A Little Direction Please
Brian - Welcome! My 2 cents is that everyone's situation is so different and there really is no right or wrong answer. I still attend despite being awake for a long time. Why? It's just easier for us to show up at half the meetings, fake service time and then live our life as we wish. Both myself and wife have extensive family relationships that would be destroyed if we took action. In our case, the pain of staying is less than the pain of leaving.
In my situation, I was an elder and woke up after several years. The stress of being in an appointed position and having to do all those duties when I didn't believe was really tough. So, I ended up resigning for "family reasons". At first, my wife was upset with me. I set up my increasing stress and displeasure with the elder body for at least 6 months before resigning. And I was keeping her in the loop on things they did that caused me to be angry so when I did resign, she was actually happy.
Over the ensuing years, I pulled back and she was never gun-ho to begin with. Finally, we had a long discussion where she admitted she never really believed and that she was scared that if I could go from a true believer that was 100% in to someone who didn't like the organization and was 100% not in, then I would do the same with our marriage. But, when she saw that nothing changed in our relationship and that I was actually more considerate of her (not putting the org over her anymore) she realized that it was the religion that was screwed up, not us.
Now we are both awake and at first, we discussed JWism often but now its a nuisance that we deal with.
The only advice I can give you is to take it slow and don't dump everything on your wife at once.
half banana--plus one here.
So the way I did it was...
I started to tell my wife about the disturbing things that were happening in elders meetings. How so much is not how Jesus would have done things or would want things done.
How direction from the GB is now done to protect them from litigation and leave the elders open to problems.
How assembly parts with interviews are often not true, that COs make people change what they say.
How so so many quotes in article and talks are really inaccurate or lies.
The whole change in Donations - giving money from the hall to the GB - the promise of thousands of halls and then NONE. The continued asking for money.
How we are not Teachers anymore - how everything is dumbed down, and elders are not even instructed to be good teachers.
How the Carts could not be closer to what the scripture talked about "being peddlers of the truth"
All to the point of how disturbed I was with things and how they go against what Jesus taught, and how we are doing things that we accuse other religions of doing.
THIS GOT MY WIFE THINKING AND OUT ALL ON HER OWN.
Everyone has already posted brilliant suggestions.
I echo all here when I say - take things slowly. Simply share things that have "disturbed" you, without sounding bitter or negative.
Find a quote from some scientist that has been taken out of context, and show her the original full quote.
Share an observation about "things that don't seem quite right..."
Slowly step back from witness activity. Replace the time by doing fun things as a family. Go out for a nice day on a Sunday...show that life can be fun and refreshing by not being stuck on the witness treadmill..(but don't actually say that.)
This is a long game! Don't try and rush it, or force topics, or make her see things...or that will just have the opposite effect and cause her to dig her heels in.
Then, after some time, and by being a kind, patient and loving husband, she will see things for herself...
My heart aches for you. I was the wife of the PO (before it was COBE) when I started waking up. Having to announce the disfellowshipping of a friend must have been doubly hard. Unbeknownst to me he was also having doubts about the organization. When he questioned the Flood I took this as my opportunity to research and share with him what I found. I know most couples don't start waking at the same time as we did but my point is listen to your wife and offer any support when she indicates any little doubt. Looking back I think we both had had niggling doubts for years prior.
Others have said to gradually step down from your responsibilities and you have many in your position. Use whatever excuses you have to. At the same time give your wife increasing attention, something you are not able to do as a slave of the organization. Take her out to her favorite restaurant, enjoy a movie together, take walks, help more around the house, whatever your time and circumstances allow. Most of all listen to her and HER concerns and take it from there. Operate from a platform of love and respect.
I remember when we were full in the cult we would take the family camping each year. We did not go to meetings or do any theocratic activities during that week. I have to tell you my husband was a totally different person, much more relaxed and more enjoyable to be around as the pressure was off. I have this man full time now that we have left and let me tell you our marriage is much better for it.
Another thing that might help. As we were leaving the cult we lived around my nonJW family. Just being able to talk to them was a great relief. Do you have any friends or family outside the cult? Developing such friendships will make the transition to normal life easier.
Best of luck on your journey to the outside world!
ps My husband is Still TotallyADD
SORRY IN ADVANCE FOR LONG POST
Brian – I was in your shoes 5 years or so ago. I made it out with my wife and both children in less than a years time. HOWEVER, as Doubting Bro stated each situation is different. There are a number of people here who proclaim long fades. There are some who yanked off the bandaid and immediately left. Both can work but the best thing you can do is evaluate the following:
1. Does your wife love you more than the organization / Jehovah. I have noticed when speaking to individuals that made it out with their spouse that evaluate how deeply their love is for you is paramount to your next steps. I knew my wife TRULY valued and loved me and respected me as an individual. Therefore I knew that when I let her understand my doubts she wouldn’t turn trader. I have a friend whose wife was the opposite and so he had to play the long game. Be true to yourself and ask yourself this question.
2. If you are an elder the easiest way to start to breakaway is to claim you need to concentrate on your family situation because the responsibility of congo, work, and your family is very heavy. Tell them that you need to step-aside and focus. NO ONE ON THE BODY can cause any severe backlash over this. If they do discuss it with your C.O. and stick to your story.
3. Have you ever told your wife anything regarding judicial matters? If she is used to you doing this, ask her about one of the things in the elders book that doesn’t make sense. Such as if a person doesn’t do anything wrong for three years after committing a serious sin they are pretty much excused from real punishment, or any of the other things that are bat shit crazy. Ask her in a way to let her know that things like this are very troubling to you. Not in a dogmatic fashion, just in a very concerned way. Get her thinking…
4. Alert her in advance to the fact that once you are no longer and elder that the love and concern and respect that the friends had for you and your family will dry up. It will manifest and she will see the hypocrisy.
5. Lastly, I would suggest that you show as much and even much more concern and affection to her AFTER YOU STEP DOWN AND SLOWLY move into inactivity. Assure your wife that your love for her and your family is pure. Assure her that you leaving the org is just going to make your marriage and love for your family stronger, and demonstrate it to her. THIS seems to be a huge issue with so many people that try to leave. They become dogmatic and condemnatory of the org, spend all their time researching and barking out issues they have with the Watchtower Org and they grow distant and comparative with their mate. Show as much caring and affection as possible and reassure her of your love and devotion. She will notice you drawing closer to her and your kids and the congregation drawing away from you and her as your prominence (lol prominence in this org) diminishes.
I am sure others can add a number of valuable points as well, but the things above are things that worked in my situation as well as a number of others who successful got their families out of their.
Welcome BrianJ. I was in a similar situation not long ago. You can find my first post HERE I was fortunate enough to eventually help my wife free herself from the religion, though it took much pain, patience, tears and sleepless nights. I assure you it's been completely and totally worth it.
My advice to you would be similar to what's been given already. Do NOT push her hard to understand your point of view. Instead of telling her directly your reasons why Watchtower is wrong in such and such point, tell her that you have certain questions that are nagging at you and ask her to help you research those issues. That's how I did it.
Keep it simple at first. I'd tell my wife for instance that I just find it hard to believe that Jehovah would kill our nice neighbors because they didn't read our publications; that I'm struggling to understand how we can say that only JWs will survive Jehovah's judgement and then set it as a subject for our family worship.
Another time I'd tell her that I don't understand how we can apply such an important chronological significance to Daniel chapter 4 when in reality it seems to be a very simple prediction regarding the Babylonian king. Then we'd study the subject together. During most of our convs, I'd let her do most of the talking while I listened and just continued to bring up more questions.
She eventually realized that I was starting to lose faith and that's when things became a bit more difficult since at that point her instinct was to put up a wall. You've got to work hard to prevent that wall from going all the way up. So go easy on her. When you see the pressure building up, back off. Continue to shower her with affection and love. Show her that you've only become a better husband. Cry with her. Show her that you are not bitter and resentful against the brothers of the org, but rather you're incredibly hurt and confused to be realizing that some things that you thought to be true in reality make no sense.
Welcome, Brian, and please stay with us.
I cannot add much to the helpful, tried-and-tested suggestions already offered.
Leaving "The Truth" some years ago has produced certain residual effects and collateral damage, even in my dreams. Just last night I dreamed I was at the convention (no more, in reality) and my family looked at me, averted their brief gaze, and walked on. Dreams are so mixed up -- I was at the convention, being a good JW!
Those ongoing dreams reflect my daily reality. It's sad, but I remain hopeful. I stay busy with meaningful activities and associate with people who care.
Welcome, Brian. As so many others have said, I feel for you. Reading others' experiences was one of the best things I did when I was waking up. I was/am the wife of a zealous elder but have been inactive for more than 10 years so my situation is a little different. That said, both of our entire families are uber-JWs (Bethelites, missionaries, need-greaters, you name it) so my slow and careful fade was still a heavy shock, no matter how I couched it (depressed, health issues, etc.)
However, our marriage is stronger than ever. I suggest you take the advice to amp up your attention to your wife in completely non-JW ways--make time for the recreational activities that you otherwise never had time for, the things she likes to do. Help her connect with her non-JW personality as much as possible. It will help you "win her without a word!"
Despite everything, I have never been happier (or in better health!) and our life has never been better. My husband is still active with the local cong. but we have come to an understanding about where we each are and are able to accept each other as we are. I truly hope that you are eventually able to accomplish this. Please let us know how it goes.
Congrats on talking the bold initiative Brian. You are progressing towards real happiness and freedom. Only you know your situations. Take it slow.
I was a JW and quit 8 years ago. My mom and wife are still in but no repercussions.
Others have advised here a lot, which is very valuable. Hence nothing new from me