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A Story Of Being "trapped"


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This is my extimony. It resembles a number of the stories that I've seen here on the forum in many ways. It's not a story with a great amount of drama or shock value (my abuse at the hands of religion has been comparatively minor), but it is my own.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to note that I have typed something similar to this before on a couple of other forums under a different user name. I only mention it because I wouldn't want someone who has read my story before to think that I just lifted it from somewhere else.

 

I was raised in a home in the northeastern United States without any particular religion. My father could be described as what I would call apathetic agnostic, because he's never seemed to care about whether God exists or not. My mother was raised Episcopalian, but never went to church on a regular basis when I was a child; she seemed to believe that God exists, but she never indicated in what form she believed he may take, or how he related to the Universe.

 

My first experience with religion occurred when I was in late grade school. My mother sent me to a Christian day camp in our town, probably without realizing that they were associated with a church that, while not a cult in the truest sense of the word, was right on the edge of that category. In addition to the swimming and games, we sang children's worship songs and had a quick bible study each day. The opportunity to accept the Gospel was presented at least once during the week that I remember, and I'm pretty sure that I made the decision to accept Jesus at some point. After attending this camp, I always had questions in my mind about God and my existence, if there was an afterlife, and if I would get to experience it.

 

When I was in high school, I became close friends with a number of born again Christians at a local Baptist church.* Many of their beliefs fell in the fundamentalist category, such as their belief in a 6 day creation and the rejection of evolution as scientific fact. It was after my freshman year in high school that I made a commitment to Jesus Christ and God, and took up the cross on my shoulder as a true believer.

 

However, even at this stage, I had doubts. I couldn't reconcile things that I knew were reality with what I was being told was truth because it was "Biblical," such as the age of the earth, or how and when dinosaurs existed. For as long as I remember, I was keenly interested in science, and by my nature I am very logical and analytical. Yet, even when Christian "truth" ran against reality, I managed to explain it away with the usual platitudes of "God's ways are not our ways" or "God can do whatever he wants however he wants, since he is not limited to our reality."

 

I went out of state for college, and looked for a church to go to for almost my entire freshman year. I finally landed in an Assemblies of God church, and thought I had found a direct connection to heaven. The worship was lively, the preaching was heavy, and the people were excited. The speaking in tongues and prophetic words were a bit of a culture shock, but I just learned to accept that part of it, even though I never did either of those things myself.

 

During the next three years, I really felt like I was growing spiritually. I went out with my church for street preaching and witnessing. I felt like I was on fire for God, and that my church was making a difference, and that we were fighting for the city with our prayers in a spiritual battle.

 

Yet still the doubts lingered. I kept hearing from everyone about how Jesus was coming back soon, and how everything that was happening around us was a sign that we were in the End Times. No matter how many times I was told this, I just couldn't accept it. How, I wondered, were these people any different from anyone in the last thousand years who believed that they were in the End Times? No one ever seemed to have a good answer for that question.

 

After I graduated from college, I moved back to the northeast U.S. It took me a while to find another church home, but I eventually settled into another Assemblies of God church. This church claimed to be undergoing a "renewal," which is the term they used for a revival. It was exciting, and the church was charged with energy. It was while I was attending this church and the singles group there that I met my wife, who is the daughter of an Assemblies of God pastor.

 

After I got married, some strange things started going on at my church. People were claiming that their silver fillings were being replaced with gold fillings. Some were claiming to see angels in the Sunday school classrooms while everyone else was in the sanctuary worshiping. Of course, these things raised even more doubts in my mind when no one could answer the question, "Why would God replace your fillings with gold? Why wouldn't he just replace them with real tooth?" Again, no one had satisfying answers to questions like that. The fact that the really neat things (such as seeing angels or stories of miraculous healing) always seemed to be happening in the next room, in the next town, in some other country far away also had me wondering if any of this was real. Yet I continued on, just thinking that maybe I wasn't spiritual enough, and I needed to pray and read God's word more.

