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A Few Steps Back


thesadclown
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It looks like I will be backing off from being open about my atheism. It would seem that my wife isn't able to handle it. I spoke with her again and after some difficult conversations, I've come to the conclusion that she likely would leave me if I continue down this path, at least at this date. The situation is still pretty muddled, and I don't believe it is going to get clearer any time soon. She simply doesn't want to think about the issue, let alone talk about it. It seems she has adopted some sort of reverse field of dreams strategy where if she ignores it, it will go away. Obviously, my recent outspokenness about my beliefs is interfering with this, hence the drama.

 

It isn't clear to me what she will do if I just continue as I have been doing, attending church but without any obvious interest in Christianity. She's told me that she is tired after having prayed and hoped for me to revert these past three plus years. I don't know if anything less than "progress" towards regaining my Christian faith would satisfy her (like I said, a very muddled situation). It's gotten me even considering a fake reconversion. It's been pretty tough dealing with all of this, as I came into it too naive about how strong my wife's resistance was going to be versus her emotional attachment to me. Not sure what I am going to do.

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Well, since you're not making any progress and aren't planning to, here's my Tough Love.

 

You're a pet, not an equal partner.

 

She doesn't love the real you, she loves (or at least tolerates) her Christian fantasy of what you should be but aren't.

 

Time to stand up on your hind legs and assert some independence. Does she deserve something better than a lap dog? Don't you deserve better?

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It isn't clear to me what she will do if I just continue as I have been doing, attending church but without any obvious interest in Christianity. She's told me that she is tired after having prayed and hoped for me to revert these past three plus years. I don't know if anything less than "progress" towards regaining my Christian faith would satisfy her (like I said, a very muddled situation). It's gotten me even considering a fake reconversion. It's been pretty tough dealing with all of this, as I came into it too naive about how strong my wife's resistance was going to be versus her emotional attachment to me. Not sure what I am going to do.

 

Please don't do any fake reconversion. That level of deception would have horrible consequences. Even if you pulled it off and "won" you would really have lost.

 

I don't know the people or your situation enough to offer specific advise. My situation is much more mild and I have found that pleasantly going through the motions works in my case. While at church I respect other people's rights to sling extra nutty nonsense at each other. I work on my poker face and participate in the social aspects of church. We are there. We are part of the group. When the pastor preaches intolerance I walk out into the lobby and wait for the service to end. But nobody asks me if I am still a Christian and I don't volunteer the information. Perhaps you can find middle ground as well?

 

I feel for you. I hope things get better. If you really want to save an endangered relationship then talk to a marriage councilor.

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This is a tough situation sadclown, I know.

 

As your wife, she should love you enough to respect your opinions and decisions, even if she doesn't agree with them. I'm in a similar situation so I can relate to what you're going through. I've simply decided that right now it's just not worth it to argue my case for no longer going to church or being a Christian. That is a personal decision that I have made and my husband seems to respect it for the most part. We have agreed to disagree I guess you could say, and it's not something we talk about often. Yeah, it sucks that we are not on the same level when it comes to that, but no marriage is perfect and I'd dare say that no marriage is easy. Add children in to the equation and things get even more complicated. I have religion thrown at me time and time again, and I avoid it as much as possible. It's just what I have to do. Sometimes I don't like it, and if I'm openly asked about it, I will be honest...but my atheism is personal and I keep it to myself as far as my family goes.

 

Faking a reconversion is not going to solve anything. You will only end up more miserable than you are now, and you will only be wasting your time. You need to be able to be yourself in a relationship. You should take florduh's advice to heart.

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In your original post on this subject, you said:

 

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.

 

So stop hiding your feelings and putting up a false front. Seriously, if she won't accept you for who you really are, what's the point of artificially maintaining the appearance of a real relationship?

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thesadclown, I don't have much advice to offer you (being in a very similar situation to your own, except my wife doesn't know half of the extent of my "fall" yet), except that I would absolutely recommend that you NOT fake a reconversion. It's one thing to not be talking about your lack of belief or openly telling people in the church you don't believe, but it's another thing altogether to lie and say you believe again. This will create expectations from your wife and your church that will make you nothing more than, as florduh so aptly put it, an obedient pet.

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clown, why don't you just let everything calm down for awhile, enjoy as many things as you can with each other, and see in a few months how it's going? Play it by ear....your answers will unfold for you with time.......

 

There is one thing that people already mentioned - You have children and she spoke about moving far away? I would watch that carefully. Hopefully, she is a better person than that and would not do such a hurtful thing.

 

My fingers, toes, eyes and legs are 'crossed' for you and your relationship.! thisclose.gif

 

Best wishes for a good outcome.

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I don't know. I can't tell which of my shitty options is worse.

 

 

Fast forward to your deathbed, hopefully many years from now. Can you imagine yourself thinking, "Damn, I sure am glad I faked being a Christian my whole life."?

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Who are you in the relationship if your wife doesn't respect you as yourself?

 

She's not married to you. She's married to the man she wants you to be. And if you fake being him just to please her, you lose the relationship and the self respect.

 

She can't live your life for you. And if you live your life to please her, what do you get out of it but compromise of your truth and values. Faking being a Christian doesn't work. When she believes in a god that watches she's gotta realize he would know the real you. It's tragic she can't accept that as much as her god would. She's not responsible for your living. She's thinking of the worst case scenario promised you, in the name of her faith, for your backsliding. i.e. Hell, damnation, eternity without her, because she'll be in heaven without you.

 

You no longer accept any of that is true. And sadly, she doesn't accept you thinking that way.

