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finally_done

Living With A Fundamentalist Spouse

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I am married to a fundamentalist believer. We married the moment I graduated from our fundamentalist Christian college at 20 years of age. That was 23 years ago. To make a long story short, after being an overseas missionary wife, a country church pastor's wife, a SS teacher, and a regular columnist for a national fundamentalist Christian magazine, I now find myself an agnostic/atheist in a very DEFINITELY mixed marriage. My husband is of the KJV-Only background and has recently decided to hitch himself to the charismatic bandwagon as well. I've had doubts and questions about religion since I was a teen, but it's only been during the last six years that I've permitted myself to explore alternative perspectives. This year has been an amazing one, and the sense of relief and hope I am now experiencing after shedding the constraints of Christianity is wonderful.

 

But I have a question for you. How do you hang in there with a spouse who thinks you're going to hell now and is afraid you're going to convince your kids to come along for the ride, too? How do you stay married to someone who doesn't respect you or like you any longer -- who feels your choice to leave the faith is a personal attack on him?

 

Our marriage has always been a VERY rocky one anyway because while I remained in the church, I never really hesitated to speak my mind about ridiculous, legalistic, sexist "rules" and preaching. Therefore, my husband quickly decided I was a "feminist" and unsubmissive and that he'd made a mistake in marrying me. Of course, being a Christian, he couldn't *divorce* me, so I think he went around hoping I would commit adultery or something so he'd have just cause! ;-) Anyway, he's mellowed in minor ways over the years, but he's about as FAR RIGHT as a person can be in the fundamentalist mindset. To the outside world, my husband is a "good" man -- you know, the nicest of the nice on the surface, always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt (well, except deists, agnostics, atheists, pagans, etc...!) -- but so judgmental of me and so tied to his narrowminded beliefs. He is also smart and logical. He has a BA and an MA in Biblical/Pastoral Studies, and he loves to debate for his church and his God. He is proud, sexually paranoid and prudish, and emotionally stunted. I don't really blame him for any of this -- it's how he was raised, and I doubt he could free himself from his background and training even if he had a glimmer of a desire to do so, which he does not. He thinks he's serving the one and only Almighty God, and that is ALL that matters.

 

When I finally told him that I was questioning my faith last year, he nearly blew up in rage. He was so angry that I would "do this" to our family. And that's when he thought I was just considering deism. Then he moved into a depressed state, blaming me for stubbornly resisting God, for not staying in the Bible enough, for refusing to pray with him, for not joining the church's accountability groups, for not submitting to pastoral counseling, for not following *his* leadership when it comes to... uh, everything. He is going to go through the roof when I tell him the way things really stand: I don't believe in God at all any longer. I will be the ultimate heretic. I do think he has come to care for me, after putting up with me and my anti-authoritarian attitude all these years, but it's no love affair, by anyone's standards. He will turn on me in a flash. He's already threatened -- blackmailed, really -- to tell my parents (who are both in very bad health) that I am forsaking the true God and ruining our kids.

 

So how do you do it? Because make no mistake about it -- I **will** do it. I will not stay in this religion (or any religion) another minute. I will not go to church again. I will not pretend any more. I'd love to talk with others in like circumstances. Is any woman out there in this kind of situation? Does anyone have any advice? Can such a mixed marriage work? Or do I need to face reality? I know what I think is in the future....

 

Jane -- finally_done

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Wow. Tough situation. You have my compassion and admiration.

I've never been in your situation but I have relatives going through something kind of similar. If I could make a suggestion, I think you might want to consider some type of counseling - marital, or just for yourself - either one would be a step in the right direction. I'm a big advocate of counseling because I've benefitted from it. Get in front of somebody with the skills & training to help you sort through all this. I don't think any sort of ministerial counseling would be appropriate, either, as they're basically just going to parrot your husband's views. My guess is that he's not going to like the idea of a "secular" therapist, but If he could be persuaded I think he'd be surprised at how insightful and balanced a "heathen" perspective can be.

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Guest Davka

Ouch. That's not an easy one.

 

I have just one question before putting on my "compassionate advice-giver" hat: How old are your kids?

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My best wishes and sympathy are with you. I don't know how anyone can manage it. I can't stand to be around a fundy for more than a few minutes before I lose it. And watching them poison the kids? I couldn't do it!

