A Mixed Marriage – Agnostic and Catholic

October 21, 2007 at 2:35 am 40 comments

WeddingLostgirlfound, Karen, DaGoodS and a few others around the internet have written stories and comments about de-Conversion from Christianity and how it has affected their marriages. I would like to write an article with a dual authorship. Me – HeIsSailing, and my wife, oh… let’s call her RoseMary. We are going to write this article together, maybe each writing a paragraph or two, and asking each other questions as we go. Maybe this will give us all an insight into how to communicate when one person in a marriage leaves Christianity, and another continues in the faith.

HeIsSailing: RoseMary is a little nervous about what to write, so I will lead off with a couple of questions. How would you describe my Christianity when we got married? How do you describe my beliefs now? How are our beliefs different?

RoseMary: You were very by the book. You always quoted the Bible, and sometimes I did not know what you were saying, because I did not grow up with the Bible. I grew up being part of the Catholic Faith, so we did physical things like join the choir, gathering supplies for the people in jail, collecting canned goods and other similar items for the slum areas.

HeIsSailing: Did I confuse you sometimes?

RoseMary: Sometimes I did, because I felt like I needed to brush up on my readings fast! I felt I needed to start reading, and get competent if I wanted this marriage to work! I could see how important the Bible was to you.

HeIsSailing: How do you describe my beliefs now?

RoseMary: Your beliefs changed a lot. It is flexible. Things are not as big a deal as they used to be. You are more relaxed. But there are still some questions that are left unanswered. I am not sure if you are looking for the answers, or are willing to leave those questions unanswered. There is less pressure from the faith that you used to have and you are able now to see other beliefs on the same level and give them respect and give them proper recognition. You don’t see it as the Christian way or the highway.

HeIsSailing: How could you tell when I started to lose my faith in Christianity?

RoseMary: During one of our Bible studies, you started to ask some other questions beyond the scope of the topic, and wanting for the group to be actively involved in actual outreach and participation in society. And all the while I was just in the background observing, because somehow I knew that the Baptist people were not going to get themselves involved with that idea…Because they were not going to do that. And the Baptist services that I go to with you is all about yourself – how can you build a personal relationship with Christ. From the songs all the way down to the last bit of the sermon it is the same trend – no mention of how you can be out and visible among the poor. I always felt good about myself after the Baptist service – it was like a pep talk before the crazy week – and I think I needed that at the time, but there was no mention of helping out the poor.

HeIsSailing: *laughs* OK, now that you have taken the opportunity to not answer that last question and just trash my old church…But can you talk about some of the things that were troubling me at the time, or did you find it all very confusing?

RoseMary: When you asked certain questions about things in the Bible, but I did not understand the questions because I cannot relate to it. I don’t know what you were talking about. But I could understand that you wanted to go beyond the trivial stuff in the workbooks from Bible Study.

HeIsSailing: Yes, I was asking some very deep stuff that even [the assistant pastor of our church] was having real problems answering. Or the answers he gave were intellectually very unsatisfying. Do you remember the night when I was sitting at the desk with my bible open writing in a steno pad? I was doing things like comparing the different Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and other textually critical analysis of the Bible. You once came in the room and I was in tears. What did you think when you saw me like that, so distressed like that?

RoseMary: I so wanted to tell you that, it is not the end of the world, although it may have seemed like it. Because for so many years you believed in everything that the bible says. I wanted to say that it was no big deal and to tell you that the bible should not be your sole source of belief. Like hungry people starving will never be solved by the bible. But it will be solved if people share and practice generosity. I was concerned because I did not like seeing you disappointed or sad or troubled. I am your wife, and all I wanted was to give and show you the best there is in life. And I wanted to say also, “welcome to the real world”. This is how you do it.

HeIsSailing: And that is one thing that I learned from you. That the Purpose of Life and Solution of Life and the Sole Source of all our being is not found in one source – The Bible. While I do not believe in your catholic faith, through communication with you, I at least appreciate it for what it is, and understand how they are at least trying to deal with very real theological difficulties that is in an intellectually honest way that I found lacking in my Baptist church. After much scrutiny, if I ever was to become a Christian again, I would not be seeking the ‘Personal Relationship with Jesus’ again, and the Bible would not be my sole source of Truth.

HeIsSailing: One of the most painful things I have had to hear was being criticized for being in an illegitimate marriage with you because I was not Catholic. Do you think God honors our marriage even though I no longer believe in God?

