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Kids, Husband & Family - Help :(


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So many awesome responses. It's humbling to be in the presence of some of you. I wish I had found this forum about 40 years ago, would have made my path a lot smoother but I digress. Of course it could fall apart and has for many families in your situation (mine included). If that happens you will be ok although I know it doesn't feel that way. But I sense that you are going to achieve the kind of open balanced relationship that many here have spoken of. Many (most?) families struggle with such issues at some level and most don't do it very well. You have a real chance to break that pattern. It ~not~ going to happen by you stifling your self to "keep things together". You can't sustain that and will destroy yourself and your family if you try. At this crossroads, take the high road and lead your husband - and kids - to do likewise. People can only be intellectually healthy by following their own path and respecting others paths. All of you openly and honestly doing that in an atmosphere of respect and love can make your family what you want it to be.  Families are about a lot more than what one believes about religious myths or scientific theories. Reasonable people differ and evolve their beliefs on these. Your husband must come to realize this. He probably already does, but since his career is tied to his faith, he's got a dilemma. You will need to be compassionate about that. If he ever gets a job in a secular setting the dominoes in his constrained thinking may fall quickly.

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Like many others, it is difficult for me to post here. However, I am in great need of encouragement. I will try to keep my story brief, though I'm not sure how possible that will be.    Here is the

There is a middle ground.  I came out to my wife over a year ago.  I don't go to church.  Our kids go to church a couple of times each year.  I do not try to deconvert my wife.  Once in a while she wa

There is no "hell" in the Old Testament. It was never a part of Judaism. There is no "judgement" after you're dead.  If "the historic Jesus" taught people that "hell" was real, and there was judgement

I came across this today. I expect you'll like it. Hope I'm not fanning the flames (well maybe just a little) ;-)

http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/just-asking-questions-creation-edition/

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I am so sorry to hear about your struggles. Your story sounds so very similar to mine. I'm glad you are seeing a therapist. This is all such a huge tangle of issues to sort out, and it should help you to get some outside perspective. I have clinical depression as well, (postpartum depression that never went away, and that started while I was still a xian) and one of the most hurtful things for me was to hear my husband saying it was because of my sin, or from not "leaning on god" or not being really a christian, or whatever. Mental illnesses are complex and only half-understood. They are hell to live with. And to tell someone their illness is their fault, is just horrible. Keep talking together if you can. I do personally know many ex-christians who have struggled a lot in their unequally yoked marriages but are still together and very much in love. So..it's possible.

 

Also, I have to say, the advice to "pretend" to be a Christian is just bad. I understand that in some cases, people's livelihoods are at stake, and they must remain somewhat closeted. But in general, I think hiding your rational thought/doubt/unbelief/questioning or whatever stage you're at,  just delays the inevitable fallout when people eventually find out anyway.

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Today presents one of those big crossroads. I appreciate any encouragement as I sit here in tears.

 

This morning my husband and kids are going to church and, for the first time, I am not. The thought of going has been giving me anxiety for weeks. (As I mentioned a few days ago, we've managed to avoid the dilemma of going to church the last several weekends.) I didn't want to ask my husband about what we were going to do today. 

 

Yesterday was not great. In addition to other stressful extended family things going on, we've been having daily conversations about faith and religion and my struggles. I just can't avoid the conversations - I feel so compelled to tell him the things I am thinking and feeling to try to let it out.  Just as he cannot understand my doubts, I just cannot understand how he has none. It's so very depressing because I hate this cognitive dissonance. I hate that he has to struggle with the fact that I have changed. I hate that this will be so difficult for us and maybe for our kids. I have felt like the only way I could make it easier on all of them is if I were not in the picture.  Of course, the very idea of not being with them is like losing everything my husband reassures me that this is no solution at all and fixes nothing.

 

That said, he has gotten frustrated with me because he feels I am saying he is dumb; my intellect is superior to his, etc. I told him this isn't my intent at all, although I'm well aware that at some points that is inevitably how I come across. (Conversations about things like demon possession vs. mental illness; animals having emotions and consciousness vs. humans being above or set apart from animals, etc.) I know some of you might just say quit having these conversations, but as I said, I really have trouble "letting go" and feel compelled to get these thoughts out there.  

 

However, his frustration always gives to compassion and empathy and his own pain at how much this is hurting me. He knows that I am extremely conflicted about going to church and that it will be impossible for me to "pretend" and doesn't want to cause me that pain. 

 

All that said, this morning he woke up and said, "I am taking the kids to church. I told them you are not going, so don't worry. I told them that mommy won't always go to church with us, and that's ok. They didn't seem to be worried or ask questions. (That's the benefit of them still being fairly young). They didn't even realize it was Sunday since we've been doing things and haven't gone for awhile." 

