How do I handle my religious wife and family?
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22-06-2014, 07:44 AM
How do I handle my religious wife and family?
Hello everyone! I just finished Seth's book "de-converted" and it gave rise to torrents of emotion and disapproval from my wife. She has always fancied herself as religious, despite attending church maybe once a month. She reads one random chapter from her bible every night, and never prays (at least as far as I know). Yet, she has grand plans to raise up our son in the way of God. I, however, told her I would rather teach him how to think, not what to think. Anyway, she is totally closed to any and all discussion on the subject of religion and Christianity. All discussions end with "It is what makes me happiest. Why do you try to take away the joy I feel from church?" and her walking out of the room, usually to mope around for a while. I was religious when we were dating and she says that was one of my most attractive qualities. Now that I have eschewed my old beliefs, it has created a great deal of tension in our marriage. I love her, but she obviously rejects my lifestyle change. This is a great community, and I hope some of you may provide me with some sound advice.
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22-06-2014, 07:53 AM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
Welcome to the forum, sir.

There are many here who have had / are having similar experiences.

I'm sure you'll find some answers.

From what I've read here the softly, softly approach is the only one likely to yield results and I think there is a podcast on the subject somewhere too.

I wish you luck and will let others provide the advice / guidance.

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22-06-2014, 08:25 AM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
It seems as though to came to where you are now, belief-wise, after some time. You wife isn't on that same course and your change is probably something that will take some time for her to deal with. Being married shouldn't mean being in lockstep with each other.

Focus on the things in your relationship that aren't about religion. Let things calm down a while and let her see that you are still the same guy, in most respects.

Good luck, hope you can work things out.

See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF

Ordained Dudeist Priest at Dudeism, the Church of the Latter-Day Dude
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22-06-2014, 08:42 AM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
If this is a recent lifestyle change she may take some time to get used to it. First, don't expect her to come along for the ride. Sometimes a couple will both come to the same conclusion, but as much as you might want the most important person in your life to feel what you are feeling and to know what you are discovering she is her own person on her own path. Think about where you were a few years ago and give her time.

But the main thing you want to give her time to do is not to change her beliefs, but to increase her tolerance of your thinking. The way you do that I think is not to let it dominate your relationship. Show her that in every other way you continue to be the person you were and the person she loves and chose. Let her have the time to reassure herself that she should continue to choose you and that you remain worthy of her. I think the more she gets to be comfortable with you the more she can feel comfortable with your ideas popping up in the mind of your child or children.

When it comes to children there is typically plenty of time to sort through these issues if your children are young. What I would suggest is that over time you see if you can come to some kind of formal or informal consensus of where the boundaries lie between you. Will you as a family observe certain rituals such as grace or prayer or churchgoing? If you as a family want to let go of those traditions it may be better if she is the one who drives that change. Even opting out individually can put unnecessary strain on your relationship. Pick your battles and decide what is important to you. See if you can forge that consensus with a little give and take.

I have been through some of this in the last few years. My wife was a relatively infrequent churchgoer at the start of the process. When I first used the word "atheist" with her she called my sister and said that she would have preferred finding out I was gay. Today she is still.. "spiritual", though eschewing "organised religion". My children are 8 and 5. Religion hasn't been an issue with Mr 5 - he just isn't to the point of probing such questions. Miss 8 is an avowed atheist, though I try to encourage her to keep thinking and to be aware and tolerant of the religious notions of those around her. We attend church on Christmas and Easter, and otherwise keep our weekends free. We still say grace at meal times. Our families are both religious and from time to time take the children to religious events or teach them things they feel the kids should know in that area.

The consensus we built initially mostly consisted of me staying quiet about my atheism. When it came to the children I was free to answer religious pronouncements made by my daughter with "well, not everyone believes that. Some people think x, y, and z". Eventually when my daughter asked point blank what I believed the jig was more or less up and I was free to discuss my ideas in more detail. By the time that happened my wife and i had had a fair chunk of time to reassess and reassure and the tension that would have come about if that was the first thing that had happened was no longer there. Today I can openly mock certain aspects of religion and my wife will smile and nod. She seems comfortable with who I am even if she at least at this stage has no interest in taking any further steps away from faith herself.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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22-06-2014, 04:42 PM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
(22-06-2014 07:44 AM)jmass1337 Wrote:  Hello everyone! I just finished Seth's book "de-converted" and it gave rise to torrents of emotion and disapproval from my wife. She has always fancied herself as religious, despite attending church maybe once a month. She reads one random chapter from her bible every night, and never prays (at least as far as I know). Yet, she has grand plans to raise up our son in the way of God. I, however, told her I would rather teach him how to think, not what to think. Anyway, she is totally closed to any and all discussion on the subject of religion and Christianity. All discussions end with "It is what makes me happiest. Why do you try to take away the joy I feel from church?" and her walking out of the room, usually to mope around for a while. I was religious when we were dating and she says that was one of my most attractive qualities. Now that I have eschewed my old beliefs, it has created a great deal of tension in our marriage. I love her, but she obviously rejects my lifestyle change. This is a great community, and I hope some of you may provide me with some sound advice.

I feel for you; I really do.
My spouse is a steely eyed, rock ribbed, stiff necked, born againer....and my entire family is catholic.
If you ever get or figure out a good answer to your question, please let me know. I've not figured it out yet.