 

I hope you find a solution soon.

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Welcome to Ex-C Finally Done. I am not married myself so am not qualified to give any advice in that area. Living with my fundy parents when they are 1,200 miles away is hard enough. You have a tough situation. Fundys cannot be reasoned with.

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Wow. Tough situation. You have my compassion and admiration.

I've never been in your situation but I have relatives going through something kind of similar. If I could make a suggestion, I think you might want to consider some type of counseling - marital, or just for yourself - either one would be a step in the right direction. I'm a big advocate of counseling because I've benefitted from it. Get in front of somebody with the skills & training to help you sort through all this. I don't think any sort of ministerial counseling would be appropriate, either, as they're basically just going to parrot your husband's views. My guess is that he's not going to like the idea of a "secular" therapist, but If he could be persuaded I think he'd be surprised at how insightful and balanced a "heathen" perspective can be.

 

 

Yes, I've suggested marital counseling for years, but he refuses, of course, unless it's with a fundamentalist pastor of his choosing. Uh, no, I don't think so.... Actually, six years ago when I first started letting him know some of my issues with the church, he freaked out and told our pastor at the time, as well as his personal "accountability" group, that I was refusing to submit to him and his spiritual leadership. (He didn't give them any details -- just that I had a feminist spirit.)

 

So one afternoon our whole family came home from some cousin's birthday party, and there on my front step stood 7 men -- the pastor and all of the men in my husband's group. They said they were there to "talk sense" into me and to "pray a submissive spirit" into me. You can imagine my thoughts. Well, maybe not. At that point in my life and our relationship, I was very angry and frustrated with my husband for all of his rules and the pressure and the condescension, etc. And I **knew** he fully understood how I felt having those men come there and INVADE my home and my privacy like that. I told the men to wait, and I took my kids inside and told them to stay in their rooms, and I then told my husband to get rid of those men. I made it very clear that I could not handle such a situation and that 7 men against me was not a fair fight. (I knew my husband would just sit silently on the sidelines playing neutral.) However, he said it would be too rude to send them away as they meant well and were trying to help us!!!

 

Omg, what an experience. I have never been so humiliated and so infuriated and so determined all at the same time. I sat there in a circle with those men in my front room listening to their drivel and vowing that I was not ever going to return to our church. I promised myself I was finally going to start searching for some *real* answers about God and the Bible and Christianity. They droned on and on about how unspiritual I was and how I needed to listen to their rebukes and start being the meek and modest woman God intended me to be. The most hilarious part (as in, ironic) was that anyone looking in from the outside would have seen me as a VERY meek and modest woman. Well.... until they got to know me a little. Because I was a thinker, and I wasn't afraid to state my opinion.

 

That was one of the main turning points in my life, I now realize. After those men left, I told my husband I was not returning to that church even for a moment, and he believed me. We started going to a new church (just as fundamentalist as the last one, but at least I didn't have to face those men again). I also let my husband know that if he EVER let something like that happen again, I would leave him. I think he believed that, too. So finally, I started seeking out answers and reading. It's taken me six long years, but I am on the other side now, and boy, does it feel right. I'm not angry at all any more. I'm completely calm; things just look very different to me now.

 

My husband is who he is, and all my church friends and acquaintances are who they are. They really believe the stories they read in the Bible are sacred and inspired by God, and that's why this is all so important to them. Nothing I can say will convince them. Most of them (including my husband) have had their doubts, too. They've just chosen to ignore them and carry on. Fear is huge in fundamentalism. As a matter of fact, that's one of the biggest problems my husband is going to have when I go public next week. He's deathly afraid of how all this is going to make him look -- how it's going to affect his reputation. You see, I have effectively ruined his chances for preaching and teaching -- at least for a while.

 

Actually, I have benefited from individual counseling myself for a couple of years now. I realized it was necessary for my sanity, and it really helped me to peel away the layers and to gain confidence and perspective. But no, my husband will ** never** agree to secular counseling, as I will never agree to church counseling. And in reality, our root problem is Christianity, and that's not going anywhere.

 

 

Jane -- finally_done

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Welcome, and my sympathies, my story has some similarities to yours (married right out of Christian post-secondary, fundamentalist spouse) but you've definitely got a lot more to deal with. It doesn't sound like it will be easy for you to stick it out and endure the criticism.

