Post # 1
When my and H first met, we were both proclaimed atheists. Recently (within the last year) my husband had what he describes as a spiritual awakening. He says he has found god and has started reading religious books and delving into his newfound spirituality whole-heartedly. I am, however, still an atheist and this new man is making me nervous.
He has gone from reading books like The God Delusion to reading the bible every day and going to church. He has not and insists he never will try to convert me in any way, but I can tell he is sad that this thing that he believes in so strongly is something I can’t experience and he can’t share with me in a way that I will understand. I am sad as well to be honest with you. I want to know every part of my H and experience every part of life together, but I can’t go with him on this. I wish I could, but I just don’t believe.
I feel nervous that we’re somehow going to grow apart. That he is going to change in a way that will make us incompatible. I know that people grow and change constantly through life, and that part of what makes marriage hard work is making the effort to grow and change together… but I can’t force myself to believe in something I don’t, you know? Also, I will be honest and say that part of me is a little put off by his relgious beliefs. I try very hard not to show it and to be as supportive of him as he is of me, but I know he knows how I feel about religion and belief in god from our past conversations when we were both atheists.
I’m so anxious about this and I don’t know what to do about it. I talk to my H about it, of course, and he understands why and how I am uncomfortable and although I would never ask him to do so, he keeps a lot of it to himself. That makes me both sad and relieved at the same time. Sad because I don’t want him to feel like he has to hide this huge and important part of himself, and relieved because I honestly don’t really feel very comfortable with it. I am absolutely petrified that eventually he will change so much that we won’t be able to be together anymore. I am ridiculously in love with him and so happy that the thought of growing apart kills me.
Thanks for reading all of this and I would appreciate any advice.
Post # 3
@peasantsong: This isn’t really advice, but how did someone go from an atheist to a god-fearing believer? Was this sudden? Did he come from a previously religious family, get away, and then go back to that?
I just feel like there must have been some sort of event/person to influence such a huge change like your spirtual views…
Post # 4
@Cornmuffin09: He grew up catholic but I don’t think that had anything to do with it. He said this “spiritual awakening” happened on a hike we went on this past March. It was a beautiful hike and he said that during the hike he suddenly “saw” God, spiritually speaking. He can’t really explain it to me any better than that because he says it’s more of an intuitive feeling and I obviously don’t feel the same way.
Post # 5
Far out thats a huge change. Has anything happened to spark this change? What are his folks like? Where do they sit regarding church and God?
I’m sorry I am not sure what else to offer you in regards to advice. I have the same outlook as you and would feel the same way if my FI went through a change like this.
Post # 6
@brixey: There is no major life event that seems to have sparked this change. His parents are catholic but not practicing. He says he was just struck one day, on our hike, with a feeling he describes as god speaking to him or touching him and now he believes. It was as quick as that.
Post # 7
Yikes, that is a huge change. It’s especially hard because there’s no reason behind it. You can’t deal with it by reason.
No advice, but good luck.
Post # 8
@peasantsong: As someone who regularly swings between doubting agnostic and religious zealot, it could be just a phase! Every few years I start regularly attending church/bible study, then quit it about a year later!
Post # 9
Wow, that’s tough. I’m also an atheist marrying one, so I can understand why it would make you so nervous. I honestly don’t know how I would stay married if my partner suddenly became very spiritual. It’s such a difference.
It may simply be something he is exploring? He could go right back to his old beliefs, who knows. Or perhaps you won’t grow apart because of it and find a way to live in harmony with separate beliefs.
I really don’t have good advice. If it were me, I’d be pointing out all the things that make me an atheist – there is loads in the bible that contradicts itself. I’d be reading aloud The God Delusion to him. I’d be pointing out every little flaw.
I don’t think that’s the best way to handle it, as it’s quite offensive, and I know you want to be respectful. I’m stumped! Just know that someone understands why this has put you in such a tough position.
Post # 10
@peasantsong: i dont have much advice, but i wanted to tell you that i would feel the same way in your situation.
-are you planning on having children? How does this change the way you two plan to raise them religion wise?
Post # 11
@peasantsong: No advice, but I don’t know that there’s much that you can realistically do! When DH turned 30 it was like a light went off and all of sudden he wanted to go to church more, have spritual conversations more and put a lot of emphasis on being a ” better” man and human being. Do you think that maybe your DH feels or has felt like he was going down a different or wrong path and now he feels that attending church and becoming more spiritual will somehow reset some behavior?
Post # 12
First off, don’t try to convert him back to the way you’re thinking. If it were the other way around, people would be in an uproar. So no need to read “The God Delusion” outloud, for one it’s disrespectful and two, it could hurt your relationship.
People change their worldviews all the time. Do you still love him? Is he respectful of your beliefs? If yes, then I would just let it go. As ridiculous as religion sounds to you and to others, it’s meaningful to him and just let him have it. Don’t feel obligated to attend services.
Post # 13
I’ll say this with complete sensitivity: This is a perfect opportunity for both of you to put your vows into practice. I’m going through something similar with my fiance, only in reverse. I am the one growing closer to my faith. He isn’t an atheist, but he’s … not really anything. It’s been very difficult, but we support each other. For example, yesterday he sent me an article about faith/religion he thought I would find interesting. I don’t pressure him to come to church or to read anything.
After some hard months, I think this has made us stronger. I see the effort he makes into coming to church with me sometimes (holidays). I love him all the more for that. I think it took me really backing off and not pressuring him to make him more comfortable with the changes. I am trying to focus more on my own spiritual journey than on converting anyone. This is allowing us to live out our love more fully.
Even though it’s hard, it’s absolutely worth it to keep working through everything. Best of luck!
Post # 14
@peasantsong: Christian bee (and young adult convert) here…
If he’s committed to you, I don’t think you need to worry. Christian teaching is that a believer stays with their spouse even if their spouse does not believe. In my church, there are quite a few people who attend without their spouses, and in some cases it is because their spouse is not Christian. I’m not sure how they work it out, but now I think of it, I can’t think of any cases where one person attending our church (when previously neither did) has caused the marriage to fail.
Post # 15
[comment moderated for criticism of religious beliefs]
Post # 16
I’d be less surprised if he went from agnostic to mildly religious. If he has recently gone through something in his life that has made him wonder what he’s going to be, or do, or feel. If he’s questioning himself for some reason (and I don’t mean to imply you’re making him question himself) he may be looking for that stability he had as a child in the catholic church.
I definitely think your best option is to support him in what he does, but don’t get involved.
I’m just glad to know he isn’t one of those people who dates to get others to turn christians…