Southern loneliness
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08-04-2015, 11:14 AM (This post was last modified: 08-04-2015 11:18 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Southern loneliness
(08-04-2015 10:45 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  In this context, wouldn't attending church be seen as another concession? What effect would that have on the balance of the relationship? The more unequal the relationship, the more difficulty in maintaining it, generally.

But that assumes his disbelief and her belief, are aspects of equal weight on the scale. Which might be true, if he was someone who subscribed significance to his disbelief, rather than just being a man who lacks beliefs because he is unable to find any reason to believe.

His wife's religious beliefs are something of importance and significance to her, and unless he ascribed as much importance and significance to his disbelief, as he might if he were jewish, or muslim, I don't think balance applies the same way.Of course this would be different if he views his atheism, as certain atheists might, where religion is seen as some corrupting and harmful force, like nazism, which any loving father would try his hardest to keep his children far and removed from it. But from what I can gather from the OP, he seems to be an apatheist.

If we truly live in a world of no real meaning of significance, a life of sound and fury signifying nothing, if his wife believes in some fairytale that let's her believe life is more than that, I see very little reason for why anyone would want to undermine this for her. He already plays the supportive husband here, why not just a mile more, not to confirm her beliefs, but to be supportive of that thing she finds meaningful and rewarding.

This was sort of my relationship to religion, when I wasn't a believer. I remember writing this some years ago, in regards to my mother:

"As a single mother with three kids, in a country that’s not her own, my ma found warmth in a chapel. My mother believes in miracles and celestial rewards for life long suffering; they provide her hope and happiness. And if I have to slip a blue pill into her morning chai for the rest of her life, I will. "
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08-04-2015, 11:29 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
I read this somewhere else too, but the idea is that you don't have to do everything together as a couple and that it is a good thing to have your own separate activities. If going to church is important to her, that can be her "alone time" for a separate activity.

http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-10-secre...les/000687

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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08-04-2015, 11:43 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
(08-04-2015 11:14 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(08-04-2015 10:45 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  In this context, wouldn't attending church be seen as another concession? What effect would that have on the balance of the relationship? The more unequal the relationship, the more difficulty in maintaining it, generally.

But that assumes his disbelief and her belief, are aspects of equal weight on the scale. Which might be true, if he was someone who subscribed significance to his disbelief, rather than just being a man who lacks beliefs because he is unable to find any reason to believe.

His wife's religious beliefs are something of importance and significance to her, and unless he ascribed as much importance and significance to his disbelief, as he might if he were jewish, or muslim, I don't think balance applies the same way.Of course this would be different if he views his atheism, as certain atheists might, where religion is seen as some corrupting and harmful force, like nazism, which any loving father would try his hardest to keep his children far and removed from it. But from what I can gather from the OP, he seems to be an apatheist.

If we truly live in a world of no real meaning of significance, a life of sound and fury signifying nothing, if his wife believes in some fairytale that let's her believe life is more than that, I see very little reason for why anyone would want to undermine this for her. He already plays the supportive husband here, why not just a mile more, not to confirm her beliefs, but to be supportive of that thing she finds meaningful and rewarding.

This was sort of my relationship to religion, when I wasn't a believer. I remember writing this some years ago, in regards to my mother:

"As a single mother with three kids, in a country that’s not her own, my ma found warmth in a chapel. My mother believes in miracles and celestial rewards for life long suffering; they provide her hope and happiness. And if I have to slip a blue pill into her morning chai for the rest of her life, I will. "

My point was not the relative significance of the belief, or lack thereof; it's the point that he has already agreed to an imbalance in the relationship based on the fact that he must remain silent about his atheism to his own children. To underscore that silence by attending church simply to appease his wife who has already gotten what she want simply imbalances the relationship further.

I wouldn't want any part of a relationship where I was unable to be myself. I understand wanting to keep the marriage going for several different reason, but at what price?
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08-04-2015, 12:35 PM
RE: Southern loneliness
(08-04-2015 11:43 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  My point was not the relative significance of the belief, or lack thereof; it's the point that he has already agreed to an imbalance in the relationship based on the fact that he must remain silent about his atheism to his own children.

But atheism is not a belief, it's a lack of belief. His wife believes, while he has a hard time believing. So what would not being silent entail? His freedom to tell his children that he doesn't believe what they are being taught in church, nor what their mother believes? That he thinks their beliefs are a bunch of gibberish, non-sense fairy-tales, derived from a bunch of iron age goat herders?

Why is the idea of not being silent, given any value here? I don't particularly understand this, particularly when the end result will only be divisive.

Quote:To underscore that silence by attending church simply to appease his wife who has already gotten what she want simply imbalances the relationship further.

