Jump to content

Marriage Issues From De-conversion


Wondering
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently came across this website, and I have found it to be a huge encouragement. Before reading all the posts on this site, I felt like I was all alone, and it sometimes felt like I must be the first and only person to lose belief in my previously cherished faith. I've read several articles and comments here talking about ex-believers who are married to fundamentalist believers, and that's the situation I find myself in. My wife and I met in church when we were in college, when we were both sold-out Christians. For many years, she and I were exactly on the same page about all things spiritual.

 

A few years ago, I began to ask myself why I held the beliefs I held, with regards to religion, politics, values, and all other things. Initially, I started examining my political views. I was a hard core right-wing conservative (which is probably highly correlated to the fact I was a Christian fundamentalist). I began to read many left-wing books to see why they believed the things they did, and eventually my views shifted much more toward the center. I realized that liberals were not necessarily the spawn of Satan, and some of their ideas and views made sense. It didn't take long before I began to apply this critical thinking to my religious views. I began to read atheist books and watch debates between Christian apologists and atheists. Over time, I began to realize that there are numerous reasons to seriously doubt the legitimacy of the Christian faith.

 

I was still going to church regularly with my wife and kids, but I gradually became a more detached observer of the whole thing, and less of an active participant. One day, my wife noticed that I seemed disengaged while at church that morning, so she asked what was wrong. For the first time, I confessed to her the doubts I was having. To say she reacted emotionally would be an understatement! She immediately started crying and lashed out by saying very hurtful things, like how I was no longer fit to raise "her" kids.

 

After that really awful day, we gradually came to a truce and reconciled. Since that time, the subject has come up a handful of times, and it always ends with the same result of our marriage becoming strained. I have basically decided that religion and faith are topics that I am no longer willing to talk to her about. Lately we have been getting along great, but this is largely because I have been keeping my doubts to myself, and I have continued to go through the motions of going to church and acting like my "old self."

 

I know many of you have likely gone through the same issues, so I was just hoping to hear some other peoples' stories. If I was completely honest with my wife about what I'm thinking, I believe there's a high probability that our marriage would break up. Because of this, I have made a conscious decision to keep my family together at all costs, even if it means denying publicly what I really believe (or don't believe) privately. One concern I have is how to manage the inevitably difficult questions my kids ask about God and the Bible. On one hand, I want to be honest with them and teach them to be critical thinkers, but on the other hand if I don't fully endorse the Christian faith to them, my fundamentalist wife will accuse me of not being fit to be a good father. How have others handled this dilemma?

 

I also struggle with feelings of guilt about the whole thing. After all, my wife has stayed exactly the same in her core beliefs since the time we met. I'm the one who has changed, so I can actually understand her feelings of hurt and betrayal. I am not what she thought she was signing up for. For the time being, our marriage is good, but as I said, I feel like it is contingent on me remaining "in the closet" about my doubts. I still am expected to dutifully take my family to church, raise my kids to be believers, and write fat tithe checks to the church on a regular basis. I still feel like it's a better alternative than splitting my family apart, but I also feel like somewhat of a phony.

 

If anyone out there has advice or similar experiences, I'd love to hear from you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several of us have been through very much the same stuff. My story sounds extremely similar to yours - met my husband at church, and we were "sold out" for gawd, always on the "same page" doctrinally. But I started to question things, and think, and read. He didn't really want to hear it, and gave me some of the same old 'pat' answers I've always gotten, so I did some exploring on my own. About a year ago I realized I can NOT shut my brain off and keep myself from facing the truth, namely, that xianity is a manmade system, a big mistake, a trap, even. And I knew I would be more miserable faking it, so I "ripped the band-aid off" and told my husband and whole family (because they all go to the same church) that I was no longer a believer.