 

I guess it will come down to how much real love and respect exists in your marriage. People with different beliefs can have happy marriages, but there has to be a deeper foundation than just your religious (or lack of) beliefs.

 

All the best to you as you sort this out, and thanks for joining our community.

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Ouch. That's not an easy one.

 

I have just one question before putting on my "compassionate advice-giver" hat: How old are your kids?

 

 

Let's just say I have several -- some older, some younger. My oldest, at almost 22, is a Ph.D. student at Stanford, and they are all real thinkers. I've somehow managed to instill a questioning nature in them over the years despite the biblical brainwashing they've received. For instance, my husband is appalled (and embarrassed) that some of the older ones have decided that homosexuality is a perfectly legitimate sexual preference! (Gee, what a concept!) They are all bright, independent, confident leaders, and I'm really not worried about them, even through all of this. I see them seeking out answers on their own already, and that is a big relief to me. So far, they are also all taking my advice to finish their educations and get going in their careers before even thinking about settling down (giving themselves time to figure out who they really are and what they really want out of life and what exactly they believe). Not marrying early is something I stressed a lot to them through the years. I know some people do it and it works out well, but usually it's a problem, as it was for me.

 

Obviously I'll need to be careful how I handle things with the younger ones though...

 

Jane -- finally_done

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First, congrats on finally finding your own path, and sticking out despite it all.

 

As for your marriage, all I can give you is an opinion. Growing up in fundy churches, with a fundy mom, and being a fundy myself for the better part of 20 years, I would say that if there was some real care in your marriage between you and your hubby, then it could be worked out. However, judging from your description, I don't see that he values you as a person. He values what you can mean to him in his little christian world, but you? I don't see someone who really cares for you, your opinions, or what makes you tick. We all grow attached to things given enough time - that doesn't mean they are right for us. I'm not saying to run out and get a divorce - but perhaps some time apart would do both of you some good, give each of you a chance to reflect on your marriage, who you are as individuals, and who you are as a couple. Although you've fought tooth and nail for it, I would bet that a larger part of "you" has been buried, and you could probably use some time just to reconnect with yourself. How long you would need is something only you can decide - perhaps a week would be enough, I've known couples seperate for over a year.

 

In my own marriage, my husband is, thankfully, open to my decisions. He's still christian, but not really a fundy - never was. The "funny" part of it is I was the one who got him back into the church - he had been out for several years before we met LOL (at the time I was still claiming christianity). I've been open about my feelings and changing views right along with him, so it wasn't a suprise when I finally outright dropped the whole christianity thing. BUT, he also respects me as an individual. We have a very equatable relationship (I wouldn't have married him otherwise!), and he totally respects me as a person, woman, wife, human, etc. Therefore, I think even if he was fundy, our relationship could survive. He might worry for my soul, but I think we could work through it because of our mutual respect for each other as individuals. Then again, my husband would never tell me I needed to be submissive - that'd be a fast way to finding his bags on the porch and the locks changed if I felt he REALLY meant it (he's joked before, and that earned him a swift smack on the back of the head LOL).

 

So, although certainly not in your situation, I've dealt with relationships that have lasted as long as yours and fell apart, some that worked it out, and my own. Combining that all, my advice wouldn't be to throw your relationship and family out the window just yet, but I would feel that you probably do need some time to evaluate what you can, and cannot, tolerate, and to give your hubby time to see if HE can respect your choices or not. Since you're the only one who can control what you do, you need to be able to decide what you can deal with if he refuses to change, or what you would need changed in order for things to be workable.

 

Good luck either way, glad to have you here!

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My best wishes and sympathy are with you. I don't know how anyone can manage it. I can't stand to be around a fundy for more than a few minutes before I lose it. And watching them poison the kids? I couldn't do it!

 

I hope you find a solution soon.

 

 

Thanks for the good wishes. It has helped me a lot just to come here and see the number and variety of people who have reached the same basic conclusion as I have. When you live in the middle of fundamentalism, it feels a bit like living in an insane asylum and being told everyone there is sane except you. The advent of the internet and forums like this one, in addition to the availability of some excellent, thought-provoking books, have given me the ability to change over the last six years.

