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Compromises On The Home Front


Leo
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So I've been going to this Atheists, Etc. Meetup for a couple months now. It's been very informative and helpful to me personally, but it's not the be all end all. Anyway, yesterday I came home, She's already under stress being overtaxed at work, and She told me it is really stressing Her out that I go to the meetup. I know She sees it as a church, which it isn't, it's just coffee and conversation at a local coffeeshop. But when She brought it up yesterday, She still used words that indicated how She sees it.

So, for better or worse, given Her current situation, I offered a compromise, to not go at least until Her

job settles down again. I'm just trying to figure how much I will compromise and how much I will not. I mean, I would never compromise my rights to having atheist books and such, but these are all in my iPad and iPhone anyway, and me being blind and using the VoiceOver, I just have the screen privacy curtain turned on anyway. I understand these things are triggers for Xians, but I'm also not going to go back in the closet. To be fair, She's not asking for that: She's just saying She has not yet dealt with it, and is deliberately not dealing with it right now because of Her other job-related stresses. I want to do the honorable thing, of course, and avoid triggering responses. She doesn't have a Twitter, and so doesn't follow me on there. She knows about this place: would rather that than She find out and accuse of a private life or something, but She has never been here to my knowledge. I think She's avoiding the issue for now, and when I go to the Atheist meetup, it triggers Her somehow.

I think it's fair, though, for me to ask of Her that She give me what it is She wants: She asked that I not assume anything about what Her responses would or wouldn't be. This She asked months ago, and this I have kept. I think it's fair I should ask Her not to assume we're a pack of dogs or something, or it's a proselytizing organization, or any other negative things She says. After all, I have been transparent and told Her what one would find there. Not all the topics that come up, of course. One can't really remember all of that. But explaining it's just normal people. I think it's really hard for people still plugged into the matrix to imagine a group that isn't uniform in its ideology and isn't one-dimensional in its desire to convert others.

I also think it's fair of me to ask Her to not assume we are going in different directions. I've brought up the idea of a third-party moderator for these types of things, but She's not ready for that. I know She would be most comfortable with a Xian, and there is one I would be comfortable with us using if it came to that.

Anyway, interested in your thoughts. I want to be fair, do the honorable thing, respect Her feelings and grief, but also maintain my autonomy. She isn't in a church now. And She thinks of that as a compromise. For me, I don't care if She does go or not. But once She told me She doesn't want to go alone, be one of those women whose husband doesn't go with Her to church. Also She talks about moving in different directions, She's afraid of that. I really don't see that happening. Perhaps it was because for years I haven't been a terribly convincing Christian anyway: not one-dimensional, pretty well-read outside their specialized books, stuff like that. I quite literally haven't changed a whole lot. Except to become actually more tolerant of anything of theirs that would come up, because I'm not pressed and guilty for not believing it anymore, and I'm not afraid of being found out to be on the wrong side of some political or doctrinal situation.

I don't mean to be minimizing of Her pain, not in the least. But I think a lot of this ends up being self-inflicted. Not necessarily by Her, but the system in general tells Her that a marriage like ours is now is necessarily loveless, we're 'not on the same page', or 'moving in different directions.' I should say, not self-inflicted, matrix-inflicted. I've resisted the urge to ask all the rational questions when She is being emotional:

How exactly are we not on the same page anymore? What direction am I going in? What am I doing to separate from you? or, perhaps hardest of all, So what actually changed when you found out I didn't believe anymore? One second, you have an idea of something, the next you find out it's different. This isn't like me coming home admitting to domestic betrayal or something. I know She has used the analogy of the wife who finds out her husband is gay. But I think there are some very distinct differences here.

Anyway, I will not ask such rational questions outside of having a third party involved. Someone who can act as a third party, not a party with a world view agenda whatever that happened to be.

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The one thing I want to ass is as follows:

She complains that I don't include Her in my thought processes. But this is a perfect example of why I don't often do this. I admittedly am not the most structured in my thoughts. She is very orderly, a place for everything and everything in its place. She tends to see people who aren't like that as the polar opposite, which I am not.

