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DrNo

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DrNo last won the day on April 1 2014

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About DrNo

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    Male
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    San Antonio, TX
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    Sci-Fi, Graphic Novels, fitness, history, Mumford & Sons, nature, good movies, Arrested Development, Game of Thrones, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Rome
  • More About Me
    Married, 2 kids. University professor and Marriage and Family Therapist in Texas.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    Nope.
  1. Not going to church can really suck when your family is there. I had the huge benefit of moving to a new city after my deconversion, so my wife had to start over at a new church. I wish I could say something that would make it instantly better, but it's just going to take time for everyone to get used to a new normal. As for your husband's cognitive dissonance, remember that not so long ago you never questioned your beliefs either. He is not emotionally ready to. When someone is not emotionally ready to confront a hard truth, they won't, no matter how many ways you try to show them that truth. Don't take it personally, just tey to find moments when he is open to these discussions instead of trying to force them.
  2. Murkywater, I am glad you are seeing a therapist. Hopefully it will help you manage your feelings about all of this and make decisions that are in your best interests. I can definitely relate to the obsessive piece. For MONTHS I found myself spending way too much time at work looking up apologetics, watching YouTube debates, and visiting Ex-C. As your beliefs become more comfortable, you will probably find that the obsessions die down significantly. I am glad that you and your husband are on the same page as far as staying together. You'll figure out the rest together, as long as you are both able to have empathy for the other person while also making sure that your own feelings are validated. Hang in there.
  3. You're right. There's not a big chance that he's going to read something and see the error of his thinking. This is because the problem is not just logical; a huge part of this is emotional. His whole identity is wrapped up in this worldview. His career, his support system, his friends, his family, his beliefs about death, his politics--everything that's important to him! I know it was for you too, but the difference is that somewhere along the line you decided for yourself that it was more important to pursue truth than to maintain the status quo, even if that meant that you had to change previously cherished beliefs. Until he makes that shift in values too, he will take any ridiculous mental-gymnastics alternative that allows him to hold on to his beliefs and keep the life he's loved over the prospect of becoming an outcast and having to admit that there are big questions we don't have answers to. I REALLY don't think that trying to attack the Bible's credibility is going to help him or your relationship. Frankly, at this stage I really don't think you should even be attempting to try to talk your husband out of anything. It's still too raw for both of you. When the time is right, if you still want to have those conversations, I would suggest that you take the approach suggested by Peter Boghossian in his book A Manual For Creating Atheists. The gist of it is that you never directly attack specific beliefs. That is only going to create defensive reactions, and most people are not persuaded by facts anyway. Instead, focus on asking questions about their belief system. Questions along the lines of how we know what is true and not. Example: What conditions would need to exist to know that your beliefs were wrong? More often than not, people will not list any evidence or lack of evidence, but speak to a feeling in their hearts. At that point you can ask how they would be able to tell the difference between that feeling being indicative of reality versus a delusion, or you could ask about how the Muslim or the Wiccan who also experiences strong feelings that tell them that what they believe is true would ever be able to discover that their beliefs were wrong. All answers are just answered with more questions until they don't have an answer, and then you just let them think about it. It's a slow process, not a quick revelation. Note that I am stressing here again that I really don't have any reason to think that your relationship is ready for this line of questioning yet, I'm just giving you some things to think about that might come in handy later. My wife and I are doing well right now and have been for several months now, but I don't even think the time is right yet for us. There needs to be a feeling that regardless of our different beliefs that we will ALWAYS love and fully accept each other where we are at first. Until you really think that the two of you are there, I would just let it lie for now. I know it sucks, but from what you have said I'm just not sure that he's there.
  4. Ironically, I'm pretty sure that most of us would LOVE the idea of a truly loving god. This sort of sounds like a backhanded way of saying that you're just mad at god or just want to sin more or something. I know. It really does suck. This is why you really need to invest in some other friends who have had similar questions. While it's true that he is facing a lot of change too, the fact is that he still has the church as a source of support. He can open up about this in a small group or with an elder or whatever. I'm guessing that for you, the VAST majority of your friends and family are Christian. You will continue to feel alone until you can interact with people who think like you. Ex-C is a great place to start, but you will need to be able to hang out with people in real-life settings too. I know things are sensitive with your husband's job, but I hope you consider this. From my own personal experience, just having ONE person in my face-to-face world that I can meet up with, vent, hang out, etc. has made a world of difference. I understand your desire to do the best thing for your kids. My advice here is to let go of worrying about the specifics of WHAT they think, and start making efforts to teach them HOW to think. Teach them about the scientific method and why it's important. Teach them about logic and personal integrity. Teach them to be ethical and treat others with respect, even when they disagree with their views. When they start to prize these things, they will eventually have to examine their own beliefs and see how they match up with their values. And while this is no guarantee that they will share your beliefs exactly, at the very least you will have raised some excellent human beings who will probably be a lot more tolerant of others. Maybe they will follow a more liberal form of Christianity, or maybe they will shed their faith altogether, but that won't change the fact that they will be good people. Here is a talk by Dale McGowan where he talks more in depth about this. He is a fantastic speaker and author, so Google more of his stuff. Anyway, his wife was Christian when their kids were young, so he has some excellent insights here.
