Hi everyone. Thanks for welcoming me to your community. It's nice to see that I'm not alone.
I knew I was an atheist when I was six-years-old or so, only I didn't know that was the term then. My mother was (and still is) the organist at the United Methodist Church I went to. I can remember vividly deciding to read the Bible for the first time during one of the services, to see what it was about. Being the reader I was, I started at the beginning. It didn't take me long to realize that none of it made sense. It sounded like pure nonsense. I didn't have much of an understanding of science at that point, but the very beginning of Genesis contradicted everything that I knew about up to that point.
But, being the good kid I was, I tolerated church. For a few years. As I moved into the third and fourth grade, I resented Sunday mornings and Sunday School. My parents forced me to go. Making matters worse, my father never went. I never felt it was fair that he didn't have to go, yet I had to (along with my brother). This was my life every Sunday, September through early June, every year until I graduated from high school at 17.
From that point forward, I basically only showed up to church on Christmas Eve and whenever my mother had some big production going on (to support her and the work she put into it).
After graduate school, I left my hometown, and have only set foot in a church for a wedding, funeral or other similar events. Even when I return home, I never go, unless I'm there on Christmas Eve.
I met my wife just over five years ago, and religion had zero place in our relationship. I knew that she was raised Southern Baptist, but she never brought up religion at all. I never did, because it just wasn't something that was important in my life. I rarely feel the need to discuss it with anyone, because I just feel that it is all nonsense. We have probably set foot in a church less than a dozen times in these five years.
Well, during this time, I've had an increase feeling that I should just tell her that I'm an atheist. Nothing has really changed in the sense of religion discussion in our relationship. It's continued to be next to zero. But I was feeling as though I was hiding who I was.
So, on Wednesday, I told her. Admittedly, I blindsided her a bit, since there wasn't any 'honey, we need to talk,' type thing said. She flew off the handle. I was shocked by her reaction, yet not surprised. She cried, yelled, repeatedly asked if I wanted a divorce, accused me of lying and all sorts of things. I just let her rant. Towards the end, I finally got in a 'this is who I am.' She then stormed off the bed and it was myself and the cat on the couch for the night.
I asked her Thursday night if she wanted to talk about it, and she gave me the 'look of death,' and refused to talk. I dealt with the silence for the remainder of the evening (she made some small talk before bed), but it was another night on the couch for me.
No, I don't know what to do. Is my marriage over? Is there a chance of saving it? Do I just continue to go on, not acknowledging anything and pretending this never happened? Something else? I've never told anyone else that I am an atheist, but given the reaction my wife had, her family and extended family (which they all think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread), will probably be just as bad, if not worse.
I feel all alone. We moved to our present location 18 months ago and I have no friends here. My family up north has no idea any of this is happening and I just don't know what to do at this point. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you.
So sorry to hear you're going through this with your wife. I wish I had a perfect answer, but alas, I'm in a similar situation. My revelation to my spouse and my extended family was more gradual, over time, but there were and are still moments of shock, disappointment, and silence. Only today had a talk with my wife, who has begun attending church again after an almost year-long absence, and she's come to the point of "there's nothing I can do to change your mind, I don't like where you're at." I tried to explain how difficult it is to hear, essentially, "you're displeasing me, continuing to not believe and attend church will displease me, and expressing yourself about your lack of belief will continue to displease me." She said that wasn't really anything more to be said. It doesn't come up very often at all, but leaves me walking on eggshells, wondering if our relationship will last or if she'll get sick of my non belief and move on. Case in point, I only today signed up for this site, a semi-surreptitious way to get some community as attending an atheist or rationalist meetup would lead to more problems.
Anyway, not to make it all about me! Best wishes for your situation. Any kids involved? I see you're in the south somewhere? I'm in Knoxville, TN, so I feel your Bible Belt pain!
I don't have any plans at this time to tell anyone else. I've faked it my entire life up to this point, when I've been in 'religion situations,' and I plan on doing that going forward. I don't want to be a 'militant atheist' by any stretch of the imagination, and it's just easier to 'nod and agree' when I'm the only atheist in the room.
I too only just signed up for this site, and I'd like to see where this takes me. Any help I can get (and give to others) along the way would be great.
