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Bad Start To The Weekend


thesadclown
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I showed my wife the video posted in this thread and we discussed it a little (and it is an amazing scene. I want to thank the OP again for posting it). She gave what seems like a pretty typical answer about God's ways not being our ways and trusting that God is good even if it may not seem like it. I followed up on a couple of points, but kept it civil and polite, and ended the discussion before it could become an argument. Nevertheless, it has now brought up some ugliness with my wife expressing some doubts about the long term prospects of our marriage and the separation she feels from me. I am sure she feels embarrassed, frustrated, and anxious about my lack of faith and what it means for our relationship with one another as well as with others around us (who are all Christian, btw).

 

I had actually been wanting to press the matter of my involvement with church and wanting to get her to be more lenient about it, and perhaps even allowing myself to be more open about my thoughts and feelings with my children, but it seems obvious to me that it would only be adding fuel to the fire to do so at this point, so I am feeling more than a little disappointed with how this discussion turned out tonight. I am also feeling quite hurt by her doubts towards me, both her doubts about the sincerity of my love for her as well as her doubts about how she now feels about me. I really want for us to be able to love and accept each other for who we are. I don't know how to move our relationship beyond this rut of hidden feelings and false fronts in order to maintain a positive relationship with each other.

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Hi Sadclown! I read your post this morning and my heart went out to you. I just want to share a couple of thoughts with you from a woman's perspective.

 

I don't know how many Christian woman would admit this, but when my husband got 'saved', I didn't give a hoot that he 'made his way into heaven' - I was excited that I would have a Christian man who would treat me like a princess, take care of all the household things (cause he was 'head of the house') he would always be true, never lie to me and I could now look like a 'successful' person on Sunday with my Christian man sitting beside me.

 

I think if a lot a lot of Christian woman would admit this - then we would also be able to tell you that if you are 'falling away'', we would be petrified that you would now become a 'worldly, non-believing' man without morals. She could be petrified that you will become someone different. We can even threaten to leave if you won't stay the same.(or change in some way!) It's all fear. She could even be afraid that you have the truth and that would also send her worldview in a spin.

 

Now, this may not be the case at all - maybe she really is worried that once you lose your 'salvation', you will be separated from god and end up in hell. Keep doing all the things you have in common with her - make them even more special!

 

I am feeling by your post that she is a touch open? She must be - to even allow you to show her that video. I am also feeling that if you continue to show her that there will be no big change in you - she will feel more confident. We woman can be a scared bunch!

 

Sincere wishes for you today, to become a 'Happyclown'! biggrin.png

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Now, this may not be the case at all - maybe she really is worried that once you lose your 'salvation', you will be separated from god and end up in hell. Keep doing all the things you have in common with her - make them even more special!

Sorry, I didn't make that very clear. I agree with you, I don't think the separation from God and hell is what really bothers her, although it obviously plays a part in the rationalization. She was talking more about the emotional separation she felt from me. She is struggling to feel connected to me when she believes there to be such a fundamental disconnection between us. I also agree that she can be open with me. There seems to be a pattern of these episodes, in which we will have alternating periods of openness and withdrawal. She likely is pretty conflicted internally about how to go about this situation and still doesn't have a good measure on how she wants to respond.

 

And I think you are right, a lot of it probably is fear. I have done my best to allay this by being consistent in my actions. I just need to do a better job connecting with her through other things and helping her feel more secure.

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I don't know how to move our relationship beyond this rut of hidden feelings and false fronts in order to maintain a positive relationship with each other.

 

Clown, I think you are on the right track. Take it real slow, if your relationship is important to you. In her mind, you leaving god is traumatic to her. I find for two people to be 100% open and honest with each other, takes a lot of courage.Taking off our 'masks' is not an easy thing. We are always so afraid that if we show someone who we really are - they will leave. So, I find, a lot of times in my own relationships (with friends or family) - I cover up a lot of things so I won't be 'disaproved' of. It's hard.......Keep us posted, and again, best wishes..............

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Follow up on my first post:

 

Went to church today, and the sermon was on John 20,21, specifically how Jesus came and comforted his followers after his death, and how this could be an analogy for Christians today. This really got under my skin (Actually got me to say "bullshit" out loud. Fortunately, I think I was quiet enough that no one else heard). I'm worked up at the end of the sermon, and so I decide, what the hell, I'll go to the group discussion after the service is over. I usually skip this, but since they discuss the sermon, I wanted to have my say. I asked the wife, and after discussing it for several minutes, she said she was ok with me going there. Part of the discussion that blew up in my face on Friday night was a couple of other complaints, namely that I don't socialize enough and don't do outdoor activities that my wife likes (namely bbq). So I figure, this can be two birds with one stone, I'll be socializing instead of high tailing it out of there and I can still say something about the sermon.

