Advice from those with a theist partner
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11-04-2016, 11:07 AM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2016 12:40 PM by Rkane819.)
Advice from those with a theist partner
Hey Everyone, I post about once every 6 months or so generally to get advice on how to process my thoughts and feelings about relationship issues with my theist wife. Everyone has been immensely helpful so thank you for that.

My wife and I starting going to church a couple of years ago and quickly took opposite paths. When pressed I realized I did not believe and dropped faith all together. She became more devout, got baptized and is continually looking to deepen her faith with church weekly, small group Christian book studies, weekend retreats, etc... Admittedly I only stopped believing a couple of years ago so I suppose I'm still in the new atheist phase so I'm not a seasoned veteran.

Every few months something new happens which starts to get me down a bit. Usually it's a new apologetics book laying around, playing CCM all the time and now she's excited to about the new cross necklace she bought. I know these are small things but each thing makes me think the gap is widening. maybe because I'm new to this they bug the crap out of me. Everything else about our relationship is great so I try to focus on those aspects but it's hard to sometimes when I see us going in opposite directions on this big issue.

I know there are some of you on here with theist partners that have a nonchalant attitude and don't care what they think. My question is how did you get to that place? Have you always not cared or did you work at it? Does time just make these thoughts and feelings subside? Or if anyone wants to share a cautionary tale of what not to do. Any recommendations are appreciated as I desperately don't want to care that she's all about Jesus right now but it's hard getting it out of my head.
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11-04-2016, 12:42 PM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2016 12:47 PM by Mr. Boston.)
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
I've posted about topics like this before, I'm an atheist whose wife is ethnically half Jewish but wasn't raised in the "faith" exactly, they weren't members of a temple. Her father's side (the Jews) are mostly non-religious if not flat-out non-believers and her mother's side is mostly Irish Catholic with varying degrees of devotion to the faith, but they're very warm and accepting people and have never really pressed her about Catholicism that I'm aware of. My wife finds some fulfillment in having a Jewish cultural identity but isn't a practitioner in any way.

In our family it's important to both my wife and I that our kids know where they come from, know what their ancestry is and the cultural practices that go with that. We "observe" the Jewish holidays but don't celebrate them in a very religious way. We have family meals for Hanukkah, Passover, etc. and go through some of the customary stuff but don't say all the prayers. We do Christmas and Easter too as secularly as possible. We want our kids to know what being Jewish means whether they eventually become actual practitioners of the faith or not. We talk about the Irish stuff too, the history of the people, the music, food, culture etc. There's a lot of German in the family as well, so that will no doubt be an interesting conversation for the kids some day, lol. So far we've just told my oldest son that the German side of our family was already here in the US for 2 generations before the Holocaust and that his "German" great grandfather was in the US Navy in WWII and hated the Nazis.

Where am I going with this? I guess it's just that I think one of the key things about any lasting partnership is mutual respect - even if it takes deliberate work by both parties. "Happily Ever After," is a full time job. If your wife respects your disbelief you have to respect her belief. If you can communicate honestly and respectfully with each other about where you are in all this and agree to disagree, maybe that's enough. Do you have kids? Things can change when you do - people in the family who were content to just let you guys "do your thing" faith-wise tend to find a lot more nerve when it comes to the "souls" of the next generation. I guess that's one thing I'd advise you to be at least cautious about, if you're planning to have kids that is. Many people in my family and in my wife's family who never really discussed faith or god with us earlier all seemed to suddenly have opinions about how we should raise our kids. That's one thing I did notice that sort of bothered me, people who were content to mind their own business suddenly felt they literally had a god-given duty to stick their nose in my family's business about baptism and things like that.
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11-04-2016, 12:44 PM
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
My wife is a Christian, but she didn't go to any churches for the first four to five years that we were together. She started going again during those three months that we were separated, and has mostly continued the habit since we patched things up. She's invites me now and again, and I politely decline. She doesn't put up a fuss a about it. So... I don't know what to tell you.

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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11-04-2016, 02:20 PM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2016 03:48 PM by Rkane819.)
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
Mr. Boston: We have a 2 year old so that is possibly why this may be coming to the forefront. Whenever we have religious discussions they are very few and far between, and when we do they usually end when she brings up the afterlife and thinks I'm going to hell. Thanks for your story/comments I appreciate it.

Old Man Marsh: Have you always not cared about her going to church? Has she ever told you, you're going to hell? If not how would you handle it?
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11-04-2016, 04:40 PM
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
(11-04-2016 02:20 PM)Rkane819 Wrote:  Mr. Boston: We have a 2 year old so that is possibly why this may be coming to the forefront. Whenever we have religious discussions they are very few and far between, and when we do they usually end when she brings up the afterlife and thinks I'm going to hell. Thanks for your story/comments I appreciate it.

Old Man Marsh: Have you always not cared about her going to church? Has she ever told you, you're going to hell? If not how would you handle it?

Not really. It's her right to go to church if she wants to, and I kind of appreciate the house being quiet for a couple of hours a week (if she goes. She's skipped the last couple of Sundays).

And no, she's never told me that I'm going to hell. If she did, I'd say, "HA!" and go about doing whatever it is that I'm doing.

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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11-04-2016, 05:46 PM
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
(11-04-2016 04:40 PM)Old Man Marsh Wrote:  
(11-04-2016 02:20 PM)Rkane819 Wrote:  Mr. Boston: We have a 2 year old so that is possibly why this may be coming to the forefront. Whenever we have religious discussions they are very few and far between, and when we do they usually end when she brings up the afterlife and thinks I'm going to hell. Thanks for your story/comments I appreciate it.