 

My wife and I finally left this church, and started going to her father's Assemblies of God church. Oddly enough, it was my experiences with my wife's family that really started me on the road out of Christianity.

 

One of the things that has struck me was how much nepotism ruled at this church. The pastor's son and his wife (at the time we first started attending) were the worship leaders; the pastor's other son and his wife were also on the worship team. While other people would come and go (when they got tired of dealing with my brother in-law and his wife), it has always been the family running the worship team; even after my brother in-law and his family moved away, they were replaced by my other brother in-law's sons. My wife runs Sunday school. There is no position at the church that involves making decisions that isn't run by my wife's family.

 

After seeing how the church is run, I started to ask myself if this was how Christ envisioned how we should do church, with a big, expensive building, nice chairs, and a fancy A/V system. More and more, I became disillusioned with the concept of church as it is done today in the United States.

 

I have also been struck by just how sheeplike the people in the church are. No matter how banal the sermon, no matter how nonsensical the logic, they all nod their heads and say "Amen!" and "Preach it, Pastor!" as if some great revelation has been offered. I have also noted how easy it is to whip the congregation into an emotional frenzy, simply by playing the right song or saying the right words. I saw how people were always looking for the next great spiritual high, behaving like drug addicts in search of their next fix.

 

My father in-law's preaching has also gone a long way toward pushing me out of Christianity. The messages are a hastily assembled mess of urban legends he's received through e-mail, some scripture taken out of context, and a lot of incorrect facts and assumptions. As his sermons get worse and worse, I have wondered why God, if he was actually speaking his word to the pastor, wouldn't do a little fact checking of his messages. Isn't God concerned about getting the facts about the world he supposedly created correct? Apparently not.

 

As the years have gone by, I have become more and more distant from the beliefs I once held. I tried for a long time to accept the indoctrination, to deny the reality of the world around me, but I just can't do it any more. I can no longer deny science, logic, and facts. I can no longer accept the idea of a spiritual war that goes on around me every day that I can't see. I can no longer accept the idea that prayer changes things, when the outcomes with prayer aren't any better than statistical chance. I can no longer accept that miracles happen, because I have never seen one myself, nor have I received documented, independent confirmation of one. I can no longer accept the idea of a God that loves me, but will send me to Hell at the slightest misstep. I can no longer call some ethereal being "Father," when any decent father will talk directly to his children, and not through some wild-eyed preacher that spends every Sunday and Wednesday foaming at the mouth about "the gays" and hell. I can no longer accept the idea that God needs us to tell others about his message, but is completely incapable of telling them himself.

 

It took a number of years, but I finally just had to admit to myself that I no longer believed any of it. I finally came to the realization that if God exists, he doesn't exist in the sense that Christians believe he does. The more distant I became, the more I recognized the brainwashing and indoctrination techniques, and the emotional manipulation.

 

And so, I have reached the point where I no longer count myself a believer. I have left behind Christianity. I have put aside any belief in God and the spiritual world in the absence of evidence.

 

This is where the trouble starts.

 

Many of you who have read this far will already see the problem before I state it, which is that I'm still married to a hardcore believer from a whole family of hardcore believers that doesn't realize her husband has become an atheist.

 

This is where I stand today, how I came across a site such as ExC, and how I now go by the user name of "Trapped."

 

I still love my wife, and our two children, dearly. I love them more than anything else in the world. They are the only things in this existence that matter to me. Yet, I cannot tell them that I am now living a lie. I can't tell my wife that I don't want to pray over our meals because I think it's a silly and pointless thing to do. I can't tell her that I don't want to go to not only her dad's church, but any church, anymore. I can't tell her any of the things I think about life, or the interesting things I read about science, or what I think about anything that contradicts the beliefs that she's been taught for her entire life.

 

As much as I want to, I can't find a way to tell her that I don't believe anymore without ruining everything in my life. I don't think she would, or even could understand what I've become, or how, or why. Even if telling her how I feel didn't lead to a divorce, it would lead to a long, long period of bitterness, anger, and feelings of resentment and betrayal. So I keep living the lie, and wondering how I can find a way out. I see my situation as being akin to when a doctor has to decide whether to leave a bullet in a shooting victim's brain, because the attempt to remove it might kill the person he is trying to save, or damage them irreparably.