 

As to my kids, I'm good. They are great thinkers, despite their upbringing in the church. My skepticism has been contagious, I suppose.

 

Jane -- finally_done

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Welcome, and my sympathies, my story has some similarities to yours (married right out of Christian post-secondary, fundamentalist spouse) but you've definitely got a lot more to deal with. It doesn't sound like it will be easy for you to stick it out and endure the criticism.

 

I guess it will come down to how much real love and respect exists in your marriage. People with different beliefs can have happy marriages, but there has to be a deeper foundation than just your religious (or lack of) beliefs.

 

All the best to you as you sort this out, and thanks for joining our community.

 

 

 

Thanks for the welcome. I really do appreciate the friendliness and support here so much.

 

Yes, I've heard that "people with different beliefs can have happy marriages," but I haven't seen it. Certainly not in the radically fundamental churches where we have attended. I think the main problem is that my husband has always made it clear that, to him, "religion" (though he would NEVER call his Christian faith that bad word) is the one and only true foundation for any marriage. Marriage is a picture of Christ, the groom, and His bride, the church. While my husband would never kick me out of our marriage (because that would be a huge sin), and, in fact, he would say that one of his highest ideals in life is to share marriage and grow in faith service to God with a life-long-partner, when I tell him this weekend that I have shifted from considering deism to accepting outright atheism, you can be assured that this will no longer be a marriage in any real sense of the word.

 

As to love, I don't think he has ever been capable of true love in many ways. He was raised in a strange environment -- strict, non-emotional parents who never showed an ounce of affection or respect for each other, let alone romantic love or sexuality, and a church that preached some mighty strange doctrines, even for fundamentalists. (Did you know that in heaven all Christians will be 33-year-old men like Jesus was when he died? Yes, for "we shall be like him.") I married too young, and I've paid for it all my life. Oh, well. My bad.

 

At least I am now free from the guilt and depression and injustice of Christianity, and that makes everything a lot brighter.

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Welcome to Ex-C Finally Done. I am not married myself so am not qualified to give any advice in that area. Living with my fundy parents when they are 1,200 miles away is hard enough. You have a tough situation. Fundys cannot be reasoned with.

 

 

Thanks for the welcome, DevaLight. My fundamentalist parents will be another issue for me to figure out soon.... I'd like to think I could get away with not telling them because the doctors have only given my my mother (age 61) another year or two to live. She would be devastated by my deconversion as I am the only one of her kids to "turn out well" and keep the faith so far. My youngest brother died in a fluke car accident when he had just turned 21 and that sent her into a depression she's never shaken. My other two brothers started off well but then managed to screw their lives up completely. My dad would just about kill me if I upset my mother because she is the ONLY thing in life he cares about at all. They have actually been living as hermits up in the mountains for the last three years since she grew ill, but my husband will probably go against my wishes and tell them about my decision to leave Christianity. Why? Who knows? He thinks he has the right because they are *his* parents, too, and he'll probably hope my dad can browbeat me into better sense. Which is a real laugh because my dad is the *last* person I've ever listen to about anything. He means well (most of the time) and he;s a hard worker, but he is extremely prejudiced (against women, education, all races except white, all "alternative" lifestyles, and all religions except the fundamentalist one) -- and he's proud of it, too. Funny, but if my mother were dead, I don't think I's have a problem telling my dad.

 

Sigh.

 

I probably sound hard-nosed and detached from all of this, but the thing is, I've been dealing with it in my head for six years now, so I've worked through a lot already. Actually, my friends will be the hardest to tell of all. I have been a leader in the community here for years...

 

Jane -- finally_done

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As to love, I don't think he has ever been capable of true love in many ways. He was raised in a strange environment -- strict, non-emotional parents who never showed an ounce of affection or respect for each other, let alone romantic love or sexuality, and a church that preached some mighty strange doctrines, even for fundamentalists. (Did you know that in heaven all Christians will be 33-year-old men like Jesus was when he died? Yes, for "we shall be like him.") I married too young, and I've paid for it all my life. Oh, well. My bad.

