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Losing Ground


darwinfish
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On Saturday night me and my wife went to bed early. I think both of us have been really stressed with our marriage, and with the kids (my daughter's become a real handful lately, and my son always wants someone to entertain him). Before I fell asleep, my wife turned to me and said, "I have to fight everyday to keep from hating you." I asked her what she meant, she went on to explain that my atheism is just Satan trying to pull us apart. That she has these voices in her head that tell her to keep fighting off Satan's attacks. This launched us into a two hour long fight/discussion (all in the dark). We both were maybe the most honest we've ever been. When I tried to push her to explain why it makes sense to believe in God or the Bible, she would change the topic. I told her she needs to give me the freedom to believe what I want to believe. There's so many times I feel like I'm going to lose her, and I don't know what I can do. We're going to go back to marriage counselling, I told her, it has to be someone with a real degree this time. As much as I am trying to keep my marriage together, I also feel like I'm not allowed to be who I am. I can't really figure out the balance. Can people with these different beliefs really work? I'm sure if neither takes it that seriously they can, but how about when what we believe is important to both of us? I don't think that either of us will see the other's side. How many marriages have been broken because of religion? I still think maybe I should have stayed "in the closet" sometimes.

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I think in order for it to work both people need to be reasonable. By reasonable, I don't mean rational, but rather reasonable in the sense that compromise is an option. If your beliefs are a deal breaker for her, she may not be able to be reasonable in this area of her life, which means it's unlikely it can work.

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I realized awhile back that my wife and I needed a marriage counselor and someone advised me to go with someone who was state certified and was not connected to some type of Christian counseling agency, as those people tend to have preconceived notions on roles, outcomes, etc. I picked mine from psychology today's website and she has been quite helpful for us.

 

Having two vastly different belief systems is hard, especially when I'm assuming that the two of you used to be on the same page, similar to my wife and I. All I can recommend is working to strengthen your marriage. Most Christians have the view that atheists have no morals and perhaps your wife is afraid that you're going to start behaving in ways that would be very damaging to her and the kids. It should go a long way with her when you don't "go wild", so to speak.

 

Best wishes.

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Boy, have I been thru that. My wife has thrown out the D word a few times, but always realizes that would only make the situation worse, and also I think somewhere deeeeeep down may realize I actually know what the fuck I'm talking about. She knows I'm agnostic and knows about ex-c. She knows I'm a good dude and not being a xian hasn't changed me in any perceptible way. And She's still here. Maybe one day she'll actually want to know the truth. But not yet.

 

Good luck. I know how bad it sucks.

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This launched us into a two hour long fight/discussion (all in the dark). We both were maybe the most honest we've ever been.

 

Being able to talk for two hours and be totally honest is excellent. The relationship can work. I don't think there is such a thing as another person who believes exactly the same things you do. The important thing is to respect each other.

 

"I have to fight everyday to keep from hating you." Eesh... That hurts. Sounds like something my wife said to me recently. I don't know any couple who is not having a hard time right now. I think the whole planet is stressed out. Pop goes the world. Hang in there buddy.

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Oh dear....how painful.

 

I agree with Denyoz--the fact that you can talk for 2 hours is a really good thing. And the fact that your wife has been so painfully honest about what she's going through also bodes well. The difficulty, obviously, is in the irreconcilable worldviews. As everyone at Ex-C knows, things definitely look different on this side of faith; Christians just can't see that, and I couldn't see it either when I was a believer.

 

Gawd. Deconversion sucks.

 

Eugene had a great idea--seeing a certified psychologist/marriage counselor that is not faith based. A good psychologist will give you an actual process to work through and tools to deal with your differences. A Christian counselor will just try to ram a square peg into a round hole and then say "Just pray more" and tell you to adopt unnatural, unhealthy roles for your marriage.

 

Keep us posted... We are here for you!

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"I have to fight everyday to keep from hating you."

 

Ouch. That's rough. That's really rough. I'm glad that you were able to have a long conversation with your wife after that.

 

I know that sometimes you may regret coming out as a non-Christian, but in the end, we all have to be who we really are, or we would feel even worse every day. Just pretending to still be Christian wouldn't make anybody happy.

