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An Empty House And Memories Of Age 13


Ellwood
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Hi Everyone,

 

After lurking on this site since January of this year I am excited to join the gang. Many of you have helped me deconvert as I daily read your posts and processed them in my life. I am sure I will write more of my journey as the days go by. I am a 56 year old Baptist preacher's kid who has come out of protestant Christianity after being involved in Christian radio, church leadership, event production and all the other stuff you get into in that life; small groups, youth groups, men's groups, you name it. I feel wonderfully free, deconverted and atheist. The reasons are the same ones that so many of you have eloquently shared. Maybe some day I will get more into mine directly.

 

Tonight I sit in a rather empty house. The same one in which my wife and I raised 3 terrific kids. My Christian wife has not taken well to my deconversion and currently has, I hope only temporarily, moved out. The reason is she says I am not the godly man she married because I no longer believe in god. That's it. Simply put. If I were to believe in god again she would be back and happy in a flash. And she thinks I could just change my mind if I wanted to. Can you believe that religion can put that kind of wedge between people after a 32 year loving marriage? We see a therapist for the first time tomorrow. I have high hopes.

 

I have read many of the recent "coming out to your spouse" messages. My wife has chosen to dig deeper into her faith and has given me almost weekly high-pressure rants of why I should not have deconverted and the pain I have caused her to have as a result of deconversion. Helping her along in this have been personal emails and even free copies of his books from a popular atheist turned theist who likes to develop "cases" for things. Nuff said? (In my Christian days - I actually sat in on some of his "seminars". Little did I know. . . .) I also get almost weekly updates of folks back at our church crying over the news or even one suggested that it may take the death of my wife to bring me back. Nutty beyond belief!

 

One of my earliest memories as a young teen of 13 was sitting in Sunday School class in the church where my father was the pastor and stating, "Sometimes I think that the bible was just written by men to make us be good." The middle aged male teacher, a nice guy as I recall, replied, "Well we know that isn't true." and he continued on to a new topic like that one didn't deserve a second thought. My young mind internally went "WHAT???, WAIT!!!!, I deserve more of an answer than that!!! Answer me!" But, as I said, that went on in silence - all internal. I never forgot the inner turmoil as you can see. And unfortunately I suppressed that thought for many years.

 

But almost 43 years later I finally got the nerve to answer that question myself and here I am. I will not be silenced again! I will also very respectfully handle that moment should I have a 13 year-old state that to me now. However, my Christian friends are keeping the young people away from this former Awana Council time speaker. I have made no secret of my deconversion. Hey - at 56 years old I can't waste time!

 

I wanted to keep this short but I must mention my 28 year old son whom I love very much and am very proud of. He is in seminary in the south. My son has handled my deconversion with respect and we have had some great conversations. I do not want him to come to a place late in his life when he might realize he spent his years for a pointless cause. He has read a bit of the material I have suggested and I think has some respect for the process that I have gone through. We will see.

 

I have a 30 year old married daughter who has handled it very well also. After sitting down with my 20 year old daughter and her boyfriend and explaining my new non-belief to them, they stated that they have always felt that way but didn't feel they could state it publicly! Of course my wife blames me for that!

 

So that is it. I wanted to say I am here and glad to be part of the group. I am following closely all the members who "have come out to our spouse". And finally I want to say "never suppress the thinking mind of a 13 year old!" Celebrate them! But I bet if you are a member of this site - you already knew that!

 

Ellwood

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Hi Ellwood

I can't imagine that after 32 yrs your wife can do that over the fact you stopped believing. I am really sorry and I do hope that it is temporary for your sake. It sounds like that you want it to work out between you.

It made me sad to think you are sitting in your empty house.

It boggles my mind that religion can do this. It is truly wicked. It is crazy.

 

I hope that the therapy can help you guys. Is it a regular therapist, not a Christian counselor?

 

Your kids sound like they love you and respect your decision and It is good they are not giving you a hard time. Hopefully your wife will follow suit and can see that you are STILL her husband and nothing has changed other than your belief.

 

I know you will find support and the right help here at ex c. You are right there are other spouses here who are going through difficulties in

Marriage due to deconversion. It makes me sad. And I support you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Ellwood,

I want to also welcome you to ex-c! It's an amazing place where you will find a lot of support and empathy. Thanks for sharing your story.

I'm so sorry to hear of the struggles you're having with your wife but you're very brave for being willing to come out and share your story with your family and friends-- undoubtedly tough but I think your love will shine through.

