or taking the sacrament. I would not have understood that at all had it happened. I think we were lucky, and am only right now putting 2+2 together and recognizing the bishop’s roulette at play.

    To a real substantial degree, though, the Mormon church is stuck with that godawful and ridiculous Alma 39:5 and Moroni 9:9 and Jacob 2:28 nonsense, plus all those decades of truly atrocious sermons by top Mormon leaders about chastity and virtue and “sin next to murder” and “better dead.”

    It makes you wonder what Joseph Smith was compensating for in 1829 when he dictated that crap for his Book of Mormon.

  14. Cate April 2, 2021 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    This was definitely hard to watch. There were so many ‘what not to do’ examples, and should be lessons for other bishops. As someone who has left the church, I realize it’s much easier to see problems in an organization after taking a step back. Surely though, bishops are or ought to be warned about spending excessive amounts of time alone with women, married or otherwise, while counseling them.
    Throughout the interview I just kept thinking about Stephanie being kept in the dark about all the things transpiring between Matthew and Elizabeth, and I just have so much sympathy for her. Elizabeth, who views herself as authentic, lying to Stephanie about finding Matthew attractive, when asked point blank, was very underhanded, and throws doubt on her honesty as a whole.
    Divorce for Matthew and Stephanie might have been inevitable, given his loss of faith, but we’ll never know how things might have played out without Elizabeth in the mix. I suspect it may have been easier on his children though, perhaps less of a betrayal.
    I hope for healing for everyone involved. Most of all, I hope Matthew and his children will be reconciled as much as is possible.

    • Maggie Rayner April 2, 2021 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      I was able to stick with the entirely of this podcast despite being initially frustrated with wanting to hear Mathew’s history without interruptions from Elizabeth.

      This is the saddest story I’ve listened to. So sad for Matthew’s children. So sad for Matthew’s wife being duped by the two with Elizabeth involving herself inappropriately in their marriage and offering Matthew understanding and nurturing wrapped up in a declaration that she was sexually attracted to him – under the guise of honesty. So sad for Elizabeth’s daughter. Matthew portrays himself as an innocent, hard done by victim of the Mormon Church who in turn victimizes his wife and his children. Blame rather than personal responsibility came through loud and clear for me.

      The Mormon church, by its very nature, does not raise whole, independent, emotionally healthy and mature individuals.That being said, many manage to overcome this and become responsible, mature, and direct in their interactions with others. Individuals who are able to set and maintain clear boundaries and address what they need from their marriage partner, directly with their partner, rather than with another person who is sexually attracted to them.

      While his wife was busy taking care of their six children and their business, unbeknownst to her and without his addressing his dissatisfaction with her as his partner, Matthew was establishing an exit relationship for himself. I was not moved by his tears, or his “sensitivity.”

      On Buddhism – after leaving the Mormon Church I investigated many different faiths and practiced Buddhism for a time until the patriarchal nature of the practice manifested itself.

      Listening to the podcast I was reminded of a “public confession” of immorality by a couple soon to be married that I heard in a Mormon Sacrament Meeting many years ago. I have no idea if this is an established Mormon practice of atonement.

  15. DB April 2, 2021 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    This was gut wrenching to watch. Matthew’s pain is visceral. I do believe his judgement was severely impaired by his attraction to and relationship with Elizabeth. I do question the source of his faith crisis. It doesn’t seem he did independent research on the history and truthfulness of the church. Unless I missed something, all his doubts were presented to him by Elizabeth. I believe there is a decent chance his marriage could have survived had it not been for his involvement with Elizabeth. I have seen countless examples here on Mormon Stories where one spouse has been able to, over time, show their spouse why they feel the way they do and eventually they choose each other. The Mattesons come to mind. Mostly, I’m heartbroken for those children. Their lives have been forever changed without their “informed consent”. Also, Matthew – regardless of what they said in the moment – I’m sure your children do trust you. They know in their heart of hearts that you would die for them. I think it is just that they feel betrayed right now. I pray that you will be able to rebuild those relationships. It’s clear that you love your children. One day at a time. Just continue to love them unconditionally. Don’t give up, even if they don’t reciprocate. No one can replace you in their lives. Being a dad has ZERO to do with being a priesthood holder.
    I would be remiss if I didn’t also say how absolutely horrible I feel for Matthew’s except-wife. I’m surprised she could ever trust again enough to remarry.

  16. mrr April 2, 2021 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    it’s amazing these two don’t seem to see they are explaining his marital commitment away and using the “the church lied to me” as a reason. So sad. They engaged in an emotional affair and he chose to leave his family over it.

    They “counseled” way way WAY too much with each other. The wife was blindsided? That is telling. However, The wife isn’t free from guilt either here… she emotionally detaches leaving a much needed void to be filled…. and believe me those voids WILL fill. She offers to babysit his kids… and you don’t see a line crossed there?

    This is tragic.

    I’m not sure why they seem to try to blame falling in love with each other via an emotional affair on the church.

    People are people. He wanted a way out of an unequally yoked marriage. Maybe the wife did too I don’t know. Maybe he was in a dead marriage I don’t know … The new wife certainly was rooting for the end even though she plays the saint. She knew what she was doing.

    I do know that MUCH was left out of this story. As it stands, this one seems super quirky to me

  17. Margaret McDonald April 4, 2021 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    This interview was difficult to listen to. There was no mention of the commitment Matthew made when he married Stephanie. I agree with those who said he counseled with Elizabeth way too much. He put himself in a position to be manipulated into an emotional affair with Elizabeth. He should have been having those heart to heart talks instead with his wife, who was probably exhausted from working the business and caring for 6 kids while Matthew traveled for work and had his discussions with Elizabeth. Matthew commented that he is sometimes angry about having to share his financial wealth. He owes that to Stephanie! She didn’t get an education and work experience. She just got 6 kids and home and business responsibilities. I think it’s only fair to get Stephanie’s side of the story.

    Also…comments were made that put down people who pursue happiness. Huh. I’m happy. I pursue happiness. The simple pursuit of happiness makes me happy. That makes me “inauthentic?” I don’t get that.

  18. Mark April 4, 2021 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Mathew and Elizabeth, Your podcast episode really resonates with me. I am a man that was super TBM and went through a divorce after a 20 year marriage and 5 kids. My faith transition started about a year after the divorce when I experienced a withdrawal of support and acceptance from the Mormon church, despite me having been completely faithful throughout. My ex wife has remained a faithful Mormon.

    6 years later I can tell you that my relationship with my kids has finally arrived at a point which is much better than when I was married. Shame and guilt have largely left me when I transitioned away from the church and made the choice to be authentic. My kids sense this and it provides them with a level of stability and assurance of my love for them that is better than ever.

    I am a surgeon and am remarried to a PhD who is 20 years younger than me and a Nevermo. The initial strong rejection of my wife by my kids has been replaced with a loving and healthy respect. I was fearful it would never happen. Be patient with your kids/step-kids as I know you are doing. I believe that authenticity and love will win in most cases.

    Thank you so much for being vulnerable and presenting your authentic selves. It has greatly influenced me and provided me with some new incites.

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