 

It sounds like ultimately the decision of whether or not this will work will be up to your wife. If she can't put in the effort to make it work that it sounds like you're making, then I'd be concerned for the future. I hope that as time goes by, your wife can learn to be more open and accepting of you as you are, and not as who she wishes you were. Hopefully you'll both continue to have discussions about it.

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Sadly, her comments show how entrenched Christian mythology is, particularly the boogy-man Satan.

They completely ignore the fact that their favorite boogy-man has been revised and edited by Christian clerics and bears very little in common with the Old Testament definition of this being.

So many people are held captive by this religion and don't even know it.

They somehow convince themselves that they're "set free" by their faith.

Unfortunately, unbelievers become the collateral damage.

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Thanks guys. You seem to have some real helpful ways to look at this. It's true that being able to be honest for two hours is a step in the right direction. I think that a lot of our issues have come up from me trying to make her feel comfortable, but not being honest with her about my needs. And, maybe that goes both ways. The elephant in the room, was that we were dancing around the idea "Can we really make it as a married couple?", even though neither of us wanted to say divorce. Neither of us really wants to raise our kids in a divorced house either.

 

How do I find a marriage counselor? What websites or resources are there? I have insurance, but I had a hard enough time looking for a doctor, how can I check up on their credentials?

 

I'm also upset that my recovering from religion group is breaking up. I found a secular humanist group that meets in my area, so maybe I'll start trying to attend those meetings. I feel like I'm the only rational person left in the state.

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Oh, man...that is tough. My husband is very fundy and it's been a struggle to keep our marriage together. I have to agree with those who've said that being honest with each other is a good thing. I can't imagine it would ever be good to keep the marriage together just by not being yourself, or hiding who you are. You might be able to compromise in how much expression you give to your unbelief though. In my own marriage, there are times when we just have to leave it alone for a while, and get on with life, but then sometimes we need to have it out, and when we do, it almost seems like divorce is inevitable. Then we both have to realize (again) that we love each other anyway, regardless of beliefs or lack of them. This amount of acceptance of each other, kind of comes and goes.

 

I do think it can work, even if both are serious about their beliefs. It depends on both of you though. I hope she will be able to see you are still the same person, and accept you for who you really are. I wish I could be more helpful in looking around for a counselor, though. You might consider asking a reference librarian - they know how to find just about anything, and might know a good web resource that would help evaluate different counselors before calling.

 

Best of luck to you. There are so many of us in the same situation. It sucks, it just does, (especially when complicated by the issue of kids and how much to tell them) and there are no easy answers. Keep us posted.

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I'm sorry for your troubles, and am very familiar with what you've described. Deconverting from a religion that promises so much is a challenging experience. I think we all go through a grieving process, but it's hard for our spouses to understand that. It's not a choice, but a journey.

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Whew, that sounds rough. I can't honestly say I know what it's like, because I'm not married. Hell, I don't even have a girlfriend at the moment.

 

I must admit though, it's kind of strange her saying "I have to fight every day to keep from hating you." She's supposed to be the christian! Just seems totally wrong and ironic to me.

 

I do hate this for you though, I can't imagine what it must be like! I hope the best for you and your family!

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How do I find a marriage counselor? What websites or resources are there? I have insurance, but I had a hard enough time looking for a doctor, how can I check up on their credentials?

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/

 

On the upper right-hand corner is a box where you enter your zip code. From there, you can choose the type of therapy that you're looking for, from the choices on the left. Just from experience, you'll want to dig a little deeper and check to see what business they work for, as some do work for Christian counseling agencies, at least here around Columbus, OH that's what I found. The person needs to be at least a licensed independent social worker (LISW).

 

I went through a list and picked out the ones that I had a hunch that I would be okay with, and then provided my wife with that list for her to pick from.

 

Just a hunch from personal experience here. You'll be going to therapy for several sessions before you'll feel like you're getting anywhere. As others have pointed out, you're dealing with two vastly differing world views between you and your wife. Therapy may not work, and if it does, you at least can know that you gave it all you had. As you and I both know, once you've seen behind the curtain, there's no going back.

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