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leori
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So, I became an atheist a few weeks ago. While I am still openminded, I am committed to my unbelief as I was previously committed to my belief. I came out to my best friends and my wife (of 1 1/2 years), and they all took it very well. Some of my friends have been having similar doubts as myself, and my wife, while still a committed Christian, loves me more than even before.

 

Then yesterday, I came out to my parents, because we have a close enough relationship with them that they will find out eventually. Better to hear it from me than someone else. Suffice it to say, it did not go well. They accused me of "throwing away" my life, my marriage, and my future kids. They said, "You didn't see God because you didn't have enough faith. You just needed to go one step further and believed just a little bit more." Perhaps the most damning thing was when they honestly asked if my wife would leave me now, as if it is even a possibility! They said that I have opened up a huge can of worms and that they have never seen a marriage between two people of different faiths work. They always end disastrously.

 

Now, I am confident that the love I have for my wife and vice versa will survive despite the naysayers, but I was quite a bit shook up when they just assumed that our marriage is going to fail and our kids are going to grow up to be monsters because I am an atheist. Does anyone else live in a marriage with or without kids with someone who is still a Christian? Are there people who are happily married to someone of a different faith? I would really like to hear from you, mostly to reaffirm to myself that my parents are wrong and that it most certainly is possible.

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Sounds like your marriage is going to be okay, since your wife is fine with your deconversion. Your parents just can't see the vision. Sounds like they're in shock. They obviously don't know any atheists. Otherwise, they wouldn't automatically think your future children will be monsters.

 

There are lots of happy Christian-atheist marriages. I trust you will hear about some of them from members here.

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I was very scared when I told my wife about my de-conversion. But she told me that she had very strong doubts as well, and all was okay. Me, my wife, my kids, all of us lost our faith, and our marriage (even though it have had some rough patches) is alive and well. (25th year anniversary coming up in January)

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"You didn't see God because you didn't have enough faith. You just needed to go one step further and believed just a little bit more."

I couldn't believe any more - I'm just not that stupid.

 

Lots of Christians think every facet of life, including and perhaps especially marriage, is somehow all about the Jesus character. Quite obviously life goes on just fine without invisible friends, and that fact really chaps their ass. To them there is no way people can have happy and successful lives without their Jesus. It's idiotic.

 

If two married people can't respect each other's opinions, it's not much of a relationship to begin with - Jesus or not.

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I was very scared when I told my wife about my de-conversion. But she told me that she had very strong doubts as well, and all was okay. Me, my wife, my kids, all of us lost our faith, and our marriage (even though it have had some rough patches) is alive and well. (25th year anniversary coming up in January)

 

Good to hear. It sounds like a similar situation to mine. My main worry is that I don't really know what I'm talking about, since my marriage is relatively new, and I don't personally know any atheist families (predominately Christian town here).

 

Your parents are fuckers. Tell them to fuck off.

 

I'd prefer not to ruin my relationship with them. I'm hoping that once they come out of the shock and see me living a happy and successful life, they will not be so ashamed.

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If two married people can't respect each other's opinions, it's not much of a relationship to begin with - Jesus or not. 

 

I married my atheist husband when I was a Christian. I obviously wasn't that into it at the time but a year or so after that I got baptized and became more devout. It wasn't always easy but we didn't ever fight about it. We knew going into it that we would both have to compromise and accept each other for who we are. We hardly talked about it. Mostly he didn't want to have any responsibility for deconverting me. I tried to engage him at times and his short responses often shook my faith for a moment. It did have an impact on our marriage because he fell in love with me when I was more carefree and liked the same things (worldy).

Since you seem to have a great respect for your wife and she for you, I think you will be just fine. The fact that you are coming from the same belief and understand what it is like is helpful. Most Christians that I've encountered are in support of marriage and were actually helpful to me when I wondered if I married the wrong guy. Someone said something that really helped me: If you think you married the wrong person and treat the marriage that way, then you have. Treat it like you did marry the right person and it will turn out to be true. In a big way it was Christianity that helped me through some hard times early in our marriage because marriage is so important to Christians. I'm shocked that your parents think it would be okay if you divorced.

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It worked for my husband and me. I'm an unbeliever leaning toward paganism. I haven't yet figured out my husband. He despises church, but he still believes a lot of the whole x-tian package. I have pointed out some of the ridiculousness of the bible and he agrees with me. He is not in the least bit worried or angry about my belief system, because he loves me for who I am and I, him. It works for us. We've been married 34 years, together 36, so, yes, it can happen. Although, I can see where it would be a problem for some.

 

If your wife is fine with your (un)beliefs, then that's all that matters. A parent's job is to raise their children to be independent. Too many xtian parents seem to use that bible as an apron string, or chains. You, your wife and children (if any) are YOUR family now. Do what feels right to the two of you. You and your wife are adults. You (we) no longer need parental permission to live and enjoy life.

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You, your wife and children (if any) are YOUR family now. Do what feels right to the two of you. You and your wife are adults. You (we) no longer need parental permission to live and enjoy life.

