I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
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06-09-2016, 11:38 AM
I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
I'm not sure where to start, but I guess I'll give some background. I was a fairly hardcore Catholic when I was younger. I was actually an employed Youth Minister at one point. My wife and I met during this phase and got married as Catholics. We have two young kids who attend Catholic schools and have been brought up to believe in God.

About 7-8 years ago I started to have doubts. My conversion was a long process (which seems normal,) but I have been a full-blown atheist for about 4 years now. I never told my wife anything. For many of those years I told myself that I’d just fake it. But as time went on, my enthusiasm for faking it kinda fell away.

About 2 years ago we (mostly her) had been dealing with a bad situation at the local church. 99% of the people I know who are involved with the Church are genuinely good and decent people, but a new priest came in who was definitely part of that 1%. We literally caught him stealing money from the poor box (among other things,) and our attempts to hold him accountable through the church hierarchy were disappointing to say the least.

The reason why I mention this is because my wife probably assumed that this incident is why I had become much less enthusiastic about my faith. I know this incident really hurt her faith in the church as well. But a few weeks ago she straight up asked me if I still believed in God. She wasn’t expecting the answer I gave her.

Needless to say it absolutely crushed her. The only time I’ve seen her sob more was when a close family member died. And who could blame her? If the roles were reversed I would have felt the same way. She married me believing that I was and always would be a Catholic. I vowed to her that I would raise our kids in the Catholic Faith. She also loves me a great deal, and the though that I might not be with her in heaven is crushing.

So far things have gone about as good as could be expected, but that’s not to say things are great. Thankfully, when I straight up asked her if she wanted to divorce me, she took offense to that. She is committed to me and I am committed to her, and we are both committed to staying together for our kids. Divorce was by far my biggest fear in coming out to her. She obviously still loves me and cares for me. I don’t think this is going to seriously harm our relationship. We have a very strong relationship.

Since I’ve come out to her she seems to have doubled down on Jesus. She wakes up every day and prays a rosary. And for the first time in her life she is starting to listen to Christian Radio all the time, which honestly annoys the crap out of me, lol. It really bums me out that she has gone this way, because the farther she goes, the harder this is going to be for the both of us.

I don’t exactly know how to proceed from here. She is upset with me that I kept all this hidden from her for so long. She is probably right to be. But at the same time it is pretty clear that she doesn’t want me to go into detail about what I’ve learned either. There is so many things I want to share with her now, but I can tell she isn’t interested in looking at God objectively. I feel like if I’m honest with her it is only going to push us apart. I also understand that if she ever does “convert,” it will also be a process of many years. And it will have to be a process she initiates on her own. So why bother trying to win her over?

I also don’t know how to deal with the kids. Neither does she. When I got married I vowed to my wife that I’d raise them in the Catholic Church. She decided to marry me and start a family with me based on that understanding. I feel morally obligated to stay true to my word. At the same time I feel morally obligated to not teach my kids something I don’t believe in. And if I do, how will they react? How will they react in their Catholic school? How could that not cause a huge rift in my wife and I’s relationship?

My wife is the only person who knows at this point, and at the moment I don’t feel compelled to tell anyone else. I don’t think it would end well with some family and friends. And I'm just not ready to deal with that.

So I don’t know if I have any specific questions. But any advice would really be appreciated. More than anything I just needed to vent. I suppose I should feel fortunate that my marriage isn't falling apart. But I still feel concerned about the future and a bit unsure about how to proceed. And I'm honestly really sad that this makes my wife so sad. She is a fantastic person and the last thing I want is for her to suffer.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this rambling nonsense. :-)
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06-09-2016, 11:50 AM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
Hug
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06-09-2016, 11:54 AM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
I read it but I don't think it is rambling nonsense.

I can understand how you are feeling in this position and it is kind of complicated. I think I personally wouldn't make it a secret if it were me and my children. Yes a promise is a promise, but lieing to my children, I don't think I would do it. Nothing has to be forced, just being honest when they say or ask things should be enough. They will start understanding your position and they will have the chance to make up their own minds. But that is just my opinion. I understand that it is not that simple... sadly

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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06-09-2016, 12:01 PM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
I think you should stay true to your word. However, that doesn't mean that you can't also give your kids the necessary tools (e.g. critical thinking and analysis skills) to evaluate the truth and falsehood of claims for themselves or tell them what you think.

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06-09-2016, 12:12 PM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
Honoring your word is a good thing. So is answering their questions honestly. If you children learn that you're an atheist, they will naturally wonder why.
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06-09-2016, 12:18 PM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
Excellent advice from Vosur Smile
You are in the very beginnings of a complicated process. As a parent, your goals are to be your wife's ally in all things, and SHE needs to be yours as well. This is not an impossible task but it will take some work to hash it all out. You need to do as Vosur stated above, with your wife's support. She needs your support in the religious education as well. The children will find their way, and it may surprise you what that means.
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06-09-2016, 12:21 PM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
Glad you are here, GEAUX - you might want to post an introduction - for shits & giggles. Welcome to the forum. Smile
***

I think just being an honest and a loving partner will help your spouse figure out that the relationship isn't really much different. She might see it as you two growing apart but in reality, your relationship is expanding to include the individual growth of each other. Stress that kind of togetherness.