And then, there's the issue of my thoughts or intentions causing undue stress when revealed. She cried when She told me of Her stress about me going to the atheist meetup. I'm admitting I'm the one who suggested I won't go, at least until Her job settles. But honestly, I think it's until She has had time to emotionally deal with this. I really only hope She deals with it as it is, not as the Matrix claims that it is. Meaning, this doesn't mean we're doomed to a loveless marriage. She doesn't really think that we are, not when She's not in the middle of having an emotional moment about y deconversion.

I really do want to do the honorable thing by Her, but the contradictions I fear I will have to face. Not the Bible contradictions we all know. I'm just talking about, if you're going to get upset that I go to an atheists' meetup, it's impossible to expect that I come clean about every single forum I'm on, or every book I'm reading, etc. And I guess the more I think about it, I am willing to compromise, but I really do need her honest assessment of the situation, rather than just believing what 'they' say about us. I mean, I would defend most Christians against someone claiming they were all like the Westboro Baptists.

I know She's just emoting right now. But I'm the one staying the course, as it were, something I have done before through no fault of Her own when She has suffered greatly before. But this time it involves me.

How do I prove to Her that I'm not 'going in a different direction,' by that She means moving away from Her lovewise? I still do all the things I always have done. She only says this during these times when it comes up to the surface. But I feel like, because She is really emotional at that point, maybe crying, or in some other way having it difficult, I can't just rationally ask her what She means by different direction, or something. Or rationally correct Her misperceptions about an atheist group.

mostly, right now, we don't talk about it. And honestly, if I have conversation with someone in a coffeeshop or something, I don't really bring it home unless it's of the most ordinary nature, nothing philosophical or humanist or anything.

The problem is, it seems possible anything could set this off. I mean, unless I self-monitored 24/7 and in all online communications, which I don't. I keep most of it off Facebook. Probably more atheists have been destroyed by exposure and humiliation from choleric relatives on Facebook than anywhere else on the Internet.

I don't regret making the proposal I not go to that group anyore. I live in a walking district in Northwest Portland, and run into nontheists in coffeeshops and pubs and other places, and things happen in conversation, and I simply never bring any of it home.

But we can't have, to quote the infamous Ravi Zecharias, "Both And." Can't be both upset at anything that I might produce that is triggering, and be upset that I don't share enough or involve Her early enough in the process.

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Leo, all I can say is that I hope your wife can see that you love her and will continue to be there for her; that you're not abandoning her just because you're no longer a believer.  Lots of folks here are unequally yoked and can certainly offer more sage advice, but man, I wish you the best in your situation.

 

I was outed to my family, and fortunately when I told them that I will continue to love them and be there for them, they seemed to accept that.  

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So I've been going to this Atheists, Etc. Meetup for a couple months now. It's been very informative and helpful to me personally, but it's not the be all end all. Anyway, yesterday I came home, She's already under stress being overtaxed at work, and She told me it is really stressing Her out that I go to the meetup. I know She sees it as a church, which it isn't, it's just coffee and conversation at a local coffeeshop. But when She brought it up yesterday, She still used words that indicated how She sees it.

So, for better or worse, given Her current situation, I offered a compromise, to not go at least until Her

job settles down again. I'm just trying to figure how much I will compromise and how much I will not. I mean, I would never compromise my rights to having atheist books and such, but these are all in my iPad and iPhone anyway, and me being blind and using the VoiceOver, I just have the screen privacy curtain turned on anyway. I understand these things are triggers for Xians, but I'm also not going to go back in the closet. To be fair, She's not asking for that: She's just saying She has not yet dealt with it, and is deliberately not dealing with it right now because of Her other job-related stresses. I want to do the honorable thing, of course, and avoid triggering responses. She doesn't have a Twitter, and so doesn't follow me on there. She knows about this place: would rather that than She find out and accuse of a private life or something, but She has never been here to my knowledge. I think She's avoiding the issue for now, and when I go to the Atheist meetup, it triggers Her somehow.