It doesn't appear that his atheism matters as much to jeopardize their relationship, which he seems to value far more than his disbelief. While for her, her beliefs seems to matter more than her relationship. If she had to choose between the two, her choice would likely be different than his. But if he does one day value his atheism more so than his relationship, than I think we'd be looking at a different picture here, with a different set of answers.

Quote:I wouldn't want any part of a relationship where I was unable to be myself. I understand wanting to keep the marriage going for several different reason, but at what price?

Well, it would be more than being yourself. Because his wife does accept his atheism. So perhaps you mean, you wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a religious person in which you couldn't express to her why her beliefs are bullshit? Or why you think her beliefs are imaginary, false, etc..?
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08-04-2015, 07:55 PM
RE: Southern loneliness
(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(08-04-2015 11:43 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  My point was not the relative significance of the belief, or lack thereof; it's the point that he has already agreed to an imbalance in the relationship based on the fact that he must remain silent about his atheism to his own children.

But atheism is not a belief, it's a lack of belief.

Hence my qualifier "or lack thereof".

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  His wife believes, while he has a hard time believing. So what would not being silent entail? His freedom to tell his children that he doesn't believe what they are being taught in church, nor what their mother believes? That he thinks their beliefs are a bunch of gibberish, non-sense fairy-tales, derived from a bunch of iron age goat herders?

If that's what he thinks, sure. Don't you think that a father has the equal right to influence the mental, emotional, and spiritual development of their children as much as the mother? Why or why not? Be specific. Tell me why a man should bite his tongue about a worldview to the children whose upbringing is his duty.

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Why is the idea of not being silent, given any value here? I don't particularly understand this, particularly when the end result will only be divisive.

Clearly, you value tranquility more than honesty, which is great if that works for you.

I value honesty, and I would not dream of not imparting my take on things to my children, especially when I'm working to save them from unevidenced horseshit being shoved down their throat.

your mileage seems to vary; I hope that works out for you.

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  It doesn't appear that his atheism matters as much to jeopardize their relationship, which he seems to value far more than his disbelief.

And that's fine; I offered my opinion, based on my values. He's free to take or ignore it as he sees fit, with no harm nor foul done.

I find it interesting that you seem to be more troubled that he, though.

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  While for her, her beliefs seems to matter more than her relationship. If she had to choose between the two, her choice would likely be different than his.

And in that context, how do you think his going to church will resonate? What will be ticking in her mind when he shows up to church, cap in hand, kneeling, even as she knows he's not being true to his own beliefs? Do you think that will encourage her to be more accepting of him for who he is, rather than who she wants him to be?

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  But if he does one day value his atheism more so than his relationship, than I think we'd be looking at a different picture here, with a different set of answers.

It's not a matter of "valuing his atheism more so than his relationship" -- you clearly don't understand my point, or are actively misrepresenting it. I've already made it clear, but will say it one more time for your benefit: I am not talking about the valuation of beliefs, but relationship dynamics. Please do not misrepresent this point of mine again.

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Well, it would be more than being yourself. Because his wife does accept his atheism.

So long as he is absolutely quiet about it and doesn't mention word of it to, you know, his own children.

That's not really a fair arrangement unless she abstains from discussing her own perspective on the matter, don't you agree? Why or why not? Be specific.

(08-04-2015 12:35 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  So perhaps you mean, you wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a religious person in which you couldn't express to her why her beliefs are bullshit? Or why you think her beliefs are imaginary, false, etc..?

No, that's not the case at all. This is about the wife being able to program the children and the husband not being able to present his own views simply because the wife does not approve them. Such an arrangement is clearly biased to the wife's views, and gives her inordinate say on an important part of the upbringing of the children.

Perhaps you should read closer, as I am writing exactly what I mean in plain English. Imputing positions to me which I do not hold is not really appreciated.
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09-04-2015, 08:58 PM
RE: Southern loneliness
Ok. I haven't checked back into this thread for a couple of days and I see some lively discussions have transpired. Some very salient and valid points made. I do feel I would like to offer some additional perspective to my situation. First allow me to say that I by no means think that the way I've handled my situation is the only 'right' way. Other people with differing personalities would obviously approach a similar situation very differently. And that's fine.

Secondly, I'm no Hitchens. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not a writer by trade. For me to attempt to accurately convey and capture the intricacies of something as complex as a marriage, for me is almost an impossibility. There are layers to a human interaction and relationships that I just lack the writing skill to succinctly describe in a few paragraphs within a forum.

Starting off, I guess on some level I can't help but feel sorry for my wife. And I'm sure she has her own side of the story about how my lack of belief affects her. For example, we were Christians when we met and married 17 years ago in a church, by a preacher under the watchful eyes of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...amen. After all it was I who changed several years back. I changed the dynamic of the relationship. I did that...Not her. But in my defense, it's not like I work up one morning and said "gee I think I'll become an atheist today". Quite the opposite, It was an arduous and mentally tormenting process at times. Culminating in a sense of liberation when I finally stop trying to make myself believe.

