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How Do I Tell My Wife I'm An Atheist?


Guest wwxc
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I've been visiting this site for 9 months now and I can't tell you how much I appreciate this place.

 

On to my question. Has anyone on this site faced a situation where they had to tell their spouse they no longer believe in God, Jesus, Holy spirit and all the other fantasy religious stuff that Christianity has brained washed you with for over 75% of your life? The good news is my wife would be what's considered a progressive Christian. She's open to the things I've been teaching her about the bible and early Christianity and she even questions the divinity of Jesus. However, she's a very "spiritual" person who continues to inject god into everything going on in our life. What to do? How do I tell her I don't believe in any of this anymore. More importantly, how do I tell her I don't want our kids growing up believing in a personal god that will guide their lives. She's cool with how I've been studying early Christianity and questioning the doctrines and all but I don't know how she'll react to me being an atheist. Thank you for any advise.

 

wwxc

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Hi WWXC,

I've been finding my way away from Christianity for a little over a year now, and it's been a gradual process. As I started questioning more things about the Bible and church teachings my husband asked me about it and assumed I didn't believe in heaven or God anymore, but that wasn't really the case. I guess I'm saying that your wife might be making her own assumptions about your beliefs, but that doesn't mean she knows unless you tell her. I've found that it's better for me just to let things go along naturally unless someone outrigt asks me about it. I haven't had very many actually ask me what I believe now. Maybe you don't need to tell her you're an atheist, but I suppose it depends alot on your relationship with your wife. My husband and I have a closer bond now than we did before I started my questioning in earnest. I'm glad the process has brought us closer, but I don't know if it works that way for others. It sounds like your wife is already pretty openminded, and that would be helpful. My husband is still pretty fundamentalist Baptist in his thinking, but he is more openminded and tolerant than other people I know at the church now and that I've known throughout my upbringing in similar churches.

I hope it goes well for you, and welcome to the forums.

 

Sparkyone

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Sparkyone,

 

Thanks for the insight. My wife and I are pretty open about most other things but I think she may be really shocked if she ever found out I'm atheist. I don't think she'll leave me but I feel like it'll put her in an uncomfortable position. Although she's not all caught up in the religious aspect, she definitely believes in God. I guess things will really start to come out when I bring the God Delusion home. I could always hide it ....I don't know. It's kind of frustrating but I feel like I probably should keep in as long as possible. But is this being dishonest? Oh well I'll see. Thanks again.

 

wwxc

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Why tell your wife anything about your beliefs unless she asks you a direct question? As for the children, you will have a real fight on your hands if you try to keep them out of church. But you should not allow yourself to be continually brainwashed. Stay out of church.

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Welcome, wwxc.

 

If you've been prowling the forums for 9 months, you know that many here face domestic quandaries similar to yours.

 

It's a very personal matter -- there's no one-size-fits-all way to resolve it.

 

If she's a very spiritual but reasonable person, it could be that she's never thought about how all the "spiritual" things she loves would be just as beautiful and enrapturing and rewarding if they didn't have the name-tag of god hanging from them. They could just be themselves. And that could be enough. Much as you could just be yourself, and that could be enough for her, too.

 

No advice, just an idea to ponder.

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Howdy wwxc,

 

My wife and I deconverted together over a long time (to me anyway). She went back in a very "in your face" and painfully confrontational way that has left our marriage in shambles (although during that time she denied ever deconverting and now she acts as if nothing happened...though I refuse to talk to her about any of it unless goaded severely and even then I say little). This site is my therapy.

 

Anyhow, I would say that you seem to have something that is working so why do you want to change it? I know that all the "god" talk can be annoying once you leave but she seems to be open to conversation, which she may no longer be, if you try to force things.

 

mwc

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Guest tomorrowshorizon

I think that rather than trying to get them out of religion, you simply try to get them into science and reality. I'm not sure how old your kids are, and that makes a difference, but I doubt your wife would object to things like a science/nature type summer camp (or day camp), or to making sure that their teacher teaches them evolution properly (and making up the gap if said teacher doesn't teach it properly -- one good excuse for this is that they might need it for the SAT). If they're old enough, you could make sure that they're allowed to read whatever they want, and encourage them to pick up things like Letter to a Christian Nation or The God Delusion. Remember, there are lots of subtle ways religious people use to indoctrinate children; if you pick up on their methods, you can deploy them yourself, to use that as a bulwark against the superstition they're being taught. Also, if you come out as an atheist, that will probably help your kids question their religiousity. It's harder for a young person to swallow the Christian BS when believing in it means that a) your adult father is going to hell, and (B) your dad thinks you're a myth-seeking goofball.

 

That said, I think you should be very careful with and about the children. Avoid anything that looks too harshly condemning, and try to steer them towards reason and liberal Christianity. If you train them to think, they will come out of religion on their own; anything that looks like "persecution" only encourages the Christian faith. This is why I think encouraging science is such a better idea -- you get to remedy the biggest drawback to a religious childhood, and at the same time equip them with the skills they'll need to embrace rationality and handle situations with logic, later in life.

