How did you save your marriage while leaving?

by AlyMC 19 Replies latest jw experiences

  • AlyMC

    The other thread (opposite in nature) is really touching and I enjoyed reading everyone's experiences. I saw a few people who were still in share how scared they were of that outcome, so I thought positive stories of how you managed to save your marriage while leaving the organization might be nice.

    So, what is your story?

  • AlyMC

    For me, my decision to leave came very quick. It had been brewing for years. I wanted to either sink or swim, I was sick of being a "weak" one. So I asked the elders to approve me for a study and they assigned a pioneer to me. It was the first time I took the studies seriously at all- including looking up "worldly" scholars quoted by the society, lexicons, etc. We only studied a few weeks, then I went from "I want to study" to "I'm leaving". I'm sure it took my husband off guard.

    He asked why, and I didn't try and convince him of anything. I used "I statements" kept it about me and how I felt, and avoided placing blame. I talked about what I felt lacked in my childhood and how I wanted different experience for my kids. I said how I had always been so unhappy as a witness and that at this point I didn't care if I died... but that I just wanted to enjoy the life I had in a positive way. I pointed out his grandparents who have given their life to the organization and how unhappy they seemed. The end hasn't come in their life time, and that I didn't want to give my life waiting for an end that might or might not come. I'd rather live the life I *knew* I had, and if I died, I died. I didn't see the point in trying to convince him that the end wouldn't come. I think I even said something about how even being a JW doesn't secure me from not dying, I have to always give 100% of myself to preaching and studying to really assure me a "spot". "I just don't have it in me" I told him.

    I tried to keep doctrinal debate to a minimum and chose carefully and worded my objections as questions. He tried to answer my questions, but ended up asking me to talk to some elders- which I obliged. I was careful and "meek" in my delivery and asked questions- very careful not to outright say I didn't believe.

    My feelings hadn't changed after doing what he asked so I told him I couldn't continue to go, but that I would continue to support him in going and we could work out the details on how often the kids could go. I pointed out his other grandparents (one believer one not) and my grandparents (two different non-JW religions). I made it clear that I supported him, and always would... and knew he would support me as well.

    I told him repeatedly that I loved him and that I wanted to let go of the religion, but NOT him. That above everything else, I wanted to keep close to him through this. That the only thing I couldn't stand to lose was his love, which was true.

    I know not all will get an answer so surprising from a believing mate, but after the shock wore off and acceptance came in, he decided to leave with me. He didn't enjoy meetings enough to do it alone, much less alone with kids. It kind of shattered his world, because he had always hoped he'd marry a pioneer to "carry" the family spiritually. I guess in his heart he wasn't much of a believer himself. He had rarely seen one partner leave and not have it eventually tear them up... so he left with me. That wasn't what I wanted, honestly... I didn't want to be his reason for leaving.

    I won't lie, the next couple years were a real trial for us. We didn't quite know how to relate to the world, how to make friends, how to thrive outside the confines of the organization. I'm sure there was some bitterness to me for taking away our social structure and his family in a big way. It took us awhile to find our feet. He eventually has come to his own conclusions about the organizations and no longer regards it as a truth... but it was his own journey, I didn't push it on him.

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    Thank you for sharing your story AlyMC and what sounds like great advice.

    I'm still in with a JW-loyal wife and unbaptized kids. Working on keeping the marriage strong, developing outside interests and non-JW friendships. It's a tricky tight-rope.

    Glad to hear how well things worked out for you.


  • choosing life
    choosing life

    I tried to let my husband know that I still loved him and did not want the difference in beliefs to come between us. It is very difficult though because of the loss of friends and social structure that we had for decades.

    I think one of the biggest issues was the question of whether I would walk away from him as I did the religion. You have to separate the marriage from the religion. It is important to calm any suspicions your mate may have.

    My husband left shortly after I quit going too. He just didn't want to go to the meetings alone. My children are grown, but they have become more distant because we no longer attend. Most of my husband's beliefs have stayed along witness lines, but I was thrilled to hear him say, "I don't know what I believe", the other day. Might not sound like much, but it's a huge statement for a jw.

  • oompa
    AlyMc: I know not all will get an answer so surprising from a believing mate, but after the shock wore off and acceptance came in, he decided to leave with me.

    OMG! YOU LUCKY #$%^......I did not see THAT much luck coming in your story! I am still with my JW wife and son (20 pioneer, and mini-serve!) but as Open Mind said....It is tricky tight-rope walk............................oompa

    sure hate sounds of these decades of rebuilding friends and such

  • AlyMC

    It shocked me to, and made me feel really guilty as well. It is fair to say though that he was not a die hard. When we met he was in college, we were always there on sundays but rarely in service or weekday meetings. I think his biggest reason for being there still was familial expectations. He'd been DF'd before and didn't like being the black sheep of his family. Can't say I blamed him...

