What is ‘Letter For My Wife’

Letter For My Wife is a document aggregating questions and doubts about the Mormon church written by a questioning Mormon to his wife. The letter is meant to discuss the questions and concerns with the church’s truth claims or truth crisis and this man’s testimony. The letter was started as a document in 2009, when the author learned about the Joseph Smith Papers and began to study them and found discrepencies in the actual history vs the correlated church history. He studied them deeply and needed a place to document these discrepencies in hopes to reconcile the differences he found. He shared the letter with his wife four years later during General Conference of 2013. He created a website to host the letter in 2017. Then in 2020, he announced that he and his wife were planning a divorce and the sad fact that she never even read the letter.

The letter explains that he longs for his wife’s “understanding and support,” and it’s a sad reality that to many in the Mormon culture, challenging one’s own worldview is scarier than destroying the most intimate relationships.

"My Love,I am writing this letter to explain in detail how I came to the conclusion that the Church is not all it claims to be. I long for your understanding and support. You are my whole world." - Letter for my wife | wasmormon.org
“My Love, I am writing this letter to explain in detail how I came to the conclusion that the Church is not all it claims to be. I long for your understanding and support. You are my whole world.” – Letter for my wife

Letter for My Wife is similar to the CES Letter, but in this case, rather than being a letter written to a CES Director, it is written by a struggling husband who has deconstructed his own Mormon beliefs and is addressed to his believing and unsuspecting wife. After receiving acclaim when it was shared online, the author made into a website at letterformywife.com. Many online readers prefer the Letter For My Wife over the CES Letter because it has a more gentle delivery than the CES Letter. This makes sense because it is a letter to a more intimate relationship and someone who is not expected to be an expert in church material.

This project began in July of 2009 while reading the Ensign article, “The Joseph Smith Papers: The Manuscript Revelation Books” by, then Church Historian, Elder Marlin K Jensen. The article was used to promote the first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers project that was published just a year earlier… I visited Josephsmithpapers.org and immediately my love for exploring Church history began to grow into a passion.

Soon after I started studying, several discrepancies began to emerge. Discrepancies between well-known church history events and the canonized stories we’ve all grown up learning. Not only was I finding conflicting stories, I was finding new stories of uncomfortable events I’ve never heard of. Since I have a terrible memory I started a little list so I would not forget these interesting points and where to find them. Little by little, the list grew into the paper you have before you. It then became important to format this information into a letter for my wife so we can be on the same page.


Who Wrote ‘Letter For My Wife’?

Letter for My Wife went viral and received a lot of credit in the ex-Mormon circles for being “more thorough and less angry” than the CES letter. Years after it was written and shared, the author (reddit u/JeffreyArrrHolland2) did share an update regarding his marriage, though he has remained anonymous over the years. In January 2020, he posted that he and his wife were getting divorced and the issues he found and wrote in the letter had come between them. They were not able to reconcile their relationship, partly because his wife was never willing to even read the letter! He told her that he wasn’t sure he believed in the church anymore, and everything changed. The sad truth is that belonging to the church was more important to her than their own eternal relationship.

My wife and I have decided to divorce. Almost 20 years together! It was the best relationship I could have ever wished for, until that day after the October 2013 session of General Conference when I broke the news that I wasn’t sure I believed in the Church anymore; then everything changed. To answer the question that I get the most emails about, no she hasn’t read the letter and never planned to.

I’m stepping away from mormonism and exmormonism as much as I can. The kids are being raised in the Church, so I will have to deal with it in some regard, but I need to focus on myself now and build a new life. This is scary.


He did relate the good news that though he was stepping away from the church (Mormonism and ex-mormonism alike), he’d handed over his website to a trusted friend to maintain things there. And, he signed his post with his potential real name Tom. Thank you Tom, for sharing your letter with the world, and we’re sorry that it wasn’t received by your loved ones with the care it deserved. The top comment on the post perfectly summarizes the tragedy in this:

This is why people see Mormonism as a cult. This guy put his heart and soul into a document that articulates why he came to believe what he did. And his wife of 20 years would not even read what he spent countless hours putting together…

The ugliest part of the entire Letter is the part where [his] wife so blindly chooses her religion over a couple hours worth of compassion for her husband of 20 years. She won’t read this, obviously, but if she does, I hope she feels deeply ashamed at how “unchristlike,” her behavior has been with regards to this. Jesus can hang out with whores, but a faithful member can’t take a couple of hours to understand her husband?


What Does the Letter For My Wife Say?