"People don't go to heaven when they die; they're taken to a special room and burned!" Evil_monster
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22-06-2014, 05:22 PM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
How old is your child? I wouldn't battle over what you each are teaching the child. Just teach the child to look for evidence everywhere....in nature, in the everyday things. Teach your child science, just teach every thing. Education in and of itself can do wonders. Also, be sure to share with your child both sides of a coin..... Mom thinks this, and here's why, and I think this, and here's why, and other people think yet something else different.

In the end, the child learns that there are multiple answers to life's questions, and the child will keep the answers for which there is proof. Do not be afraid for the child to learn about religion, for it's only when they learn about it that it's shallowness shows.


As for your wife, approach with tolerance in mind, to remain together you must each be ok with the idea that a person has a freedom of conscience. That we each go thru this life on our own terms, and our beliefs are ours, and ours alone. We each have the right to our thoughts.


Be excellent to each other and party on, Dudes!
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22-06-2014, 06:05 PM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
(22-06-2014 07:44 AM)jmass1337 Wrote:  Hello everyone! I just finished Seth's book "de-converted" and it gave rise to torrents of emotion and disapproval from my wife. She has always fancied herself as religious, despite attending church maybe once a month. She reads one random chapter from her bible every night, and never prays (at least as far as I know). Yet, she has grand plans to raise up our son in the way of God. I, however, told her I would rather teach him how to think, not what to think. Anyway, she is totally closed to any and all discussion on the subject of religion and Christianity. All discussions end with "It is what makes me happiest. Why do you try to take away the joy I feel from church?" and her walking out of the room, usually to mope around for a while. I was religious when we were dating and she says that was one of my most attractive qualities. Now that I have eschewed my old beliefs, it has created a great deal of tension in our marriage. I love her, but she obviously rejects my lifestyle change. This is a great community, and I hope some of you may provide me with some sound advice.

Tell her it is because you love her and your child so much that you don't wish to see her continue to embrace a poor methodology in which to comprehend the world around her, and definitely don't want to hobble your kid with poor reasoning methods, and want the best for them, which requires the ability to think rationally.

On her thought that "why take away faith if it makes me happy"...I've never really understood how removing a bad way to reason will make it difficult to get through your day or make you happy. If anything, it would seem that correcting someone's reasoning would significantly increase their chances of getting through their day.

With reliable forms of reasoning comes the capability of crafting conditions that enable people to navigate life's obstacles. By using a more reliable form of reasoning, people are more capable of bringing about conditions that enable them to flourish.

To argue that people need faith is to abandon hope, and to condescend and accuse the faithful of being incapable of understanding the importance of reason and rationality. There are better and worse ways to come to terms with death, to find strength during times of personal crisis, to make meaning and purpose in our lives, to interpret our sense of awe and wonder, and to contribute to human well-being...and the faithful are completely capable of understanding and achieving this..if they would only try.

I wish you the best....

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” - Christopher Hitchens

"You know the difference between a cult and a religion? In a cult, at the top is a guy who knows it is all BS, and in a religion that guy is dead". Dusty.
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22-06-2014, 07:08 PM (This post was last modified: 22-06-2014 08:55 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
(22-06-2014 04:42 PM)RaisdCath Wrote:  I feel for you; I really do.
My spouse is a steely eyed, rock ribbed, stiff necked, born againer....and my entire family is catholic.
If you ever get or figure out a good answer to your question, please let me know. I've not figured it out yet.

This atheist married a good Catholic schoolgirl going on some 3 decades ago now. Her entire Catholic family objected to our union. To the Church's credit, the Catholic Church was more accommodating and as long as we went to Catholic premarital counseling for a few hours and this atheist promised not to interfere with the Catholic indoctrination of any offspring was all the Church required for this atheist to be married to a good Catholic girl in front of a Priest in a Catholic Church. ... Her family don't fuck with me no more 'cause they are all divorced and Girly and Manly ain't. "Your Catholic marriage vows don't seem to have held up as well as those between this atheist and your Catholic sister. What you make of that?"

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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24-06-2014, 10:04 AM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
Any changes in a partner can be frightening to the other. You need to get her to express what is really troubling her.
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24-06-2014, 10:15 AM
RE: How do I handle my religious wife and family?
Sorry to hear what you're going through.

I took a long, slow approach to coming out atheist to my wife. We already disagreed on religion when we got married (she's Catholic, I was evangelical Protestant). You don't need to hear the whole story because it doesn't apply to your situation. Nonetheless, here's my advice:

Continue to show that you intend to instill proper values in your children. You want them to know right from wrong. You want them to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You want them to not lie, cheat, steal, etc. Do what the religious do: Cherry pick the Bible for those bits that really ARE valuable. Show them why it's a good thing to love thy neighbor. Show them why it's a good thing to turn the other cheek (and be honest: sometimes that is NOT a good idea!). Show them why forgiving each other can be a good thing (the vast majority of the time).

In other words, don't be "anti." Focus on what you want your children to cherish, not on what you have chosen to eschew.

(By the nature of a forum post, I've oversimplified my comments. Adjust, amend, expand and discard, as needed).

Religion is proof that invisible men can obscure your vision.
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