RoseMary: Yes. Based on my beliefs, I would say yes. I just don’t know how to explain it. I see God as a very loving God. I don’t think he will make that as a reason not to acknowledge our marriage. Even though you do not believe, that will not be a reason for him to not honor our marriage. I married you, not because of your faith alone. I married you, and I still believe our marriage is valid because I love you for who you are good or bad. And that is how I believe in God – loving believers and unbelievers.

HeIsSailing: The way I see it, when we married, we both made vows. We made them to each other, to our families, and to God, as we understood God to be at that time. Those vows are still valid as far as I am concerned, even though our views of God have changed. I feel sorry for people who are so stagnant that their views of God *never* change. If there is a God, what does he expect of us?

HeIsSailing: You were a large influence on how I now view Christianity, and Catholic Christianity in particular. You provided a different viewpoint that I had never been exposed to before. Have your Christian views changed during this ordeal of my de-conversion?

RoseMary: Well, any new things that I have learned, if that is what change means, then yes. But these changes, I treat them as life experiences. All these things that I have seen from you or learned from you re-affirm my faith. Now I see more why it does not really matter what religion you come from, or why should there even be a reason to change from one religion to another. It is not all about religion. It boils down simply to HOW you believe. And how these beliefs will help you develop into a better person.

HeIsSailing: So are you trying to say that, God does not really care what religious mechanism you choose to worship him, whichever religion you decide on fine by him?

RoseMary: I would say yes. I guess I learned that from your experiences and from friends who were not happy with the Catholic faith. What I am just saying is that they waste their time, and their tears and everything else on trying to find a religion in the religion mall that will fit their needs. Whatever religious sect you were born into, you have to ask yourself, “Do I let that religion dictate my life, or do I use it as a tool to make my life better?” That is what I believe God wants us to get out of religion. Not to be dictated by it, but to learn from it. To learn about our cultures. To learn what is going on around the globe. And being actively involved in society. God does not want us to be church wallflowers. I don’t think he created us just to read the Bible. He wants us to be out there and experience life to its fullest with other human beings.

I learned that there is no perfect religion. That has been the marketing scheme of all religions. They all have their faults. If you are in the religion mall, you will probably be asked to choose between “Do you believe in God or do you not believe in God”? If you choose to not believe in God, then you are given choices, and you simply shop around there. Now if you go to You Believe in God, I can just imagine all sorts of religious sects with banners and flyers selling with all their fancy logos and slogans, “Step right in! I have the best religion! 50% Off Sins if you come in this religious store!”

HeisSailing: The religion mall. Spoken like a true woman. Well, if I may, I did not choose my NoGod stall. I think I had no choice in the matter after investigating the evidence. But, what does it mean to have choices in the NoGod stall at the religion mall? What choices do I have?

RoseMary: I think the choices that are laid in front of you are… ‘Do I continue to grieve loss of my faith or do I go on with life and be happy’? Right? That is a choice. Second, do you let that stop you from doing good to others, just because you have no church service to meet at? Do you let the religious sectors stop you from doing good? And another thing is, do you let this kind of situation be a reason for you to be a target for other Christians. Like will you be miserable when they try to convert you? Or will you use it as a tool to discover all opportunities available to you? Because you are more open minded than before. And you are ready to accept the unique, dangerous, exciting treasures the world has to offer.

HeIsSailing: Thank you – I am at peace.

HeIsSailing: One last thing – I am posting this on a website that receives over 2 million hits per hour!! Just teasing, but there are many people leaving Christianity for many different reasons, and many of them are taking very confused Christians spouses along for the ride. I have heard many stories. They are often hurt, confused, angry – some have children and some threaten divorce. I am very lucky that you are a wife who listens to me, and is open minded and will not condemn me, even though I know you don’t always understand where I am coming from. You have a captive audience reading this hanging on your every word. Do you have any advice for the Christian de-convert or their spouses?

RoseMary: RUN!!! Just kidding. Well, you have to ask yourself, did you marry because of compatibility and religious status? If you did, then you have sadly set a limited span of your marriage. Ask yourself this. Which marriage will God honor more: one where you live up to your vows of love, honor and cherish your spouse, or one where you believe in the Trinity? You marry because you deeply love the person for who he or she is may be or will be – past present and future. When you marry, you do not know what is going to happen in the future – I did not know that you were going to leave Christianity. Maybe if they had a Christian crystal ball that would help us tell the future, I bet you a lot of people would be scared at what they saw in the future if they looked inside. But I think this is a coward’s way out. You build relationships with people through thick and thin, through good and bad experiences. I understand the grief and disappointment – I mean that is part of it. But in order for a marriage to work, you need to be able to communicate your honest feelings. Be free to communicate even though it may be painful to hear or confusing to understand. And there is a verse in the Bible – and now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. If you truly love each other, it does not matter what barriers you face – you stick together and learn from that and learn from it and make your love grow stronger. And each step you take, and each day that passes, you cherish every moment you spend with each other.

