And then (see “The First 3 Years of Marriage”) lots of things changed. It was the 4th of July weekend and I was visiting my family in my hometown. Ricardo had gone to a barbeque with some coworkers of his, and he told me he sat around for hours talking and just hanging out and that it reminded him of his days in Mexico with his dad. A totally innocent conversation, except to someone like me who can turn just about anything into a personal attack on me–a skill I have honed over the years (I’m joking, but only sort of, I do have a personality flaw in this particular area). Well, what I was frustrated about was that every time I was in a social situation with Ricardo and we were sitting around talking, he was just dying to leave. And I had set up several similar scenarios, intending to have a nice time with friends and family just sitting around visiting (which is probably my favorite activity in the entire world) and Ricardo almost without exception, wanted to leave ASAP. So, as he is describing this “amazing” barbeque, I am getting frustrated…and I start to express this.
Well, the next day is the 4th of July and Ricardo calls me back. He says he has been thinking about what I said and thinking about why he doesn’t enjoy those same types of situations with me. He says, “you know, I’m just not that comfortable around Mormons.” And proceeds to tell me how he feels different than them, judged by them, and like a stranger. And how when he is around non-members he can finally relax and be himself. Now, Ricardo had always struggled socially in the church somewhat, and I knew this, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise. But then he began saying that he felt like Mormons have their group and he has never been a part of it, that he has never fit in in the church, that he can’t relax and be himself around Mormons because he feels judged, that he feels controlled in the church, and he feels pressure to perform and do things he doesn’t want to do, and he went on for quite a while about some feelings that had been growing in him during the years he had been a member. By the end of the conversation he was telling me he wasn’t sure if the church was the right place for him…Then I lost it. I started bawling on the phone and pleading with him to not do anything rash and to wait until I got home so we could talk more.
When I did get home, we talked a lot, and it was really difficult. During several conversations I started hyperventilating, something that had never happened to me before. I was panicked. Well we talked for a few weeks and by the end of those weeks we had decided (with a lot of prodding from me) that Ricardo was going to keep going to church but not hold any callings or do anything in the church–kind of take a step back to take the pressure off that he was feeling. At that point we moved to my sister’s home briefly and then into our condo we had just purchased. It was the beginning of August. We went and shared the news (of my husband’s desire to take a step back) with our bishop in our new ward, who was very supportive (sigh of relief).
It seemed the waters had calmed…but what I didn’t know is that Ricardo, now struggling with a feeling of not belonging, had begun to look into some of the things in the LDS church that had always bothered him, things he had “put on a shelf”, out of a desire to dedicate himself fully to something he believed to be true. Ricardo had always had questions about the historicity of the Book of Mormon. He was raised in Mexico, and had studied Mexican history pretty extensively. He felt that when the book of Mormon talked about swords, horses, etc. that it just didn’t fit with what he had learned in history class. He also had always harbored concerns about the late date at which the church finally gave blacks the priesthood. And there were other things. Well, one search led to another, and Ricardo, who reads exceptionally fast, had read hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages of information in researching every topic he could regarding Mormon history in just a couple weeks’ time. So on August 21st, 2011 he decides to break the news to me. He sits me down on our blow-up mattress surrounded by unpacked boxes and tells me he’s leaving the church, he’s done with it, it’s not true and he feels like in order to keep his integrity he needs to leave.