  5. That is really rough. I'm sure you two have tried your hardest to make this work. Many couples who divorce go through a phase where they wonder if there wasn't more that they could have done. But every couple does all they know to do at the time. You don't need to beat yourself up if you have done all you know to do and nothing has worked yet. I really hope the counseling goes well. You may discover in counseling that what you really want is to go your separate ways. That is perfectly fine. You get one life, and it would be a shame if you tried to make something work out that was clearly not going to, and ended up miserable. You may also discover that there is room for more understanding and empathy in the relationship. That would be great too. Relationships are hard. They can be rewarding, but man are they hard. Good luck.
  6. Are you me? Our deconversion stories are eerily similar. One quick thing I thought I would add was in regards to the kids. Thankfully mine don't go to a Christian school, but I also agreed to let the kids go to church. But I also made it clear that I would not hide my beliefs from them and I would answer any questions they had for me. Also, my wife agreed that if they decide that they don't believe in God at any point, she won't make them go to church. This was a delicate issue to say the least, and took us nearly a year and a half to get to this point. We had to learn how to talk to each other about our different beliefs before we could get anywhere with this one.
  7. Hello again. I can speak to this as someone who has both lived through what you are going through, has successfully completed therapy with my (still believing) wife, and is also a therapist. It sounds like you feel frustrated, like you need to stay silent in order to maintain peace, or speak up and risk destabilizing the marriage. I'll talk about what I have seen work for us and why I think it has been successful. I should mention that my wife is VERY devout, as was I before I started seriously questioning things. We are in Year 2 of my deconversion, and we are probably more solid today than we ever have been. We accept each other completely, though we don't agree with everything the other person believes. I guess some clarifications are in order. The idea that you should not try to convert your spouse does not necessarily mean you cannot ever talk about science, logic, philosophy, etc. It means that when you discuss those things, you are not trying to win a debate. Debates are naturally adversarial, and can end up doing a lot of damage, particularly when your relationship has already been strained more than it ever has been before. Maybe if the relationship were on more solid footing, you two could debate an issue without questioning the security of the relationship, but now is not that time. The issue then becomes, how do we talk about these things without starting a debate for now. First, we had to ask ourselves honestly what we were trying to accomplish when we brought these things up. I know that at first for me, if I was really honest, part of my motivation was hoping that she would "see the light." I realized that I hated it when she would subtly try to interject some religious argument, and I needed to stop doing that to her. If she was ever ready to start asking the questions I was asking, it would need to come from her. So we did some meta-communicating. That is, we talked about the conversations we were having; the tone and the feelings that the conversations brought up, not the content per se. We acknowledged that there was a part of us that hoped the other person would change in these conversations, and also acknowledged that this heightened the other's defenses. We both agreed that neither of us liked the idea of having certain topics off the table (though some couples can do this rather successfully), but neither did we like feeling like we were being proselytized. So we agreed that we could talk about anything, so long as it was borne out of a sense of legitimately wanting to share something with the other. We also both agreed to treat the other person with respect and interest, even if we did not necessarily agree with their views. So if she wants to talk about something the pastor said, I won't take it as her trying to convert me, she just really thought it was interesting. If I want to talk about the latest findings on Neanderthals or Denosovians, she knows it is not meant to convince her to leave religion, but just something I'm excited by. Sometimes all it takes is acknowledging that the other person finds the topic interesting, and then the other person doesn't feel the need to keep talking about it. Sometimes there is a follow-up question or two, but it's just to make sure that we genuinely understand the other person's position, not to start a debate. We found the book Hold Me Tight by Susan Johnson to be very helpful for us to heal the damage we had done and keep the focus on the relationship as opposed to the particular beliefs. The book is not specifically about different belief systems, but just about how couples achieve emotional intimacy. There are conversations and exercises that the book asks you to do before moving on, and these are often quite challenging. But worth it. We also sought for and found a therapist certified in the Emotionally Focused Therapy approach (you can also do a broader search for people trained in EFT though not certified by filtering your search at the Psychology Today website). As a therapist myself, I knew that this is an approach that is extremely well backed by research (this is also the approach that Susan Johnson takes). Our therapist was great and never tried to get either one of us to change our beliefs, but focused on helping each of us understand where the other was at emotionally and what we