I have heard the same thing about divorce from clients – “I’d rather my spouse be dead than going through a divorce.”

Strong language. What would drive people to say something like this?

Much has been done at Mormon Stories (and elsewhere) on one spouse leaving the church or just experiencing a change in beliefs in marriage. There seem to be many couples who divorce or have significant marital problems related to loss of faith. How widespread do you think this is among Mormons? Is it a problem in other religions? While very important, I’m not very interested in how and why the church and/or the culture may influence marital problems around this issue. I’m wondering about the process of what happens for both partners.

All humans have a basic need for safe emotional connection with key others “from the cradle to the grave.” Couples rely on each other for comfort in times of distress, and draw strength from each other every day.

Some couples experience what is called an “attachment injury.” This occurs when one (or both) partners violate this expectation of safety and security. The injured partner has a new and damaged view of the partner they once thought they knew. This is not just your everyday marital problem. Attachment injuries often occur in cases of addiction and affairs, but not in every case. Spouses feel abandoned and betrayed in a time when they need security the most.

Some couples are able to make a newly mixed-faith marriage work. Others are not. For some it leads to divorce so fast that they don’t have a chance. I posit that what may be happening for many of these couples are attachment injuries.

For both partners.

Initially, I had only considered that the spouse who stays could be experiencing something like an attachment injury. However, I think it may be happening for the other spouse as well. Consider that a crisis of faith is already a huge loss. For some it can be scary. Now imagine, along with that that sense of loss and fear, your spouse has now rejected you and threatened divorce. You formally may have been able to trust your partner, rely on them in times of need, turn to them in distress.

Now you are going through ostensibly one of the biggest challenges of your life, and your spouse isn’t there to support you.

They can’t support you. They have also been significantly hurt.

Go ahead and toss around the blame. It’s completely understandable. It also doesn’t help.

How do people make this work? Is it possible to repair a marriage when both partners have been betrayed and abandoned in this way? Has anyone experienced this and managed to repair their marriage?