From JW to Atheist; Now, how do I face my family?

by AlmostAtheist 20 Replies latest jw friends

  • AlmostAtheist

    Hey Gang,

    I've read dozens of threads here, some sounding similar to what I'm writing now. I can't help it, I want to talk about it. And I'm hoping you guys can help me avoid some mistakes and maybe make the transition a little easier.

    I'm 34, been baptized since I was 17. My wife of 13 years is expecting our second child. My son is 6. My parents are not and never have been JW's. Her family are all JW's, "strong", but extremely superficial. My wife knows it and doesn't think much of them. My wife has often questioned the Society and even the Bible during our marriage. I was always the one trying to work up explanations (excuses) for it all, but recently I've hit a wall and come to the conclusion that the Bible is just a book and there simply is no God. Not that I have iron-clad proof he doesn't exist, just that it seems unlikely and I don't have any reasonable proof that he *does* exist. (If anyone's interested in the 'wall', I will happily relate all that.)

    So, how do I tell my wife? She's days (hours?) away from giving birth, so clearly this will wait for a few weeks or even a month or two until the baby's born and things settle down a bit. She'll want to show the baby off at the Hall, so there will be a few meetings associated with that. I can smile and be nice, bow my head, the whole routine. No problem. For now.

    But I need to tell her the truth. I was able to wrangle a hiatus from the meetings since she's pregnant and we have so much to do around the house. So we haven't been to the meetings in a month or two. I have been dropping little "have you ever wondered..." hints here and there, but nothing major.

    Some of you have had to have this talk with your spouse, how did you handle it? There's no huge rush here, but I do feel some pressure from the fact that I now believe this is the only life we get. I don't want to waste any more precious time 'playing along' and I want to start deprogramming my six-year-old. Of course, that's going to be tricky if my wife decides to dig in her heels and remain in the organization.

    Your advice, help, and experiences are appreciated!


  • Elsewhere

    I went though the same thing... only I was not married and did not have children... so I was spared a lot of what you are describing.

    A great book that I read is:

    Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
    by Dan Barker

  • AlmostAtheist

    Hey Elsewhere (presumably not Saint Elsewhere),

    >> A great book that I read is: Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

    I just finished that book. It wasn't bad, but have you noticed how people like Dan Barker (essentially evangelical atheists) seem to push too hard? He seems very proud of himself that he can debate theologians into a corner over the definition of 'spirit' and how the Bible contradicts itself because in one place it says 'a man' and in another place it says 'two men'. It put me off, since he seemed willing to bend the truth to make his point, just like a Bible-thumper. It's not convincing. I remember when I read the Creator book, from the Society. I was reading it with a critical eye because I wanted to glean out of it material I could use to witness to an atheist. But I found that the material was really only compelling if you already believed it. Looking at it critically, it had very little to say that would convince an unbeliever. Barker's work was like the opposite of that, he said little that would have caught my eye and made me think if I hadn't already been so inclined.

    Maybe he's too far removed from the time when he was still waffling between believing and not believing. Maybe in a dozen years, I'll be saying the same things!

    I don't think I'll be penning any letters and mailing them to any and everybody like Barker did. Chances are very good I'll just quietly fade into the background, then pop back up for an occassional family visit. I hope so! I'd rather avoid being officially DF'd, if I can.


  • zen nudist
    zen nudist

    I was in nearly exactly your situation, my family were lapsed agnostic catholics who had not been to church in decades, my wife at the time my BORG theological implants failed, was a former pioneer, with mother father, one brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, all in the TROOF and living in our city.... She had moved to florida at age 5 and grew up with her congregation and they all looked at her as one of their own children....