When I came out to my wife and kids I unequivocally told them exactly how I felt about Christianity and the asinine assertions it makes which are totally unsubstantiated by any credible evidence. They know my position on religion and Christianity. That is one concession I was not willing to make. Whenever I did finally muster up the courage to come out to them, that WAS me taking a stand, saying to them 'I don't believe in this stuff, and I will NOT pretend that I do any longer'. I had no idea what would happen after that. Would my wife instantly divorce me? Would she say she was an atheist too? I just didn't know what the heck to expect.

My wife immediately informed me that she still wishes to believe. That Christianity is a part of her, and she has no interest in letting it go. Just playing devils advocate here, personally I think I know why my wife doesn't wish to question her faith. It's because of two things that religion offer her.

First, is the sense of community. She is an extrovert by nature, much more naturally social and outgoing than myself. She would not function well going against the prevailing Christian cultural doctrines in which we live. Hell, I'm an introvert by nature, and I have my struggles with it.

Also, a big part of her attraction to religion (I'm surmising) is the post-mortem promises
Christianity makes. Whenever she lost her both her parents, at a fairly young age, that was a very very devastating and a tragic ordeal for her to say the least. Religion makes the promise to her that she WILL get to see her deceased parents again in an 'afterlife'. This gives her hope and comfort, even if I think it's bullshit, it still something she feels compelled to cling to. In my opinion its manipulation on the part of religion and its a disgusting tactic that religions use. But that doesn't mean that it's not effective. I've question her directly about that and her response was 'I just have to believe'.

I've tried to take an evidence based, rational approach with her in the beginning. It failed. She is not an apologist and actually knows next to nothing beyond the Sunday morning, feel good, clap your hands, messages she receives from the weekly service. She not interested in defending her faith. She doesn't wish to argue about it either. I'm FAR more knowledgeable than her on religion in general. Especially after several years of submerging myself into the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Barker ect ect ect.... Also I know people rarely get argued out of religion, because they don't get argued into religion in the first place. Honestly, I think Payne sums it up best whenever he said "to argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like trying to administer medicine to the dead".

So after some months of my questioning her religion and beliefs on a consistent basis. Ex: whenever they would go to church on Sunday's (depending on my mood) I may have some snarky comment to make. (when I first came out I felt very angry with religion, I felt betrayed, and I expressed this anger and contempt I felt). Eventually ...my wife came to me and told me to please cease and desist with the criticisms and ridicule of her religion. She has no interest in giving up her faith, nor does she wish to be made to feel as if she has to defend herself or apologize for her beliefs.

So it was at that time, we drafted up a truce of sorts if you will. In effect saying, I would not run around espousing my atheism to them, and they in turn would never proselytize Christianity to me, nor would they maintain any expectation in my attending church. They would not ever ask or expect me to participate in church or matters of faith again. So we agreed for the sake of our otherwise good marriage.

In a nutshell ......'you are free to disbelieve if you wish, now please allow us to continue to believe as we wish.' Ok fine. However, this has effectively shut off my outlet for venting my frustrations with religion. Is it hard for me to live like that at times. Heck yeah! But do keep in mind my wife and I do have other area of common interest and things we adore about one another aside from the religious obstacle. We have other interest outside of religion that helps to sustain our marriage. On some level I think we both try and accentuate the common interest areas and downplay our religious differences. However, that said, from time to time, invariably religion will rear its ugly head into our relationship and create strife and volatility on a grand scale.

Now the matter of the kids. I actually bear some responsibility in helping to indoctrinate my kids into Christianity back when I was a believing Christian. Years of indoctrination by parents and the community will not be undone overnight. Initially our kids were raised in the faith with my consent and encouragement. Of course now I regret that, but I cannot change the past. Bottom line is the kids are currently Christians, their mother is a Christian, all their friends are Christian, the entire town is Christian.....You get the picture. So it's not like the kids are in ANY way being forced by their mother to do religious activities they don't want to do. The kids want to do that stuff cause all there friends are doing it and it's fun to them. One concession I explicitly did not make and will never make was that if, at any time, the kids did not want to go to church that it was NOT permissible for her to force them. I stand by that to this day.

So if I crusade around my house hounding and deriding the other members of my family for believing in the absurdities of Christianity. What would likely be the result? Probably eventually a divorce. I'm sure that in this particular area I live, given my non-belief (the A word) my wife would get pretty much fully custody rights to the kids. Then I would have almost ZERO influence over them. As it stands now, Im still able to have some influence over both my wife and kids with regards to religion. (Albeit minimal I'm sure). Now a days I just have to use a little more guile and cunning when trying to subvert religion. I can't be a fire brand and in your face about it.