I think it's fair, though, for me to ask of Her that She give me what it is She wants: She asked that I not assume anything about what Her responses would or wouldn't be. This She asked months ago, and this I have kept. I think it's fair I should ask Her not to assume we're a pack of dogs or something, or it's a proselytizing organization, or any other negative things She says. After all, I have been transparent and told Her what one would find there. Not all the topics that come up, of course. One can't really remember all of that. But explaining it's just normal people. I think it's really hard for people still plugged into the matrix to imagine a group that isn't uniform in its ideology and isn't one-dimensional in its desire to convert others.

I also think it's fair of me to ask Her to not assume we are going in different directions. I've brought up the idea of a third-party moderator for these types of things, but She's not ready for that. I know She would be most comfortable with a Xian, and there is one I would be comfortable with us using if it came to that.

Anyway, interested in your thoughts. I want to be fair, do the honorable thing, respect Her feelings and grief, but also maintain my autonomy. She isn't in a church now. And She thinks of that as a compromise. For me, I don't care if She does go or not. But once She told me She doesn't want to go alone, be one of those women whose husband doesn't go with Her to church. Also She talks about moving in different directions, She's afraid of that. I really don't see that happening. Perhaps it was because for years I haven't been a terribly convincing Christian anyway: not one-dimensional, pretty well-read outside their specialized books, stuff like that. I quite literally haven't changed a whole lot. Except to become actually more tolerant of anything of theirs that would come up, because I'm not pressed and guilty for not believing it anymore, and I'm not afraid of being found out to be on the wrong side of some political or doctrinal situation.

I don't mean to be minimizing of Her pain, not in the least. But I think a lot of this ends up being self-inflicted. Not necessarily by Her, but the system in general tells Her that a marriage like ours is now is necessarily loveless, we're 'not on the same page', or 'moving in different directions.' I should say, not self-inflicted, matrix-inflicted. I've resisted the urge to ask all the rational questions when She is being emotional:

How exactly are we not on the same page anymore? What direction am I going in? What am I doing to separate from you? or, perhaps hardest of all, So what actually changed when you found out I didn't believe anymore? One second, you have an idea of something, the next you find out it's different. This isn't like me coming home admitting to domestic betrayal or something. I know She has used the analogy of the wife who finds out her husband is gay. But I think there are some very distinct differences here.

Anyway, I will not ask such rational questions outside of having a third party involved. Someone who can act as a third party, not a party with a world view agenda whatever that happened to be.

This is a no brainer. She's afraid you'll meet another woman, one who shares your beliefs.

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Roz, thanks for the words.

Orbit, you may be right. I have not had a track record of indiscretion, let alone infidelity. But there are times She has raised concerns like that in other areas. I know She asked about the demographic, men vs. women. I answered what I knew at the time. I still think men basically outnumber women there, but most are in relationships of one form or another. And it's highly unlikely that meeting twice a month for a couple hours in a public setting would result in hot, passionate, traitorous acts. All jesting aside, I know it's the emotional bit. She's a bit afraid we will identify with each other, well, that's being human. But I just was too clueless to contemplate the idea of the 'other woman'. That's my bad, though: She had in the near distant past had a hard time with the idea of me getting together over lunch with a lesbian friend from years ago. We all know straight guy and Lesbian woman, nothing gonna happen: You'd sooner climb to the top of glass mountain in waxpaper shoes.

