Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
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30-09-2013, 02:22 PM
Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
Hello all,

I am brand new to the forum and apart from my introductory post, this is the first real post I've made. Between 2 - 3 years ago I told my wife of nearly 6 years that I was done telling people that I was a believer when in truth I am not. I told her that I felt compelled to be honest with her about the fact that I had not "chosen" atheism; rather it was the only rational stance I could take given the information and evidence that I had available to me. I don't think that "belief" is a switch that can be turned off or on when its convenient. A person must be COMPELLED to actually belief (as opposed to just declaring belief).

I feel that I should provide a little history. My wife and I met online. As it turned out, we are extraordinarily compatible in virtually every other aspect of our lives. She is what I would consider to be non-practicing Catholic / Christian. God and religion was simply never any sort of requisite in our relationship. I would never see her pray except in church or at any meal where her mother was in attendance. Yes, I do attend church with her. Largely due to the fact that I do feel very strongly about morality and ethics and I don't think there is anything wrong with going and listening to a humorous and charismatic speaker talking about things we can do to be a better person. I just put on the "God filter" and listen to the rest of it.

However, things have changed a little recently. Her mother now lives with us (long story) and although I have made my lack of religious belief well known to both her mother and to my wife's daughter (13 years old). She gets extremely uncomfortable when any conversation leans toward religion and she has asked me directly not to speak of my views in front of her daughter. She has also stated (only once) that she felt as though I had lied to her when I told her I was Catholic when I met her (which technically, I was). I guess she is more hurt by my declaration of non-belief than I first recognized. Again, prior to her mother moving in...we have never prayed before a meal, read the bible or watched religious movies / tv at all (even prior to my coming out). I have tried to pique her interest in listening to some "soft" atheism speakers such as Julia Sweeney and whatnot, not in an attempt to deconvert her, but rather just so she can better understand my view.

I love the woman dearly, but I have some anxiety about where this is leading our marriage. I have expressed to her that I will probably start looking for an atheist meetup or something in the Austin area wherein I can talk about my views as well. I have, after-all been going to church with her for years and still do.

Anyone's thoughts? I would love to hear an objective view on the situation. Thank you kindly, and my apologies for the wall of text.

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
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30-09-2013, 04:44 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
You can probably get some good feedback by perusing similar threads around the forum, but I'll give you my :twocents:

First, although joint parenting is ideal even in step-parent situations, it is ultimately up to her to decide how to raise her child. You have to respect that. Most people are okay with the thought of their children being exposed to other beliefs as long as they don't challenge what they want to instill in their children. One compromise may be to present both of your beliefs in any conversation with her daughter. For example, if her kid asks you a question about something that her mother may typically respond to with a religious discussion, you can try to tell her "well, your mother beliefs X, and I believe Y, while some other people believe Z." She may or may not be okay with this. It's something to discuss with her though.

The fact that you still attend church with her is a testament both to your open-mindedness and the church's teachings. Not all churches can present anything worthwhile after the God filter is applied. If you continue this, it will let her know you still respect her beliefs and hopefully she will reciprocate. It probably won't happen overnight, though. This is obviously a major game-changer for her. Give her time and don't push the issue. If it does come up, remain patient and calm and explain yourself as well as possible without insulting her and her beliefs. Hold hands, bow your head, whatever it is that you do during family prayers to show respect for her and her mother. If they're anything like the other Catholic families I've encountered, Mom will quickly place herself in the role of matriarch in your household. Challenging her unnecessarily will most definitely cause problems between you and your wife.

I think branching out and trying to meet like-minded people in your area is an excellent idea. Many of these people have been through similar situations and can help support you during your families transition to your new lack of faith. Maybe hanging out with more atheists can even help your wife get used to the idea of you being atheist.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it- not even if I have said it- unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha
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30-09-2013, 06:36 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
Has your mother in law moved in permanently?

You are going to have to negotiate the whole thing. Sit down with your wife and openly discuss each other's give and take in the matter.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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01-10-2013, 03:09 AM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
What a pickle. If she is a relatively reasonable person, perhaps you could ask her to imagine if the roles were reversed. How would she feel if you were the believer and biological father, and she was the atheist and surrogate mother. If she is honest with herself she would probably say that she would not like having to hide her beliefs (or lack thereof) to 'protect' the girl from ideas which she opposes. Good luck!

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01-10-2013, 12:32 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
I have a very similar situation. I don't really have much advice, but rather, I can say that you're not alone in this issue.