 

This will also probably be easier than trying to tell your religious wife to stop indoctrinating your children, which I image wouldn't work so well... With her, I suggest you keep doing it gently, because she seems receptive to questioning. Why not simply ask her the questions that you asked that you did not find an answer to in the gospel? If it was enough to shake your faith, and she's a sensible person, it will probably at least make her sympathetic to her cause.

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You say your wife is a really spiritual person. So am I and a number of others who are not religious. Maybe mystical would be a better term. What I'm trying to say is that she does not have to abandon her spirituality in order to leave out god. I think I'm basically repeating what others said so I'll shut up for now. Good luck with whatever method you decide to try.

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I married a good man who is an atheist. I've never been a very good christian, because I was always questioning things and wondering why unfair and cruel things were presented as good and desireable. Hell, even some silly things are accepted as truth. Anyway, I continued trying to believe. I continued wanting to be spiritual. I figured the church was wrong about god, but that god was still there and good. I would drop that word in conversations and occasionally have arguments over it with my husband. I can't imagine how frustrating that must have been for him. Then I started to examine the whole christian faith and practice, and the more I studied it the more horrified I became. I couldn't imagine how I'd ever been able to give even nominal credibility to christianity. It's truly the most oppressive and cruel faith there is. I decided once and for all to stop trying to wrap my head around what now is evident as being ridiculous. I can't anymore. It was never a good fit. I think I was born a feminist, for one. I didn't understand how I was not equal to any boy all through my childhood. Now I know that I am, whether the church accepts it or not. I don't have to let them tell me otherwise.

 

Talk to her, but let her come to it herself if she eventually decides to deconvert. Be patient. Some people just have a really hard time letting go. Anything that is pounded into you as a child is hard to let go of. It's why I have a really hard time with people who indoctrinate their kids. If it were the right thing, wouldn't kids decide on their own that it was when they were old enough? Let your wife come to it naturally. It may take a long time, but it could happen on its own.

 

OR...you could start enforcing Paul's rules for women, and see how long it takes for her to get tired of it. ;)

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I want to thank everyone who responded so far. Really appreciate the insight.

I think the best thing for me to do is to keep my beliefs to myself until asked. I mention to my wife yesterday that I wanted to read the God Delusion and get the dvd "The God Who Wasn't There" and she didn't seem to have a problem with it. I told her I wanted to get the perspective of "non-believers" to understand why they don't believe in god. I'll see how it goes. One thing I will never do is try and force her to abandon her beliefs. However, when the time comes I want her to respect my non-belief.

 

In regard to my kids, I really like the advise tomorrowshorizon gave on introducing them to science. My oldest son is crazy about dinosaurs and the universe so I definitely intend on feeding his curiosity. One thing my wife and I agree on is stopping anybody that tries to teach our kids the biblical version of creation. She understands the danger it poses to our kids education.

 

Anyway, I won't rock the boat just yet.

 

wwxc

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I'm a little late to this conversation, but thought I would respond anyway.

 

My wife and I changed together slowly over time. She just recently started calling herself an "agnostic," so that's kind of exciting. She and I have had many conversations, but they never started out, "I'm an atheist, what do you think about that?" We would just talk about things as they came up (e.g. the tsunami in India, the rape and murder of a young child, the absence of answers to prayer, the sincere beliefs of others in other religions, etc.) and talk about the existence of God in that context. I didn't have an agenda and neither did she. We just talked.

 

It sounds as if there is really no urgency in your situation. Your wife seems reasonable and tolerant. Your kids don't seem to be in any "danger" of radical forms of Christianity. Just let conversations come naturally and I think, eventually, you'll both find a place that you are both comfortable with.

 

Best wishes.

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I am struck as to what an emotional and nerve-racking experience "confessing" your beliefs can be. It struck me as similar to when a closeted gay man comes out to his wife.

 

It is sad that expressing your true self has to be seen more in negative terms than positive terms.

 

I'd like to start seeing "Deconverting Parties". Let's celebrate our sanity. Balloon animals of your favorite scientists, periodic tables as party favors. Make them rival a Bar mitzvah.

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Whatever you do don't allow yourself to get into an argument about whether there is a God or not!

Or you'll never get it anymore! :wicked:

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Guest Sam Lowry

I'm in the very same situation.... she's assumed that I turned atheist and she is ok with it as long as I still accept Jesus as my lord and savior.

 

Hehe... LOL. seriously, she seems to get the idea but freaks out sometimes when she has time to ponder the thought. She knows I am on the side of

Reason but she has a hard time reconciling reason with her faith. She was depressed when I opted not to take the communion last easter sunday.

I thought I was being honest with her.... while respecting the sacrament (well, I'm still a doubter).... she got a bit mad but we reconciled the same night

without a word addressing the issue. she just cried for a loooong time which broke my heart. I love her dearly and I don't want to lose her. I think

I can live with being a closeted agnostic or atheist just to keep her. It's extremely hard cause she has 20 close relatives that are hardcore christians... and

as we all know, blood is thicker than water.