The author states in the preface that this letter is a collection of his questions and the discrepancies he found between the correlated church history and the real church history he found when comparing the lived experience and knowledge he had gained as a studious member and the things he was learning by studying the newly available Joseph Smith Papers.

My Love,

I am writing this letter to explain in detail how I came to the conclusion that the Church is not all it claims to be. I long for your understanding and support. You are my whole world.

I have been known to get intellectually excited about various subjects on occasion. I tend to investigate every piece of information and exhaust all resources to satisfy my curiosity. One day I came across an Ensign article discussing the new Joseph Smith Papers project that caused my curiosity to extend into Church history. I soon became captivated. I began reading every Church-approved historical resource I could find. I pored over Joseph Smith’s journals, the Journal of Discourses, The History of the Church and early Mormon periodicals. It was all so fascinating. My intent was to learn more about the history and to strengthen my testimony, but every so often I would run across well-known events that did not match the narrative I was taught growing up in the Church. This letter is a collection of these events and other inconsistencies.

Letter For My Wife: Preface

The Letter

Here’s an outline of the contents of Letter for My Wife with links directly (where possible) into the sections in the online version of the document.


Part 1: The Early Church

  1. The First Vision
    • Timeline
    • Common First Vision-Like Accounts
    • Contradictory Accounts of the First Vision
    • Which One Is Correct?
    • Contemporary Accounts
    • Continued Concealment
    • Context
  2. The Translation
    • The Actual Method
    • Folk Magic
    • Trouble With The Law
    • Context
  3. The Witnesses
    • The Scribes
    • The 3 Witnesses
    • The Testimony of The 3 Witnesses is Not Accurate
    • The 8 Witnesses
    • Where Are The Plates Now?
    • The Succession Crisis
    • Context
  4. The Kinderhook Plates
    • Background
    • Translation
    • The Forgery Claim
    • 1953 Test Results
    • 1980 Test Results
    • Context
  5. The Word of Wisdom
    • The Word of Wisdom
    • Possible Influences
    • Disregarding the Word of Wisdom
    • Context
  6. The Endowment
    • Origin of Freemasonry
    • LDS Masons
    • Similarities between Masonic rituals and the LDS Temple Ceremony
      • Compass and Square
      • Washing and Anointing
      • Apron
      • New Name
      • Tokens
      • Signs
      • Penalties
      • Instructions at the Veil
    • Masonic Symbol Usage
      • Bees and the Beehive
      • All Seeing Eye
      • Sun, Moon, and Stars
    • Context
  7. Polygamy
    • Timeline
    • Secrets and Denial
      • Emily and Eliza Partridge
      • Sarah Ann Whitney
      • 1835 Statement on Marriage
      • 1844 Statement on Marriage
    • The Women
      • Married
      • Marinda Nancy Johnson-Hyde-Smith
      • Zina Diantha Huntington-Jacobs
      • Vilate Kimball
      • Teenagers
      • Helen Mar Kimball-Smith
      • Nancy Winchester
      • Pairs of Sisters
      • Mothers and Daughters
    • The Outcome
    • Context
  8. Race and the Priesthood
    • Racist Teachings
    • Slavery
    • Civil Rights
    • Distancing Itself From the Past
    • Follow The Prophet
  9. Blood Atonement
    • Brigham Young
    • Heber C. Kimball
    • Jebediah M. Grant
    • Joseph Fielding Smith
  10. Prophecies
    • Joseph Smith – Prophesying the years of his death and Jesus’ 2nd coming.
    • Joseph Smith – Prophesying that the moon is inhabited.
    • Joseph Smith – Revelation that the Book of Mormon copyright is to be sold.
    • Brigham Young – Prophesying that the sun is inhabited.
    • Joseph Fielding Smith – Prophesying the will never reach the moon.

Part 2: The Book of Mormon

  1. DNA
    • Original Claim
    • LDS Scientists
    • DNA Evidence
    • Distancing from Past Claims
  2. Reformed Egyptian
    • The Church’s Claims
    • Native American Writing
    • Examples
    • Lack of Evidence
  3. Anachronisms
    • Non-Indigenous Animals
      • Elephants
      • Livestock
      • Honey Bees
      • Horses
    • Technology
      • Wheeled Transport Vehicles
    • Metallurgy
      • Metal Working
      • Coins
  4. The Jaredites
    • Year-long Voyage by Sea
    • Numbers of Passangers
    • Dimensions of the Barges
    • Basic Necessities Needed
    • Large Scale Military Casualties
  5. Source Material
    • The Tree of Life
    • View of the Hebrews
    • The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain
    • Revival Meetings
    • The First Book of Napoleon
    • Tales of Captain Kidd
    • The Apocrypha
    • The King James Bible
  6. Expert Views
    • National Geographic Society
    • Smithsonian Institution
    • Dr. Michael Coe
    • University Professors
    • LDS Scholars
    • Context