Anyway, Orbit, thanks for the insight. That's probably got more to do with it than this clueless wonder here had given it any mind. She didn't say as much, but all the signs are there: talk of me having found new friends, talk of how we can all just relate to each other. There I was trying to explain herding nontheists is like herding cats. No conformaity and no desire for conformity. We had everything from your San Francisco vegetarians to retired military to teacher, and a couple of us software guys thrown in the mix. All different persuasions on all sorts of things. Never thought about the 'other woman' idea, and guess I should have. I used to, when traveling on business, to let Her know where I was, so She'd be secure in knowing what I was doing, and so I wouldn't end up later having to answer about things I had completely absentmindedly forgotten about. Things that had nothing to do with sexual infidelity or what some call affair of the heart, emotional attachment beyond a certain threshold I guess, but things can be taken that way out of context, especially if you just didn't think about it.

Maybe this is one of those. I don't know. I know She feels like something impending is going to change somehow. Lies from the matrix, I guess, or what you said, fear I will just go out on a limb and attach to someone on one basis, thaqt we are both atheists. That's strange. I was never that one-dimensional about things as a Christian and still am not as an atheist. While it's true that we find common ground in some areas, it's not true that I have found, in Her words, 'a new best friend.' I haven't had a 'best friend' since my boyfriend, save my marriage.

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Would she be willing to attend your meetup occasionally?  Perhaps it would ease her mind to do so, especially if you are willing to visit her church on occasion.  I can see how she wouldn't want to endure the stigma of being the wife of a reprobate attending alone (as judgmental church-goers would see it).

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LeoBirdMan,

 

I echo what Roz and Orbit have said. Your wife needs to feel reassured that you are still devoted to her. She feels threatened because her belief system tells her to be. You can prove otherwise to her, and in the process help to broaden her mind. You can prove that you love her more than her religion does.

Agreed. Totally. Give her some attention LBM and watch her change.......

 

Big hug

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You guys are really on the money with this stuff. Before, in our relationship, I was always the one who wanted to buy her flowers, trinkets, and do nice things, and She was the one who wasn't that into that stuff. She was more the one who needed Her space. But last night, She told me She would like it if I would start planning dates and stuff. There's great free music and inexpensive music in the parks here in Portland during the summers. She said She's going through some of the midlife stuff. Hey, aren't we all? I know I have. Started buying instruments again, picked up the ukulele, got a guitar again after 20 plus years. I've encouraged Her that way, to get into something She will like, like arts, which She likes to do and finds therapeutic. Anyway, picking up flowers and chocolates, which I do semiregularly even now, and planning a night out, that sort of things comes easy for me. Compared to what some others say, so to that end this is not difficult, but She inadvertently backed up what you're saying. For years, She worked at home and I worked at home, different things, but we were still around each other a lot. Since coming back to Portland proper, I've been able to get out and do my own thing a lot more. Not to the exclusion of home life, but still, I think that has made for some challenges, even though She does like the space. Especially having the kind of job She has now. So I will definitely take Her up on this, and like you all said, deliver on that stuff.

She also said last night that She might be more open to me continuing to go, that She was just very emotional. I just told Her we can take it one weekend at a time if She wants. But there's the whole thing of her feeling 'pressured' by things. She said that She just needs to make a plan for Herself regarding going to a church and go through with it. The ones She has considered out here are not so fundie like that, She is looking at some of the more Portlandy churches, but still similar to Her in their beliefs.

She doesn't want to come to my group, and doesn't really want me to go to Her church with Her if I don't believe it. I understand, She is different from Her parents, for whom church was mainly tradition, and She doesn't see it that way. She's also said as much that She thought we would do the church changing together, that She has problems with the traditionally fundamentalist ones now too. But I think She doesn't quite realize my change has not been because of people. I think it will work, based on what you and She said. I can quite easily plan for some things for us. I'm admittedly better at bringing home flowers and chocolate and things, than I am actually planning. But doesn't mean I can't step it up in that area.

And for Her, if She can make a plan for Herself about what She wants to do about church, I think She'll feel better in the long run. Especially at one of these more Portlandy churches where there's a lot of young people, not rigid hierarchies with families and who sits with whom, and expectations.

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Keep inviting her to the meet up groups, even though you know she doesn't want to go, just so that she knows there is nothing going on re meeting other people there. That thought will definitely be somewhere in her mind.

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