 

So here I am. This has been my story. Thanks for reading it.

 

 

*This was in the northeast U.S., so this Baptist church was not affiliated with the wackier Baptist movements such as SBC or IFB.

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I can totally relate to your experiences with nepotism and non-sensical teachings.

Regarding your wife and children: I think sooner or later you will have to tell them about your disbelief. But of course that's easy to say from thousands of miles away.

I hope you find a way out of this situation.

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Again, I say welcome to Ex-c, 'trapped'! Wow! What a story! :twitch: Now I understand why you could relate to my 'please forgive me ' letter so much.

I can relate to your story soooo much..... the Sundays of sitting there with all the questions in my mind, pretending, wanting to believe all of it so bad!! They say, 'fake it till you make it'. That's what I did for a long time (at the end). Much like you - I was once, very 'on fire' for god.

 

I can see where you are caught in 'a rock and a hard place' with the whole darn family. I could never advise you, but I can share my experience with you. It has taken me 5 years to even coming close to telling some of my favorite christian friends.(and a pastor's wife that has been friends with me forever) I just told her the truth.She cried... not good.. I know she thinks the devil has got me blinded. I just had a real hard time living this lie with some of these people - very much like you are saying - asking me to do the pentecostal praying, talking about the lord, etc..................(I posted another story on this forum called 'the pastor's wife' not long ago.)

 

But - I am not married to these people. I truly wish that I could wave a magic wand for you. We have some incredible intelligent people on this board who might be able to help you. It is such a shame that religion does this to people. Take your time. Keep reading and posting. We are here for you. At some point - your own 'inner self'' will know the right answer. I sincerely wish you the very best and I really am so glad you joined us. Margee

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Welcome to the forums, Trapped.

 

You might do some key word searches to find some of the many threads here which, over the years, have dealt with exactly the family dilemma you describe ("unequally yoked," for example). Unfortunately, it's rare that someone deconverting discovers that his/her spouse has secretly been doing the same thing, though I recall a couple of instances. At any rate, it's terribly painful, and there are many here who know that pain all too well.

 

Thanks for your beautiful writing, and I wish you the best in tending to both your family and your rationality.

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Welcome, Trapped

 

I really appreciated your candid and honest post. I can relate to many of your experiences. In my own marriage, my faith definitely went down in flames at a faster rate and a more agonizing trajectory than my partner's. However, he too has experienced a faith crisis, going from steadfast charismatic to curious agnostic in the time I progressed to informed atheist. I was extremely verbal with him in my process, so when I finally told him I was an atheist he said, "I know". Thankfully it doesn't phase him, since he is having some issues concerning evidenciary support for faith himself.

 

I'm glad you've joined us here at Ex-C. I hope you find both solace and solutions for your journey.

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Thanks for the welcomes, everyone!

 

Pitchu, I've done a lot of reading through the forum in the last week, with a particular eye for marriages affected by one spouse deconverting, and for the most part the result has been... discouraging, especially since I already have a pretty good idea of how my wife would respond in such a situation. While it's good to know that I'm not the only person who's gone through this kind of thing, I don't like the idea of destroying my marriage because of my change in belief.

 

And thanks for the compliment about my writing. There was a time, very long ago now, that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. The frustrated writer in me still shows up once in a while.

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Welcome, Trapped. I'm an "unequally yoked" wife and I am so sorry for your dilemma. Things are working out well for me personally, but only after an agonizingly painful year or so of strained marriage, and nearly divorcing. I was never "in the closet" - that is, I was fairly open about my doubts and questions, and when I realized my faith was gone, I told my husband and my family, and I left church. So we've been dealing with the fallout, but we are on the mend and have a lot of mutual respect for each other. The raising of our children continues to be a source of tension though. So in a nutshell, that's my story. As painful as it would have been to split up, I just knew I could never spend my life pretending - to me, that would be more heartbreaking, so I never considered it a choice. We have this one life, and I couldn't spend it NOT being me. It is tragic that fundamentalism rips people apart this way and makes them feel they have to live a lie to keep their families together. My heart goes out to you as you face these choices.