 

 

so in my experience, you can criticize everything in the bible except for the divinity, death and resurrection of jesus christ. Hopefully, she will question it on her own, eventually.

 

I guess all doubters have tolerant/reasonable wives... or else they'd be ex-wives by now.

 

thanks for this therapeutic site.

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I am struck as to what an emotional and nerve-racking experience "confessing" your beliefs can be. It struck me as similar to when a closeted gay man comes out to his wife.

 

It is sad that expressing your true self has to be seen more in negative terms than positive terms.

Not being gay, but hearing all the stories, it's about the closest thing that I can think of to compare it with. Of course, when I "came out" to my wife it went very well...that is until she "turned on me" that fateful day. Then things sucked and haven't stopped since. Coming out to my mom tore my heart out (does anyone like to hear their mom sobbing over the phone...I could have done without the whole "going to hell" thing...but seriously...what kind of "loving god" inspires that?). I guess what goes around does come around and it serves me right being so judgmental (for "god" and jesus...so I wasn't really judging but correcting :Wendywhatever: ) against the gays that I get a taste of that medicine.

 

mwc

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Some very serious advice: Don't raise your kids atheist. Don't teach them religeon either, just let them figure stuff out on their own. But whatever you do, don't raise them atheist. They'll have a nightmare at school. Remembering back to my school days, I can say from first hand experience that most christians are very intolerant of atheists and have some sort of an instinctive hatred for us... especially in school years.

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I've been visiting this site for 9 months now and I can't tell you how much I appreciate this place.

 

 

We are rasing the kids with religion in their/school/church. I deconverted about 2 years ago and dropped all my catholic practices including prayer. Wife quickly followed suit without our ever discussing it. We are xmas easter catholics. I even receive and wife without confession. Then back at home, never in front of the kids, were back to our "godamns and other swear words. Actually, we did discuss it briefly and she says my beliefs or non beliefs are my business. How refreshing! She does want to take the young kids to church though and thats fine.

All I know is a tremendous burden has been lifted from me by dumping the fuckin guilt and anxiety that religion created forME. Good luck!

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WWXC:

 

I've read this post several times and have been deliberating on whether or not to reply. I'm afraid my reply may really be more of a non-reply but, here goes:

 

I always thought my fiancee was a weak agnostic and she knows that I'm an atheist or free-thinker, if you will. Whenever conversation would lead to religion, I always felt a mite uncomfortable because disaffirming the existence of a superior being is far different from sitting the fence on the topic.

 

I don't know how familiar you are with Richard Dawkins or any of his books but I've recently been reading "The God Delusion", along with some J.D. Crossan and Kierkegaard, and while I would recommend all of these authors and more to try to explain your case to your wife and open her up to new possibilities, I've come across a method that I think might just work for you in a more subtle and less forceful way.

 

At the two links posted below, you will find Richard Dawkins' "The Root of All Evil?" documentary that he made with British public television (Channel Four). It is loosely based on "The God Delusion" and follows the same basic framework for his arguments. Since it's highly unlikely that you would be able to pursuade your wife to read a good-sized book, you might be able to get her to watch a documentary with you. I haven't found a good way of transferring these two MP4 files to a DVD to watch on my television and was forced to watch both installments on my PC but I'm sure there is a way. If you are good with the reformatting of files and all of that stuff, you could possibly encrypt them to MPG files and make a VCD or even a DVD with them (if you have the proper software and hardware, that is).)

 

Anyway, my fiancee and I watched it together at the PC last week and she walked away from it agreeing wholeheartedly to what was presented. It was quite a shock to me. She later expounded on her feelings saying that she "had known for a long time that there was no god but that it was hard to admit it to [herself]... kind of like grieving the loss of a loved one before you can actually accept the fact that they are dead." I hope it helps you in your situation. Here they are.

 

Part One --

 

http://www.antonioedward.net/component/opt...parent,category

 

Part Two --

 

http://www.antonioedward.net/component/opt...parent,category

 

Also, you should know that it's said that Dawkins encourages the downloading of this material, especially for residents of the United States as it was not (and most likely will not be) distributed here.

 

Best of wishes.

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Some very serious advice: Don't raise your kids atheist. Don't teach them religeon either, just let them figure stuff out on their own. But whatever you do, don't raise them atheist. They'll have a nightmare at school. Remembering back to my school days, I can say from first hand experience that most christians are very intolerant of atheists and have some sort of an instinctive hatred for us... especially in school years.

 

I guess it all depends on the kid and the school? 2 out of 4 of my children are self admitting atheists and it hasn't effected anything at school that I have heard. :shrug: My husband is the only Christian in the house. I still love him :wub: despite his faults! (Just kiddin :lmao: ) I think it's critical to instill questioning abilities into kids. Rather it be god or government. I encourage my kids to seek out their own answers and form their own opinion on life's questions. I help as much as I can, but they have their own path.

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2 out of 4 of my children are self admitting atheists and it hasn't effected anything at school that I have heard.

 

Damn lucky. :Doh:

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