I'm married to a conspiracy theorist.
I used to think like him.
I don't and can't anymore.
I can't help but be painfully aware of how his thinking has bled into our daily lives.
I consider divorce a last resort.

As uncomfortable as it is to be on the receiving end of his lack of trust and subtle paranoia, I imagine it must be much more difficult to live in his head, unsure of the people you live with and love most.
I am compelled to help, I love him, and I'd do anything to like and respect him again.
I feel that I must exhaust every avenue, before I call it quits.

We've been together 13 years, he has helped raise my two children since they were 3 & 4.

He wasn't always a conspiracy theorist, it began some time in 07, maybe 08.
He was injured, is now disabled, originally from an old military accident.
That's when he started investigating 9/11 being an inside job, became an anti-vaxer, anti-fluoride, believes in chemtrails, fema camps, HAARP, etc.
Last year, I lost it when he came to me insisting that the Sandy Hook shooting was a false flag operation, motivated by the government "trying to take our guns."
I hated his arrogance, his credulity, and him that day.
I hate the example he's setting for my kids.
I spent two years invested in that bullshit with him. I'm appalled at my own gullibility, and so happy to be free of that thinking.

He's a heavy pot smoker, too. Says it helps with the pain, better than the meds.
I've heard heavy pot use is common amongst conspiracy theorists.
I'm sober 30+ years.
It never bothered me until I learned that it's likely a culprit.

I'm consumed by this, he was the love of my life. I think he still is, I'm just exhausted by it all.
He has many good qualities, they're just becoming background.

I've changed, as a result of sites like this. I now do my best to practice evidence based reasoning.
We're both atheists.
He led me to atheism, unintentionally, 12 years ago.
He's not stupid, he is stuck.
He's becoming more and more angry, emotional, deluded.
He's not violent though, but his attitude, and my lack of tolerance for it, is fracturing "us."

We saw a therapist whose solution for us was to simply NOT discuss any of it.
That was a year ago.
Due to the fact that he often treats us as if we're conspiring against him, that he very rarely takes responsibility for his misgivings, that he's quick to blame, I see this as his conspiratorial thinking bleeding into even mundane areas and it's dividing us, but maybe that's inaccurate?

It's as if I'm married to a YEC, who's convinced he knows the truth, who see's everyone else as deluded by satan, (sheeple).

The appeal to emotion that is at the center of theism is seemingly also at the core of his thinking.
He seems to be emotionally identified with what he believes, and my pointing that out doesn't change anything.
I don't know what to do.
A few years ago, we asked one another if, hypothetically, one of us became faithful and religious again, if we could stay with each other.
We both said we could not, yet here I am, struggling.

How do I stay? Are any of you married or in a relationships with faithful people, or conspiracy theorists?
Since beliefs influence actions, do you see them using their emotions to understand reality in other areas, too?
How do you stay? Is my focus off? How do you respect that line of reasoning, or separate the person from their thoughts/beliefs?

He thinks I just want to be right.
The science is what's right. The facts, the evidence that is contrary to the conclusions he holds, is what's right, and those have nothing to do with me, I simply accept them.

I appreciate and value healthy skepticism, logic, and a prioritizing of facts and evidence.
If the facts and evidence pointed to his conclusions, I'd be able to meet him where he's at.
They just don't, and we should all be grateful for that.

Apologies if I sound scattered, I am. And so, so sad.

Views: 249

Comment by _Robert_ on March 5, 2014 at 11:07pm

It seems like a sweeping paranoia epidemic is taking place sometimes, with all these conspiracy TV shows, movies and web sites. I was talking to someone I really admire and they casually mention how they are building a compound (they can't tell me where, of course) and hoarding guns and food. And I know several disillusioned young people who have an attitude of "why even try, it's all rigged". I used to like quizzing Kennedy assassination conspiracy advocates; they hardly seem to even know the basic facts and refer to a movie. It is exhausting, dealing with the woo-full.

Comment by Aim on March 6, 2014 at 3:25am

Thank you all for your comments.
Gallup, I'll take the time to read those links tonight, I appreciate you handing them to me here.
I know he needs help, he's attempted to get it through the VA, but he saw those men as worse off than him (after going once), then there's the thinking that Big Pharma and these doc's who can help are "in on it," or that I'm actually the one who needs help, not him.
His mother was diagnosed as a borderline personality, and I see similar characteristics in him, but I'm not a doctor, and I question whether my own biases are involved in my perception.

I'll do my best to gently encourage professional help, again.

There are a lot of people around me who believe this crap. The history teacher at my daughters high school was teaching the controlled demolition "theory" of the twin towers, as fact.
I threatened to go straight to the school board, I let the principal know that if it continued, I wouldn't stop until he was gone.
I don't know how many young mind he influenced prior to my finding out.
It's very troubling.

If I do end up leaving, there won't be any shame.
I'll have given it my best.

Thanks again, everyone.

