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This Is Going To Be Rough


Storm
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So, I was talking with my wife last night and the subject of my questioning Christianity came up. I have told her that I am having a really hard time with a lot of things in christianity and she is aware that I am really "struggling" with my relationship with god. So our conversation basically started with the whole "I miss having my spiritual leader husband. I miss the life we had. I cant wait for you to get past this so we can continue our life" statement. I responded that this may take a long time. She said that she understands, but that she wishes that things could return to normal. I asked her "what if it doesn't?" She really didn't respond, but I got the feeling that it wouldn't be good. I opened up a little and kind of dropped a small portion of some of the things I have issues with. I told her that I believe in evolution and that the evidence for it is overwhelming. I told her that there is no way that the earth is only 10,000 years old. She replied that she just believed that maybe the days mentioned in the creation account are just eras or longer periods. I told her the we don't really know who actually wrote the bible. It was no different than if a random guy in our church decided to write a book and say it was gods inspired word. She really didn't have an answer. We have both agreed that we are unsure what role the old testament plays in christianity, so at least she can see that something is amiss with all of this. Its so frustrating that she doesn't think critically, but that she just takes everything at "faith value". She subscribes (as most Christians do) to the if it doesn't make sense then we just have to take it on faith mentality. I told her that unicorns are mentioned in the bible. she laughed and said really? Then she basically said that there must be some explanation for that. I told her that the bible called bats birds and not mammals. She said so what. I said well that shows that god isn't necessarily all knowing. She asked "how so? the classification system hasn't been in place but maybe 200 years or so." I said that if god was all knowing and he wrote the bible, he would have known about the classification system and he would not have put it in there that way.  She disagreed and basically chalked it up to a man writing the bible while inspired by god and not god actually writing it insinuating that there may be errors, but that isn't god's fault, its the authors. She pretty much shot down anything I threw at her with nothing but Christian vomit. She doesn't think critically. She is a smart woman and I know she could understand and realize the truth if she was willing to look at it. But she wont. And now I am stuck. I will likely have to live a double life for the rest of my life or risk losing my wife and family. I cannot imagine how much this is going to suck. I think it may be time to seek counseling. I am at a loss as to what to do. I know that some of you have been where I am now. Any helpful suggestions ?

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Ok, let me start with the part about your wife taking things at "faith value".  Was there a time when you were strong in your christian faith that you also took most things the same way?  Not all christians question it, and truly have that unshakeable faith.  It IS very frustrating for us who do't believe.  You are going to have to allow her to believe that way unless she wants to know, otherwise she is going to see you as a ranting lunatic.  You have planted the seed of doubt so to speak.  Now, when it comes to your actual relationship, non christian counseling may be a really good idea for you.  I wouldnt emphasize the NON CHRISTIAN part to your wife if you do a couples thing, that will automatically put her off it.  But yes I would start with YOU.  Get yourself a good foothold and confidence in your own unbelief, assure her that you are working through it, but cant make promises that it will change, then maybe explore couples counseling.  Work at your relationship with her and think about what she appreciates in a leader.  You can do everything but the religious part right?  If that isn't good enough, well, if you value your marriage you may just have to live that double life in the hopes that she will either come around or that you can just play the part, or you may have to prepare yourself for the worst.  When we marry, it's hard when a spouse does a 180 on us, and she is probably frightened and just doesnt want things to change.  Show her you are still the same man as always and that regardless of your beliefs things are going to be ok.

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The counseling part will be mostly for my anger. I have become very angry through all of this and it apparently shows. She made the comment that it is almost as if I have become a non Christian (which is pretty much true). But I guess that I didn't realize just how much my anger has affected me. I also will have to work on the whole how not to be truthful. I am a pretty open and honest person and it is going to be tough to live a double life. Part of me just wants to get it all out there and deal with the consequences, but I am pretty sure she would probably leave me. and take my daughter with her, and I just cant live with that. I would rather live a lie and have my family, than be free mentally and spiritually without them. I can certainly play the game of christianity. I don't know if I can live without my wife and daughter.

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That just sucks.  Do you have kids?  For me it was my kids that forced me to come out to my wife because I just couldn't indoctrinate them.

 

You can try leading her to moderate Christianity.  She wants you to lead well emphasize the values of moderate Christianity.  I was a liberal Christians near the end.  It's where you de-emphasise the Bible (because it is goofy) and you focus on Christianity as culture, love for fellow humans and trying to live a good life.  So you keep a few meaningless traditions and become more humanist in outlook.  The most important thing right now if for you to be a good husband to her in all other areas.  Let your relationship be strong.  Despite all the religions propaganda pair bonding is about instincts and biology.  That transcends religion.  If your cover ever gets blown or you ever feel you have to open up about it you want her to realize you are close and have been all along.