 

No offence, but your husband sounds like a bit of a nutbar. If you challenge him on this stuff, it will probably lead to big fights. I hope there's a way to get him to think about it, because this is such nonsensical garbage it would all fall apart in the slightest wind of reason. Sounds like ultra-Pauline Christianity with a Heaven's Gate twist. But in all your years of marriage I hope you two have some good memories together? Maybe you can remind him of those memories?

 

At least I am now free from the guilt and depression and injustice of Christianity, and that makes everything a lot brighter.

 

Amen.

 

Again, all the best. He's going to make you the bad guy, but I think you know you're not.

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My question is why do you want to remain in this relationship? It's not rhetorical, though it certainly could be the way you described him. I understand that you can give your husband understanding for being what/who he is but from where I sit it sounds like hell trying to live with a person like this.

 

I think mixed marriages can work if one of the spouses isn't judgmental. But in your case it seems you are under constant scrutiny. Moreover his positions sound completely overt and offensive. Life is short and that's a lot of negativity to commit the rest of your life to. That's just me though, so again, why do you want to remain?

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Welcome to the site. :)

 

I'm going to have to say that, while there are quite a few people that make this type of relationship work, I would say from what you've said so far...you're probably screwed. I've been here a few years and I've seen a lot of people come through and usually (not always) people like you just hit the wall. You've already said your situation was bad. Now it seems to have come to "the final straw." And based on similar situations he may put you through hell over any kids you have together. Why? Just because his faith requires it. So if you decide to separate be prepared for this. Think about those men coming to your house to "fix" you and then imagine that happening over every aspect of your life...especially your kids. It just might happen (it has to others here...divorces have been ugly and the church was not kind to the apostates with some of the accusations).

 

So I'm sorry to just lay it out like this. I'm usually among the first to tell newcomers to try to save their marriages. But nothing you've said really tells me that you want to actually save yours. You really do sound finished and I think you were more hoping we might find a reason to convince you to stay since you haven't really been able to do that on your own. I'm sorry that I don't have anything like that for you.

 

mwc

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This reminds me of a deconversion story I read once by someone named christ-on-a-stick (i forget where it was posted though). She eventually got divorced but it was very drawn out mostly because he didn't want to. He finally decided that he could not be unequally yoked to an unbeliever any longer and it ended. I can not really even imagine living with someone like that. It good that your children are all strong thinkers though! I was raised fundy and my mom eventually left it (though that was after their divorce) but my brothers are still in it because of my dad. It causes a lot of strain between them and my mom.

 

That is horrible that he is threatening to tell your parents when your mom is ill. Just awful. Honestly I don't know what I would do. I married really young (I'm 22 now) but we have been agnostic/atheists for a long time. Its weird being a young atheistic couple in the military cause everyone else around you is pretty damn conservative Christian. Vows are still something to take seriously no matter who you are so it sucks to jump to the divorce, but maybe necessary?

 

If you have been regretting marrying him and are financially stable enough on your own I would say get free of him. Its not worth so much of your life to be so mistreated. Your children will see that treating a wife that way isn't something to tolerate which will hopefully be a good example to both sons and daughters.

 

I bet it helps to vent it all out. I know it helps me.

 

I love the line "its like living in an insane asylum and being told everyone is sane but you" That is my mom's extended family to a tee. She broke free and I am proud of her for freeing herself not only of christianity but an emotionally abusive marriage. Just saying, if its just for the kids sake, staying together can sometimes cause more harm than good.

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Greetings, finally_done. I can't imagine the hell you must be going through. I won't try to recap what others are saying, so I just want to respond to one thing at the moment:

 

I think the main problem is that my husband has always made it clear that, to him, "religion" (though he would NEVER call his Christian faith that bad word) is the one and only true foundation for any marriage.

 

Yeah, the old "it's a relationship, not a religion" argument, huh? You could point out that James 1:27 calls it "religion," and then ask him to show you one single verse that calls it a "relationship." I haven't found any. I wonder what he would think about that....

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Welcome to the site. Not sure what to say really about your situation. It's a terrible one to be in. To be honest I would find it intolerable. I couldn't stay in that situation. Family or marriage be damned I would get out. But this is me. If you stand up for yourself and it causes huge troubles, your kids will know. A family in torment is probably more harmful to the kids then just getting divorced. Of course you know your situation and children best. As to your friends, well they'll either be true friends and accept you or they will show true colors and won't. Be prepared to be kinda lonely but you can always make new friends, particularily if you free yourself of this...man and his imaginary friend.