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I really enjoyed your story. The quoted part is what really resonated with me.

I can no longer accept the idea of a God that loves me, but will send me to Hell at the slightest misstep. I can no longer call some ethereal being "Father," when any decent father will talk directly to his children, and not through some wild-eyed preacher that spends every Sunday and Wednesday foaming at the mouth about "the gays" and hell. I can no longer accept the idea that God needs us to tell others about his message, but is completely incapable of telling them himself.

 

It took a number of years, but I finally just had to admit to myself that I no longer believed any of it. I finally came to the realization that if God exists, he doesn't exist in the sense that Christians believe he does.

 

Welcome to Ex-c.

 

 

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Welcome, Trapped. I'm an "unequally yoked" wife and I am so sorry for your dilemma. Things are working out well for me personally, but only after an agonizingly painful year or so of strained marriage, and nearly divorcing.

Yeah, I'm particularly not fond of the idea of going through that. Maybe I just need to spend some time to work up the courage to do so. Or maybe not. I'm really not sure.

 

So we've been dealing with the fallout, but we are on the mend and have a lot of mutual respect for each other.

I'm not sure if my wife would ever look at me the same again. She might still love me in the end, but I can't help but think that she would always look at me as "broken" if she knew how I really feel.

 

As painful as it would have been to split up, I just knew I could never spend my life pretending - to me, that would be more heartbreaking, so I never considered it a choice. We have this one life, and I couldn't spend it NOT being me.

Some days it's very difficult for me to keep my mouth shut, and to not just blurt out how I really feel. Sundays can be especially hard. At least we stopped going to Sunday and Wednesday evening services a long time ago (long before my deconversion), so I only really have to deal with the spiritual nonsense for a couple of hours a week. Even though my wife is a lifelong believer, she really doesn't talk that much about spiritual matters, possibly because she just thinks we feel the same way about everything, so it just never gets brought up.

 

Eugene, thanks for the welcome!

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Welcome to Ex-c.

 

I have deconverted within the last 6 months so everything is still pretty fresh in my mind. My wife is the daughter of a baptist minister so I can somewhat relate. Even when we went to church we lived pretty secularly, so I can relate there as well since you said you don't talk much about spiritual matters away from church.

 

You can find my story here: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/47032-i-had-it-easy/

 

In short, I deconverted on my own and while there were a few rocky months, my wife followed shortly behind me. It wasn't easy, but by keeping communication open during my journey and clearly discussing with her my concerns at each step we made it through intact and eventually, on the same page.

 

That said, here are my suggestions if you do decide to tell her.

 

 

  • Don't just come out and tell her, make it part of a plan. My deconversion happened when I read the bible cover-cover for the first time. If you haven't you might tell her you want to do that (to get closer to god of course). Share with her your disgust with each immoral story you come across. Cast light on the stories that conflict with what is taught in church. Do some web research, argue both sides, but in the end you need to elicit her help to destroy the apologist's argument on moral and logical grounds.
  • Go slowly. My biggest mistake was, even after she knew that I didn't believe any more and was ok with that, using the A word. Big mistake, and that made her retreat into a corner because of the stigma.
  • Argue for other religions. Maybe you have a devout Muslim or Hindu at your work. Talk about how much of a good person they are, how faithful they are, etc. Ask open ended questions like what do you think god would do with people who were brought up in another religion the same way we are brought up with christianity, and they genuinely believe it is the only correct way just as we do? Diversity tramples intolerance and zenophobia. If you can get her to see that people can be good without being a christian, that may be helpful.
  • Go slowly. Did I already say that? Yes I'm saying it again. This may take a year or more but it needs to be natural and un-forced.
  • Feel her out with every step of the way. This should be obvious but if you feel her not being responsive to your "doubts" back off.

Good luck!