HeIsSailing: I just have one piece of advice to add. Communication and education. Don’t be afraid to challenge your cherished beliefs and assumptions. Don’t be afraid of discussing this stuff with your spouse. And don’t be afraid of a Divine retribution from God. Tell your believing spouse that you love him/her dearly, but if the marriage is to work, you must engage in some uncomfortable conversation. Don’t try to convert or de-convert your believing spouse. Honor their beliefs but at the same time you must make your beliefs or loss of belief be known to them. Please don’t be afraid. Communicate. Learn from each other. That is what we have done, and our love for each other has surely grown stronger because of this process. I think it is only natural for people who have been married a long time to have evolving beliefs – people change. This should not be a reason to hurt a marriage, and it is a shame that it does.

OK, my wife is getting really tired now, so it is time for this article to end. It was kind of fun to do, and is just another way to communicate our changing spiritual beliefs. I hope someone out there can take some encouragement from it.

- HeIsSailing

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Another Brick in the Wall … Ok! Ok! Maybe I never believed…

40 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rebecca  |  October 21, 2007 at 7:49 am

    A fantastic post you two. Thank you for stepping out like this. (((HeIsSailing & RoseMary))) :-)

  • 2. lostgirlfound  |  October 21, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Wow, HIS, I want you to know I am in tears right now … please give your beautiful and amazing wife a hug for me! I will come back and re-read later, but you have both given me HOPE for the first time in a long time. RoseMary … your wisdom and beauty flow from the words you say (even prompted by your hubby :-) ) Thanks you both so much.

  • 3. V  |  October 21, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    This is a great post…what a great thing to do…..for your love of each other and the strength you both seem to have and for sharing it. Some things that stood out to me are “we did physical things like join the choir, gathering supplies for the people in jail, collecting canned goods and other similar items for the slum areas.” and “He wants us to be out there and experience life to its fullest with other human beings.” If these are thoughts that can be shared by both of you…does it matter if one believes in God or not…isn’t that what life is about? I think that is where religion gets in the way, and yet it hasn’t gotten the way for RoseMary. I think that is amazing. I loved this line too…this is what has happened for me:”Because you are more open minded than before. And you are ready to accept the unique, dangerous, exciting treasures the world has to offer.”
    Again…thanks so much.

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  October 21, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    HIS:
    I think a bunch of us just fell in love with your wife. :)

    What a terrific lady. I second lostgirl in requesting you give your lady a hug. Make a BIG one and say it’s from the de-conversion gang.

    Thank you both so much.

  • 5. dean  |  October 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    a question for rosemary, if that’s ok…
    do you pray for your husband to return to the faith?

  • 6. karen  |  October 21, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    RoseMary, you are my new hero. :-) HIS, I envy you having a kind and undertanding, compassionate spouse like RoseMary, I really do. It’s easy to see now how RoseMary gives you both the freedom to explore intellectually and the innate desire to tread cautiously so as not to damage your relationship. Lucky guy!

    This is a good bit of wisdom that I wish more people could accept:

    I think it is only natural for people who have been married a long time to have evolving beliefs – people change. This should not be a reason to hurt a marriage, and it is a shame that it does.

    RoseMary, interesting point you make about the me-centered Protestant church services! So very, very true. I wonder if you think your Catholicism makes it easier for you to accept HIS’s journey? (It sounds like you got a fair amount of exposure to the Baptists as well.)

    In my experience it is the fundamentalist spouses – who make a rather rigid division between the saved and the unsaved – who have the most difficult time with us apostates.

  • 7. RoseMary  |  October 21, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Dean, at first because I did not understand what he was going through, and I did pray for him to return. But now I understand more of the process and his situation. I now pray to God that he continues to explore all possibilities of his newfound freedom. You know the way other people think and their expectations.

  • 8. RoseMary  |  October 21, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    I wonder if you think your Catholicism makes it easier for you to accept HIS’s journey?