There is another, albiet remote option....

 

Many of the people on this site are former preachers and undoubtably some of them were as entrenched as your man. Perhaps they can give some insight on how to break another preacher's chains of religion? That would certainly be a hard road to go. I guess it depends on how badly you want to keep this person and your marriage.

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Thanks for the welcome, DevaLight. My fundamentalist parents will be another issue for me to figure out soon.... I'd like to think I could get away with not telling them because the doctors have only given my my mother (age 61) another year or two to live. She would be devastated by my deconversion as I am the only one of her kids to "turn out well" and keep the faith so far.

 

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's condition. Considering everything else you have to deal with, and the shortness of time she has left, if I were you I probably would not tell her. Nothing you can do, of course, if she hears it from someone else. Then the cat's out of the bag and I would say let the chips fall where they may. After all, it is your life.

 

Your dad sounds like mine. My parents are 75. My dad is firmly entrenched in all his beliefs and has never really known how to have a real conversation with me. He was flight engineer and a pilot, a Sr. Master Sgt. in the Air Force, and an intelligent person. What happened? In recent years since he can no longer fly, he has gone whole hog into the church like I never would have believed possible. This is a man who is a world traveller and you would think exposure to different cultures would have made a difference in his outlook. It has not. He is a deacon and helps with "church discipline". No doubt he could just as well have been one of those men you saw in your home invasion. My mother has always been the submissive housewife. I don't plan on seeing either of them often, even if I could afford the trip.

 

I am the only one in my family who has deconverted. I haven't told them the whole story. Probably I will soon.

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As to my kids, I'm good. They are great thinkers, despite their upbringing in the church. My skepticism has been contagious, I suppose.

 

That is very good news.

 

I hope you come to a peaceful resolution soon.

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Guest Davka

The only solution I can see is divorce. I know that sounds harsh, but your husband is pretty clearly not interested in reality, and nothing you do or say is likely to change that.

 

The problem is the kids. As a child of divorce, I can tell you firsthand that it's horrible. I was 8 years old when my parents split up, and I blamed myself for their breakup until I was in my 20s. If you do end up divorcing, you will need to explain to your kids in the clearest terms possible that it's nobody's fault, mommy and daddy just don't think the same way any more.

 

From what you've written, I cannot imagine that your husband would be interested in reading anything that logically contradicts his belief system, or in going to a counselor who doesn't tell you that it's all your fault for not trusting in Jesus more. A self-delusion as strong as his cannot be broken easily--if it happens at all, it would have to be the result of an unimaginable crisis.

 

I know you must have loved this guy or you wouldn't have married. But what you have now is an abusive relationship. He probably doesn't mean it to be, but you are threatening the very foundations of his world, and his only defense is to put all the blame on you. The available rationalizations for Christians to treat other people like shit are myriad, and they get stronger the closer the people are.

 

If you think you can handle the inevitable fallout, you might try direct confrontation. As in "I will seek a divorce if you will not try to see things from my perspective - not agree, just look with an open mind." It is unlikely that he will ever see himself as even partially to blame, but if you really want to try to keep your marriage together this might be the only possible way.

 

Hang in there. And welcome to the monkey house - we've all been there in some form or another.

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The only solution I can see is divorce. I know that sounds harsh, but your husband is pretty clearly not interested in reality, and nothing you do or say is likely to change that.

 

The problem is the kids. As a child of divorce, I can tell you firsthand that it's horrible. I was 8 years old when my parents split up, and I blamed myself for their breakup until I was in my 20s. If you do end up divorcing, you will need to explain to your kids in the clearest terms possible that it's nobody's fault, mommy and daddy just don't think the same way any more.

 

From what you've written, I cannot imagine that your husband would be interested in reading anything that logically contradicts his belief system, or in going to a counselor who doesn't tell you that it's all your fault for not trusting in Jesus more. A self-delusion as strong as his cannot be broken easily--if it happens at all, it would have to be the result of an unimaginable crisis.

 

I know you must have loved this guy or you wouldn't have married. But what you have now is an abusive relationship. He probably doesn't mean it to be, but you are threatening the very foundations of his world, and his only defense is to put all the blame on you. The available rationalizations for Christians to treat other people like shit are myriad, and they get stronger the closer the people are.