 

 

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freeasabird, thank you for the advice, and for the link to your story, which I enjoyed reading.

 

Unfortunately, my wife is far less rational than it sounds like yours is. She has been force-fed all of this stuff since birth, and if I were to attempt to make any inroads to get through the wall of bullshit, she would immediately run to her father or her brother, both of whom are Assemblies of God pastors, for support. She believes that the Bible is inerrant, no matter what the actual truth is.

 

To show just how bad my situation is, my wife and I were talking (when my son was a few months old) about whether we would send him to private school, public school, or whether we would home school him. When the topic of home schooling came up, I mentioned that whatever system we chose would have to have a strong science curriculum, because I didn't want my son's college opportunities stifled because some systems would only teach creationism and leave out evolution. My wife said to me, "I'm not teaching my son that he's related to monkeys," and she then picked him up and walked away with him. She barely said a word to me for the rest of the day. She will not discuss anything that contradicts her belief system in the slightest way.

 

I don't think going slowly will help, except that it may soften the blow a little when she realizes I don't believe anymore. I don't believe for a moment that my wife will ever come close to deconverting, or accept that I can still be a good person if I'm no longer a believer.

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Hi Trapped,

 

Sorry for your situation. Your analogy about the bullet is a good one and fits well, I think.

 

There have been some good suggestions given already but I would suggest that you join an Assemblies of God forum under an alias and feel out how to debate with an AOG person. Most of them are going to have prepackaged arguments. Then, you might learn how to sloooowwwlllyyyyy try and turn the ship of your marriage.

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"I'm not teaching my son that he's related to monkeys," and she then picked him up and walked away with him.

 

This broke my heart, as I'm sure it did yours.

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freespirit, believe me, I've been associated with the Assemblies of God for twenty years. I know just about all of their arguments and counter-arguments. I've even used a number of them myself, until I realized the broken logic behind those arguments.

 

And that gets to the heart of the problem: none of my wife's beliefs or her father's beliefs are based on logic. They're based on indoctrination and emotion, control and feelings. These things together form an impenetrable brick wall around these people that refuse to investigate what they believe. They cannot accept that there is any contradiction in the Bible, because then they may start to believe that the rest of it will no longer stand on its own. To even suggest a minor contradiction or there may be an error in the Bible is heresy. The idea that some of the bigger events, such as the six day creation account, or Noah's ark, or the Exodus didn't happen would never even be up for consideration, much less looked at with any kind of impartiality. Unless and until a person starts really studying what they believe, until a person really starts to get the feeling that things just don't add up and starts investigating why, that person will insist on remaining behind that wall by his own will. There isn't a thing that I or anyone else can say to break that wall, no matter how rational the arguments, no matter how many facts may back those arguments up. Christians approach their faith like children, and refuse to look at the world as informed, educated, rational adults.

 

pitchu, yes, that hurt me more than I think I can express in words. And it continues to hurt me, because it gives me no hope for how this will all end if she ever finds out about my lack of belief. I've wondered if maybe I'm just not a good communicator, or if I'm just inept when it comes to my relationship with my wife, which is the reason why I can't find a way to tell her about myself and what I have become. But then I remember the wall of belief that she's behind, and I realize that it may not be my communication skills, or lack thereof, that is the problem.

 

I have to admit that there is a part of me that secretly hopes that my wife discovers what I've written on this board (and elsewhere), and recognizes ourselves in it. Maybe if she found out that way she could see how much it hurts me to keep my real feelings hidden, and how the last thing I want to do is hurt her. I wish she could know that I didn't choose this change, it just happened.

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freespirit, believe me, I've been associated with the Assemblies of God for twenty years. I know just about all of their arguments and counter-arguments. I've even used a number of them myself, until I realized the broken logic behind those arguments.