    Karen, I believe it does. Because we have different views between him being a protestant and me being a Catholic. Because not knowing the Bible in depth the way he does, I just knew there were indiscrepencies in the Bible and why base your faith just on that Book? My upbringing taught me to be actively involved in helping out others, not just in prayers and not just in spending time in the church where I am among the same set of people whos lives are doing fine. I got exposed to visiting the poor in the slum areas and living in the canals – no decent clothes and no clean water – you know, being exposed to the social injustices of the world. That made me realize a long time ago that my religion should help these kinds of problems, and there is no time too lounge in the house and open the Bible and hope for an answer to solve those problems. It is not going to happen.

  • 9. HeIsSailing  |  October 21, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Karen, just for some background, RoseMary is from the Philippines, where she really has seen the poorest of the poor. I think that is one reason why her perspective on Christianity is a little bit different than what she found here in the United States.

  • 10. karen  |  October 22, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    RoseMary, I imagine that a lot of Christians from outside the U.S. are put off by the American brand of me-first fundamentalism. I really respect your perspective on that.

  • 11. dean  |  October 23, 2007 at 3:06 am

    HIS and Rosemary…

    i agree that there has arisen a “westernized” brand of Christianity that tends to be somewhat inwardly focused (whether that be individually or corporately), but i do not believe for a minute that that is the way that church life is set forth in the bible.

    the bible is very clear about not forsaking the gathering together of believers, so i do not believe that spending time in the bible and at church with other believers is time wasted. however, that time spent in the Word and in corporate worship and study should be the catalyst for our involvement in the world outside the church doors. Jesus was very clear that we are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit prisoners. the problem isnt that we spend too much time “doing church”… it’s that we don’t take the things we learn in those times and become His hands and feet in the world in which we live.

    Rosemary, thanks for your honest answer to my earlier question. i think there is great value in praying that your husband explores all the possibilities of what you refer to as his “new-found freedom,” because i am convinced that at the end of that journey God will reveal Himself anew. i’ll be praying too :-)

  • 12. HeIsSailing  |  October 23, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Dean,

    I had come from a similar environment as my wife, in regards to mission work for the poor. We found a new church that we both found agreeable, and attended a home bible study, that eventually we wound up hosting in our house. The me-centered Christianity that we found in this church, and revealed by the attitudes in my home bible study was one of the catalysts that lead me, ultimately, to leave Christianity.

    You can read more about that story here:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/06/23/the-book-that-made-me-doubt-my-christian-faith/

  • 13. Tuxedo Sammy  |  October 23, 2007 at 5:13 am

    Great interview. I do felt the stress melt right off when I denounced the trinity.

  • 14. HeIsSailing  |  October 23, 2007 at 5:51 am

    lostgirlfound, Rebecca, V, everyone else..

    Thank you so much for your kind words. My wife is a little astounded at the responses, and says that she is really nothing special. (I still think this de-conversion stuff confuses and overwhelms her sometimes). I try to explain to her that de-conversion for many of us is a very painful process, and sometimes that pain extends out to other members of the family. It is a shattering and changing of entire worldviews and personal paradigms.

    I am really happy that some people found hope in our mixed but successful marraige. So does RoseMary. She agreed to do this after reading some really tragic stories around the Blogsites about people threatening divorce from their de-converted spouses. There is plenty on the internet from the de-convert’s point of view, but next to nothing from the spouse’s point of view, and it is a difficult subject to talk about.

    Churces have all sorts of marraige counceling programs, but I bet not a one has a program called, “Dealing with your apostate husband”, or “When your wife de-converts”. Churches are just not equipped to handle this sort of thing, so the believing spouse is just left hanging. I know some church pastors read this site occassionally (TribalChurch, PastorofDisastor, etc). I wonder if you can wiegh in on this issue?

  • 15. Rebecca  |  October 23, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    RoseMary dearest…do you know how many times I hear our gender say that we are nothing special? We’ve got to stop with that you know. :-)

  • 16. societyvs  |  October 23, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    HIS and Rosemary – I think that it just awesome that you neither of you will allow issues of faith destroy your marriage – I give props to both of you (many – and I mean many – have not been so lucky).

    I am actually in a similar boat as HIS – my wife and I discuss issues concerning our faith quite a bit – she comes from an Orthodox background and me – non-denominational (we see diversity there). I am a First Nations Canadian and she is Greek Canadian (or white as I call it – lol – there is diversity there also). But lately my faith has been changing also – for the past 2 years – and we dialogue about it (me and her) – and it is also has been good. I was thinking about this when I read you stuff HIS and Rosemary.

