I recently came out (for the 2nd time) to my Catholic husband. It did not go well at all. He wants me to file for divorce if I choose to keep being atheist (as if I can just - poof! - start believing in God again). And if I try to make this marriage work by pretending to be Christian, he wants me to erase the atheism out of our oldest son (really? like our kid's a mindless programmable toy?) and teach the younger two all about the "wholesomeness and truth" of Christianity. Teaching about other beliefs is not an option, either. Living a lie is one thing, but having to teach my kids to believe this religious dogma is heart-wrenching.


Something that's bothering me greatly is that he says God is keeping him from going crazy. I care deeply about my husband even if it's not reciprocated back to me and don't want to cause him mental suffering. He's a good man, just a product of childhood religious indoctrination.

I am leaning toward staying in the marriage to keep our family intact, even if it means pretending to be Christian and promoting it to our kids (the bare minimum, though - just enough to please the husband). Has anyone made this choice? Any words of wisdom, pro or con?

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There actually has been research done on this. It's been a couple of years since I've read anything new about it so I don't have a link to hand, but I didn't make it up. It may not have been expressed exactly the way I worded it, but being an old coot, I remember going through something very similar myself. My daughter was about 10 when the itch hit.

Here's an article that at least touches on these problems.

And here's another article. I'm not finding one that specifically speaks to the opposing revulsion that drives people apart when they are no longer reproducing, but I have read about a study that specifically addresses that.

Herk, thanks for the leads to the articles. I might rework a few of their points into a short talk on brain chemistry and use it to springboard to a talk on free will and determinism, which I usually describe as a subject that keeps philosophy professors employed.

I am sorry things are going wrong for you. I wish you the best whatever happens. I will say that if you can't be yourself, how can you be happy. One thing I have found out from being an atheist is it shows you the people in your life who are truly accepting and understanding. I don't know your entire situation but maybe I can offer some words of encouragement. If you do decide
to stay in your marriage and "pretend" to be Christian, how can you teach your children to be true to themselves.? If they see you saying one thing and believing another, in a way you have endorsed hypocrisy as acceptable. Children are very inquisitive and they have ways  of discovering the truth even when we try to hide it. I would never tell anyone what to do, but just ask yourself how happy you will truly be not being able to live your life as you want. If the two of
you can't come to an amicable decision, then maybe you have to decide for you. Self preservation is the first law of nature. I hope you are able
to make the best choice for all involved, but at the end of the day if you're
no good for you, who can you be good for? 

Je sais, quand il le faut, quitter la peau du lion pour prendre celle du renard.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon, I handed the other Napoleon's words to a machine translator and it returned "I know, when needed, leave the lion's skin to that of the Fox."

My next task is to figure out if, and how, there's a connection to this thread.

I would say this. Once divorce is on the table, there is rarely any going back. This does not appear to be a momentary blowup where someone says 'I want a divorce' in anger. It probably will never be the way it was, or the way 'it should be'.

I have been divorced twice, and in neither case did we try to force it to 'work', trying to artificially preserve the marriage. The result of that approach is that I'm on very comfortable social terms with my ex-wives (and their husbands).

If he wants to base the divorce on your religious differences.. let him. Don't fight that, indeed you'll be preserving your own integrity. You've done nothing wrong.

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