 

And that gets to the heart of the problem: none of my wife's beliefs or her father's beliefs are based on logic. They're based on indoctrination and emotion, control and feelings. These things together form an impenetrable brick wall around these people that refuse to investigate what they believe. They cannot accept that there is any contradiction in the Bible, because then they may start to believe that the rest of it will no longer stand on its own. To even suggest a minor contradiction or there may be an error in the Bible is heresy. The idea that some of the bigger events, such as the six day creation account, or Noah's ark, or the Exodus didn't happen would never even be up for consideration, much less looked at with any kind of impartiality. Unless and until a person starts really studying what they believe, until a person really starts to get the feeling that things just don't add up and starts investigating why, that person will insist on remaining behind that wall by his own will. There isn't a thing that I or anyone else can say to break that wall, no matter how rational the arguments, no matter how many facts may back those arguments up. Christians approach their faith like children, and refuse to look at the world as informed, educated, rational adults.

 

 

 

Okay, I wasn't sure if you understood AOG beliefs. I was in the United Pentecostal Church for many years, was totally indoctrinated and sold out 110%. Take heart.....people can and do get out...but it's a very long journey sometimes.

 

 

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I wish she could know that I didn't choose this change, it just happened.

 

This is a strong point. If and when the dam against communication should break, and should she feel that you've betrayed and misrepresented yourself to her, it might be well to remind her that she's always known you as a man whose (God-given?) mind is constantly at work -- assessing, comparing, investigating; and that you have no choice in that process. You cannot shut down your mind, and you would not give your beautiful wife the ugly gift of pretense.

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This is a strong point. If and when the dam against communication should break, and should she feel that you've betrayed and misrepresented yourself to her, it might be well to remind her that she's always known you as a man whose (God-given?) mind is constantly at work -- assessing, comparing, investigating; and that you have no choice in that process. You cannot shut down your mind, and you would not give your beautiful wife the ugly gift of pretense.

 

Funny enough, I think my wife actually considers this to be one of my flaws. "You think too much" is a phrase that I have heard from her more than once since we got married. However, if I didn't do a lot of thinking, I doubt I would be very successful in my career, and I would be far less able to provide for our household. I'm not sure if she's fully able to relate the two things; she seems to think that I've ended up where I am entirely because of God's blessings, and not through a combination of hard work, thinking a lot, a bit of ambition, and healthy dose of blind luck. She doesn't seem to realize that if I were dumb as a rock and lazy that we would be much worse off, because there is no God helping us.

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Funny enough, I think my wife actually considers this to be one of my flaws. "You think too much" is a phrase that I have heard from her more than once since we got married. However, if I didn't do a lot of thinking, I doubt I would be very successful in my career, and I would be far less able to provide for our household. I'm not sure if she's fully able to relate the two things; she seems to think that I've ended up where I am entirely because of God's blessings, and not through a combination of hard work, thinking a lot, a bit of ambition, and healthy dose of blind luck. She doesn't seem to realize that if I were dumb as a rock and lazy that we would be much worse off, because there is no God helping us.

 

"Thinking" as flaw. Yeah, I guess I'd blocked out that core element of the True Believer's arsenal.

 

At least her assaults on your mental activity are evidence that she knows, and has probably always known, that she chose to marry a man who might one day present a challenge. She may see you headed for hell, Trapped, but at least she can't claim it's because you've been duplicitous.

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Trapped,

 

I feel for you! I am married to a believer, be he is keenly aware of my deconversion. He was angry at first, but he is softening over time. I could not keep my feelings from him and I never thought for a moment that he wouldn't love me anymore. His family would flip, so I still pretend around them for his sake. But I don't have to pretend at home.

 

The way your wife reacted on the evolution question has to be frightening. It doesn't sound like she's receptive to any idea that is outside the "faith". However, if you don't share with her something that is such a core part of who you are, you are cheating yourself, your marriage and your kids. (Just my opinion...)

 

A healthy relationship allows you to be who you are and speak openly about it. Hopefully she knows that. Maybe you can approach her with this idea, i.e. "Sometimes I'm afraid to talk to you about what I'm thinking or feeling, because I'm afraid if you don't agree, you will shut me out."

 

Test the waters. See how it goes. You work hard to pay for your house, you should be able to feel at home there. GOOD LUCK!!