    As for varying views of the faith in America – I am a First Nations Christian – and my view of the faith is very shaded by the poverty I faced as a child (and the poverty conditions my people still face) – so I find that I have some similar ground with Rosemary (and I even have filipino friends – lol) in that line of thinking (really close actually). Was good to hear another person outside the normal ‘white middle class’ America we usually read on blogs – that I could identify with (or has similar views – likely based on her cultural upbringing?).

    I think she is also the selfishness of the church which we all see – and it was the main reason I left church (I hated to be selfish like that).

    I wan to say I really enjoyed that writing – it made me feel good to be someone with a different culture than most others on here (the minority) – I think Rosemary brings a sense of that with her and truly appreciate it.

  • 17. DagoodS  |  October 23, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    HeIsSailing,

    What an outstanding perspective! I am thankful you requested (needled?) your wife into posting this. I join the throng of voices in saying you have a true treasure in her.

    RoseMary.

    Thank you. Thank you for the courage it must have taken to write this. This could not have been your first inclination, nor your desire to put out these thoughts and feelings to the people who read this. De-converts can be a rough lot on theists, at times, and if you had been lurking on any previous posts, it would be a little disconcerting to think what we would say to you.

    Thank you for being such a wonderful person to HeIsSailing. He truly has no idea how blessed he was to have you respond in this fashion. We have probably read, collectively, thousands of deconversion tales. Your response as a spouse is so very rare it qualifies as unique. I wish, for a moment, he could step into the shoes of other stories I have read, so as to appreciate you even more. If that is possible.

    You may not realize it, but you have a voice to a select, but neglected segment. I join HeIsSailing in asking pastors to start preparing for how to handle deconversion relationships. But you, RoseMary, have an opportunity to talk to the actual spouses themselves from a perspective of experience.

    See, we deconverts find others like us. Maybe not in person, but certainly here on the web. Most certainly at a place called “de-conversion.com.” And when we find each other, we can laugh, and cry, and share with tales, of “You, too? Me, too!” Our spouses, have no outlet. There is no “Deconverted-spouses.com” (I just checked.) We have found a new, liberating, and eventually exciting new view on life. Our spouses were handed something they were not planning for, not expecting, and do not desire at all.

    I wish I had read your story during my deconversion. It would have been nice to see a glimmer of sun among the cloudy tales. It may have been nice for my wife, too.

  • 18. RoseMary  |  October 24, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    To DagoodS
    At first I did not know how to react to your very kind and gracious words. I had to ask myself why would such a person like you give such high compliments to a commoner like me. Then my husband led me to an article that you have written on your site. And now I fully understand why. I felt pain, anger, disappointment, to the experience you have undergone. I just simply disliked the situation. I know it is very hard for your wife to understand what you are going through. And how I wish I can make her feel safe and secured that everything will be fine. I admire your honesty and courage to reveal such personal matter. I admit that catholic wives will think similarly like your wife if this happened to them. And they would seek to try all powers that may be to bring their husbands back to the religion. I understand her fear and I think it stems from the environment, the culture and the upbringing with regard to her religion.

    You are a perfect revelation of an atheist not gone mad. Just because you are an athiest does not mean you are going to hurt people! The only difference is that you have a different set of beliefs and there is nothing wrong with that! As the saying goes, the truth will set us free.

  • 19. RoseMary  |  October 24, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    To Societyvs
    Thank you for your kind words and such appreciation. I am glad that you have a very supportive and understanding wife. Maybe someday you can write a similar article with your wife! I believe that the more testimonials written about marraiges like our will encourage our fellow brothers and sisters that life does not end just because one became an unbeliever.

    This town is big enough for all of us….believers and unbelievers

  • 20. JoAnn  |  February 28, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you SO much for posting this. I’m Catholic and married my husband, knowing he had previously become an Agnostic in his early 20’s. I’ve felt so alone and now feel so relieved to hear other people’s stories. We are happily married and raising children. :)

    Thank you!!!

  • 21. HeIsSailing  |  February 28, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Hello JoAnn..!! RoseMary and I are so happy that people like you still find encouragement from this old article. Wow, I cannot believe it was over a year ago now that my wife and I got together to do this.

    Well, as an update, we are still together, and still happily married. I am still agnostic/atheist and RoseMary is still very much a Catholic. I cannot say that our marraige is perfect (what marraige is?), but we keep our communication open and we try our very best to understand each other the best we can. Ultimately, I think that is the secret to a successful ‘mixed’ marraige.