Old Man Marsh: Have you always not cared about her going to church? Has she ever told you, you're going to hell? If not how would you handle it?

Not really. It's her right to go to church if she wants to, and I kind of appreciate the house being quiet for a couple of hours a week (if she goes. She's skipped the last couple of Sundays).

And no, she's never told me that I'm going to hell. If she did, I'd say, "HA!" and go about doing whatever it is that I'm doing.

Man, I wish I had your demeanor. If you don't mind me asking, how long have you been married?
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11-04-2016, 07:04 PM
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
About a year, legally married. Been together seven.

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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13-04-2016, 01:44 PM
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
My wife is christian. But only in the sense that she believes that Jesus is her savior. She doesn't believe the bible (except for the parts about Jesus). She told me she won't ever go to church because she doesn't trust the preachers. Her dad is very conservative YEC but luckily for me she isn't. He has sent some religious stuff home with her in the past and even though she won't read any of it, she won't get rid of it. So I have a Joel Olsteen book sitting in my living room.
We have a 3 year old son who will be attending a christian preschool. I was a little hesitant about this but reluctantly agreed. I figure I turned out fine with being brought up Mormon and attending church and seminary for 18 years. When my son is old enough to start asking questions he'll hear both mine and my wife's side. It's his grandfathers that worry me with him and the things they will say.
If you're upset about the Christian paraphernalia around your place, maybe add some science backed books or items that make you feel more comfortable. When your wife is at church, use that time to do stuff that you'd like to do. Is your wife giving you a hard time for not believing anymore?
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13-04-2016, 03:04 PM
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
My wife is Christian. Church is a rarity, Christmas or Easter. I luck out mostly because she doesn't like any of the priests that give sermons at the churches she goes to so Sundays are generally very relaxing.

We've been married going on 2 years but have been together for 5. I de-coveted to Atheist before we started dating but she didn't find out my beliefs till year two. At first it didn't go well. And shouting and demanding that i believe was often her reaction on the subject. I take it in strides.

The last straw was when she demand I pray over my food at dinner. I told her no and she fliped out. I remained level headed and said "We are both very emotional now. But this is a subject we need to talk about. Let's go to seprate rooms calm down and when we do come back to the table and talk."

My point being this is a woman I have full plans of being with for the rest of my life. I didn't propose to her out of sheer well let's get this over with. She's my best friend and companion. We are working on having children together. If we can't talk to one another about our feelings, on any subject what are we doing? I try to be as fourth right as possible. Although more reserved about topics. If it bothers you need to address it. Just ask her.

One of the questions I ask my wife when we had our talk was "Do you think I deserve to go for hell for lacking the proper information?" She said "No." I responded "Then you are already more moral then the god you profess."

On terms of our children I've told her that I don't have a problem with her bringing the kids to church. But don't expect me to stay closed liped if I hear them spouting nonsense. The biggest pressure she gets is from her family. One of the reason I'm looking on moving back to the east coast. She wont have the pressure of her mother or sister telling her she needs to go to church more. And being in a different area she may be less likely to search out a new church.

Don't Live each day like it's your last. Live each day like you have 541 days after that one where every choice you make will have lasting implications to you and the world around you. ~ Tim Minchin
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13-04-2016, 04:06 PM (This post was last modified: 13-04-2016 04:23 PM by The Organic Chemist.)
RE: Advice from those with a theist partner
Personally, I don't care what she believes and I pretty much leave her alone about it although I know it troubles her terribly.
My background:
Married nearly 13 years, together nearly 16.
Three children
Wife goes to an evangelical church.
She organizes a women's bible study and also does small group stuff as well as a MOPS group.
I left the faith in my late teens, jettisoned the god delusion in my mid-20's.
Both of our entire families are religious.

How I think we got to this:
So, when we were married in 2003, I still believed in a higher power but I was just not sure what was what. right before we were married and for a while after, I really gave the christianity thing another go. I read apologetics, the bible, I went to church with her, I went to bible studies with her, and I pleaded with god to show me what I needed to do what he wanted for me and her. I really wanted to be the husband that she really wanted because I knew (and in part because she pretty much said it) that she wanted a believing husband. However, the more I read, the more I researched, the more I thought about it, the religion was just more fake and vacuous. I think what has kept us together is that our marriage was NOT based on religion but on each other. Communication has been pretty good between us in every department except for the religion. I never referred to her faith as stupid, deluded, foolish, or anything of the sort. I tried to be as respectful as I could be towards something that I knew could one day be the death of our relationship because if she ever felt that I was coming between her and her faith, Jesus essentially tells you to excise whatever is causing your problems (Mat 18) The subject was dormant for several years as my belief in a higher power faded and eventually ceased.

I came out about 3 years ago to a person in her church when he asked me about it. I am not sure how she took it when she was told but I imagine that there was sympathy from her friends and the usual BS I have heard in response to the nonbeliever. She knows that I gave it a try with her and that I can defend my position. I reiterate to her that I am not trying to deconvert her but rather I am trying to get her to understand why I don't believe and perhaps to get her to realize that it's not that I just "don't get it." Which is a response that pisses me off to no end.

I recommend to just show her as much respect as you can and show that you can love her not due to religion at all. That will go a long way. If it comes up, let her initiate it and be as gentile as you see fit. I never give my wife's the full scrutiny I can because my motive is not to deconvert her, but to have a relationship with her.

In the child department, I don't interfere with her bringing them to church. My oldest son (now 8) has already told me that he doesn't buy it at all. I just don't get in the way but I also don't lie to them about how I view religion. Simply not going to church has nurtured several great conversations with my boys as it forces them to see that there are other ways of thinking.

Good luck, if you have anything else you want to talk about, feel free to PM me.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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