 

I am so immensely appreciative of this, but I am also terrified. Right now he is at church and people are wondering why I'm not there. This is a very small church of nosy people. And of our family and friends and people I do care about. I immediately said, "People are going to ask you why I'm not there." (Some I am much more concerned about than others.) He said he knows, but it doesn't matter. It is none of their business. He isn't going to lie about it. He also said he wasn't going to throw me under the bus. He just said to trust him. He wanted me to just keep sleeping and not worry and told me he didn't want to make me upset or cry. 

 

But this is so so so hard for me right now. I am incredibly sad at the thought of not being there with my family doing something we have always done. I am scared about the repercussions of me not being there. I am concerned about the day that my kids start caring more about whether I go to church or not and what their teachers might say about a parent who doesn't go to church. 

 

I hope this gets better. 

 

sad.png :( :( :(

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((((murkywater)))) I hope it gets better too. TBH...it may get worse before it gets better though, and may take a long time to work things through. Take things one step at a time, one day at a time, being honest and loving your family, and taking care of yourself. Wish I could help. So many of us here have been through the same things and we understand. Hang in there.

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Tears are sometimes an appropriate response to life, growth, and change all of which  are accompanied by pain.

I'm not suggesting anything because I don't know you or your family but a few thoughts come to mind.

In a way it sounds like your husband is handling things better than you are - OTOH we only sense that because of what ~you~ have said here ... so you already have the answers within you.

Personally I'm no longer married and my kids are raised so I don't have those pressures. I highly value the time that's been restored to my weekends by not attending church. Several loved ones, including my mom, sister, and some brothers, are very religious. They know I'm atheist and some deal with it different than others. That's their issue, not mine. When I'm with them I occasionally attend religious activities and/or church since it's such a big part of their lifestyle. I find I am much more comfortable in those settings than I was when I was immersed in it. I do (somewhat) understand how they perceive it having once been there, albeit it's different because I questioned and left. They question and stay. To each their own.

An aspect of depression is often 'All or Nothing', or 'Black and White' Thinking. Technically known as "False Dilemma". Unfortunately religionists frequently foster this as a way to stifle curiosity which they see as a threat (and indeed it is). You seem to be having some of that about the family & church situation. That's a fatal mistake. For many church represents a vital social function. Sounds like that's the case for you - certainly your family. You don't need to throw it all out just because you can.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Your options are limited only by yourself.  

Maybe give a listen to Alan Watts discussion on "Polar Thinking" (available on YouTube). Completely different from "Bi-Polar Thinking" although the terms are often confused.

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So, you're allowing your children to be taught Young Earth Creationism?

 

Hi sdelsolray. I have to say I'm a little frustrated by the word "allowing" in your question. It's much, much more complicated than that. The least of which perhaps the simple fact this is my husband's job. But while it now remains a main point of contention for me, this is kind of a secondary issue as Human said above.  Am I thrilled about it? No. 

 

I am not at all sure to handle it, but I do know I don't plan to tell my kids that museums with dinosaur bones are wrong on their dates, that carbon dating is misleading, and starlight doesn't really travel millions of lightyears to get to us. My husband and I agree that we can teach our kids that people hold differing opinions on these matters for different reasons. I intend to be as open on mine as possible. 

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In a way it sounds like your husband is handling things better than you are - OTOH we only sense that because of what ~you~ have said here ... so you already have the answers within you.

 

This is true. He is most certainly a more optimistic, positive person than I am and very rarely stressed out. His ridiculously positive outlook and general happiness and contentment is one of the things I love about him.  

 

I know that should make things easier for me - for example, his willingness and desire to not force anything (like going to church) on me. But I am very much the opposite of him. He is looking out for me and somehow staying positive; meanwhile, I am torturing myself over how I might be hurting him and also mourning my own losses.

 

However, you make great points on black and white thinking and the fact that this doesn't have to be all or nothing. Like you said, this community serves a large social function and I don't intend (or at all want) to withdraw completely. This is my kid's school - and a small one, where parents know and connect and care about each other. I love this and don't want to lose that at all, although there's very real uncertainty in my mind about how exactly that plays out. 

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Your husband is optimistic and positive I'm guessing because he's deluded that you will one day be "saved" again. That's exactly how my mom handles my atheism - god (SIC) bless her.

So can you - with truth on your side - lighten up and do likewise? Believe that he will one day open his mind to reason and enlightenment?

It does often seem that the opiate of religion gives its adherents an extreme positive outlook. That's why it's so hard to break free. There are withdrawl symptoms.
The path of enlightenment can do this too, without the denial of reality. Ultimately a better choice IMO.

