Explaining atheism within a relationship
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
17-02-2012, 11:19 AM
Explaining atheism within a relationship
I have been an atheist for a couple decades. I've just never really talked about it with anyone until finding a couple of atheists on-line communities recently. I've never discussed religion with friends, many of whom are quite religious. I also have a feeling they may know my beliefs and we are all simply polite about it. I don't post anything on facebook. Essentially I've been a closet atheist.

I have become a bit more assertive in my atheism recently and subscribed to a couple publications. When I got some junk mail for an atheism march, my wife completely went off the deep end on me the other night. She railed at me about how could I do things that allowed that type of stuff to come in the mail and why do I need to be AGAINST someone else's beliefs. Why can't I just let others be. We haven't spoken for 6 days other than the bare minimum after that row. Yes, we need to open up our communication on the subject that is obvious but I want to make sure I am doing so in the right manner.

My wife has always known that I don't believe in god. It was never a secret. She is probably more of a deist than anything else (no church, doesn't believe the bible or koran or whatever should be taken literally but thinks that there is something out there).

It is apparent to me that while she was aware of my beliefs, having it in her face along with the term "atheism" went too far in her eyes. I think she equates it to me having porn sent to our home that our children could see or perhaps some other hate group. I imagine it is all due to some stigmata regarding the term atheists and we all eat babies, have no morals and have sex with animals. I am sure that if I got some religious flyer in the mail there would be zero issue.

My ask to the group is how do you overcome the negative connotation of the term atheist and how do you reach a common ground with someone as to why we shouldn't just keep our thoughts to ourselves? I realize now that as a couple this river needs to be crossed one way or the other and I should have done it a long time ago. Why should I be anti-theist vs just atheist? Does anyone have any experiences in communicating this to a loved one that could help me broach this gash in our relationship?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes devilsadvoc8's post
17-02-2012, 11:43 AM
RE: Explaining atheism within a relationship
First off, I'm sorry to hear it's caused such a division. It sounds like you're right, that maybe she does have some misconceptions about what an atheist really is. And I agree that you do need to talk it out.

I would start by finding out what she thinks an atheist is. When I first met my wife and we started dating, I was the religious one and she was the atheist. My deconversion was a long process, and one that she was not solely responsible for. But her input had some impact on where I stand now. She was not forceful, and I would have been very resistant had she been. Instead she asked me what atheism meant to me. And we had some talks about religion and lack of religion- we talked about morals, purpose of life, the need for faith, Biblical contradictions, theology, etc. All of this over a period of years, not all at once. But first I had to be comfortable with the term "atheist" and that took a long time for me. Don't push her more than she's comfortable, but I finding out what she thinks it means is the only way you can really help her start to change what she thinks it means.

You probably need to be direct, but not forceful. Be honest also... it probably would have been easier on her if you had this sort of talk before she discovered the flyer. Once she tells you what it means to her, tell her what it means to you. Show her that you're not some "monster" and that being an atheist doesn't make people monsters.

As for why you should be anti-theist... well my opinion on that is that you should be what you think you should be. I personally see harm done by religion throughout history and today I see the fervor and hatred it drives. Religion is responsible for driving knowledge and science into the ground in many ways throughout history. The giving to the poor can be accomplished without the church. And without the church, I think you'd see more people stepping up in secular ways to help the poor even more than people already do in the secular world. That doesn't mean you have to feel the same way- that's all up to you. But I'd being by talking all of that out with your wife. Include her in your learning and discovery of just what exactly you believe and what it means to you. I'm continuously learning more and I'm very grateful that my wife is here to be included as I learn more too.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes kineo's post
19-02-2012, 12:29 AM
RE: Explaining atheism within a relationship
Since you're new to atheism, you're probably not familiar with this poll, although many of us know about it because it has been discussed in popular atheist books. We know that atheists are distrusted, and I know from personal experience of being an atheist in a Christian family and society that saying "I'm an atheist" is about the same as saying "I'm a child molester" in terms of how your peers will view you. Even gays get more respect than we do because their community has worked harder and longer at getting that respect.

We're working on gaining acceptance and respect too, and "coming out" is the best way to remove discrimination. It isn't easy, though, and if there is personal risk involved (such as your marriage) it may not be a bad idea to go back into the closet. We'd rather that you didn't do this (for all of our sakes!) but we don't want to see you resent atheism for causing you harm, either.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
19-02-2012, 12:50 AM
RE: Explaining atheism within a relationship
Mmmm. You start wrong. You should have had some animal porn delevered to your house first then after a while declaring "just teasing... I'm only an atheist". She would have been relieved.

But seriously folks, Kineo has it right; you need to find out what she thinks it is all about.

A possible start point would be her Deism... if she is not already aware of it, highlight some early Deist ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...UEqHGbh0wI ) views and explain why the USA is a secular nation (you have not stated your location so I am guessing you are a yank... apologies if I got that wrong) and that this is the view you hold... same as Madison, Washington, Jefferson etc etc
... and you are proud to hold those views.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes DLJ's post
22-02-2012, 11:19 PM
RE: Explaining atheism within a relationship
(19-02-2012 12:50 AM)DLJ Wrote:  A possible start point would be her Deism... if she is not already aware of it, highlight some early Deist ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...UEqHGbh0wI ) views and explain why the USA is a secular nation (you have not stated your location so I am guessing you are a yank... apologies if I got that wrong) and that this is the view you hold... same as Madison, Washington, Jefferson etc etc
... and you are proud to hold those views.

I disagree that starting with the founding of the United States and patriotic sentiments is the right way to beat about this particular bush. I think it would be a bit more important to try to get into why this affected you both emotionally, what she needs from you, and what you need from her. A dash of honesty and humility goes a long way with these sorts of rows, I think, but how you approach it depends on who you both are and your relationship so far (of which at least I know nothing). This really isn't about whether or not we live in a free country, it's about how we get along with each other.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-02-2012, 12:14 AM
RE: Explaining atheism within a relationship
(22-02-2012 11:19 PM)rook2004 Wrote:  
(19-02-2012 12:50 AM)DLJ Wrote:  A possible start point would be her Deism... if she is not already aware of it, highlight some early Deist ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...UEqHGbh0wI ) views and explain why the USA is a secular nation (you have not stated your location so I am guessing you are a yank... apologies if I got that wrong) and that this is the view you hold... same as Madison, Washington, Jefferson etc etc
... and you are proud to hold those views.

I disagree that starting with the founding of the United States and patriotic sentiments is the right way to beat about this particular bush. I think it would be a bit more important to try to get into why this affected you both emotionally, what she needs from you, and what you need from her. A dash of honesty and humility goes a long way with these sorts of rows, I think, but how you approach it depends on who you both are and your relationship so far (of which at least I know nothing). This really isn't about whether or not we live in a free country, it's about how we get along with each other.

I was suggesting it as a possible way to show that there may be common ground.

Here's a different approach... beat her repeatedly with the Jefferson bible. Chapter 4 of the Quran sanctions wife-beating so you'll have Sharia Law to support you.
Thus you will have demonstrated the moral superiority of Theism over Atheism.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes DLJ's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: