I explored a few options as I was coming out of the organization. Nominal Christianity had no appeal except that it was without the policing and punishment of the JW's. There was no open discussion still and I didn't agree with most of it. But I did discover the Bible Students and started attending some of their meetings. Yep, those same guys who began with the Russell are still around; they never joined the formal JW organization. In fact they don't even like it when they are associated with the JW's ( http://www.food4jws.org/faq/bsjw.htm).
So what was it like? I can only vouch for the one congregation that I was with. They are different in more than just doctrine, however. Obviously they haven't had the phenomenal success that the Dubs have enjoyed because there is no mandatory preaching requirement. Each church is independent of the other congregations, but they still have conventions. They don't have Kingdom Halls and meet in homes. Women read and pray. They still sing, but could use some lessons. They sometimes brought snacks (it reminded me of Book Study snack nights) and they often went out for lunch on Sundays. Most of them were up in years as well. But in all I found them to be a sincerely loving, more open-minded and intelligent group of people.
I also found that many of them still accept a lot of Russell's quirky spin on things, although their were disagreements. Here's the kicker: they actually read entire books of the Bible at meetings and discuss them openly! My God! An exchange of ideas?? The thought seemed so repulsive to me! There were differing viewpoints on several occasions. They studied other books and gave sermons too. In all honesty, if I had to attend church with anyone I would pick them.
I feel you should marry someone who is approximately close to your own religious beliefs and level of enthusiam. Not because "that's how it should be" but because it will cause fewer problems down the road. Not sure what their marriage views are. I'm guessing they wouldn't disfellowship and shun you though.
I left the Witnesses, after discovering Russell's writings, and eventually lent my support to the Bible STudents. Serving with a small class in New Jersey. It is the oldest Bible Student class in the world, having been formed in the 1880s, and the first to divorce itself from the Society.
I have met former Witnesses in my travels to various conventions, bethelites, elders, servants and pioneers.
I've been reading in Volume V of SCRIPTURE STUDIES how Russell defined Sheol-Hades as "oblivion." The JW definition is the "common grave of dead mankind." Would this latter definition be acceptable to Bible Students, or did the Society change the definition after Russell's death?
It seems to me that, according to the current WT understanding, one must actually be buried to be in Sheol (although the individual grave would not itself be Sheol). But then, I also seem to remember than another old definition which goes back to Russell's time is "gravedom," which is closer to what they say now.