Hi everyone, I'm here because I'm looking for some insight, advice and hopefully answers to my particular situation.
I'm a 32 year old married father of 2, I became a Christian back 2004 after a supposed 'word from God' but perhaps largely because my wife and all her family are members of the Anglican/Charasmatic movement and maybe felt some sort of affinity to them. I even went so far as to join the worship team of an extremely large and popular charasmatic church in Oxford which have been involved with since 2005.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I've recently started to seriously question my belief structure. I've never felt entirely 'comfortable' with being a Christian in the way I always thought I should be, I never really prayed in public, I couldn't quote you specific scripture like a pro and always thought that the Church I am a part of uses emotional manipulation through 'sad and songs' and the pastors alter call to invoke a sense of vulnerability, surely not something I should be thinking if I truly 'get it'
In the last few years she has become more and more extreme in her views, dare I say fundamentalist. Don't get me wrong, she is a very kind, polite and caring woman, but I can no longer stomach some of the things she passionately believes and I'm seriously considering de conversion. She has been a Christian since she was born lived, breathed and evangelised the Christian doctrine and for the longest time we were very happy, having two gorgeous sons
However I've recently had cause to come clean to my wife of 7 years, who is what I would call a 'born' Christian of a string of indiscrections since before we were married, this understandably has caused her great pain for which I am truly sorry, however she has now told me that the ONLY way of saving our marriage is through Christian channels/the grace and love of God or not at all.
Now fair enough, hands up I should take what is coming, but I love my boys and would be prepared to do anything to stay with them, I feel a great affection for my wife as my best friend and indeed all the friends I have made through the Church, but knowing that I feel the way I do about my (lack of) faith I am torn as to weather I should take the step and tell her I can't pursue Christian channels with a clear conscience for the sake of staying in our marriage.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I appreciate your comments
I think there are two things that can make or break a marriage. Belief in God and whether or not a couple wants children. In my opinion if one person believes and the other does not the marriage isnt going to work, it's going to be more of a business deal and there is going to be a lot of pent up resentment. In my opinion if one person wants children and the other does not the same thing is going to happen. You HAVE to be on the same page when it comes to these two things or it just isnt going to work. You get ONE life, only ONE, if you respect and love your wife but you are not in love with her anymore tell her, let her be happy. Your happiness is important too! You are 32 and I'm sure you can find someone else who shares the same views who will compliment your life instead of fragment it. I am a recent de-convert, not a convert because I didnt convert to anything, but my husband of 9 years de-converted before me. Things got really shaky for a while and now I know why. Since accepting that I was an atheist we have amazing conversations, share ideas, theories, and watch all kinds of documentaries together. It's liberating, refreshing, and we are the happiest we have ever been! The sky didnt fall down when I said I dont believe out loud, I didnt get struck with illness or a thunderbolt. No my life and sex life btw got much better and yours will to. Read/ watch the God Delusion and think everything will come to fruition for you.
Good luck and remember you only get ONE life! Enjoy it!!!
Well, coming clean about your 'indiscretions' at the same time as your lack of faith - that's a pretty big double-whammy for any relationship.
A few random and disjointed thoughts ...
Your wife probably believes strongly that the only way your relationship can recover is through god. In large part, her trust in you is going to be tied to that. That doesn't mean that you have to fake it. She may take the view that her god and her faith are enough to hold the family together - as long as you are showing yourself to be a loving, trustworthy, reliable, affectionate daddy and hubby.
If you stay with her, trust is the key. You've broken it and you'll have to work very, very hard to rebuild it. For that reason, I do think it would be harmful to fake the religion thing. That said, I think it can be soft-peddled, and you might be able to help her become more open to less fundamental beliefs if she sees you honestly addressing and struggling with what it all means.
Atheism is, in its simplest form, not accepting the god claims of others. But in practical terms, atheists are expected to answer a slew of questions about how we can be moral, and what purpose can we have without god. I'd recommend putting some time into thinking about these kinds of questions before going full exposure with her (although "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer).
Whether you stay with her, you and your wife are joined for life through your children. Maintaining a working relationship will be important for you, for her, and especially for your boys.
Your boys will be learning how to treat women from the way you treat women.
What do you want for your boys 10-20 years from now? For you? For your wife? How do you get there? Do you see yourself with your wife after your boys are grown?