Comment by Larry McNaughton on March 6, 2014 at 9:20am

Hey Aim,
I have known a few conspiracy theorists in my time and it is very difficult to be friends with them so I can't even imagine what you are going through being married to one.
There have been many great responses to this post already, I hope they give to some insight as to how to deal with your situation and which way to turn for help.
A few years ago (in the 90's) I was married to a woman who had severe mental health issues (BPD), I struggled with living with her for years and it really adversely affected my whole life and that of the children we had together.
A friend at work saw that something wasn't't right in my life and because he was a good friend I opened up to him about what was going on.
After listening for a while he said he thought that I might be codependent, I argued that my wife had mental health issues and wasn't an alcoholic. He told me that people can be codependent not just with alcoholics and substance abusers but also with loved ones with chronic health issues whether it be physical or mental.
The next day he brought in a book for me to read that helped me change my life for the better for ever, and start taking care of myself. That book was "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie, ISBN 0-89486-402-5, I still have it to this day.
I don't know if you are codependent or not but I highly recommend that you read that book, you may well see yourself in it as you read.
I sincerely wish you all the best with your life, keep us posted.


Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 6, 2014 at 1:07pm

It is not too far off the mark (if at all) to see both the conspiracy theorist and the religious theist as suffering from similar type delusions. Both are convinced that what they believe is the Truth and that anyone that does not hold similar view is wrong. Theists don’t think they are deluded but yet will keep fundamentalists at arm’s length and think them to be strange. The only difference is the intensity of their delusions.

If you husband was only suffering from a mild condition it would not be a problem. You both would be able to deal with it and follow any medical advice to maintain a balance. However smoking weed does not (like alcohol) suit everyone. So weed may be doing to him what evangelical meetings do to regular theists, that is, make them fundamentalists. The euphoria (dopamine) puts them in a mental state where they are open to suggestion. It feels right to them at the time because of the “buzz” which when repeated only reinforces the belief.

So I think the first step is to get him to acknowledge that he is smoking too much. If he can stop for a while the intensity that he maintains in his beliefs will abate. He will start to think more clearly then and made even come around to seeing that he has a problem. Then he will be more receptive to outside help and counselling. It is the weed that is amplifying a minor ailment into a major psychosis. That is exactly what the medical people will say so get it sorted out first. One thing that may help is a change of environment and routine so take a week or two away outside of his normal comfort zone. Decide on a date a few weeks in advance and be very firm in your resolve that you are both going.  You are not to take “no” for an answer.

I understand that you are suffering too. It gets emotional when you see someone you love like that. It is difficult to make decisions when they imply more emotional upheaval. So put a plan in place. Get away for a while to break the routine. Get professional advice first on your own as to how to proceed. Get rid of the weed. Then start to treat the underlying condition that gives rise to the delusion. That will be much easier to do once the weed is gone. Once the plan is in place be firm at all times and stick to it. You set the rules and the timetable. There is no other way.

Comment by Ward Cressin on March 6, 2014 at 8:19pm

I struggle with several issues myself but my situation is not the same as his. I fight the suspicions with facts. Unfortunately sometimes there are no facts and for some of the conspiracy hypotheses you mention there aren't going to be good facts to fight them with but you do have something you can use. Remind him of why he is an atheist - and how he became one. Ask him if all the conspiracies can really withstand the same scrutiny. Point out those are not theories but crude and untested hypotheses.

The collapse of the twin towers would be vertical unless a force acted upon them as they were collapsing or there was an uneven distribution of energy. A controlled demolition would have had a greater chance of causing them to fall at an angle than the structural failure (due to heating of the metal supports within the towers). Given the amount of time it had, the heat would have been very evenly distributed. While the slightest variation in a controlled detonation would have caused an uneven collapse.

Now suspicions about the Bush regime deliberately allowing the hijackers to proceed, that's more difficult to refute. Was the animosity between the federal bureaus great enough for them to screw up that badly and the Bush regime that filled with stupid people to allow the events to unfold the way they did? Or was everyone reasonably competent but complicit? Does the evidence support competence (9-11 was planned in some way by the government) or stupidity and animosity (no one planned anything)? If he needs some support to accept people are that stupid, point out that Bin Laden himself foolishly admitted he didn't plan for the towers' collapse. A spectacular destruction like that but he doesn't take full credit for it. Moron.

So you have something to commend your husband for: his belief in the intelligence of his fellow man even when there is ample evidence for the opposite.

Comment by Ed on March 6, 2014 at 9:01pm

The same standards of verification and reason required by an atheist can also be brought to bear on the plethora of conspiracy theories that exist in our culture. Without evidence of a concrete nature they are also conjecture and hearsay.  

Marijuana is a wonderful plant when used responsibly. If it has become a crutch for your husband then he needs to question his addiction and consider making some changes. 

Comment by Aim on March 14, 2014 at 1:23am

Thanks again, everyone.
Reg, I took your advice, today in fact, and as liberated as I feel, my husband has left the house.
He's quite upset with me.
I was as firm and loving as I can be right now, but I've also been brutally honest, as I have no patience left.
I'm confident that my upright spine and grounded feet will carry me forward, even when I feel fear and sadness.

Be well everyone!


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