 

I think deep down I knew there was some kind of big change coming, and I knew I was questioning, so for a couple years I had been disentangling myself from ministry responsibilities, and bible study group, even though dh still went. So people knew I had been "drifting" a bit. But it was horrible and shocking and my parents treated me like shit for a while and now try to pretend nothing happened. My husband spent about a year hardly talking to me, except to argue about it, and now we're on the brink of divorce. But every time I'm sure it's over, we seem to make some progress in understanding each other and accepting reality. So who knows...But I know I'd rather face consequences in my life from being true, than having to hide myself and my true thoughts.

 

I think Christianity is so fucked up, when people go ballistic at the thought of others coming to a different conclusion than they do. I really think they're the ones not facing reality, and they shouldn't be enabled to emotionally manipulate those around them. I have been there, and I do realize they're not doing it on purpose mostly, they really do think nonbelievers are going to hell. But if enough people point out that the emperor is, in fact, naked, then maybe they will adjust themselves to the fact that others don't buy in to their delusion, even if they still believe it themselves.

 

But I understand where you're coming from. You love your family. BTW, does your wife believe the bible verse that tells the christian not to divorce the unbelieving spouse, when "unequally yoked"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, you "suffering" for the sake of your marriage and children is pretty much the Christ concept. In doing so, you have brought happiness back to your wife. My reservations about doubt are that what I may "know" or realize in 10 years, that I don't understand now, are extremely relevant......i.e. the thing(s) God wanted me to learn through suffering on the way to being made perfect.

 

Maybe this is not at all your case. Just wanted to put a Christian perspective out there to consider.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not so much "suffering" as it is pretending. And yes our thoughts and ideas may change and we may understand the world differently in ten years, but that's the point - people do assimilate new information and think differently as they grow, whereas Christianity claims to be The Truth. And to doubt these claims is perfectly reasonable. If your wife believed in leprechauns would you make her happy by pretending you did too, when you actually didn't?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been through similar, what I want to say is that no one should ever promises never to change, to grow, to think, to be different, and if they did/do they are not realistic. We are different people at 20, 40 or 60. Our basic personality may not change but our outlook changes, our thoughts and our beliefs. They have to, how can they not? New experiences, loss, pain, suffering, disappointment, birth death and joy, these all have a profound effect on us.

 

Welcome and keep growing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently came across this website, and I have found it to be a huge encouragement. Before reading all the posts on this site, I felt like I was all alone, and it sometimes felt like I must be the first and only person to lose belief in my previously cherished faith. I've read several articles and comments here talking about ex-believers who are married to fundamentalist believers, and that's the situation I find myself in. My wife and I met in church when we were in college, when we were both sold-out Christians. For many years, she and I were exactly on the same page about all things spiritual.

 

A few years ago, I began to ask myself why I held the beliefs I held, with regards to religion, politics, values, and all other things. Initially, I started examining my political views. I was a hard core right-wing conservative (which is probably highly correlated to the fact I was a Christian fundamentalist). I began to read many left-wing books to see why they believed the things they did, and eventually my views shifted much more toward the center. I realized that liberals were not necessarily the spawn of Satan, and some of their ideas and views made sense. It didn't take long before I began to apply this critical thinking to my religious views. I began to read atheist books and watch debates between Christian apologists and atheists. Over time, I began to realize that there are numerous reasons to seriously doubt the legitimacy of the Christian faith.

 

I was still going to church regularly with my wife and kids, but I gradually became a more detached observer of the whole thing, and less of an active participant. One day, my wife noticed that I seemed disengaged while at church that morning, so she asked what was wrong. For the first time, I confessed to her the doubts I was having. To say she reacted emotionally would be an understatement! She immediately started crying and lashed out by saying very hurtful things, like how I was no longer fit to raise "her" kids.

 

After that really awful day, we gradually came to a truce and reconciled. Since that time, the subject has come up a handful of times, and it always ends with the same result of our marriage becoming strained. I have basically decided that religion and faith are topics that I am no longer willing to talk to her about. Lately we have been getting along great, but this is largely because I have been keeping my doubts to myself, and I have continued to go through the motions of going to church and acting like my "old self."