What will it mean to your relationships with friends at church if you de-convert? Will they all automatically take sides (hers, not yours)? Will you have any support to make a case for being with your boys?
All these questions ... and you were looking for answers!
Honestly christianity is not the philosophy that fits your true self that's why you can't take it anymore. The only conection to that doctrine is her, that's why you joined her church. You can't lie to yourself but you can make your life a lie, can you handle it?. She is basically giving you an ultimatum. Will you fit her unrealistic expectations? I say unrealistic because is very far from reality to think that someone will be everything you ever wanted. Having your serious doubts I assume you have been a good father and husband, what else does she wants? She is basically telling you that she choses that religion over you, that you are in or out, but you can't have it both ways.
Now the only thing you can do is negotiate with her, marriage is bussiness, so use your skills. What your going to bring on the table is your deconversion, let her know that you tried for x years and is not possible, nevertheless your devotion for her is intact so nothing really is going to change, that if she wants you will still go with her to church as a companion, and support her on her beliefs but will not go further.
This transition can be hard, because you are now a new man, she didn't know this side of you, so take it one step at a time. Take her smoothly and romance her along the way. If there was something she wanted then now is the time to give it to her. Show her that is only a philosophical perspective that has changed but not your feelings towards her. Be the best husband you can.
But if you feel is too uphill, then bring in the divorce papers. But honestly you don't need to take it that far if you stand your ground with conviction while you charm her.
romance and charm her? Marriage is a business..... Thats your advice? I'm not sure what kind of marriage you have or your definition but it seems like you are disregarding emotion and approaching this situation like a business deal. What kind of marriage is that?
I see you are american and you come from a place where divorce is the quick way out, and maybe that's why you think is "bad advice" to tell a husband to romance and charm his wife while he makes clear his possition. Is not like he is being told to get an atheist lover. The point is to not ruin his relationship in the process.
Relationships are a 2 way street. You give, I give. Whats the problem with a husband taking his wife on dates? What's the problem with bringing romance into a marriage? Breaking the routine?. He is breaking some news she doesn't like,he might as well make it soft on her. Why to make it a battlefield and turn his wife into the enemy because she is christian?
It has been my experience that it is the religious people that typically see atheists as the enemy. Not the other way aroung. You can give, but if they don't give back, then you have a problem. If she isn't willing to work on the marriage outside of religious avenues....I don't think charming her will work.
Right. But who knows what the real issue is. If I married an "atheist" who after 10 years and 2 kids tells me he never really was an atheist but a muslim and that he "was trying" only to make me like him.. I would be upset. You add to that an alcohol problem...
I think the emotion is a given and none of us can actually put ourselves into his shoes and feel what he is feeling - So to give a more objective and emotionless response seems to be appropriate and I think describing it as a business is actually quite realistic.
A good business man knows what to say and when to say and how to say it to an old partnership that may not see each other in the same light but may still wish to keep the partnership together. Objective and logical reasoning is more appropriate here because the man seems to want to stay with her even though she is christian but she makes it known that the marriage is in jeopardy if he de converts.
Marriages are partnerships and sometimes emotion needs to be taken out of the equation and looked at in a more utilitarian / objective approach. What can he offer if anything to keep her? What is the best method to break the news? Every woman likes to be charmed and romanced so her advice is to take it slow, show her what kind of man he is and how he wants to treat her to show her that he is still affectionate and devoted while still being true to himself and honest with her.
Thanks Dustin, this was exactly what I meant before, you read my mind, maybe now this "scemina" can understand it, if not she is a lost case or has daddy issues..
I'll always listen to the Italian perspective.
Maybe your wife is digging in to her faith so hard as a reaction to being betrayed by the man she loves. If she loves you then she has to accept that you have the right to your own beliefs, just as she does hers. Whoever said you have to have exactly the same beliefs? That seems unreasonable, as on that level, you are two separate people.
Perhaps you could work with her and accept that her faith has a validity of its own (amongst some other stuff), and that she's trying to work through things in her own way. Likewise, she has to accept that you're working through things in your own way. Would she really divorce you for becoming an atheist? If so, she wouldn't be a very enlightened Christian.
But man, what did you expect after "a string of indiscretions"?
Simon - RE: "Whoever said you have to have exactly the same beliefs? That seems unreasonable, as on that level, you are two separate people."
You're suggesting he use logic and reason on a religious person? What are you thinking?