 

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Muckywater: I have a similar problem, but my children are all grown and through school. My wife and I have been married many years. We've reached an understanding whereby we simply won't discuss our religious differences, She doesn't want to anyway. She does not not like to argue at all. Bless her, she has no concept of critical; thinking. So we have kind of a detente, But I know how upsetting this can be for you and your husband. Xtians are kind of like chicken Little yelling, "The sky is falling." But neither your husband nor my wife are that type, thank goodness. We are lucky,

 

You have a good marriage. In my judgment preserving that good marriage should be your number one priority. I know that "what to do about the children" is the biggest impediment. You don't want them to be "indoctrinated" and possibly even be part of the religious right. It is entirely unfair for your husband and my wife to claim the exclusive right to direct the children's religious thinking. But that where you might end up , Unless your husband is a very reasonable.  What I am saying here is that I would not give your husband an ultimatum as to their religious education that might backfire. Instead, work with him and try to come to a mutual understanding whereby you both will have the right to discuss your respective views on god and Xtiaity so that they can make up their own mind about the subject when they are old enough to do so. And agreement is the best possible outcome, I think. If he won't agree to that, try to explain to him that as their mother, you believe that you have a parental duty to guide them in this area, as does he as their father. If he still doesn't agree that you do have that right my suggestion is that you do not tell him that you won't discuss religion with them and leave it at that. Instead, politely but firmly stick to your guns and see how things go. As long as you can more or less agree to disagree leave it at that until something changes, If it turns bad for you and he simply refuses despite your efforts, you then will have to decide whether you give up on counseling the children while hey are young or assertively demand that you will continue to counsel them  At that point he will have to agree to let you counsel them or take some more drastic action, like separation or court action. Your hope would be that he would back down.

 

This is the way I see it, I hope I am not being presumptuous in giving this advice. Saving the marriage is the most important thing. So if at any time you feel you must back off .and leave the religion issues with him or else the marriage would brake up, I would save the marriage. A good marriage is a precious thing. Becoming a Xtian is not a disaster, . And they can live a happy life as Xtians in in all likelihood.

 

Good luck to you. Keep coming back because I think this site is a rel comfort at times.  bill

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Not going to church can really suck when your family is there. I had the huge benefit of moving to a new city after my deconversion, so my wife had to start over at a new church. I wish I could say something that would make it instantly better, but it's just going to take time for everyone to get used to a new normal.

 

As for your husband's cognitive dissonance, remember that not so long ago you never questioned your beliefs either. He is not emotionally ready to. When someone is not emotionally ready to confront a hard truth, they won't, no matter how many ways you try to show them that truth. Don't take it personally, just tey to find moments when he is open to these discussions instead of trying to force them.

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Hey Murkywater     From your own description of you.. I really like you!      

 

I have similar OCD'ish tendencies which my wife does not have, and at times I really feel a gap between us.      However she is not religiously dogmatic - that does make things more tricky.    

 

You have the advantage of being married to a teacher who has, I assume, the intellectual capactity to juggle with all sorts of complex issues.      However the hardest thing for anyone to do, is to question their own faith views, even when forced into it by an honest and loved family member.       Its part of the nature of faith to believe without question.   There is deep emotional attachment to that faith and so there will be no easy way for him to change quickly.

 

BUT .. Your questions are based on logic and therefore are hard to argue with ..  all he needs to do is accept their validity and you are on your way to some common ground.    

 

I suppose I am saying that you need to be patient as it will not be easy for him.   But your marriage appears to have the right non religious foundations and therefore worth the effort.

 

 

Good luck

 

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I have come out to my husband. It has NOT been easy. I have tried to reason and rationalize with him, but of course so has he. We've started with general conversations where I tell him I'm just not sure, that I can't accept Christians who say with certainty anyone is going to hell (he at least doesn't push this point...he's not a Universalist by any means, but he "leaves it in God's hands"). But since it has gone on and especially since we've had conversations about our kids, things repeatedly go downhill quickly.

 

I realize that I'm very late to this conversation, but I'll add my bit. I've told my wife... told her early on. I truly wish I would have realized the truth when my children were small. Perhaps then I could have "fallen away". Your situation is special, though, because of your husband's job. I would expect, with his credentials, that he might be able to teach or be a principal in a public school, and if that happens in the future it'll make it easier for you. For now, I don't know.

 

I'm in the closet because of my grown children. Seems silly, doesn't it? But my wife is afraid that we won't be able to see our grandchildren if I leave the church, or, even if we can see them, that they won't be allowed to stay with us without their parents around for fear of my bad influence on them. (And there are some in our church who think that you should "withdraw from" those who fall away, even if they're family members.) I understand why this freaks her out.

 

So I stay in the closet, but try to influence them to better thinking when I can. If I can ever disabuse them of a young earth, I'll be happy!

 

All I can really say to encourage you is that it gets easier. The conflicts slow down over time, even if they don't go away. I'm still navigating the waters, and the going seems very slow at times.

 

It may be easier for you to drift away from church than to come out all at once. And you're having an influence on your husband whether you can see it or not. If nothing else, he'll see that your realization that there are no gods hasn't turned you into... anything at all! You're probably mostly the same, except perhaps a little less judgmental (if you were judgmental to begin with).

 

Hope all goes well for you.

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Brings to mind Matthew 10:35-37 and Luke 12:51-53.

One prophecy that ~has~ been fulfilled :-(

Why would anyone willingly buy into that?

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