 

I know many of you have likely gone through the same issues, so I was just hoping to hear some other peoples' stories. If I was completely honest with my wife about what I'm thinking, I believe there's a high probability that our marriage would break up. Because of this, I have made a conscious decision to keep my family together at all costs, even if it means denying publicly what I really believe (or don't believe) privately. One concern I have is how to manage the inevitably difficult questions my kids ask about God and the Bible. On one hand, I want to be honest with them and teach them to be critical thinkers, but on the other hand if I don't fully endorse the Christian faith to them, my fundamentalist wife will accuse me of not being fit to be a good father. How have others handled this dilemma?

 

I also struggle with feelings of guilt about the whole thing. After all, my wife has stayed exactly the same in her core beliefs since the time we met. I'm the one who has changed, so I can actually understand her feelings of hurt and betrayal. I am not what she thought she was signing up for. For the time being, our marriage is good, but as I said, I feel like it is contingent on me remaining "in the closet" about my doubts. I still am expected to dutifully take my family to church, raise my kids to be believers, and write fat tithe checks to the church on a regular basis. I still feel like it's a better alternative than splitting my family apart, but I also feel like somewhat of a phony.

 

If anyone out there has advice or similar experiences, I'd love to hear from you.

 

Hi wondering,

 

I think this subject warrants a forum of it's own. Though each story may be different, it is a very real and essential part of de-conversion.

 

I was not a fundamentalist and neither is my husband who is still in religion as a moderate Catholic and most likely always will be. I grew up Baptist but have been agnostic even as a child (though I didn't know what that was then). I remained in religion because I didn't know any other way and married into what seemed to me at the time, a relatively benign religion. I tend to look for the positive in everything and did the same with the religion that I was surrounded by until a few years ago when the threats of mixing religion and government became more prevalent and obvious and my children became young adults and it became obvious that I might become the mother-in-law to an extremely fundamentalist daughter-in-law someday if I didn't stand up for my disbelief. That's my life in a nutshell.

 

It's only recently that I have realized that one reason that I stayed in religion (married 25 years this summer) for so long because leaving it meant that my husband and I would no longer have anything in common other than the well-being of our children and that's been pretty one-sided anyway.

 

But my married life has been much like my religious life. Nothing horrible has happened, in fact, my husband is a super nice guy. But we avoid talking about religion and politics. No religion because he just isn't interested in deep discussion, period. No politics because his politics are based on his religious beliefs, not on what's right for human beings in general. And again, he is not interested in deep discussion that makes you think about what you believe in and why you believe it. He's a hands-on, worker bee kind of guy.

 

But where does that leave our relationship? I don't think it's healthy for either one of us but we have this silly contract between us that would be such a pain in the arse to have to break. And then what if we did? I'm not old, but I'm no young pup either and neither is he.

 

I think it has helped me to find forums like this to discuss this in though I think that only time will help me find the right solution. This is the only godless forum that I have found that there is any one willing to listen to this part of being a non-believer. I'm glad you posted this. I doubt that my story has done anything to help you other than to know that even though our stories are different, we're not alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback. I'm still thinking through these issues and their potential impact on my family. I think for the time being I've decided that while I won't initiate a conversation on the subject, if it does come up, I will try to be honest about my doubts, and more importantly, gently encourage her to think about things herself. One of the most frustrating things about our past conversations is how rigidly locked in she is in her viewpoint, and how difficult it is to get her to even admit the slightest possibility that she could be wrong. I guess that is true of most fundies. I would just like to get her to where she is less emotional about it so we can have reasonable discussions about what I consider to be genuine questions. In the meantime, it has been therapeutic to find a website like this one where I can vent. It's no fun carrying around all this baggage in isolation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stop tithing and rather donate to charities that actually do some good. As for the rest, you need to do what seems right to you and for your marriage's sake. I thank the lard that my family is not against me and essentially deconverted with me, I am very persuasive. :grin: Oh and welcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the perspective of someone for whom deconversion was a large factor in destroying a relationship, it's been almost five years since my fundamentalist ex-husband and I divorced, and I am completely sure now that I made the right decision. However, my situation is somewhat different from yours in that I had no children and I was the woman. The environment that we were part of during our marriage was patriarchal and sexist, and my ex-husband's acceptance of his duty to bring "the weaker vessel" into line would have made any reconciliation impossible. I've noticed that when the husband is the one who deconverts, often the wife will be more accepting of it because it's her role to convince him through submission and gentleness.