 

Everything went pretty smooth, talking with people and being friendly, and we start the discussion. The first question was about specific disappointments we have had, and I mentioned my own, about the collapse of my theological worldview. The leader then asks me about the second half, namely what about after the disappointment, and I drop the bomb. I say that afterwards was sort of like if Jesus hadn't shown up at the garden for Mary, or the house to let Thomas touch his wounds, or at the shore of the lake when Peter and his friends had gone fishing out of despair. Because that is pretty much how my experience went. The failure of my theology wasn't just conceptual. I had spent years seeking God, studying Scripture, theologians, church history, etc, only to have the entire thing proven wrong in the time it took me to read a single chapter in a book. I might as well have been one of the disciples watching Jesus die. And then, afterwards, when I'm on my face praying for something, anything that will bring me back to a place where I feel like Jesus is with me...nothing. The Bible was a dead letter to me, my prayers bounced around in the echo chamber of my skull, and God was gone. No resurrection appearance to staunch the emotional and intellectual bleeding, my faith just bled out and died over an agonizing three year period.

 

And while I'm conveying this to the group, I start to hear my wife, and she is bawling. I start wondering what the hell I'm even doing there, if it wasn't all a big stupid mistake. The group members try to encourage me, telling me about their own experiences "in the desert" and how I just need to be patient and keep trying. I don't have the heart to argue against this with my wife crying right next to me, so I just listen mostly, and try to comfort my wife. They end the meeting by praying for both of us, and I go to do some homework while my wife stays since she has some mentoring time with the pastors wife for an hour after the discussion group. I can't tell you how grateful I was that she decided to do this since she'll have another Christian women to talk and cry with.

 

Afterwards, when I come to pick her up, she's better, and told me that she just couldn't hold it in and that it had been building up for a while. I knew this was true, it is a constant, if often unspoken, point of tension between us. I asked her if I had made a mistake in going, and she told me that it was fine. I'm glad to hear this, but I wonder what I have gotten myself into. They expect me to be coming back to the next meeting. At least they aren't expecting me to give a Christian answer to questions anymore. Or at least I hope they don't.

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Wow, clown, that sounds like quite the day! As confusing as it is - it also sounds like you are being true to yourself and your wife seems to be able to handle things quite well. It is just so much better when a person can be who they really are. Maybe, you and your wife will be able to open up to each other a little bit more since you were so honest today in front of everyone. I really hope everything unfolds gently for you and her, and it all works out.

 

thanks for keeping us posted - best of everything to you........

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Well, from my experience, may I offer a few insights? They certainly will expect you to keep coming back to the discussion group, and at some point, they will expect you to be "out of your desert experience". They will expect you to "see the light" at some point. When you don't, pretty much plan on being questioned about hidden sin in your life. I was asked by my pastor if there was another woman in my life, since many guys conveniently change their theology to make an affair, etc. okay. Christians seemingly have no concept that it is possible for the whole thing to quit making sense, and we woke up and realized that the whole thing was man-made bull shit from 2000 years ago. My deconversion started when I read the whole Bible through in a year. WTH? I did it because my SS teacher encouraged us to do so to strengthen our faith. We did some arguing, and now, as far as he's concerned, I don't exist anymore. Anyway, those are my thoughts on this. Best wishes!

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The thing about the Christian faith is it leads you to believe your very soul depends on accepting every bit of it as true. And when that's no longer the case in a Christian relationship for one member of that couple, then the gravitating away from one another has already begun.

So what's at stake is mortality and commitment to marriage and one's spouse. Or commitment to one's religion that dictates fidelity to it will reap eternal rewards, or damnation if not. So it then becomes a choice. The spouse or the soul.

 

It's a huge hurdle to overcome when you no longer respect what she holds as true.

 

I wish you the best in figuring it out. Because all this is just words. You live the feeling of knowing who you are right now, while seeing her and her faith that she holds dear as a reminder of who you once were. And that was what you held in common.

 

Yet now...