 

How true. Though I am very much independent of my parents (financially, emotionally, socially, physically), it for some reason still feels as if their extreme disapproval is some kind of bad omen. Rather ironic, since I don't believe in the supernatural anymore. Still, I like the assurances that I can still have a happy marriage and family, regardless of what they feel about it. We'll still see if the parental relationship ever recovers, but it seems like it is as least possible. And if they want to disown me because of my unbelief...well then fine. They can have their way.

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My husband and I were both ex-catholic non-believers when we married. He was brainwashed by a co-worker and became a radical-on-fire-for-jeeezus-bornagainer about 12 years into our marriage. I'm not going to say it was always easy -- just the opposite at times -- but we've worked things out and are still together. We've been married 38 years. Sometimes I get aggravated at the amount of time he spends on church-related activities, but usually I enjoy the time without him. How someone of his intelligence fell for that crap still baffles me. But that's his decision, not mine. Our kids are grown -- 31 & 33 yrs old. One is atheist and one is xtian (southern baptist which gives me the shivers, but at least she's not pushy about it, although she did go through a stage of obnoxious bornagainism in the beginning of her 'walk with jeeezus').

 

You and your wife have a lot going for you since you both have love and respect for one another. I bet you'll be fine. As far as your parents go, I hope they come around. But my 79-year old mother still thinks that I am, at 58 years of age and over 40 of them as a non-believer, just going through a stage. Gotta laugh.

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My wife deconverted just a month or two behind me so I got lucky. At any rate as is evident here, the success of a marriage does not depend on the religious compatibility of the couple, but rather their willingness to listen to each other and respect the other's opinions.

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My husband and I are really close with a couple who has a fantastic marriage. They just had their seventh wedding anniversary and she is Catholic while he is atheist. We are both agnostics but somehow wound up as the "god" parents of their child.

 

it can work. Pay no attention to your parents. :D

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It's good to see so many encouraging responses.

 

Next July my Sabbath-observant Jewish husband and I will have been married 25 years. Our difference is actually something that's brought a lot of good humor into our marriage, since it makes him struggle to put his Torah insights into terms befitting an atheist's orientation. It simply has never been a problem for us or for our children, who, all adults, have turned out as diverse from us and one another as can be imagined.

 

I hope your parents eventually see, through observing you, your wife and your children-to-be, that Christianity doesn't have a corner on the happiness market.

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...Are there people who are happily married to someone of a different faith?...

 

*raises hand* Here! :)

 

Not exactly the situation you're confronted with now (we're both heathens, it's just that I honor the High Gods of the North and she's into Celtic druidism), but still... been married for more than six years now and it works fine ;)

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My wife and I were both Christians when we married. I drifted away from the faith in the ensuing 13 years and she did not. As with your wife, this development did not impact her attitude toward me. She died several years ago but I feel confident in saying that our differences concerning belief would never have been a factor in our relationship surviving or not. I really don't know how common or uncommon my experience is, but I rather think our wives are unusual in their ability to cope with differences in this area, given that both were / are evangelicals.

 

My wife was Methodist, which isn't as hard core as, say, Baptist, which probably helped. I can't imagine a really devout fundamentalist considering their spouse leaving the faith anything less than an earth-shattering crisis. Certainly your parents reacted more that way.

 

I suppose it's harder in some ways for parents to have their children leave the faith as the relationship dynamic is different from marriage -- you are rejecting their teaching / upbringing, dashing some major hopes and dreams they had for you. And they may be genuinely worried for your well-being. Their hopes and dreams were misguided, their expectations unrealistic and any concerns misplaced, so it's their problem and not yours.

 

Just be as kind to them as you can while not taking any abuse, and hopefully in time they will see that the sky doesn't fall and you don't grow a tail or horns and life goes on. They may actually adjust quite well in the end. Or not. Just remember that if their love is conditional -- even conditional on your beliefs -- it's not really love.

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The short answer (I may elaborate tomorrow when I'm not about to doze off): my husband and I were fundies for our entire marriage (20 years now). Almost 2 years ago I came to realize I just don't believe in any gods, and I left church and told my husband and family why I did that. We came close to splitting up but we are finally coming to terms with our differences. He is very devout, and active in church. We have several children and it's not easy being divided on the issue of religion. That's a whole other can of worms...Anyway, we get along well and enjoy spending time together, and we respect each other. So yes in some cases it can work out.

 

More later...

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23 years of marriage to the same person - today is our anniversary.

 

Gosh religion was hardly a defining quality for either of us. I could not imagine being married to someone who crammed their self-concept into the little box of Christianity or similar belief system. The 'mixed' marriages that I have observed ALWAYS involve the non-believer shutting up and sitting down and tolerating the observant person's indulgences.

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When my husband and I married, he was Episcopalian on his way to being agnostic. I was a good little Catholic girl but over the years have slowly and gradually become atheist. We've been together for 30 years, married for 22 years and still going strong! Our kids were raised Catholic but I also taught them to think for themselves and find their own path. Our daughter believes in God but not religion, our son is atheist.