 

As the child of Christian parents, I'll say this. I have worked through a lot of resentment toward my parents for my forced indoctrination. If I were to find out that one of my parents had not believed but had faked it and hypocritically put me through Christian environment hell to "keep the family together", I would not readily forgive that parent. Your children will eventually know that you are lying to them. I'm not saying that should be a deciding factor for you, because maybe it would still be worth it for you to save your marriage despite that possibility. However, to me, it's not keeping your family together if everyone in the family is lying to each other.

 

My personal belief is that generally a marriage is worth saving if both parties can agree on mutual respect. Right now, it doesn't sound from your post like there's mutual respect - it's just you giving up your integrity (and your kids' minds and your time and your money). Would she be open to counseling? Even a Christian counselor who's any good will recognize that you can't be forced or nagged into changing your mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your wife believed in leprechauns would you make her happy by pretending you did too, when you actually didn't?

 

Yes

 

Nothing like being dishonest to your spouse for the sake of leprechauns!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have deconverted over the past year. It's wreaked havoc on our marriage. My husband feels like your wife, that I've done a bait and switch on him (although we've been married 15 years). I came out as an unbeliever about 6 months ago and it's not going so well. I go from trying desperately to keep this marriage together for the sake of the kids to feeling resentment and emptiness over the state of our marriage. I have no advice for you. I personally couldn't keep up the facade for my husband or my children. I was deeply entrenched in fundamentalism and it was making me suicidal. The most I can do for my husband is to go to church occasionally. I'm not sure if that helps things or hurts things.

 

Welcome to our community.

 

freedom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Wondering

 

Welcome to the Ex-C forums.

 

I think you would find it helpful to make a list of the qualities and attributes that you aspire to as a person and to also make a list ofthe qualities and attributes that you are trying to bring your children up with.

 

When you look at those lists, you you will probably notice that you and your wife both embrace many of those values. The difference is that your wife sees those values as flowing from her Christian beliefs, whereas you see those values as just flowing from being the person that you are.

 

THEN, you can continue to embrace and model those values. Perhaps even drop a few more of those "value" words in to casual conversation. There will be many more values that brought you together than the values that now separate you.

 

I don't think you should consciously mention the "Christian" issue unless she forces you to do so. Actions and subtle words can speak much louder than words in this situation.

 

As for bringing up the children, don't teach them what to think. Teach them how to think critically. eg every viewpoint will have an opposite viewpoint and you should teach them how to go searching for the opposite viewpoint with integrity. Reading an apologists version of the opposite viewpoint does not count (neither in religion or in academia).

 

Perhaps with the tithing, you can work over time to move to an evidence based charity donation where you can verify that most of the money is getting to people in genuine need, rather than paying for the flashy lifestyle of some preacher.

 

Once again, welcome to Ex-C. This is a real and important issue for people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Wondering. I met my wife at Bible College. She was raised fundamentalist holiness but not quite as radical as I was. The process of my deconversion started innocently enough 3 or 4 years ago. She was quite shocked when I told her I didn't believe anymore and that I was quitting church. I don't think she believed me, to be honest with you. I've only been out of church for two months now. I know what you are saying when you wonder if things will work out because like you, I am the one who changed and am not the same person she married. I have no advice - just letting you know you're not alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Wondering. I met my wife at Bible College. She was raised fundamentalist holiness but not quite as radical as I was. The process of my deconversion started innocently enough 3 or 4 years ago. She was quite shocked when I told her I didn't believe anymore and that I was quitting church. I don't think she believed me, to be honest with you. I've only been out of church for two months now. I know what you are saying when you wonder if things will work out because like you, I am the one who changed and am not the same person she married. I have no advice - just letting you know you're not alone.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who posted replies. It is definitely comforting to know I'm not alone in what I'm going through!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wondering, I am in this boat too.