 

Ironically I'm more of a spiritual leader for my family that I ever was as a Christian.  I've intentionally distracted my family away from church.  We use to miss half a dozen services a year.  Now we attend only half a dozen per year.  I had to be very subtle at that but it worked.  Once my wife was away from the preaching there was less crap brainwashing her.  The one about "Both must believe for or a marriage can't work" was the lie that really disturbed me.  I'm teaching my children that they must be respectful during prayer time but they don't have to keep their eyes closed or believe the nonsense.  About two months ago my wife wanted to do something that was unethical but not labeled as a sin by the Bible.  I got to be the moral compass and eventually I talked her out of it.  Just because spirituality doesn't exist doesn't mean people can't do good.

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Definitely look at counseling for yourself.  You NEED to work through your deconversion and anger so it doesnt cause any unnecessary damage on you home life.  And during this time you can seek advice on how to handle coming out or not coming out.  Just don't make any sudden rash decisions.  We can feel very passionate during this time in our lives and we just want to break free.  I understand how you feel.  But keep focus on how much you value your family.  I truly believe if you and your wife love each other, you can work through it and come to an understanding eventually.  It may take time and you need to be willing to hold back on breaking free.  It's not just you that you have to worry about.  So take a deep breath, make anger control your main focus.  When you feel it welling up inside acknowledge it, smile your most brilliant fake smile, and remember that you love this woman and this child with all your heart. Allow your love for them to drown our all your anger.  Don't allow your anger at religion to destroy what you hold so dear because this too shall pass.

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The counseling part will be mostly for my anger. I have become very angry through all of this and it apparently shows. She made the comment that it is almost as if I have become a non Christian (which is pretty much true). But I guess that I didn't realize just how much my anger has affected me. I also will have to work on the whole how not to be truthful. I am a pretty open and honest person and it is going to be tough to live a double life. Part of me just wants to get it all out there and deal with the consequences, but I am pretty sure she would probably leave me. and take my daughter with her, and I just cant live with that. I would rather live a lie and have my family, than be free mentally and spiritually without them. I can certainly play the game of christianity. I don't know if I can live without my wife and daughter.

 

Okay I use to have a horrible anger problem.  I used this series and found it very helpful.

http://www.amazon.com/When-Anger-Hurts-Matthew-McKay/dp/1567310281

The upshot of it was that my anger was caused by false beliefs that I held.

 

For example at one point I believed "My wife should abandon her faith and think for herself".  And that is a fundamentally false statement because beliefs don't work that way.  My deconversion happened due to a chain of random events. She didn't go through those events so she didn't deconvert.  If I hadn't then I would still be a fundie.  But every time our false beliefs bump against reality the result is anger.  So if you find the false belief and address it your anger should go away.  Mine did.

 

I tried the double life for a while.  When I first left Christianity and later when I became an atheist I did not dare tell anybody in my life.  As I said earlier my wife figured it out when I refused to indoctrinate my children.  I also developed trouble because once I deconverted  Church became funny.  I mean hilarious funny.  If I expected them to say something pious or spiritual then I could be ready with my poker face.  But if somebody said something spontanious I would occasionally get the giggles.  The urge to laugh grew with every week until I just couldn't attend anymore.  Try to not repeat my mistakes.

 

The other thing I noticed is that many of the people in church might be doing the double life.

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I went through the same thing with my wife.  I took it as slowly and subtly as I could (over the course of about a year), and it was still devastating to her when it finally came down to her God not existing.  I snuck in as much information as possible before sharing my own conclusions.  I've become more private as a result of my deconversion as well, and it doesn't suit me.  I feel for ya.  Do what you need to do in order to get a handle on your anger.  Put some extra effort into being supportive of your family.  Hopefully you will all adapt to your new perspective.

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You can try leading her to moderate Christianity.  She wants you to lead well emphasize the values of moderated Christianity.  I was a liberal Christians near the end.  It's where you de-emphasize the Bible (because it is goofy) and you focus on Christianity as culture, love for fellow humans and trying to live a good life.  So you keep a few meaningless traditions and become more humanist in outlook.  The most important thing right now if for you to be a good husband to her in all other areas.  Let your relationship be strong.  Despite all the religions propaganda pair bonding is about instincts and biology.  That transcends religion.  If your cover ever gets blown or you ever feel you have to open up about it you want her to realize you are close and have been all along.

This is good advice. I will definitely work towards this. I have a friend who is a very nontraditional Christian and he somehow makes it work, so I believe there is hope.