 

I think if your marriage is strong and has good communication you will do just fine. I truly hope that your parents will eventually become used to the idea, make peace with it and decide a relationship with their son is more important than their disappointment.

 

I haven't come out to anyone else except my husband and kids, I've hinted around with my sister. My parents are elderly and I truly think the shock would kill them so I don't plan on telling them.

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My wife and I just had our 19th anniversary Sept. 14. I think we have a solid relationship built on trust and each other's needs, not upon faith in some imaginary invisible friend. A relationship built on faith in imaginary people fall apart when one begins to lose faith in that imaginary friend. The other person takes it personal because they become the only one who believes in that nonsense. Christians lead the nation in divorce rate. Who wants role models like that?

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My wife and I just had our 19th anniversary Sept. 14. I think we have a solid relationship built on trust and each other's needs, not upon faith in some imaginary invisible friend. A relationship built on faith in imaginary people fall apart when one begins to lose faith in that imaginary friend. The other person takes it personal because they become the only one who believes in that nonsense. Christians lead the nation in divorce rate. Who wants role models like that?

 

Unfortunately, I know far too much about this. Also unfortunately, I was the one who changed. Now if only I could find a way to let my wife know that it's happened without destroying all of our lives...

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Everybody everywhere - If your spouse is a believer and you are not, then you are the one who is thinking clearly. So act like it!

 

You are not responsible for the feelings and attitudes of narrow minded, whiny, manipulative people who would demand that you think exactly as they do. They are not entitled to have you running scared that somehow your honest beliefs and opinions will "hurt" them or "ruin" an otherwise good relationship. Your lack of agreement with them has done them no harm. Don't be ashamed or afraid, you've done nothing wrong and you shouldn't accept the total responsibility for keeping the peace with an unreasonable person. If a relationship is good only because you subordinate your will and opinions to the other person, then you might as well give it up right now.

 

Jesus! And I mean that most irreverently.

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Everybody everywhere - If your spouse is a believer and you are not, then you are the one who is thinking clearly. So act like it!

 

You are not responsible for the feelings and attitudes of narrow minded, whiny, manipulative people who would demand that you think exactly as they do. They are not entitled to have you running scared that somehow your honest beliefs and opinions will "hurt" them or "ruin" an otherwise good relationship. Your lack of agreement with them has done them no harm. Don't be ashamed or afraid, you've done nothing wrong and you shouldn't accept the total responsibility for keeping the peace with an unreasonable person. If a relationship is good only because you subordinate your will and opinions to the other person, then you might as well give it up right now.

 

Jesus! And I mean that most irreverently.

 

Point taken, Florduh, and I'm thinking twice about posting this--do I really want to take you on--that's the kind of thing I'm thinking about. The thing is, if we really consider all sides of the equation, with a few words changed, your post would be an equally strong argument for the other side.

 

Change the first paragraph to: Everybody everywhere - If your spouse is a unbeliever and you are not, then you are the one who is thinking clearly. So act like it!

 

Change the last paragraph to: Jesus, help us!

 

In other words, I think you're spouting dogma as opposed to reasoned debate with substantiating evidence. Maybe the situation called for it.:shrug:

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I think you're spouting dogma as opposed to reasoned debate

I'm not debating the "right" or "wrong" of either position. I just see people tortured by this situation on a half dozen threads at any given time. I'm hoping all people will realize that they are as entitled to an opinion as their spouse or partner. Every time though, the non-believer is afraid of upsetting their partner and it's never the other way around. Christianity is not the default position and those who do not subscribe to their partner's religious beliefs are not causing harm to the relationship, and I think we shouldn't be held hostage to emotional blackmail. There won't be equality if the non-believers are always the ones who get the blame for any discord. Relationships should be based on equality, and Christian partners who can't tolerate independent thought are putting themselves in charge and making the rules. Too many people put up with it to avoid conflict, and it's not right.

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I agree with florduh - in any marriage, both partners have to be willing to accept each other as they truly are, even as they change and grow through the years. Some can't, for whatever reason, not just because of religious belief or lack of it. It is what it is. Some can adapt to EACH OTHER (equally) and it works out. But everyone is entitled to be themselves, and deserves respect and the right to think what they really think.

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I think you're spouting dogma as opposed to reasoned debate

I'm not debating the "right" or "wrong" of either position. I just see people tortured by this situation on a half dozen threads at any given time. I'm hoping all people will realize that they are as entitled to an opinion as their spouse or partner. Every time though, the non-believer is afraid of upsetting their partner and it's never the other way around. Christianity is not the default position and those who do not subscribe to their partner's religious beliefs are not causing harm to the relationship, and I think we shouldn't be held hostage to emotional blackmail. There won't be equality if the non-believers are always the ones who get the blame for any discord. Relationships should be based on equality, and Christian partners who can't tolerate independent thought are putting themselves in charge and making the rules. Too many people put up with it to avoid conflict, and it's not right.

 

Yes. Emotional blackmail = demanding to be patronized. How healthy is that?

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