 

My husband is upset. He feels like a failure (the Bible misleads him in to feeling responsible for MY purity, or some shit).

 

He feels like it is not fair that I have changed. I considered at one point "taking it back". Going undercover...smile and nod- but I cannot do that. I told him that I love him (I do!) and so I think love means, among other things, respect and honesty. I want to always be honest with him.

 

We have had many "conversations" about this topic. Some go well (meaning we don't fight, but he won't listen)...and some do not go well ( meaning he has yelled at me and told me that I am rebellious/he loves god more than me).

 

He wants me to go to church and tell the kids nothing.

 

That is becoming increasingly difficult. Two of my children are 10 and 12 and there are real questions, observations, and subjects to discuss.

 

I have begun to share my perspectives with them. I don't outright say "THERE IS NO GOD!", but I will put ideas out there for them to consider. If they ask me outright, I will be honest. I want them to be honest with me, what should I lie to them? My biggest concern is that my husband will get all "Apologetic-y" and rip them to shreds in a "debate" that they do not know how to handle.

 

He fears that I will lead the children to hell.

 

So mostly we do not talk about this stuff, about every 2 months or so there is some "major " conversation.

 

 

In the end, each of us on this forum has a different story- I don't know if I can give advice, but I am here- along with many others- to listen and understand.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Links to threads that address these subjects in my life, if you are interested:

 

On children and information

 

on Sunday Morning and Marriage

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

Hi Wondering. I'm another one married to a fundy. A bit of my story is in my profile (About Me), if you want to read some of the details. Welcome to the forums and remember -- especially on those dark days -- you are not alone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, it can be pure hell. Myself, 18 years divorced. My children, all kinds of problems. I can't imagine how I lasted thru 12 years of marriage. But life since has been no pice of cake!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's odd that no one has said to tell your wife why you no longer believe? In my situation, my wife is still a believer. She did not blow up when I told her I no longer believed, but she did listen to the various reasons and contradictions why I don't believe the God of the bible any longer. She agreed with many of them, and can at least in some way understand where I'm coming from.

 

Funny, people keep mentioning the tithing issue. That was probably the first doctrine I honestly researched and found was not applicable to christians. That just opened to the door, with me wondering what other garbage I believed that actually wasn't true........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's odd that no one has said to tell your wife why you no longer believe? In my situation, my wife is still a believer. She did not blow up when I told her I no longer believed, but she did listen to the various reasons and contradictions why I don't believe the God of the bible any longer. She agreed with many of them, and can at least in some way understand where I'm coming from.

 

 

That was the most frustrating thing when I first tried to talk to her. She was so completely emotional and irrational, she wouldn't even listen to any of my reasons why. Since then, there have been a few times we've had calmer, more rational discussions but she still has a brick wall built around her mind which will not allow her to even consider the tough questions. She always says, "I don't understand it, but I know I'll get answers when I get to heaven. Until then I'm going on faith..." Things like that. When I ask her how she knows her beliefs are true, it's "because I can feel the Holy Spirit inside me confirming that it's true." So I asked her, don't you think Muslims and every devout believer in other faiths feels the same conviction that Allah is confirming to them that theirs is the One True Faith. She said, "Satan is deceiving them." To which I asked, "How do you know the Muslim Satan is not deceiving you?" "Because I just know..." and so on. The discussions quickly become an exercise in circular logic, so I rarely even attempt it any more. I think it's fascinating stuff to think about, so I wish I had more people in my life to talk about it with.

 

The worst part about modern Christian culture is the fact that you're treated like a heretic or demonic influence for the mere act of questioning or thinking. Anything that doesn't tow the company line is thrown out. It's nice to be able to vent here on this forum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.