 

If you think you can handle the inevitable fallout, you might try direct confrontation. As in "I will seek a divorce if you will not try to see things from my perspective - not agree, just look with an open mind." It is unlikely that he will ever see himself as even partially to blame, but if you really want to try to keep your marriage together this might be the only possible way.

 

Hang in there. And welcome to the monkey house - we've all been there in some form or another.

 

 

I have to agree. I didn't want to be the first one to suggest divorce as I know myself to be a little itchy on my "cut ties, fuck 'em all" trigger finger, but Davka's right - it's an abusive relationship, and any degreed psychological professional you ask will say the same thing.

 

If you're worried about the kids - the younger ones, I mean - which is perfectly reasonable, you might consider encouraging them to keep close to their siblings. If the older ones are as enlightened as they are they're more than capable of countering the crazy arguments your present spouse will put forth, and siblings can be wonderful anchors of stability in situations like divorce.

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Hi and welcome Finally_Done,

 

My experience in a fundagelical marriage was different than yours, but ended in divorce. My advice to you-if you decide to separate and divorce-is to prevent him from getting the upper hand. Make sure you get an aggressive lawyer and file first. Otherwise, you will be on the defensive responding to his demands. You may also have grounds for seeking a divorce due to emotional abuse and neglect if worse comes to worse. Don't let it be written down that you are at fault. Try to get him to agree to the divorce for reason of "irreconcilable differences". Also, if he makes more money than you, that will be in your favor.

 

Everytime a christian friend, or church acquaintence heard about my apostasy, their true colors surfaced, and it wasn't pretty! I was too polite and nice, which had no effect on their visciousness. Others who weren't on the attack, shunned me except for a couple who were true friends. I say this because once you become an "outsider" your husband will probably view you as hellbound chaff. True believers learn to think of apostates as evil and treat them as if they are immoral. I wish you the best.

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Welcome to the site. :)

 

I'm going to have to say that, while there are quite a few people that make this type of relationship work, I would say from what you've said so far...you're probably screwed. I've been here a few years and I've seen a lot of people come through and usually (not always) people like you just hit the wall. You've already said your situation was bad. Now it seems to have come to "the final straw." And based on similar situations he may put you through hell over any kids you have together. Why? Just because his faith requires it. So if you decide to separate be prepared for this. Think about those men coming to your house to "fix" you and then imagine that happening over every aspect of your life...especially your kids. It just might happen (it has to others here...divorces have been ugly and the church was not kind to the apostates with some of the accusations).

 

So I'm sorry to just lay it out like this. I'm usually among the first to tell newcomers to try to save their marriages. But nothing you've said really tells me that you want to actually save yours. You really do sound finished and I think you were more hoping we might find a reason to convince you to stay since you haven't really been able to do that on your own. I'm sorry that I don't have anything like that for you.

 

mwc

 

 

Thanks for the welcome, mwc.

 

As to the kids, and what my husband might do about them if I were to ask to separate or divorce, it's highly unlikely he would do anything. He is a good dad in some ways -- plays board games with them sometimes, takes them to the park occasionally, means well -- and this has been the main reason I have stayed all these years (and probably much of why I took so long to come through my journey to atheism). However, now that I have older kids, I can see that he doesn't have any *real* relationship with them. When they voice differing opinions, he does just what he does with me. He argues non-stop (long, debate-like emails quoting Bible verse after Bible verse as well as many conservative "scholars") and threatens them with dire spiritual consequences. He really has little to no ability (or at least makes no effort) to deal with his children on an individual basis once they go through puberty, and he's fully aware of this issue. Years ago when I brought up the possiblity of divorce once or twice, he told me that he would move far away from us because he couldn't handle the emotional devastation of losing his family (and his respected church reputation).

 

Over the years, he has come a long way (very much within his comfort zone of extreme fundamentalism, but to him it's huge), and he's very proud of his open-mindedness. He now thinks women can wear pants (though not tight and no shorts) and sometimes work outside the home (when the financial need is high). Contemporary Christian music is fine with him now -- a major change from his "traditional hymns only" stance. He even permits non-KJV Bible versions (though it's still the ultimate authority). I don't think he would move across the country if we divorced now because he would want to have regular spiritual input into the kids' lives since I will be such a bad example to them. Already I hear constantly that every "wrong" choice they make is because I have not modeled the proper wifely submission to his leadership and because I have shown an across-the-board "critical" spirit towards the church. (He **loves** the church.)