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The way your wife reacted on the evolution question has to be frightening. It doesn't sound like she's receptive to any idea that is outside the "faith".

 

It is frightening. I would be willing to bring up some of the issues that I have had with Christianity if she seemed able to actually talk about them. Heck, I'd even be willing to bring it up if she were willing to yell and scream and argue about it. Instead, whenever I say something she doesn't like, she completely shuts down.

 

I forget what the situation was that brought about this comment (it might have had to do with her complaining about alcohol being served at a wedding, or something like that), but I said something along the lines of "But what you don't seem to understand is that we are the weird ones. We are the fundamentalists. Why should the rest of the world conform to what we think?" She didn't get it. There was simply no understanding there. She couldn't comprehend that the majority of the world just doesn't care that we choose not to drink, or that we choose not to dance, or that we choose not to have sex before marriage. The idea that we are in the tiny minority and that we are looked at as freaks just isn't one that she can grasp. She doesn't understand that the difference between fundamentalist Christianity that she is a part of and the Taliban is just a matter of degree (and the fact that the fundamentalists aren't in charge of our political system because they are such a minority). I think I also once asked what the difference was between fanatical Muslim believers and fanatical Christian believers, since both seemed so sure of themselves. I don't recall getting a meaningful response, so I might just have gotten another one of those blank stares.

 

So, I would say that the few times I have tested the waters (a couple of times even before my full deconversion) have not given me a good feeling for what I'm in for in the future.

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You are indeed 'trapped' between a rock and a hard place. My heart goes out to you.

 

Is your wife a logical thinker in other areas of her life? Does she usually make decisions based on weighing out the options or is she the type who 'goes with her gut feeling'? I ask this because your previous attempts at appealing to her with reason and logic have been ill received. Maybe if she is more emotionally driven you can reach her that way.

 

For example: "I felt like something just wasn't right. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shake that feeling."

 

Then of course, you can back it up with facts.

 

You may need to see a neutral family counselor. Sometimes an outside pair of eyes has the best view. I really hope it works out for you. I've thought about your situation a lot since I read your story.

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Notazombie, I appreciate your thoughts on this.

 

My wife, for the most part, is pretty rational when it comes to most decision making. She doesn't defer to Jesus when shopping for groceries, or deciding when we need a new car, or picking out a vacation spot, or anything like that.

 

However, when it comes to religion, she has this major blind spot. It's like she can't turn her critical thinking in that direction at all. When someone has been indoctrinated since birth, and is still right in the middle of it all, it is understandably tough to get through that.

 

As I've mentioned, I don't see my wife ever deconverting, so it's going to be a matter of how bad the fallout will be for us, and how I will approach it. I'm all for the approach of dropping small hints by way of asking difficult questions or making observations, but I'm sure she'd figure that out relatively quickly. Even though she has a religious blind spot, she certainly isn't dumb (or I wouldn't have married her in the first place). I don't think it would take her long to just up and ask if I actually believe anymore if I give her much more information than I have already given. I think the only thing that's kept her from asking me about it already is that she just doesn't think I would change that way, or that drastically.

 

There's also some more information to consider. My wife knows I haven't been happy with our current church, which is pastored by my father in-law, for some time. She thinks this stems from some problems that we had with other members of her family (who even my wife dislikes), who have since moved away. It's true that the problems with her family acted as a catalyst of sorts, but they weren't the main cause of my disbelief — that happened a lot more gradually, and continued long after they left. Since the problems with her family, I haven't worshiped in the church, or done any singing whatsoever; in fact while everyone else stands to sing, I sit (or I used to; my wife has since "volunteered" me to do the worship overheads from the sound booth, possibly so that people don't see that I'm not worshiping). I think for the most part we're staying at this church because of my father in-law, who is now in his early eighties, and apparently intends to die at the pulpit. My long term plan (assuming that my wife doesn't find out I'm not a believer sooner) is to wait for my father in-law to either pass away or retire; this may give me an opportunity to say that I don't like the pastor that replaces my father in-law, or, if we try going to other churches, say they just aren't doing it for me, and stop going. I admit that this is a bit of a morbid plan, that it may not be the best plan, and that it a plan based on inaction on my part, but it is still a plan.