 

Sometimes leaving a faith is just the beginning.

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I think Margee's words on the subject were very wise. Just let things settle down for a while.

 

Give your wife lots of love and affection, but don't raise this topic again for a few months. Christians have a whole lot of silly beliefs in their head about how non-Christians are mean, nasty, horrible people. You need to negate her silly beliefs with kindness and affection.

 

Even if you don't manage to change those silly beliefs, you might happen upon some enjoyable results!! It can't hurt!

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Thank you everyone for your responses.

 

After reading through them and spending some more time thinking. I'm going to focus on being the best husband I can be, while also being honest about who I am. I will also stop trying to discuss the matter with my wife, since it seems to do nothing but agitate her. I hope that she will be able to appreciate me for who I am, but I realize I am not in control of that, and just need to focus on being someone she should be able to appreciate. I'm going to stop being so fearful and just do my best. Thanks again for all of the encouragement and advice.

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I don't know. I can't tell which of my shitty options is worse.

 

I can tell you which of your shitty options is worse. It's the one where you lie and deceive your family, the people around you, and yourself.

 

What you do have control over is your level of honesty. Maybe you can or can't save your marriage. Maybe you can or can't make the people around you understand why you believe the way you do, or what you're going through, or how you feel about them. But you can decide that you're not going to lie about yourself or your beliefs or your feelings. I'm not an advocate of radical honesty, myself - I don't think you need to force your wife to sit down and listen to every thought in your head. But you can resolve to respond in a way that's true to yourself when the situation arises that you could be either honest or deceitful.

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I will also stop trying to discuss the matter with my wife, since it seems to do nothing but agitate her.

I appreciate the tough love some here have given you, but at the same time, this is the Real World™. Your wife is simply limited in this regard. It's hardly unusual that she wants to cling to her illusions and is annoyed with you for awakening her to reality, even just a little. If you can allow her to have her illusions, perhaps she brings a lot of other things to the table for you.

 

Also, in fairness to her, she didn't sign on for this. What if she told you she just realized she's gay, or that she's just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's? This is in the same general category for her. You aren't able to be a full partner for her anymore, in the sense that you can no longer mutually reinforce her illusions. You were ready to shed them, she's not.

 

Life partners often grow apart. Good ones have a tacit agreement that if one grows faster than the other, they'll wait until the other catches up.

 

Now, if your deconversion simply exposes fault lines that were already there -- simply made another illusion go away, the illusion that you were good for each other -- that's one thing. But if your deconversion destabilizes an otherwise good relationship, go easy and take your time. It's not your job to change her just so you can be more comfortable. You need to let her be who she is, too.

 

A few random thoughts for what they're worth. I wish you well. My late wife was very unthreatened and mature about my deconversion, and I recognize that I was really lucky in that regard. Your situation is more the norm.

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Oddly, this did not come up in my relationship until we were about to be married. I had gone out with the woman for a year, lived with her for another, and religion simply never came up. She wanted to be married by her family's pastor, which was OK with me. Anyway, she handed me a script for the ceremony and I read it and said, "This won't do; it's got God language in it and I'm an atheist." She said "Edit it out." So that's what we did. We were married by a pastor in a secular ceremony. Nobody mentioned God until everyone went home and we said "Thank God they're all gone."

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Thank you everyone for your responses.

 

After reading through them and spending some more time thinking. I'm going to focus on being the best husband I can be, while also being honest about who I am. I will also stop trying to discuss the matter with my wife, since it seems to do nothing but agitate her. I hope that she will be able to appreciate me for who I am, but I realize I am not in control of that, and just need to focus on being someone she should be able to appreciate. I'm going to stop being so fearful and just do my best. Thanks again for all of the encouragement and advice.

 

thesadclown,

 

My heart goes out to you. This is a really tough situation. I think you are making a good choice (as you stated above). I hope your wife can see that you are the same person as you were before. It sounds like your marriage has a lot going for it. Your deconversion is a hurdle, to be sure, but I hope you both can get past it and continue to enjoy each other.

 

I hope to hear more from you.

 

Peace.

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Thank you everyone for your responses.

 

After reading through them and spending some more time thinking. I'm going to focus on being the best husband I can be, while also being honest about who I am. I will also stop trying to discuss the matter with my wife, since it seems to do nothing but agitate her. I hope that she will be able to appreciate me for who I am, but I realize I am not in control of that, and just need to focus on being someone she should be able to appreciate. I'm going to stop being so fearful and just do my best. Thanks again for all of the encouragement and advice.

 

 

That is basically what I did. We only talk about it when it is somehow forced. When I was going to church I either

A. Asked provocative questions in class

or

B..Bit my tongue and meditated on the pain.

 

Eventually I got out of there, but it was baby steps. I admit to you that I also considered a fake reconversion. But not too seriously or for too long. For one thing, I am an open book- I would never pull it off. For another we each deserve to be authentically ourselves.

 

Bitterness and anger lay that way.

 

It is sad when the person that we love the most loves God more. Once in an argument, my husband (who usually claims to cherish and adore me) Shouted at me "I love god! MORE than I love you!"

3 times

Loudly.

I suppose this was supposed to impress me, but it didn't. How shocking. That a perfectly sane person could be so brainwashed.

 

When I told him that I had even considered pretending to believe again, in one particular talk that we had, he said: "I wish you had".

 

How does this make me feel? :(

I told him "I love you too much to lie to you"

 

If she cannot appreciate honesty, and if she cannot appreciate YOU, then that is HER failing. You are genuine, your intentions are good.....it will get better, one way or another.

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