    JoAnn, since this article was written, RoseMary has learned all about podcasting for her job. We have been thinking that a short series of podcasts on this topic would be very helpful to people of mixed religious marraiges – specifically those on the Christian end. There are scads of online resources for both the Christian and Atheist – but very little regarding mixed religious marraiges. Divisivness is the rule. People change in marraiges, they even change religions, and when that happens it always puts marraiges under terrible stress – yet resources are few and far between.

    Keep tuned to this site – if/when we start up these podcasts, de-conversion.com will be the first to know..!!

  • 22. JoAnn  |  March 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks so much! I would love to be updated. :)

  • 23. JoAnn  |  March 1, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    You’re right, there is SO little on this topic out there. This is THE only link I found on-line that addresses mixed marriages.

    I’m guessing there are very few of us out there AND most people aren’t comfortable discussing it publicly? I know I’ve gotten some less than positive responses when people are told or realize that my husband is agnostic.

    I’d just like to talk to, or hear from other Christian spouses out there, so I don’t feel quite so alone?

  • 24. Jennifer  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I need help. My husband just informed me that he is agnostic now. We have been married for almost 7 years. When we got married it was under the belief that he was christian. I don’t know what to do or how to handle the shock that my husband is no longer christian!! How do you guys do it. Please help me understand why and what to do.

  • 25. Quester  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Wow. Okay, Jennifer, before I can help you, I need some background. I don’t know which branch of Christianity you follow or what your personal theology is. What exactly is it that you fear, here?

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  April 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Jennifer:

    I de-converted (as we call it here) after 22 years of marriage. My wife is still in the faith. At first she was quite bothered (a lot of other de-cons have had the same early experience with their spouses). This isn’t surprising really. After all, we both had the faith as a central thing in our lives. We’d both been through and grown through a lot in the faith.
    My wife was wise enough to give it some time. Time to see if I’d re-convert; time to see if I’d change significantly; time to assess it all with a cooler head.
    She recently said that she has noticed that I’ve become calmer, quieter, and more easy-going since de-conversion.

    Permit me to suggest that you take a wait and watch approach for now. See if your husband takes any wild, bad turns in behavior or such. This will take some months.
    Meanwhile, don’t go telling your friends, family, pastor, etc about this. If you do this, your husband will be harassed by such folks. However well-meaning they may be, the attention will be unwelcome and will push him away more.
    Do talk to your husband. Let him know that you’re concerned. If he was serious in the faith before, he will understand such concern. Let him explain his position if he wants to. Feel free to ask questions of him, but then listen to the answers without trying to “give him the answers”.

    Mostly, be prepared for him not to come back to the faith. Some folks do, but some others don’t. In part that depends on why they left in the first place. I don’t know why he left, so I can’t even guess at the likelihood of him coming back to faith. (If you know why he left, or if you find out, you may let us know.)

    Whatever else you do, take your time. Don’t do anything in a hurry or in a huff. It may seem distressing now, but you can live with this.

  • 27. orDover  |  April 1, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    What I would most want my family to understand if/when they learn that I am no longer a Christian is really simple: I’m still the same person.

    I’m sure what is so scary right now is that you feel like you no longer know your husband, but I’m sure that he is fundamentally still the same wonderful person you fell in love with. Some of his attitudes may have changed, his worldview might be altered, but try to look past those trivialities and become reacquainted with the same old person you’ve known all along. He’s still there!

  • 28. Jennifer  |  April 2, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Thank you for all of yours input. I will try to give it time to see how he changes. As for as I can gather his beliefs have changed because he has had no physical proof that God exsists. His thought is that there isn’t a single religon that has it right and that he can’t believe in something that isn’t there. I am not any specific branch of christianity, I have been brought up in a community church that teaches non-denominational. I am just worried how it will change our marriage and how it will affect our children. I do not plan on telling them unless they start to ask questions. Or should I? Should I make him continue to go to church or should I let him stay home, If so what do I say when people start to ask questions? It is just all confusing for me because it is not something that I saw coming.

  • 29. Jennifer  |  April 2, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Thank you for all of yours input. I will try to give it time to see how he changes. As for as I can gather his beliefs have changed because he has had no physical proof that God exsists. His thought is that there isn’t a single religon that has it right and that he can’t believe in something that isn’t there. I am not any specific branch of christianity, I have been brought up in a community church that teaches non-denominational. I am just worried how it will change our marriage and how it will affect our children. I do not plan on telling them unless they start to ask questions. Or should I? Should I make him continue to go to church or should I let him stay home, If so what do I say when people start to ask questions? It is just all confusing for me because it is not something that I saw coming..