 

So... anyway... if we separated or divorced, he would definitely give me the kids full-time and would loyally support them financially (he'd never be a deadbeat dad in that manner). I'm sure he would want to have them every weekend so he could take them to his church for regular brainwashing (I mean, training). I'd guess that he'd remarry within a year or two as well, to some nice, non-rebellious Christian woman because I cannot see him alone.

 

If I didn't have any younger kids, I'd probably be happily on my own in a second at this point. However, I'm thinking that waiting until the youngest is a little older might be good.... well, I'm feeling that way. I haven't really given it hard thought yet as recently my mind has been busy dealing with other issues (i.e., is god really like that? is there even a god at all?). So now I need to think about some new things. Like I said in one of my previous posts, plenty of decisions to consider now...

 

I have to run, but I'll be back to respond to everyone else later today. Thanks again for the conversation. You cannot imagine how much it helps. Hmmm... maybe you can. ;-)

 

Jane -- finally_done

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I'm a woman who was in a similar situation. Like you, I was labeled a "feminist" for believing in equality for women in the church and in relationships. My ex-husband concluded that he shouldn't have married me because I didn't want children. I had told him so before we married, but he hadn't believed me, thought I would change my mind. He kept trying to get me involved with groups of Christian women who were studying how to be submissive SAHMs.

 

Almost the same things happened to me when I told him I was questioning Christianity. He was furious and also blamed me for all the same things your husband blamed you for- resisting god, not being prayerful, not being involved enough in the church, not following his leadership. He also threatened to tell my parents, thinking that they would turn on me and I would not be able to leave him because I would have no support. He cared more that marriage was a reflection of Christ and the church than that there was any love or respect between us and even begged me to return to be an example of obeying God's will.

 

I agreed to go to Christian counseling (I wanted the counseling, he wanted the Christian), but less than a week after we started, he did something that for me was an absolute deal breaker. I left the next night and never returned.

 

My lawyer warned me that even if you feel almost certain that a divorce would be amiable, people going through one can become like totally different people- erratic, litigious and punitive- especially if they feel like they're in a position where they can judge and punish their spouse. This would concern me for you, because as a fundamentalist, it sounds like your husband might be more inclined to feel that he had the right to judge and punish you- by declaring you an unfit parent, trying to ruin your reputation in the community, or by making you jump through all sorts of petty requirements before he'll agree to sign things. I would hope that he wouldn't do that because he loves the children, but I wouldn't let that hope keep you from getting a very good lawyer right away if you decide to divorce. I didn't have children, and I imagine that some things will be different for you because of that, but I think you should still exercise the same caution and not be too quick to assume your husband will be cooperative. My ex-husband told our Christian friends that I'd cheated on him (not true) and told me that if I didn't let him keep the apartment, he would accuse me of abuse to his lawyer and thus drag out the divorce for another 6 months. Of course, all the while he was doing this, he was declaring that since I was the atheist, he was the victim.

 

I don't know how your husband is treating you now, but you say he doesn't respect or like you. Why would you stay with someone who doesn't respect you and shows no signs of changing? Because you believe in the sanctity of marriage? Or because you think you can get him to change? Or because you're afraid a divorce will hurt the kids? As for the last one, I will say that a divorce is not necessarily worse for children than growing up in a home where one or both parents is disrespected, hurt and disliked.

 

My parents did support my divorce because in the end, they put my happiness and safety above the fundamentalist idea that divorce should never happen. I don't know if yours are in a condition to be supportive or if you could help take care of them while they're ill while having a place to stay with them. But I will warn you, I did lose probably 95% of my Christian friends. My best friend told me I was going to hell (for the divorce, not the deconversion, because I wasn't out yet). Most other people just melted away. The leader of my small group at church never spoke to me again.

 

Now I am wondering why you felt like you had to go public with your deconversion right away. I'm not saying you should stay in the closet, but it might be easier for your family if you're not so outspoken about it until you are in a more stable place.

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