A person asked, “I was very interested in your wife's reaction, and wonder if you are at liberty to give an update on what has happened in the intervening years.” Therefore,… one of those “Where are they now?” posts—what has happened with my wife?
Our situation is probably different than most, so I am unsure how helpful this will be. All I can do is tell the tale. First, there are two things you must know: 1) I am the outgoing one in the relationship and 2) I was the spiritual instigator in the family. Our friendships were (and are) developed through my contacts. I play soccer on a co-ed team; my wife developed friendships with the other female soccer players and joined the team. I started hanging out with a certain group; my wife developed friendships within this group.
This has been typical throughout our adult lives. ALL my current friends are a complete change-over from my Christian life. My wife still connects with some former Christian friends through Facebook, but we never see them in person. Let alone go out to eat, or a party, or hang out.
Further I have always been the spiritual motivator. I pushed to go to church, join this program or that, attend an event, etc. My wife was not the pushy one.
When I deconverted, I was a Sunday School teacher, a Children’s Church leader, on a Committee, and tapped to become a deacon. I was requested to be the College Student Leader. As it would be clearly inappropriate to continue in any of these positions, I resigned and declined them all.
Additionally, I stopped speaking up in Sunday School—my Christian interaction would be inquisitive, a bit confrontational, but always a search for what was Godly correct. Once I was no longer a Christian, this could easily slide into disruptive and argumentative. Best to keep quiet.
I went from an out-going, church leader to a silent ghoul. If you ever attended a church, you will immediately recognize what happened next. Rumors abound. Was I mad at someone? Did someone do something to offend me? A Divorce? A crime? Ironically, becoming an atheist was far worse than any rumor could even suspect, and even the worst rumormonger failed to stumble upon it! (As far as I know.)
We looked for another church to hide in. Our (then) friends attended a large church seemingly safe to disappear. But I could only stand so much. Church is designed to worship a non-existent being. It revolves and is imbued with Christianese at every level. For me, it was like attending a Magic show where I already knew how the magic trick worked.
Over and over. Week after week. How many times can you see the same Magic trick, where you know the handkerchief is stuffed in a fake thumb, before you just can’t see the same trick anymore? I finally reached a point where I would not go anymore. My wife and I got along better when I stopped attending—less strain and tension when the family went without me.
But then our friends obtained employment in another country. They went abroad for a few years. My wife had no one at this church. She stopped going.
And hasn’t gone since. (With the exception of a few Christmas Eve services that I wanted to attend. I still love Christmas Eve services. *shrug* So sue me…)
The church has utterly failed people in my wife’s position. I struggled with deconverting, but eventually happily reached my current belief system, found new friends and moved one. Yeah for me—everybody be happy for me! But my poor wife has no support system whatsoever. Christians are the least helpful—ranging from “Hmm…I wonder what she did to make him become an atheist?” to “We don’t know what to say, so we don’t say anything at all.”
Do you know what the difference is between not saying anything because you don’t know what to say and not saying anything because you are deliberately cutting the person out of your relationship?
No difference; no difference at all.
Who does my wife turn to? Christians? Not hardly. Non-Christians? They don’t share the same beliefs, let alone understand or empathize with her position. Unsurprisingly, she has fallen into a nominal theist position. Thanks God or offers prayer on Facebook, but has no spiritual support system whatsoever.
Our kids are less than nominal theists. They all find Church extremely boring and never attend. We have become a family where Sunday is a day for playing together, soccer, running, errands, napping, etc. and God is a general belief not much more than as depicted on Simpsons.
This is not a surprise.