 

 

*edit missing word*

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It isn't easy, it can get easier over time. The fear thing, when (if?) your spouse has had time to get over it, they can explore some of the things you did in leaving the faith, and find they can reach their own conclusions, and respect yours also, even if they differ in opinion.

 

As my wife has become more comfortable with doubt and such, we have been able to shift to a more progressive church, where we both feel comfortable now. Maybe neither of us would have a couple of years ago, to religious for me, not conservative "bible believing" for her. It works for us anyway.

 

"...namely that I don't socialize enough and don't do outdoor activities that my wife likes (namely bbq)."

 

Well that sounds like a relatively easy compromise to make to have more in common with your wife, take up bbq'ing. No? I've never been in Texas, maybe I'm missing something? :^)

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"...namely that I don't socialize enough and don't do outdoor activities that my wife likes (namely bbq)."

 

Well that sounds like a relatively easy compromise to make to have more in common with your wife, take up bbq'ing. No? I've never been in Texas, maybe I'm missing something? :^)

I agree. These other things she mentioned are not that onerous, and so I do plan on accommodating them. Of course, I don't naturally gravitate towards the kind of social settings my wife enjoys (not fond of large groups of people), but I can at least handle it well enough that she can be made happy. My only real concern is that these are not really the issue, but are just being put out there so as sort of rationalizations. Not that I care, I'll still follow along, but I have my doubts about the efficacy of the effort.

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Oh, and the BBQ request is just something my wife likes I think. I mean, neither of us are from Texas (she's Korean and I'm from Washington State). She just likes BBQ and I significantly indifferent to what I put in my mouth, so the extra effort of BBQ is unappealing.

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Ah, wow - I feel your pain. Actually, I stood in your wife's shoes before deconverting myself this year. My wife gave up her faith some 7-8 years ago, after nearly as many years struggling with doubt and questioning everything. We were deeply involved at our little church. I was the worship leader there and she served in the nursery and helped out with other things such as VBS and Awana occasionally. At church we hid a lot of it, but at home we had a lot of discussions. We didn't usually argue, but it could certainly be... tense :) I realized that we were no longer really on the same page. I was a centerline evangelical and her questioning was making her sound very, well, liberal :)

 

During this transitional time, I was actually asked about possibly becoming an elder or deacon at the church. At the time, I personally would have wanted that, yet I knew that my family wasn't - what... with it, perhaps? Not all the way, anyway, and I could already see that a slide was starting that wasn't going to end in the next couple weeks with everyone praying, giving thanks, and having a little laugh about all those silly doubts. I declined. Thank goodness I did.

 

It wasn't long after that she was teaching Sunday school and realized she didn't believe what she was teaching the little ones. She bailed out of church completely and announced to me that she was an agnostic and couldn't be involved there and pretend she believed what was being taught in the pulpit. *Sigh*

 

I was really adrift. I wondered how we were going to go forward. All of our married lives were about building a Christian family - now we were on what seemed to be divergent paths. For her part, she was very accepting and loving about the fact I still believed and gave me a lot of room to pursue my devotion and church activities. For me, it was actually practical application of how I saw Christianity in this situation that helped me do the right thing. I think a lot of Christians would totally disagree with me, and during this time actually had one tell me so. I decided the answer was to do what I should have been doing all along. Love her for who she is, exactly where she is, unconditionally, and accept that her spiritual journey is her journey. Trying to argue her out of it would have been futile and damaging to the relationship. I needed to just love her, period. Over time we learned to communicate, even about spiritual things. We learned to dialogue without arguing, without getting personal - and our commitment to each other deepened personally too. Our marriage actually got stronger because we were both committed to love each other exactly where we were. We're probably the exception. I've seen similar situations explode in people's faces.

 

My path to deconversion came as a surprise to my wife when it finally happened. While some of what we talked about had been on my mind, it was another whole story not worth getting into here. Now we find we're even more kindred spirits, though we still look at things differently. She still has an affinity for a very liberal, eyes-wide-open Christianity that follows the words attributed to Jesus in, say, the sermon on the mount, rather than the dogmatic construct of the epistles. She doesn't think God exists in the manner portrayed in most of the bible either. I'm a Zen Buddhist. :)

 

I really hope you two find your way - It's obvious your wife is really trying to stay connected. I have to say that I believe her private confabs with the pastor's wife will be a hindrance to your continued marriage, and not a help. They'll always be trying to save you.