I can't imagine that your wife would throw your relationship away and, even though I'm not married, my perception is that she's going through phases with your deconversion. Pleading, pushing, bullying. Maybe this is just another way to say how serious it is, but if you keep being patient and showing love she will come around. Glad your kids have such a good attitude about it, love and support will make a big difference!

Wishing you the very best and good luck tomorrow!

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Welcome, to EX-C. I persoanally can give no advice on marriage and such since well i have never been married GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif, but i will say it is always best to keep learning about the bible and the natural world around you, by doing so you develop a strong wall against religious attack in general.

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Hi Ellwood!

 

Welcome to Ex-C! I could relate a lot to your story. I too suppressed rational thinking to throw myself under the bus called "Christianity" for decades. I could weep for what I threw away during the "best" years of my life.

 

I am appalled that your wife has moved out. I just can't imagine pitching all those years of family life and love. Maybe her moving out is just another stunt to get you back into the fold. It seems like a control freak thing to do when nothing else is working. Women are disempowered by the church so have to control as much as they can via other tactics. That's my observation at least. Maybe that's what's going on.

 

Feel for ya, buddy! (Lucky me, my husband is going through his own deconversion process, although he's not nearly as far along the road to hell as I am!) Please keep us posted. I know many guys here can relate to what you're going through!

 

Peace...

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So sorry about the rift between you and your wife. Best wishes with that; I hope therapy can help her understand your point of view. How fortunate that your children are being respectful; I am glad for you that you have one who agrees with you. It's so much less lonely and alenating when someone close to you gets it.

 

I'm still somewhat new to this site, but as you've been reading, there are a lot of people here who will support you and your journey.

 

All the Best.

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That's tough Ellwood. I guess it's at least a good thing that she can't take your kids away, and they are handling it much better than she is. From my personal experience, I would just keep reiterating the fact that you're not rebelling. Instead, you have no choice but to believe things you feel are true and not believe things you feel are false. Until you find evidence that Christianity is true, the preponderance of evidence so far leads you to believe it is false.

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Hi Ellwood! Welcome to Ex-c. Thanks for sharing your testimony with us. It's just so sad at this age to have to go through this kind of shit. I might add (you allowed us to see how old you guys are) that there is also a huge chance that she may be going through menopause also. That alone can make some of us woman pretty crazy, let alone you leaving the faith. It creates such an upheaval. It seems like everything has been turned upside down. Many on this board are going through the same thing...you stay close to us...someone is bound to give you some advise that will resonate with you.

 

For now, breathe deep, take your time, show her (wherever you can) that you are the same man she's been married to all these years. I have said it before and I will say it again...a lot of woman freak when their husbands lose their faith...not because they are going to hell, but because they have lost the 'security' of a man who may give up all their 'morals' by not being a christian anymore. I always felt way more secure when I thought my partner was trying to do god's will. That way there...he would never cheat on me, lie, steal, etc...... a womans fear. You take time to work through your deconversion and allow her to have some time also. It may become a much stronger marriage.

 

For now, keep posting and sharing your feelings. We know basically what you are going through and it's scary. Keep us posted on how it's going. Best of everything to you today.. Sincerely, Margee

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Hey Ellwood, thanks for sharing your story. I am always amazed when folks who have put so much of their life into Christianity admit their cognitive dissonance. I bet a lot of people in their 50s and up can relate to you, but will never utter a word out of pride or stubbornness.

 

I'm sorry your wife was not open to your admission. Perhaps it's in part from a fear of what people will think? I know how wives can be; we like to build our husbands up to be Super Christian Husband of the Year.

 

Anyways, please keep posting. Hope things take a turn for the better. It would be fun to see your 20 year-old daughter to share her story and how she came to her nonbelief, too. Must be like her Dad! :)

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Hi Ellwood! Welcome to the site!

 