    When I woke up, I thought to simply pretend and go along with things for a while...not make any waves, but my then wife, now ex [not because of leaving btw] seemed to wake up too, but I did not know why at the time...she seemed to have been going through the motions for a long time, but I blamed it on her illness and car accident... but when we started to compare our doubts and discuss our thinking, she revealed that she had been mentally out of JWs for over two years prior to our marriage, and stayed in because the feelings of guilt were less when pretending to be a JW then when trying to exit [really says a lot about emotional blackmail, eh?]

    the ironic thing to me was how her congregation, which had now been my cong for some 3 years, immediately turned on me as if I was the one who took their daughter from them...when I was the one who in far longer. They made efforts to seperate us and get her to meetings, they felt I was keeping her from...they never once thought that it might be that she was the one who took me out...they did not even care if I could be brought back, they made NO effort towards me whatso ever... I was to them an outsider and dirt.

  • Pole

    Hi AlmostAtheist,

    I was in a very similar situation a year ago. I realized there was little point in trying to destroy her faith in God in an all-out attack. And it would be immoral anyway, wouldn't it? Even now that I'm pretty much atheist I respect her right to believe in God and I try to emphasize it in our discussions.

    What I did instead was I focused on gradually exposing the WTS and the WTS God Jehovar for what they are. I started with tiny litle discrepancies and ended up condemning them for outright hypocrisy and scandals. It all takes time. Sometimes you need to take a break from "proselytizing", only to resume after a few days.

    From your description I gather your wife has some social reasons for showing up at the meetings and taking part in the religious routines of the JWs. This is a good sign actually. It was pretty much the same with my wife - she had a lot of JW friends and much emotional investment in their "gospel of gobbledy-gook" (Undaunted Danny's phrase).

    My results are very encouraging. My wife is almost out of the borg.

    Whatever tactic you choose, make sure you are positive and consctructive. Let her see how being intellectually honest makes you a better person, how it allows you to keep smiling despite shunning. make sure that you consider the whole shunning thing a childlish game invented and played by the WTS and their slaves. You may want to play it but for some time, but only condescendingly and cynically so - that's one definition of fading. Be tolerant but at the same time let her see that you have moral arguments against the WTS at the same time.

    Good luck!


    Check out this thread even if it's only partly relevant to your experiences, you'll see that there are many other faders on this board:


  • kls

    Welcome Dave , i think what you are doing by just dropping suggestions for now is good but don't push especially now so soon before and after the baby. Some women experience BABY BLUES soon after birth and you getting to much in to the JW thing could send her over the edge. But sure drop little tidbits here and there and give it time . Since your wife has had questions of the org. it may be easier then you think but for now just wait

    If we don't hear from you (((( congratulations on your new baby )))))))

  • BrendaCloutier

    This doesnt apply to you now, but my be helpful some time in the future.

    When I went to my parents on an AA based amends session my dad, of course, came out with the "Gospel according to WTS" and started in on me with a "What are you going to do when you find yourself faced with armageddon?" type-question. My response was "...when I face judgement day I will stand tall before Jehovah and Jesus for all that I have done, bad AND good. I am willing to own my actions". It was the first time in my life I saw my dad speachless. And I didn't have near the belief structure nor conviction then that I do now.

    A willingness to own your beliefs (or non-beliefs) and stand tall before everyone concerned is disconcerting to those used to the threats and cowering.

    Like I said, there will be a time for it. Now is not it. A need to talk with someone about your crisis of faith is good. Talk with us, find a support group, a counselor, whatever. To talk with your wife in her "delicate" condition, I agree is not a good thing right now. It's not that urgent. Besides, your beliefs might just shift again - not necesarily "back" to what they were, but forward with new insight.

    Hugs on your new journey


  • Nicolas

    I don't have a lot of advices for you but I can tell you that I became an atheist too, after many researchs. In the beginning, I was more like an agnostic (someone who believe there is no way to proove if god exist or not) but now, I recognize that this way of thinking is like "magical thinking". If we can accept that there may be a god somewhere, whitout any good proofs, we could also accept that Santa Claus exist and live in the north pole... Althougt we don't have any proofs of it.

  • Siddhashunyata

    Before Religion there was ZEN !

  • Robdar


    Which do you think will be worse for your wife: The fact that you are now an agnostic/teetering atheist or the fact that you are leaving the witnesses?

    BTW, welcome to the forum.


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