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Tension In My Mixed Marriage




I came out to my wife as an atheist a while ago. Shortly after she was accepting of it but she was undoubtedly very hurt by this. She was expressing frustration in that she didn't have the answers to questions that I was asking but I wont seek the help from people that have the answers. This is frustrating to me that she can live in ignorance of anything that is so important.


To make matters worse, a few months ago, I said that we would no longer tithe with my income. We would only use hers. At the time she was very accepting of it and we even selected a charity that we would donate to instead of putting our money in the offering plate. That sunday you would have thought that conversation was with an evil twin. All hell broke loose when I didnt write a check at church. Church consisted of her being one of the people who anonymously raised her hand for "special prayer" and when we got home with tears in her eyes she said that she wanted separate bank accounts because if we are not going to be in agreement on where our money needs to go, she will get a separate bank account. We make good money and have always been on the same page about money and consequently we have not had that issue in our marriage. Most marriages are plagued by money issue and we didn't have that problem for the reasons I just mentioned. I have always felt that if you can solve this problem in marriage (money problems) you have avoided the biggest hurdle. I refuse to get a separate bank account since it starts as a simple separate bank account then next thing you know we are sleeping in different rooms living two separate lives and that is not the marriage I signed up for.


For this reason I just write the stupid check. Its not worth it. I love my wife and family and if I have to go through the motions (which is very obvious by this point) to keep everybody together then so be it. I don't cry while they show passion of the christ clips, I spend time critiquing the singing and analyzing outfits. She pointed out to me that its obvious that I am going through the motions and I am a phony. I am a faker. I smile and hug people but they have all made the assumption that I am a believer. While I haven't outright declared myself atheist to our groups I have said that I have BIG questions and Big doubts about all of it. They welcome it and then presumably forget about it as it never comes up to them again.


Bringing up the issue always leads to tears since she is she is so hurt by it. Consequently, its often unmentioned so 99% of the time we are the normal loving couple with a great marriage. The "barrier" of my unbelief has faded to ALMOST not there anymore except that unmentioned 1% of the time. It tends to rear its head at the most inopportune times. While we lay intimately in bed, the "mood" is immediately killed as she says "I miss being on the same page as you" or "I'm smiling but inside I'm really still hurt" or "I wish things were back like they used to be". These are the "ice breakers" (unsolicited, off topic, out of nowhere comments) that lead her into tears and completely disrupt the evening (and usually the next morning since she cries herself to sleep over it). This part is the most frustrating for me because religion has faded in importance in our marriage but because of where its "supposed to" be, when we do talk about it, it seems like all the good times get trumped by my non-belief and once every few weeks she has to remind herself that I'm an atheist and things are not supposed to be this good.


Her wish is that I sit down with a pastor and talk about all my doubts and have them convince me that god is real. I don't want to believe in god anymore. I dont even want to try. I dont want to sit down with anybody and hear their flawed, uninformed, biased arguments. I am much happier since losing religion. There are periods where I am even losing interest in all the bible history and religious stuff from just being burned out. She forwards me articles about how religion is a "personal revelation" and that each person has to find their own path. The irony there is that having known her for as long as I have, I dont think thats the case for her.


In conclusion, just know that I have a great marriage 99% of the time but that 1% of the time sure sucks.


EDIT: and dont think for one second that my kids aren't going to be raised skeptics. THey LOVE science and we embrace that desire to learn.



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Hey man, I'm really sorry.  I have no adequate advice as you seem to be very together about the whole thing.  Although, personally I couldn't tithe no matter what pressure I was being hit with from anybody. 


I hope she accepts the real you at some point.  The real struggle may be with your kids though.  As much as you want skeptics, she may want brainwashing.  It's a common battle, and I hope it turns out well.


Does she ever express interest in understanding your way of thinking?  Does she ever express doubt?  Or is she scared to doubt?  I'm just curious.


By the way, nice pic.  Haha.

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she says she never had a doubt. but I can honestly say I didnt either until I wanted to learn more. She does try to "brainwash" them a little. but the 4 year old is amazingly rigid in her thinking, very analytical, she's got an imagination but its nothing like mine was as a child. She knows that dinosaurs walked the earth BEFORE people. and that things change over time. I feel like at least her knowing this she can obviously see how primitive and uninformed the societies that composed the bible are. Also, I have on my side that we are fundamentalists that which is a minority sect of christianity (and for good reason). Even christians laugh at fundies so it should crumble pretty easy and I'll be right there to guide her down the path of logic and reason. Also, we watch space, science, and nature shows, read books, and learn things about the world that directly contradict our religious teachings. though she doesnt yet see this mis-match in worldviews yet, she already accepts one as fact.


PS. the profile pic is from here 

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I wish I could say, "She must have lead a pretty good life to be able to have that much absolute trust in something without questioning."  But I know even those who have gone through a good deal of grief and betrayal can have strong faith (evidenced by my own family). 


If I were in your shoes (being me, not you).  My biggest battle would be getting her to try to understand why I lost belief.  I'd relate it to the greek gods, or to the hindu gods, and just be like, "do you see how you cannot just believe that without proof?  That is how I feel, can you understand that?"  For me it would be very important that my partner understood that, whether or not she changed her beliefs at all.


That is for ME though, because I just don't think i could handle a relationship otherwise emotionally.  Whatever works best for you, only you know.


That's great that you kid is very inquisitive.  Play alot of pranks on her, so she knows that things are not always what they seem ;).  Haha!

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yeah, that ship has sailed pretty much. I said all that to her several months ago. Its like talking to a brick and I dont expect her to understand. she admits that she has no answers but its seen to her a virtue and a personal revelation. I dont stand a chance against that with logic. The common thread Ive seen with non believers is they have a quest for knowledge. She is happy in her bubble


As far as the kid, I actually taught her a few magic tricks that she does at school she loves. shes pretty good at it too an adult could easily see it but her 4/5 year old peers are marveled by it.

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Hey roadrunner,


Your situation sounds rough. The worst part is that you two actually talked about the tithe and THEN she flipped out on you after the decision was made. I totally get that writing the check is just easier. Have you ever considered, though, that perhaps giving in when it's easier like that is kind of training her to flip out to get her way? Similar to how when a parent gives in to a child when they throw a tantrum, I suppose. (Not equating your wife to a child, just illustrating the principle of conditioning). She is not learning how you will be responsive if she wants to have a healthy dialogue. She is learning that she will get her way when she cries or gets mad or whatever. This is all unconscious, but our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance. Just a thought.

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That's really rough. It's great though, that you are still trying to keep things together.


Nothing pushy here, but have you considered various other options?


You say that you are atheist. What about agnostic? How can anyone be sure that there is no God? Life is so complex and we know so little. I am sure you have been wrong before on various things. Science does not answer all questions. Even such things as the concept of infinity are quite beyond our comprehension. If you honestly tell your wife that right know you just don't know, that will help you.


Secondly, giving up on Christianity does not mean that one has to give up on God. There are other spiritual alternatives. 


The main thing is to be honest in  your search for truth. Good luck. 

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sorry for the late replies. 


DrNo: You are right that I am being an enabler but through conversations with others about our marriage I am finding out about some things that evidently hit home with her. To paraphrase I think she is beginning to understand my plight which touches on your other post. I cannot bring up my unbelief without it leading to a tearful conversation so I chose to "minister" to her through my actions.


Nat: I am technically agnostic because I do not know if there is no god. Im 99% sure there is not one but I'm 100% sure that its not Yahweh. The remaining 1% is reserved for far fetched left field scenarios like panspermia and something else out of left field. Sorry for seeming so blocked off from it but the world behaves just fine without god.

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