Sorry to hear about the family problems. Nothing divides a family like religion and politics! I am a preacher's kid too. My father has been a Southern Baptist minister for almost 55 years and I was a minister at the time I deconverted, preachers in my family go way back to around the time of the Protestant reformation era. People in my family either become ministers or marry ministers, deacons, someone dedicated in the church, generation after generation and it is a tough cycle to break out of. My wife, however, was supportive in my choice to leave the church for good after around 45 years of it. About five years after that, she came her own conclusions about the church, Jesus, God, whatever, and left the church for good too. She still has her own beliefs but not in the Pentacostal doctrine in which she was raised. Given time, your wife may draw some of the same conclusions you have? In marriage, it depends on the reasons why you two got married in the first place--if it was love for each other, then I think love will keep you together (wow, what a Captain and Teneal moment!)--but if your relationship was only held together by your devotion to Woo, then I do not see good things coming out of the separation, especially if you and/or your wife have been believers since you were born. Then religion feels like it's part of your DNA and it becomes a greater struggle to deconvert. The longer the cult hammers its propaganda and doctrines into your head, the more you believe it and the harder it is to say, 'that's just not true!' and walk away from it. I have met many people over the last several years who have been separated and divorced because they left the church their family attended or deconverted altogether. Deconverting is a very tough choice and not one that is easy to keep because of the constant pressures to return to the cult of Christianity. Religion is the opiate of the masses and very addicting and hard to turn away once you've been indoctrinated, baptized, affirmed, and on and on ... every ceremony, every minute of your life is peer reviewed to make sure you are kept holy and clean and unspotted from the world at large, which usually means as long as you obey the church doctrine your church gives you to swallow they are happy. You could test that theory by going to another church and compare the glaring looks you get when you go back to your old church. Not everyone can stay away fromt the church cold-turkey and have to go back time to time to reaffirm in their own minds why they left in the first place. It took me several years of going back and forth until I finally had enough. I'm glad you have been able to come to your own conclusions and perhaps in time your wife may accept your choice. It all depends on how deeply into the cult she is committed and what type of brain-washing support she is currently receiving from her church.

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Ellwood, thank you. It takes guts to follow your convictions when you've been in religion so deep and so long. I hope your integrity doesn't cost you your marriage. Maybe your wife is just shocked now (and maybe at some point she'll recognize that it's manipulated cult mentality to reject you because you reject the God of Woo). In any case, I join the chorus of welcomes and hope you'll find a good, comforting place here.

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Thanks for all the great comments folks. They are all so helpful and right on.

 

She returned to the home with me after the counselling appointment yesterday. We agreed to stay pretty much in separate parts of the house and not bring up the topic of religion(which has always been my plea). He wants us to go a week without a religion rant. Even during the appointment the bits of a rant (is that a good word?) would come out. During them I am always accused of reading the "wrong" books, not staying in the Christian "library" of apologetic books, and not sharing my doubts with "wiser" Christians(an insult in itself!). What good would that do on an unbiased search for truth???? .

 

I think she sees two options:

 

She MUST belief Christianity is true and therefore she must find another reason that her husband is doing this because there is no possible valid reason or evidence to prove Christianity a fake so it is a result of something in my husband's life gone wrong, like some medicine, mid-life crisis, too much coffee, Satan, science, evolution, the "wrong" books, you name it. Let's get him to a counselor and fix him.

 

OR

 

My husband has a valid point and I must at some point confront it.

 

And I am so sorry to say she is not going with the second choice.

 

As a side note - boy do I wish i could find a good secular therapist even somewhat familiar with deconversion issues. I know that the Recovering From Religion team is working on that but the database is still not covering my area. Our current one is a liberal Christian who did very well staying clear of any theist or Christian content. But I found myself wishing he would just shout out, "Your husband is NOT a nut - there are many valid reasons for a person deciding what he has decided!"

 

Again thanks for all the messages guys.

 

Phil

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I'm sorry your wife was not open to your admission. Perhaps it's in part from a fear of what people will think? I know how wives can be; we like to build our husbands up to be Super Christian Husband of the Year.

 

 

You are right on with this. She always and often states how proud she was of me when I was a Christian and what a wonderful Godly man I was, etc, etc. (of course somewhat news to me) And I agree that I think much of this is a fear of what people think of me now and how that reflects on her.

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For now, breathe deep, take your time, show her (wherever you can) that you are the same man she's been married to all these years. I have said it before and I will say it again...a lot of woman freak when their husbands lose their faith...not because they are going to hell, but because they have lost the 'security' of a man who may give up all their 'morals' by not being a christian anymore. I always felt way more secure when I thought my partner was trying to do god's will. That way there...he would never cheat in me, lie, steal, etc...... a womans fear. You take time to work through your deconversion and allow her to have some time also. It may become a much stronger marriage.

 

 

Thanks for all your thoughts Margee. She actually mentions this loss of security often. And a fear that I will leave her. I have assured her that is NOT the case but those thoughts still haunt her. I will keep being my steady faithful loving self. But the periodic rants are killing me.

 

So great to hear from you. I have followed your messages for months. I feel like I am talking to someone famous. yellow.gif

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Wow, I hope your wife comes around, the fact that she came back to the house (albeit in a separate bedroom) is a good sign. As another poster said, at least the kids are grown and can't be taken away from you. Your courage in coming out and your youngest daughter finally facing the truth that she doesn't believe will probably mean a stronger relationship between the 2 of you, she'll need some help and encouragement at this time, and so will you.