could do differently to get past the hurt. I believe someone has already suggested the Secular Therapist Project This is a great resource, but any ethical therapist who happens to be a Christian won't impose their views on you. If they do, report them to their licensing board. So don't be discouraged if you don't see a secular therapist in your area right away. So if my experience has taught me anything, it's to NOT be silent, but speak up about the right things. Speak up about your own emotional experience, and let him speak about his. Keep in mind too that he is grieving the loss of the image of the relationship he had, and maybe he will just need some time before he can fully engage you on these things. I highly recommend that you engage with a local community of non-believers. This could be a local atheist group, a Freedom From Religion group, some people even find Unitarian churches to be useful for this purpose, a science discussion group, etc. Many people who go will understand what you are going through and will usually respect your need for confidentiality, especially considering your husband's position. The point is, if you need to talk to someone about this stuff, your husband might not always be the best person for that, especially if he's grieving right now. And that's OK. But you still have a legitimate need to get this need met. Search meetup.com if you are not sure where to start and search for the types of groups I mentioned and see what pops up. I visited mine whenever my schedule allowed (not that often), so I don't get to go to a lot of the events, but I did meet some interesting people there and we started hanging out outside of the group. We have even hung out with my wife and no one burst into flame! Anyway, if you have more specific questions, I am happy to answer as best as I can.
  8. Hello and welcome. Sounds like you are afraid about what keeping your intellectual integrity will do to your family. This is a fairly common fear, and you have lots of people who have been where you are. You have a few things going for you: you already know what YOU want. Many ex-Christians have to figure that part out. Also, it sounds like you are married to a good guy. He is afraid right now, and this too is common. It will probably pass when he sees that you are still a good person and that you have no desire to leave. But he has compassion and that will go a long way. When you feel like you are sure about what you believe (or don't believe), perhaps after reading books he suggests or talking to a pastor or whatever, you two will need to figure out how to do life together. I say together because it sounds like you are pretty confident that he loves you too. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that both of you will need to keep respect for the other person paramount, and that means neither of you will do things like try to convert the other person or belittle the other's beliefs. Both of you will be going through a sort of grief process too, saying goodbye to the life you had envisioned together. Be sensitive to each other's grief and know that there are a range of emotions associated with grief, most of them not pretty. This is natural and it will pass. How long it will take varies. But even in your grief together you can voice your commitment to making a new life together. Yes, there will be a lot of awkwardness, especially with his job. Both of you can work out how to best handle that awkwardness; the important thing is knowing that though your beliefs might be different now you still support the other person. As far as the kids go, focus on values that you both agree on. I would guess based on hour description of him that he would want your kids to be strong minded and critical thinkers. Find ways to teach them that. Commit yourself to teaching them how to think instead of what to think. They will start coming around on their own. If changing schools is not an option, involve them in extra curricular activities that are more neutral, like book clubs at the library or camps at the museum. Let them know that they can ask you or their dad anything and believe anything and you both will still love them. Commit to being honest with each other about any conversations you might have with the kids because this will all fall apart if one of you finds out the other is secretly telling the kids stuff. It might help to see a neutral therapist too. My wife is still a believer and she took this all pretty hard when I first deconverted. Seeing a neutral third party was very helpful for us to work out our feelings and plan for the future. It was often helpful to be reminded that we didn't have to have everything planned right NOW. We had as much time as we needed to figure it all out. You might keep an eye out for a book coming out soon by an author named Dale McGowan called In Faith and In Doubt. It dives into research on religious/atheist marriages to see what is helpful and what isn't. Good luck, let us know however we can help. It seems bleak now, but you will get through this.
  9. Found an interesting blog by an atheist married to a believer. He writes about a number of issues but has a section dedicated just to his home life. Encouraging stuff.
  10. Thanks Bill. I think that whether or not a couple stays together is completely up to the parties involved, and in many cases divorce may truly be the best option. But I agree that we can't be too hasty either way. De-converting is a life-changing experience in and of itself. No need to throw divorce into the mix right away. Take some time to get comfortable in your new worldview before making that call, if you can.
  11. Here's a new video on this topic: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WVQGbWaLMec&feature=youtu.be
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