 

Good luck.

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...but I can at least handle it well enough that she can be made happy.

It appears you're on a one way street. Because you don't share her beliefs, you try to make up for it by bending over backward in every other respect. You are trying to make her happy, but what about you? Must you live the remainder of your life doing things you don't like to do and pretending you share interests? Religious beliefs notwithstanding, you seem to have nothing in common other than the desire for her to be happy.

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Thanks for sharing that, I really appreciate it, especially the perspective you brought to the discussion.

 

I really hope you two find your way - It's obvious your wife is really trying to stay connected.

I hope that this is true, but unfortunately my wife has been giving contra-indications. I talked with her today about some thoughts I had on our relationship and the different paths it could take, basically silence, acceptance, or change (for both of us). I mentioned these to her because I've been frustrated with how the relationship has been going so far, with a sort of combination of silence (from me) and insistence of change (from her). When we were talking about change, the subject of church attendance came up, and so I asked her what she would think if I did stop attending (I made it clear it was just a hypothetical). Her response was she might take the kids and leave me to go back to Korea. She then started asking me why I didn't just leave her for someone more like-minded, as though she were trying to push me into making the decision for her. I told her I didn't want to do that. The conversation sort of petered off after that.

 

Honestly, I don't know what is going on in my wife's head. I'm not sure she even knows what is going on. I wonder if I shouldn't just back off and leave her alone about the matter. The only problem is that this has been my approach for the last three and a half years and it did nothing but promote silence and avoidance. I don't think she will think about it if it isn't there for her to see since it is a painful subject and one she is apt to avoid.

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Thanks for sharing that, I really appreciate it, especially the perspective you brought to the discussion.

 

I really hope you two find your way - It's obvious your wife is really trying to stay connected.

I hope that this is true, but unfortunately my wife has been giving contra-indications. I talked with her today about some thoughts I had on our relationship and the different paths it could take, basically silence, acceptance, or change (for both of us). I mentioned these to her because I've been frustrated with how the relationship has been going so far, with a sort of combination of silence (from me) and insistence of change (from her). When we were talking about change, the subject of church attendance came up, and so I asked her what she would think if I did stop attending (I made it clear it was just a hypothetical). Her response was she might take the kids and leave me to go back to Korea. She then started asking me why I didn't just leave her for someone more like-minded, as though she were trying to push me into making the decision for her. I told her I didn't want to do that. The conversation sort of petered off after that.

 

Honestly, I don't know what is going on in my wife's head. I'm not sure she even knows what is going on. I wonder if I shouldn't just back off and leave her alone about the matter. The only problem is that this has been my approach for the last three and a half years and it did nothing but promote silence and avoidance. I don't think she will think about it if it isn't there for her to see since it is a painful subject and one she is apt to avoid.

 

The next time you find yourself alone in your home I would find your children's passports and hide them. This should be a loud and clear warning sign my friend. While I wish the best for you, you should plan for the worst.

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When we were talking about acceptance, the subject of church attendance came up, and so I asked her what she would think if I did stop attending (I made it clear it was just a hypothetical).
Correction from above sentence.

 

@florduh - I still love her and don't want to go separate ways. I guess I should ask her if she wants to stick with me as well. Not sure how to go about doing that.

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When we were talking about acceptance, the subject of church attendance came up, and so I asked her what she would think if I did stop attending (I made it clear it was just a hypothetical).
Correction from above sentence.

 

@florduh - I still love her and don't want to go separate ways. I guess I should ask her if she wants to stick with me as well. Not sure how to go about doing that.

 

That is so hard. I think trying to let it fester in silence isn't the answer. I think you guys have to really talk it out - a lot. I suppose everyone is different, but if you're not discussing it with her, then she's only getting input from the pastor's wife, and that's not going to help.

 

I alluded to it in my (overlong!) post - but she has to believe it's worth staying married no matter what. You'll both have to agree to love each other without condition for it to work. The thing is, the pastor and his wife will do their best to convince her that it's *more* important for the kids to be raised in church as Christians without input from a backslider like you than it is for her to preserve your marriage. I would put money on multiple contrivances and excuses - either to get you back or to get you to be the one to go away (according to the lovely Paul, you have to be the one to go away in order for her to be free to do as she will.)

 

If you love her, you'll have to fight that for her, and you might lose - but at least you'll have done what Jesus would do, love unconditionally :)

 

Ah, the irony.

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