For example around the house I freely promote and foster as nurturing environment as I can for generalized skepticism and science. I've sat down and watched the new Neil de'Grasse Tyson "Cosmos" series with some of my kids. Had I not made some concession earlier on, that kind of exposure to that information would not have happened for my kids. I also take them to places like the fossil museum. Ive even smuggled in a copy of Dawkins "Magic of Reality" book into my youngest kids room. My wife doesn't follow debates or atheism or anything of that nature so she has not a clue who Dawkins is. My point is, I'm still around them, and I'm doing whatever I have to in order to stick around and maintain some influence over my kids and wife. Will it work. I have no idea, but I have to try.

Now on to my decision to not attend church any more. I may not run around proclaiming the fatuousness of Christianity very often with my words. However, this is one case in where I'm banking on my actions speaking louder than my words. Without my ever having to say one word, my kids now see me not attending church, and this is a direct rejection of that belief system. I would hope that as my kids grow up, that if ever they do find themselves not buying into the bullshit that is Christianity any more, then they KNOW they will have me as an ally and support person. I've still tried to impress upon them, and I even tell them occasionally that if ever they come to a point in their life where they are questioning religion, then that is OK! You are free to disbelieve should you choose to, nothing is wrong with that, and you are not a bad person for choosing to follow that path. On the flip side, If they chose to continue to believe, then I've told them I will still continue to love them just the same.

Hope that offers some additional insight into my situation. Its actually very complicated for me try and navigate this predicament I'm in. My opinions and attitudes are subject to change. It's not easy, I wouldn't wish this on an enemy.
If ever given the option, my advice would be to never knowingly marry someone of different faith than yourself. Can a relationship work between an atheist and a Christian. I'd like to think yes it can, but it will require more work than a 'normal' marriage. I'd like to again thank all who took the time to respond. I'm really enjoying this forum site so far. I wish I would've discovered the years ago! This was fun and even a bit cathartic for me to write this.
I'm still attempting to find and blaze my path, now armed with this provocative new world view. A world view that embraces science, skepticism, and rationality and eschews superstition and supernatural. What the future holds for me I cannot know.
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09-04-2015, 09:11 PM
RE: Southern loneliness
(08-04-2015 01:33 AM)Toney Wrote:  Go Here:
Join us for Open Secular Day!
Atheist Society of Knoxville (ASK)
Thursday, April 23, 2015
6:00 PM
Copper Cellar
7316 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919

I think the wife and I will go. My name's Toney. We're just north of Oak Ridge. Maybe we'll see you there?

Thank you for the invite, I might have to give it a look see.
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29-06-2015, 10:11 PM
RE: Southern loneliness
I can totally relate dude. I just recently came out as an atheist. I would not keep quiet about religion around your kids. Alot of us including myself took so long to leave religion because of indoctrination as children. I just recently told my wife and she did alot of crying that night. Now her and my kids goto church but I no longer go because everytime I went I felt like I was being lied too and I can not stand that. I do ask my kids what did they do in church so I can keep up what they are being taught. As I said earlier you are not alone I know I can totally relate.
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30-06-2015, 05:55 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
It sounds like you're in a tough position. I'm lucky to live in a region where people don't ask me about my religion at all, and I married another atheist.

My idea would be to use this site for venting and friendship with other atheists, but find other areas to be sociable IRL, like joining an athletic group of some kind or a music group or a chess club, etc., something where the focus is not on religion. If asked, in these groups, where you go to church, maybe name your wife's church; the goal in that case is to shut the conversation down rather than prolonging it, so that you and the other person can explore developing a friendship through your common interests. Is it bad to base a friendship on a side-step to such a question? Not in my opinion, because "where do you go to church" is not truly a question, it's a sales gambit that leads quickly to an artificial script. Saying "nowhere" turns you from a potential friend into a prospect.

I do think your current compromise with your wife is reasonable, since it sounds as though things need to cool down in this area. Eventually discussing philosophy/religion might be possible again, maybe at a point when you feel as though you want to share the positives of your POV rather than attack the negatives of Christianity. Even though Christianity has an overwhelming set of negatives, attacking them is often interpreted as attacking the Christian rather than the religion, so it can hurt feelings.

At some point, maybe you can start going with your family to church events that are not services, like barbecues, etc.

IMO, the more content and visibly happy you are over time, the more likely your wife and kids will be to find that your ideas are worth considering. That's a process that may take years, though--and even after exploring atheism in depth, they may still choose religion. Becoming distanced enough to question in itself is good.
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30-06-2015, 06:05 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
The thing is -- there ARE other atheists around you......

They're just more "in the closet" than a transvestite at a Ted Nugent concert........

Next time you're at some dinner where they "say grace" -- look around, and see who else is looking around......

You might be surprised....

good luck...

Big Grin

.......................................

The difference between prayer and masturbation - is when a guy is through masturbating - he has something to show for his efforts.
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