  • 30. Quester  |  April 2, 2009 at 3:03 am

    In that case, let me echo LeoPardus- talk to your husband. Let him know your fears and concerns. Talk with him about how you both can approach your children about this, and when would be appropriate. Decide together how to respond to people’s questions.

    I can’t see any benefit in making him go to church, or forcing him to do anything. Listen to your husband. Talk with him. Be honest. Show compassion. Few of us see something like this coming. It’s a stressful and emotional transition. It’s not freely chosen, either. Not usually. People hit a point where they can’t choose anything but to believe, or disbeleive, if they are to remain honest with themselves.

    You might also want to find someone you can speak to, in full confidence. Someone you can trust, but preferrably someone who will not try to make you responsible for your husband, or ask you to change who he is.

  • 31. atimetorend  |  April 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Jennifer, I wish my wife could comment on this not me, we’re definitely not at the point where HeIsSailing and his wife are yet though.

    Couple of mistakes we made when my faith deconstructed. Unlike the advice of LeoPardus, my wife told a lot of people in the church. Strangers were coming up to me and asking how I was doing, which made me very uncomfortable there. She was hurting and it was hard for her to hold things in, so I understand, but that was the end result anyway.

    Like Quester said though, definitely find someone you can talk to, and if you can let your husband know who you are talking to, because it is so important to keep the lines of communication open. If you care about each other and can communicate honestly and constructively, things should work out and you can even draw closer through the adventure of life together. It is just REALLY HARD WORK sometimes.

  • 32. LeoPardus  |  April 2, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Jennifer:

    Thanks for your answers and your questions.

    The lack of evidence for a personal God is probably the single most common thread in all of our de-conversion stories hereabouts. Assuming that your husband has put time and thought into this, he’s probably thoroughly sure of his position now. I can bet pretty safely that he struggled hard with this loss of faith. Most of us did. The period of time between when one first realizes that the evidence (or lack thereof) is piling up against a God existing and the time that one finally accepts the conclusion is a frightening and ugly period. We all struggled and prayed and cried against it. Likely your husband went through this too. And now he’s trying to rebuild in a world that no longer has a deity to take care of things. It’s not easy at first.

    I guess I said all that so you’d know that this was no light or easy decision for your husband. And returning to faith is highly unlikely. (People who leave the faith to go “sin” are actually pretty likely to return some day. People who leave because of thought and evidence are not.)

    As for someone to talk to; you know the people in your life. Since you aren’t Catholic or Orthodox, you lack the advantage of knowing a priest who absolutely will not divulge what you confess to him. if you do need to talk to some believer, make sure it is someone you know will NOT talk to others, or to your husband. The worst thing would be for people to start trying to “win him back”.

    Regarding your specific questions:
    . I do not plan on telling them [kids] unless they start to ask questions. Or should I?

    Let them ask questions. Get them to ask your husband so he can answer. You can tell them dad doesn’t believe in God anymore, but leave anything further for your husband or the two of you together. Depending on your kids ages and personalities, they may or may not pursue the answers.

    Should I make him continue to go to church or should I let him stay home, If so what do I say when people start to ask questions?

    Make him go? No. He may have friends in the church who he will still want to see and talk to. That would give him some incentive to go. He may just go, at least for a while, out of habit, or to prevent a lot of nagging queries. At any rate, let him know you’re fine either way. You’d like him along, but if he doesn’t want to do, trying to make him go will only lead to strife.
    Ask your husband what answer he would like you to give to their questions. He may want them to know the whole story, or he may want to give them an evasive, dismissive pseudo-answer, or he may want them to mind their own business.

    Be sure to keep the communication open with your husband. This time is stressful for a marriage, but it can and does turn out OK. In fact I don’t think any of us on this list have seen our marriages break up because of de-converting. (If i’ve forgotten someone, they’ll let me know.)

  • 33. Jennifer  |  April 2, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you everyone. Your input is helping me alot. It feels good to know that our marriage can survive this change. If I hit a wall I will let you know. Thank you again!