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Hey Ellwood, welcome to the club.

 

It's unbelievable that your wife would leave you like that when even the bible says Xians should live with heathen spouses, if the heathens can live with Xians. Reminds me why I hate Xianity--it requires people to put god before everyone and everything else. Wow. That really bites.

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Hi Everyone,

 

My wife is back in the house and really trying to make it work.

 

To make a long story short - she left over the weekend, real DUMB Christians recommended she take her name off my credit cards. Instead the CC companies made it so I couldn't use credit cards! She came home that night and I knew nothing about the credit card thing. In the morning yesterday I was at gas pump with no way to fill car to get to my job of 28 years! (I say that so you know a bit about my reliability.) Result was I flipped out on her for doing such a stupid thing at the advice of idiots. I made it to work by driving back home and driving her car to work. I also let her very firmly know that I did NOT deserve this or never in my whole life did I ever do such underhanded stuff. I was very, um, angry to say the least. And I am admittedly understating my reaction. I was very pissed! (still working on expanding my angry word vocabulary)

 

Result later yesterday was a HUGE effort on her part to offer sincere apology and a great letter, corrected everything on the cards, drove to my work with my filed up car, brought my favorite candy and $100 cash(because I had no way to get money til the cards were working again), assured me of her love forever and that she did NOT ever want a divorce and she would continue to try to get beyond this. I accepted it all, assured her of my commitment to her and love and we had a really great evening at home last night.

 

I wish I could believe that this stuff is winding down but I have thought that before.

 

In any case - I want to continue to prove to my family and community that we atheists are faithful, wise, reliable, truth seeking, family people who try to be rational and loving in our dealings with others. So I continue on.

 

It is amazing that she continues to blame my deconversion on all the wrong reasons no matter what I say. Yesterday she blamed it on her not being a great wife to me and her problems. I assured her that was NOT the reason. I see Christians trying to blame another's deconversion on ANYTHING except good reasoning and great evidence, even to blame in on their very selves!

 

Thanks for listening gang. For now things seem to have calmed down.

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Welcome, Ellwood. I know many of us here can relate to your story. My husband and I were very strong believers practically from birth (we are both 39). We were very involved in church and ministry for many years. We left church and faith last October. We were very fortunate to arrive at this place within weeks of one another.

 

I really feel for you, having to go through this on your own. I'm glad your wife is at least back home and willing to work things out. I can tell you that even though your wife seems very firm in her beliefs, there is hope that she will come around. I never would have imagined I could have ended up here. I was so "in love with jesus"! Hopefully your wife will allow herself to think and question just a little, that's really all it takes.

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Welcome Ellwood. We are glad you're here.

 

It sounds to me that your wife snapped to at least some of her senses when you got angry. She realized that she might actually lose you if she keeps playing these games. I would take that as a hopeful sign. I'm guessing that she was just taking a lot of bad advice to play games in attempts to get you back to the faith.

 

I'm sure your therapist will address this...I think you two would do so much better if she is not getting third party input (from non professionals). If you've been together this long, then you two obviously have the relationship skills to work this out on your own or with a common third party.

 

Stick around and make some friends. We can all relate to you, and we would love to help in any way possible. I'm sure you have things to give to this community as well :)

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It's nice to meet you, Ellwood! I'm sorry to see your conclusions taking such a toll on you and your wife. It's nice to see that has realized some mistakes on her part. Dropping the unbelief bomb certainly tends to do a number on our wives. It sounds like you really love each other, so you will work it out.

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Hi Ellwood, I am sorry your spouse is not supportive, I have seen other couples with the same problems. If you are going to a Christian couselor, I advise you to switch. Been very lucky, my spouse and I have always questioned everything. How can it be wrong to question?

 

Use logic. As long as you can reason your way through this, you will be free from the shackles of religious dogma. Freedom from religion is one of the best gifts we have. It always ticks me off when the non-religious are painted as evil. Most non-religious people I know are far, far kinder than the xians I used to go with to the Southern Baptist Church. They don't want to think beyond what the preacher says.

 

As MLK, Jr once said: "Nothing pains some people more than having to think."That covers most of the xians I know. Good luck with your wife. If she is using religion to manipulate you, then perhaps your marriage cannot be saved. Be prepared for how you will handle it if it comes to that. Good luck, and may you find peace. jesus.gif

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