Part 3: The Book of Abraham

  1. The Rosetta Stone
    • Background
    • Access To The Translation
  2. Facsimile #1
    • Missing Portion of Papyrus
    • Mistranslations
  3. Facsimile #2
    • Missing Portion of Papyrus
  4. Facsimile #3
    • Missing Portion of Papyrus
  5. The Translation
    • The Original Claim
    • Statement by LDS Scholar
    • Statement by Egyptologist
    • Recent Statement by the Church
    • Abraham and the Papyri
  6. Expert Views
    • University Professors
    • Additional Egyptologists

Part 4: The Modern Church

  1. Tithing
    • Tithing in the Old Testament
    • Tithing in the Early Church
    • Post-Joseph Smith
    • Modern Interpretation
  2. Church Spending
    • Non-Religious Business Investments
      • City Creek
      • Downtown Philadelphia
      • Downtown Salt Lake City
      • Florida Land
      • Riverton UT
      • Private Hunting Reserve
      • Las Colinas TX
      • Ratheon Corporate Campus
      • Lake Park Corporate Center
    • Charitable Donations
  3. Scientific Evidence
    • Age of the Earth and Evolution
    • The Original Claims
      • Evolution
      • Age of the Earth
      • Death Before Adam and Eve
    • Distancing From Past Claims


The entire Letter is nearly 150 pages of neatly documented points and research. Here are a few excerpts but of course, go read the full letter for a better idea of what it contains.

The First Vision


Joseph Smith claimed to have experienced the First Vision in 1820, yet there appears to be no record before 1832. The Church confirms this fact when it states, “The oldest account, written in 1832, was part of an autobiography. This account emphasized Joseph’s quest for religious truth and his desire to be forgiven of his sins. Therein, Joseph stated that the Lord said to him, “Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee.” (LDS.org/topics/first-vision-accounts).

If this event occurred in 1820, then it was 12 years later when Joseph decided to first make a record of it; 2 years after the organization of the Church.

No contemporary periodicals in the 1830s mention Joseph Smith, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no journal or correspondence from that time mention the story of the First Vision.

Former Church Historian James B. Allen acknowledged that the story of the First Vision was not known in the 1830s. Elder Allen stated that in the 1830s “the general membership of the Church knew little, if anything, about it.” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966) According to the historical record, there is no reference to the First Vision as we know it, in any published material in the 1830s.

In 1830 the Church first published The Book of Commandments, a predecessor to the Doctrine and Covenants. It was a collection of Joseph’s revelations that had been appearing periodically in the Evening and Morning Star. Five years later the Church decided to add to the Book of Commandments a series of lectures that Joseph prepared for teaching in the School of the Prophets. Joseph’s Lectures on Faith were known as the ‘Doctrine’, and his revelations as the ‘Covenants’, thus the name of the book was changed to the Doctrine and Covenants. Outlined in these lectures were the doctrine and theology of the Church up to that point, yet they did not mention Joseph’s First Vision, even though he speaks extensively on the nature of God. Nor do the pages of the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, printed in Kirtland by Oliver Cowdery.

The first missionary pamphlet of the Church was A Voice of Warning and Instruction to All People, the first edition was published in 1837 by apostle Parley P. Pratt. The book contains long sections on items important to missionaries of the 1830’s, such as fulfillment of prophecy, the Book of Mormon, the resurrection, and the nature of revelation, but again, nothing on the First Vision.

The story of the First Vision was not printed in the 1830s. What would later become the official account of the First Vision wasn’t printed until 1842. For over 20 years there are no records of transcribed sermons by Joseph or the other elders of the Church, no personal journal entries by any of Joseph Smith’s family or followers, and no LDS periodicals describing this historic event as we’ve come to know it. Before its first publication, none of the more than 16,000 members of the Church ever recorded hearing about it. From all this it would appear that the general membership did not receive any information about the First Vision until the 1840’s.


Did you read a Letter for My Wife during your faith crisis? What did you think? How does it compare to the CES Letter? Share your own story and discuss your own questions about the Mormon church by telling your I was a Mormon story at wasmormon.org today.

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