 

Oh, and counseling? There's no way my wife will go for that. Her family doesn't believe in marriage counseling, unless it's "Christian" counseling.

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Okay, Trapped, here's a little true story for you.

 

My dad was ordained a Pentecostal minister at age 19 in Arkansas, in the year 1927. He married my mom shortly thereafter and began to build a reputation as a revivalist (his sister once told me, in her rat-a-tat Arkansas accent, "Your father was the most called in seven Southern states."). So they were a dedicated couple to the wildest, wooliest manifestations of their cult, until Dad began to think. The "Thinking Flaw" got him bad, and Mom was, evidently, very much as you describe your wife.

 

One day Dad told Mom he was going to take her to a movie in a movie house far enough away that nobody but the two of them would ever have to know they'd entered the House of Satan. She protested, wept, flung herself hither and thither and only succumbed to his argument that she was required to obey him in this.

 

They went to the neighboring town, with Mom sobbing all the way. He purchased their tickets at the little booth, took my mother's arm, and as he guided her through the theater's doors, she fainted dead away at his feet. He scooped her up, propped her against himself, walked down the aisle like that, deposited her in a seat and sat beside her. It was a Charlie Chaplin film on the screen, through the playing of which my mother sat rigid, breathing shallowly.

 

When it was over and they'd exited, the family story recounts Dad as saying the following, "I dunno 'bout you, but I saw nary a sign of Satan, an' if he was, he's one funny bastard."

 

It took more years for Dad to leave the ministry, but he eventually did, and he died an atheist. Mom was always a loving wife to him, but her Christian uncertainty and trepidation never completely left her. Maybe, in some cases, that's the best that can be attained.

 

I share this with you hoping that it might suggest a means, a way, a method to reach your wife which isn't necessarily talk.

 

Would it, for instance, be possible for you to take her in your arms in the middle of the kitchen floor and hum a tune while averring as how you're not dancing, only swaying, and there's no Biblical prohibition against swaying...?

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Pitchu, I had meant to respond to you earlier, but I was away for a few days. That's a great story. I'm not sure what the equivalent in my own life would be, but I definitely see your point.

 

The Assemblies of God, at least in New Jersey, seems to have its own set of beliefs. For example, while "the gays" and alcohol seem to be the bogeymen in virtually every sermon, I don't think I've ever heard dancing mentioned in a sermon in a negative way. It just doesn't normally come up. The AoG in New Jersey is also liberal in the sense that women are allowed to wear pants, makeup, and wear their hair any way they like; while men are encouraged to dress nicely, it's mostly only the ushers and old men who wear suits, and the pastors never really say anything about it. Where they get really conservative and fundamentalist in a wacky way is when they talk about the necessity of tithing, about taking the Bible literally, and about end times theology, which invariably seems to follow a pre-trib belief.

 

Note that nowhere in the Bible is the consumption of alcohol ever disallowed by God for the people in general, but only for those who have taken the Nazarite vow. Yet, Assemblies of God ministers, and their congregants, almost to a person seem to believe that alcohol has been flat out forbidden by God in the Bible somewhere. Pointing out that this isn't true doesn't help. Their pastor said it, his pastor while he was growing up said it, and so on down the line, so they believe it. Yet, if you tell them that this goes against their literal interpretation of the Bible, they still can't accept that you're not sinning when you have a drink or two.

 

As I said earlier, logic is useless here, and AoG pastors do a much better job of emotional manipulation than I am capable of. I'm an INTJ; I don't even really understand the need to appeal to people on an emotional level, since logic is my primary language. The desire that people have to be convinced by emotion is something quite alien to me.

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The desire that people have to be convinced by emotion is something quite alien to me.

 

I understand this, Trapped.

 

But...

 

Do you think that maybe some people, sometimes, must first be "reached" by emotion (even if it's nothing more than the feeling of trust) before they can be convinced by logic?

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