 

I truly believe if you and your wife love each other, you can work through it and come to an understanding eventually.  It may take time and you need to be willing to hold back on breaking free.  It's not just you that you have to worry about.  So take a deep breath, make anger control your main focus.  When you feel it welling up inside acknowledge it, smile your most brilliant fake smile, and remember that you love this woman and this child with all your heart. Allow your love for them to drown our all your anger.  Don't allow your anger at religion to destroy what you hold so dear because this too shall pass.

I agree and I totally want this to be the case. But, sometimes I just want to argue and try to show her the truth...

 

For example at one point I believed "My wife should abandon her faith and think for herself".  And that is a fundamentally false statement because beliefs don't work that way.  My deconversion happened due to a chain of random events. She didn't go through those events so she didn't deconvert.  If I hadn't then I would still be a fundie.  But every time our false beliefs bump against reality the result is anger.  So if you find the false belief and address it your anger should go away.  Mine did.

But I realize that, just as mymistake pointed out, I came to my current place through a series of events, not a person challenging everything I believed. I have to allow my wife the opportunity to find out herself. I can plant seeds. I think I have done that with the whole "where does the old testament fit into christianity?" thing. She is on board with that line of questioning. But like mymistake also indicated, I am very torn about what is going to happen with my daughter and any subsequent children. I do not want to indoctrinate them. Fortunately, there is some time to figure that out since my daughter is only 5 months.

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I have gone through similar things with my wife. We are going to couples counseling and it is really helping. Try to stick to communicating more vulnerable emotions. You might start by letting her know that while you are still working through things you are afraid that if your beliefs change that she will leave you. Or that you might be forced to live a lie. But remember that while it would be unfair for her to expect you to believe the way she does, it would also be unfair for you to expect her to change her beliefs. No amount of challenges will make her change, she has to be willing to explore it herself. How are you with staying married to a believer? Is it possible that this is where some of the anger is coming from? This whole process is akin to grieving both for you and for her, so I hope neither of you make any decisions until you have let some of the emotions calm down. Good luck my friend.

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I know where you are in this, as a lot of us here do!

 

I will tell you that, for me, the anger part didn't last long. I was angry that I had wasted my life. I was 52 when I found out it wasn't real! But the reality is that my life is actually okay. The worst thing in my life is my wife's depression, and I can't know whether the religion has anything to do with that or not. (It doesn't help, but it isn't necessarily the cause.)

 

And when my wife asked me, point blank, whether I believed it or not, I told her the truth. Thus began months of turmoil, and at one point she said she just didn't know if she could be married to an atheist.

 

At that point I just backed off. I hadn't pushed it on her, and in fact hadn't actually volunteered that I was no longer a believer, so I just said I wasn't going to talk about it anymore, and was going to live my life, for the most part, as if I still believed. And I am doing that, though I take every opportunity to "miss services", because of her health issues, we skip quite a bit.

 

She will occasionally ask me if I still don't believe, and I don't lie about it. But the other day she asked me to pray with her! I refused. Even when I believed it I really wouldn't pray with her because... well, I was just never comfortable opening up that much. Now I just know it's ridiculous. Anyway, so she knows I don't believe it, yet somewhere in her mind she thinks maybe I really do. I'm not going to lie, but going along with it seems to be working pretty well.

 

I'm not saying you should do this, I'm just saying it worked for me. If you were accustomed to leading the family in prayers and such, it may be harder for you. I was never a "spiritual leader" at home, anyway, so the day to day impact is pretty small.

 

I feel for you! But I'm confidant that you can work it out.

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I agree and I totally want this to be the case. But, sometimes I just want to argue and try to show her the truth...

 

 

Love your wife more than you love your truth. :-)

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Your wife doesn't want to think critically; she just wants her beliefs confirmed or left alone.  That is much more convenient and comforting.  Critical thinking is difficult and unsettling.  You are in a bit of a pickle here.  You will have to weigh how important honesty is to you against the risk to your marriage that honesty entails.

 

With my wife, I can be honest because she doesn't believe either.  With my family, I prefer silence on the subject to honesty.  So do they.

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I left the church about three years before my wife did. It was a dificult time as well. There were many Saturdays (we were Seventh-day Adventists) where she would go to church and I just couldn't stomach the ordeal of it anymore and would not attend with her. Eventually, she stopped going, and she is now an atheist like myself.

 

My suggestion would be to "distract" her in a nice way by finding things to do together instead of going to church related activities. What gets people out of the church more quickly is when they start finding a life outside of the church. Christianity really has very little power. It only works if people are constantly engaged in all the rituals. Even Christains know this, because they understand that if they just stop thinking about Jesus for even one second, they can fall quickly. So take her on a hike next Sunday, and when you stumble across a 4 billion year old layer of rock strata you can point it out to her. My personal take is that it's tough trying to convince believers to give up their beliefs, but leaving Christianity comes quickly and naturally when people remove themselves from the Christian environment.

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