As for your children, they might eventually inquire about your belief or lack thereof. You might preface any answers with the notion that as knowledge develops, people alter their beliefs and it's perfectly ok to do so. You might also include the casual, " ...some people believe this, while others believe that ..." in everyday conversation. As always, honesty is always the best policy.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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06-09-2016, 12:31 PM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
I feel for you, brother. There is no easy path ahead of you- successful, perhaps, but not easy.

Your wife, as you well know, uses religion for exactly what we created it for- comfort and support, particularly when confronted by the unknown. (Mostly death, these days) I imagine she also uses it to make friends and find a husband, etc, due to having a shared experience that is so, to them, profound.

So you leaving that comfort system is HUGE. It's something she can't even process- she may think she does, but I guarantee her christian radio programs and extra praying and rosary rattling (sorry) are all attempts to lead you back into the fold, by example or osmosis or whatever works...which means she does NOT understand or accept your new position. She looks at it like a case of the flu...with proper care you will get over it.

I'm afraid that if she ever DOES accept it, really accept that you are gone from the church, that your marriage will be in severe jeopardy. Denial is sort of working in your favor at the moment. You have a very difficult road ahead, if she is as dedicated to the church as you believe her to be- and as it sounds like she is by your description.

My wife is an atheist too, but when we married she was agnostic, and I think if she had married a religious man, she might have tipped in that direction. She was rather precariously balanced, in my opinion.

When we began raising our kids, we talked to them about God, pros and cons, we talked to them about the different belief systems out there, we read with them about various religions. As they got older they would ask about specific religions or belief systems they heard about, and we would research them together.

We made it fun, not like a life and death discussion of the End Times. The kids looked forward to it- as did we. My wife slowly converted to pure atheism as we read the histories of religion as well as learned about the size and nature of the universe, but we worked hard to give each side equal time. The kids (3, 2 girls and 1 boy) knew I was an atheist, and that Mom was an agnostic. She spoke to them about her feelings and thoughts as she converted or slid into atheism. (it's not really a conversion)

The kids all tried church, various religions, with their friends. We fully supported that. I thought for awhile my oldest was going to convert to Judaism, but it turns out there was a boy...Cool I was almost disappointed...Judaism makes more sense to me than most other religions (not the hard core orthodox stuff ) and I thought it would be interesting.

Our marriage got even healthier as we studied and discussed religion as a family, and now- my kids are all grown, my youngest in her 2nd year of college- we are all atheist except my oldest, who decided she needed more information so settled into a comfy agnosticism.

You could certainly try something similar, but I'm afraid your wife, from your description, would not participate. Not in a healthy and useful way, at any rate.
You are yanking on her security blanket, not only for herself but for you and the kids and relatives and friends, and life everlasting at the right hand of GOD...!

I don't envy you your journey, my friend. I wish you luck and offer my friendship and whatever assistance I might provide, but it's really in your hands.

It sounds like you already know everything I would suggest, you are obviously an intelligent and caring person. But I'm certainly here if you need me!
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06-09-2016, 02:24 PM
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
(06-09-2016 12:21 PM)kim Wrote:  Glad you are here, GEAUX - you might want to post an introduction - for shits & giggles. Welcome to the forum. Smile
***

I think just being an honest and a loving partner will help your spouse figure out that the relationship isn't really much different. She might see it as you two growing apart but in reality, your relationship is expanding to include the individual growth of each other. Stress that kind of togetherness.

As for your children, they might eventually inquire about your belief or lack thereof. You might preface any answers with the notion that as knowledge develops, people alter their beliefs and it's perfectly ok to do so. You might also include the casual, " ...some people believe this, while others believe that ..." in everyday conversation. As always, honesty is always the best policy.

"I think just being an honest and a loving partner will help your spouse figure out that the relationship isn't really much different. She might see it as you two growing apart but in reality, your relationship is expanding to include the individual growth of each other. Stress that kind of togetherness."

I like this. Thanks.
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06-09-2016, 02:31 PM (This post was last modified: 06-09-2016 02:37 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: I recently told my wife I’m an Atheist. I need to vent.
My wife, her entire family and friends, my family and all my friends, the Catholic Church, the Priest who married us and his Bishop all knew about my atheism prior to be being married in a Catholic Church in front of a Priest. Her family said it'll never last. 30 years later they're all divorced. Girly and Manly still going strong. Never been an issue for us. Only thing I had to agree to was to not interfere with a Catholic baptism or upbringing for any offspring. No biggie. I found their baptism ritual fascinating. And they are all fine young atheist adults now. 'Cause Girly don't spawn stupid. Big Grin

#sigh
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