I was Christian when I got married, and stopped believing about three years ago. My wife feels betrayed somewhat, despite me telling her that not only is this something I didn't "choose", but rather, I even fought against it for a couple of years. Sadly, I almost never talk to her about it, because she has mentioned in the past that she's thought about getting divorced, and I'm afraid talking about it will do more harm than good.
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01-10-2013, 01:02 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
(30-09-2013 04:44 PM)Ohio Sky Wrote:  You can probably get some good feedback by perusing similar threads around the forum, but I'll give you my :twocents:

First, although joint parenting is ideal even in step-parent situations, it is ultimately up to her to decide how to raise her child. You have to respect that. Most people are okay with the thought of their children being exposed to other beliefs as long as they don't challenge what they want to instill in their children. One compromise may be to present both of your beliefs in any conversation with her daughter. For example, if her kid asks you a question about something that her mother may typically respond to with a religious discussion, you can try to tell her "well, your mother beliefs X, and I believe Y, while some other people believe Z." She may or may not be okay with this. It's something to discuss with her though.

The fact that you still attend church with her is a testament both to your open-mindedness and the church's teachings. Not all churches can present anything worthwhile after the God filter is applied. If you continue this, it will let her know you still respect her beliefs and hopefully she will reciprocate. It probably won't happen overnight, though. This is obviously a major game-changer for her. Give her time and don't push the issue. If it does come up, remain patient and calm and explain yourself as well as possible without insulting her and her beliefs. Hold hands, bow your head, whatever it is that you do during family prayers to show respect for her and her mother. If they're anything like the other Catholic families I've encountered, Mom will quickly place herself in the role of matriarch in your household. Challenging her unnecessarily will most definitely cause problems between you and your wife.

I think branching out and trying to meet like-minded people in your area is an excellent idea. Many of these people have been through similar situations and can help support you during your families transition to your new lack of faith. Maybe hanging out with more atheists can even help your wife get used to the idea of you being atheist.

Ohio Sky,

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful advice. I have a challenge (opportunity?) in front of me and your kind words will certainly help. I appreciate it.

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
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01-10-2013, 01:04 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
(30-09-2013 06:36 PM)Dom Wrote:  Has your mother in law moved in permanently?

You are going to have to negotiate the whole thing. Sit down with your wife and openly discuss each other's give and take in the matter.

Dom,

I don't think it will be permanent, but that is due to an ancillary reason which has nothing to do with our differing viewpoints on religion and theism. I do however frequently find myself in "negotiation" mode. Thank you for your advice!

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
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01-10-2013, 01:05 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
(01-10-2013 03:09 AM)Dark Light Wrote:  What a pickle. If she is a relatively reasonable person, perhaps you could ask her to imagine if the roles were reversed. How would she feel if you were the believer and biological father, and she was the atheist and surrogate mother. If she is honest with herself she would probably say that she would not like having to hide her beliefs (or lack thereof) to 'protect' the girl from ideas which she opposes. Good luck!

Dark Light,

That's a wonderful idea! I will be sure to try it. Thank you kindly!

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
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01-10-2013, 01:06 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
Quote: Yes, I do attend church with her. Largely due to the fact that I do feel very strongly about morality and ethics

That seems to me a compelling reason to stay away from churches but that's probably just me.

You need to discover if her invisible friend in the sky is more important to her than you. Fantasy versus reality. I don't think you can make that choice for her.

You've given a few cryptic hints about her mother being a source of the trouble. If so, you are better off in the long run putting her in assisted living rather than letting her screw up your marriage.
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01-10-2013, 01:09 PM
RE: Another "married to a believer, what do I do?" post
(01-10-2013 12:32 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  I have a very similar situation. I don't really have much advice, but rather, I can say that you're not alone in this issue.

I was Christian when I got married, and stopped believing about three years ago. My wife feels betrayed somewhat, despite me telling her that not only is this something I didn't "choose", but rather, I even fought against it for a couple of years. Sadly, I almost never talk to her about it, because she has mentioned in the past that she's thought about getting divorced, and I'm afraid talking about it will do more harm than good.

RobbyPants,

I'm thinking I should have thanked each of you in ONE post. LOL. I know exactly how you feel and your description of your situation comes very close to mirroring mine. There has been no mention of divorce as a result of our differences, but the smallest irritant can become a real problem if not dealt with. I truly wish you the best in dealing with the issue and you can always reach out to me as someone you can commiserate with if you like. I appreciate your post.

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
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