To answer your questions: There are no kids involved. I'm currently in Pensacola, Florida (although culturally, this might as well be Alabama). I lived in St. Louis for five years (where I met my wife) and I was born and raised in Northwest Pennsylvania.
Yeah, that's pretty much my approach in many cases. Definitely have to pick your battles when surrounded by those who would view your lack of belief as a dangerous moral failing. Glad to hear no kids caught up in it at least. Sometimes time is the best medicine. She may just have heard the "A" word and is assigning to you all the baggage that anyone ever assigned to that word. Hopefully time works to show her that your goodness does not depend on a god.
Pensecola....winter home to the Blue Angels. I'm an airplane nut and got to watch the Blues in Smyrna, TN in 2012 before they got grounded in the budget kerfuffle. As the Simpson's called them "America's favorite waste of taxpayer money," but regardless, it's hard to not be awed by 6 F-18s shaking the ground!
Just give this some time. She may be shocked and reacting from this. If she doesn't tell all of her family about it, ranting and running you down as she does, there's just a good chance that she might get over her initial reactions and start talking to you normally again. Once she can figure that you are not "trying to convert her" everything just may be OK.
I'm sorry I have no help no offer, but after reading your story it seems to me that your wife has been a closet xtian all the time. So don't feel bad about coming out.
I'll start by admitting that I'm probably the last person on here who needs to give advice on saving a marriage; having been divorced twice, and refusing to ever get married again. Kind of like getting food safety storage tips from Jeffery Dahmer.
Now, having given that disclaimer, I'd stand your ground (no pun intended since you live in Florida). Admittedly, it took guts coming out to her, and for that, my hat's off to you. This site is filled with accounts similar to yours, regarding hostile and hateful reactions of Xtian family members; from obvious shows of disappointment to outright ostracism. Ironic, since their intolerance seems to be diametrically opposed to what they claim is a religion based on forgiveness. Nevertheless, I wouldn't recant or retract one thing. And, when she confronts you on this, you might want to point out the glaring flaws in her reaction; intolerance and an unwillingness to be open minded enough to see the other's point of view, as you see and tolerate her point of view. "Rather one sided, don't you think, dear?" Ask how she would have liked it, if for all those years, you had treated her the way she treats you because of her beliefs.
As I said, I'm probably not the best when it comes to marriage counseling. But, at the end of the day, you have to live in your own skin, and comfortable with yourself. One final thought. And you might share this with her. Does she want you to pretend to be a believer, while living a lie that will eat at your the very core of you existence? Is that her version of Xtian morality?
By the way, welcome. Glad you found this small island of sanity. Hope to see you around here.
Greets and welcome, Rob. I'm glad you found us.
I won't claim to have any monster sage advice for you either, other than perhaps this: ask her to look at her reaction, specifically in the light of what your relationship was BEFORE she knew you were an atheist. I'm going to take a guess and say that you had at least a decent relationship with her and that you weren't an axe-murderer on the weekends (!). Obviously, she's reacting to what she was TAUGHT about atheism and atheists and instantly projecting that onto you, which is neither particularly fair nor rational. If (and that may be a pretty big "if") you can get her to look at the issue rationally, you have a chance. It'll be a while, though, as it appears her religious indoctrination is rather well seated.
Please take the above with however many grains of salt you wish ... and know that you have beau coup support here.
Not only did it take courage to tell your wife it also showed your commitment to a honest relationship. Good luck
Hi Rob! Just a few thoughts on your situation: yes, give her time, and in that time be the same lovely husband that she's always known. She needs time to process the information. Have you considered getting some couples counseling? Do you think she'd go? If not, go yourself. If you two are keeping secrets like this and not talking about important things, what else have you two not shared? It's not a healthy relationship if you're not fully able to express yourselves to each other.
It's time for you to get out and make some friends. Go to meetup.com and do a search for things you're interested in (basketball pickup games? dungeons and dragons game night? book club? knitting? and of course atheists groups-it's all there, you just need to get out and find it). Even if you're an introvert and don't like leaving the house (maybe you're not, I don't know), you need to build a support group for yourself. A/N is great for that too, but face-to-face is so much better.
Make no mistake, she's told someone in her family and you are no longer the golden child. Expect the worst from them (maybe it won't happen, but gird your loins anyway). Be prepared. Don't apologize, but don't be a wretch either.
Sorry you have to go through this. I wish you all the best-Reg