    I can only imagine how much harder it would be for someone who is really immersed in it.

  • 10p

    Well, I haven't left left. I stopped going to meetings a year and a half ago, and stopped witnessing a few months before that. My marriage has gotten much stronger since then, but holy crap, it was a close scrape. There were 3 or 4 times we looked at each other and basically said "there is no reason to stay together anymore, except for the kids." I think the one line of reasoning that helped in our case, was I got my wife to accept that there is a chance, however small, that JW's aren't the right religion. For her, it is a matter of loyalty to remain one, because she doesn't see the bad that I see (of course, because she hasn't read any 'apostate' info), and I admire her for that loyalty. She isn't the kind of person to reason on anything. She takes life as it comes, and is more a social and caring person than a thinker. She's not stupid, but she just finds no joy in studying or learning or anything like that. I'm the complete opposite. But I think other than having a logical doorway to each other, the main thing that kept us together was my commitment to her. As a JW, she wasn't going to leave me (not unless I pressured her into leaving the org ... then she would seperate from me on scriptural grounds) - and I constantly made my commitment to our marriage plain as ever - in fact I made it clear that I was more committed than ever - because now my commitment was based on my word and honour, not on fear of god. (some might think this a weaker commitment, but I dont believe fear is the basis of any good commitment) But its still early days - I haven't officially left, so we can still assosiate with her family - which is the main reason I haven't dissasosiated myself. Its been about 2 years since I first clearly parted ways with the org in my heart - and our marriage is definately stronger than ever. I changed a lot in the last 5 years or so ... and those changes I think were what gave me the courage and strength to look objectively at my own religion ... and at myself - to improve as a husband in reality, rather than thinking I was a great husband because I was a good MS and therefore, by default, a good father and husband. So I think becoming a better communicator, a more committed partner, a more involved father, a more objective and reasonable person overall all helped too. I knew when I left that I would have to be the better person - and prove by my conduct that I could NOT be a JW, and be a BETTER person. Because that is an equation that JW's don't understand. For them, when someone leaves, they become a smoker, a fornicator or adulterer, drug taker, murderer, rapist, pedophile etc. To actually become a more humanitarian person is like 'heaping firey coals'. Of course, that takes constant effort, and I remind myself by typing this, that I need to get off my ass and make more effort again, because I've been a little lazy lately. You know ... I never read long posts, so if you read all this garbage - thank you!

  • MissingLink

    Its a very scary thing going to your believing mate with your decision to leave "the truth". Everything goes thru your mind - is this going to break up my marriage? Will I lose my kids? Me and the wife had a few spirited and tearful conversations where she basically thought that I was being deceived by Satan. We each listened to each other, and eventually I got her to look at the religion objectively. We were both nearly born-ins, so we'd never chose this religion ourselves, we inherited it. She agreed it would be reasonable to think of what we hadn't been born-in and if someone had knocked at our door. Would we have looked up what the organization was all about, and how it started? So we both did a little internet research, read Crisis of Conscience and a couple other books. We both know the organization is a load of rubbish, but don't yet know what to believe. I'm leaning more toward Agnostic, and she's leaning more toward some sort of Christian. Her mom doesn't know that we've given up on meetings and all that - she's trying to break this news to her gently. So we still have some hurdles to get over before we're totally out. I do feel very lucky that my wife is so reasonable and open minded. It could have very easily gone the other way for me if she wasn't.

  • aSphereisnotaCircle

    If it hadn't been for my really crappy JW marraige, I might still be a witness.

    He and I both left the org and the marraige at about the same time,

    can't decide which one I miss less...

  • ronin1

    My husband let me rant and rave any time I was up-set with the organization and if I wanted to support other family members who were fading, he never stood in the way. On the other hand, I never tried to pressure him to believe what I believed. I knew that time, experience, and patience would let him see the 'light' for himself. And years later other experiences in the borg by himself proved just that. Today, we have basically 'faded' and feel very good about our actions and very little involvement with the JW organization.

    I keep enlightened by the JW forum and keep my husband up-dated on changes in the organization. Therefore, we have actually become more closer to one another and talk more freely about our spiritual and religious beliefs.

    One note: I pick the right time to talk about the JW organization and religion, etc. Sometimes, our spouses may not be in the mood to discuss religion, etc. So we have to know when to speak and when not to speak.


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