  • 34. MJ  |  July 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I have over the past few years lost my faith. I stopped going to church about 2 years ago. Although not agnostic, I no longer believe in the religion both me and my wife were raised in. We have been married for almost 5 years. I really do care about her and other than our differing religious views, we have excellent chemistry. However, after a recent discussion in which I tried to explain to her why I no longer believe, she seemed really hurt. Mostly we avoid talking about it, but I want to be open about it and be able to talk constructively about it. She doesn’t seem to understand that my loss of faith has to do with my need to be intellectually honest with myself and not with criticizing her beliefs. The problem is compounded by the fact that I have a very demanding career path (I’m in medical school so we don’t have a lot of time with each other), we have a 3-year-old daughter, and we are both very far away from our friends and family (we live across the country, so I know she has no one to talk to about this except me). I really don’t know where to go for help, so I found this blog. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Should I start to go to Church again to ease relationship tensions?

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  July 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    MJ:

    Glad you’re here. Hang out, ask questions, read. The major reason for this site (and our associated site – see top left of page) is to help and support people in your situation.

    Don’t push your wife to talk about it. If she wants to talk, OK. Then try to listen a lot and talk a lot less. For now concentrate on living as a good person so she can see that the basic, descent human being she married is still the same.

    As for going to church, that depends on how well you can tolerate the whole thing. I go, but then we attend an Eastern Orthodox Church and that is much easier to put up with that most Protestant churches.

    You know your lady and yourself best. Maybe church attendance is good for you, maybe not. Obviously if it makes you sick to go, that’s not good. Please talk more about it if you like. Others here will have good perspectives for you.

  • 36. Are you unequaly yoked? « de-conversion  |  May 4, 2010 at 12:23 am

    [...] evolved, she still identifies herself as a Christian.  A couple of years ago, <a href=”http://de-conversion.com/2007/10/21/a-mixed-marriage-agnostic-and-catholic/“>we posted an article here</a> where we shared our views a little bit, but we would [...]

  • 37. Anonymous  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:18 am

    orDover, you wrote “What I would most want my family to understand if/when they learn that I am no longer a Christian is really simple: I’m still the same person”.

    Changing your belief system does not leave you the same person you were before. Your whole perspective on life changes, you interact with people differently, your choices are different. As for agnosticism, I cannot imagine a life where my belief is in myself and other human beings – one could go insane, we would eventually have an uninhabitable world due to our tendencies to hurt and take advantage of each other. Not that there is no good in us, it’s just that it is not a constant. If you have a loved one who has de-converted, pray like you have never prayed before. Don’t give up, talk to your priest, pastor, or spiritual counselor and ask for their prayers. Only God has the power to touch the heart of a man. Don’t seek for advice from this site.

  • 38. cag  |  June 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Anon #37 – What a ridiculous conclusion. One of the least religious regions in the world is Scandinavia. In terms of caring for people, that region is far ahead of the mostly theocratic USA. It is religion that promotes negativity towards oneself. Lack of religion promotes dependency on people rather than a fictional being.

    I am a dependent.
    To eat, I depend on the farmers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers to supply food for me to buy. I depend on the miners and smelters to produce minerals that the equipment manufacturers need to supply so the farmers etc can do their jobs. I depend on the road builders to keep me fed and clothed. I depend on the dam builders to provide electricity. I depend on the rule of law to keep crazies from imposing their warped sense of privilege on me. I depend on the computer manufacturers so I can communicate my loathing of religion. I depend, depend, depend. The list is much longer than the attention span of all but the most determined, so you can fill in the blanks.

    What I don’t depend on is any mythological characters to feed, clothe, shelter or comfort me. I don’t blame imaginary entities when viruses lay me low. I don’t hate imaginary beings. Don’t foist your delusions on me and I won’t hate you either.

  • 39. Football Helmet Visors  |  April 7, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Hey why is it I cannot access #comment-376073 (Anurags) from the PFC homepage? On clicking the link, it just takes me to the discussion main page, and not to the comment.

  • 40. Kathy  |  November 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    When I was a teen, I didn’t know much about rosemary. One day a teen maizngae suggested brewing rosemary steeped in boiling water as a hair rinse (It was summer, I was riding every day, and I wanted to make sure my hair was extra-clean and not the least bit horsey). I rummaged in Mom’s spice rack, brewed the stuff, and as soon as the infusion cooled, I sniffed it. It smelled intriguiging. I wasn’t sure I liked the smell, but I just had to taste it…Well, I downed the whole thing. It was very different and refreshing. I had to brew more for that hair rinse.I’d totally drink a drink with rosemary-infused syrup!

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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