The number three is special to Mormons. Three in the godhead. Three in the first presidency.
And temple marriages are a threesome.
The temple has three spires. In the endowment, the man covenants with God, and the woman covenants with the man. The sealing is a covenant of both man and woman with each other and with God.
I'm in my eighth year of being divorced. It happened long before I completely left the LDS Church in 2012. I rarely talk about my personal situation on the blog because I don't like approaching the line where I involve family in my public activities. But I've learned a few things about relationships since leaving both my marriage and then the LDS Church that warrant discussion and some of it involves me personally.
My ex-wife went on a public panel at a FAIR conference in August 2014 where she talked quite a bit about me and our former marriage in a very public way. She implied or characterized that our marriage ended because I became an unbeliever, saying, "he filed for divorce and moved out, and shortly after that, went inactive. Now it was clear to me, because he was not as enthusiastic about attending church..."
Despite reversing the cause and effect (divorcing catalyzed my inactivity, and not the reverse), her attempt was to blame our failed marriage, and me filing and leaving, on my lack of testimony. I think a lot of past and future broken LDS marriages may appear to be smashed on the doubts of one faithless spouse. It would also appear that the faithful one becomes shipwrecked on a desert island, to wander the wilderness with the Lord. My ex-wife explained it to the FAIR panel this way: "Now, what I did not understand at the time, was what was coming down the road. My Heavenly Father knew what challenges I would face and He knew that I would be ok through those years of self-doubt, until the time was right for me to receive that answer."
You see, the Lord sustains the deserted spouse. Perhaps even carries them across the sand, where there are only one set of footprints. Yes, you've probably heard these anecdotes.
There's a general assumption in LDS Marriages that it is not a couple, but a threesome: The husband, the wife and Jesus. Like the Trinity, this Trigamy--the LDS modern spiritual polygamy--has an invisible ghostly character pulling the strings. The Trigamy puts Jesus on top of the man and the woman, to rope a couple to the bedposts of the LDS Church.
Now you may wonder why I didn't place the man on top of the woman, with Jesus on top of him. The idea of this ordering comes officially from The Proclamation on the Family which attemptes to spell out the roles of men and women. To wit, men lead in church responsibilities and women nurture at home.
It's not that clear in practice, though. While men may be given leadership roles, yet they are dressed down by a relentless spray of faults in lessons and meetings. And it works—give men praise and they’ll rest Sundays on their laurels; show who’s boss and they rush and stand at attention to take the abuse. Women are persistently honored and placed on high pedestals such that the determined perfectionism keeps them ever reaching for the stars. Take to faulting women as is done with men, and the chapel doors will bust at the hinges with sisters fleeing from such abuse.
In practice, women are praised yet subjegated as 2nd class citizens. Men are empowered leaders but always told they better get in line and follow. The constant power in the Trigamy is Jesus. He's in charge at church, at home, and in the personal lives of both men and women--as an ever present partner spying and tallying up offenses on each.
I have seen personal experiences on how this works. Back in August 2014, I wrote the following:
There once was a couple whose marriage was threatened in part by testimony differences. Their bishop counseled with them and told the doubting husband, “In the temple you covenant to obey God, while your wife covenants to obey you, her husband, as long as you obey God. How can I counsel her to stay with you if your relationship with Christ is jeopardized by your doubts of the church?”
That bishop chained the entire future of the marriage around the ankles of the man’s doubts. The bishop justified the wife to feel victimized by her husband's concerns, rather than develop healthy willingness to consider the validity of her love’s thoughts. The woman, who believed the sexist doctrines that her covenant was to a man and not with her God, was also caught in the snare that LDS teachings lay for them both—that it is the Mormon church who controls your marriage, not the partners.
When one spouse (or ex spouse) says they are faithfully walking with Jesus and the other is not, this is their way of saying that they are still in the Trigamy on the good side of Jesus. It's now two-against-one and as such, they are in the right. Once the partnership dissolves from a threesome to a 1 and 2-some, it's made clear who are the winners and who is the loser. Actually, it is just the church (as Jesus' representative) who seems to believe it always wins.
Controlling the marriage and the family is the "political economy" of invisible power in the Mormon kingdom. Keeping the family together on their terms brings tithing. After all, who benefits from dividing the roles in the family, strictly maintained by factors like temple worthiness?
The Trigamy is one of the most powerful inventions of the modern church. The Trigamy glues more members to the church than its doctrine, its sealing power or its opposition to same sex attraction.
It's all fun and games until someone loses their salvation.