Carolyn: I have been an average churchgoer my whole life, but recently I’ve found myself moving further and further from organized religion. I have huge doubts about the existence of God, and the Bible just makes my eyes roll now.
I’m very comfortable with this because, honestly, I feel like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I want to live my life by taking things as I see them, not as I’m told to believe them.
My only concern is my wife is still a churchgoer. She’s not a passionate Christian, but she wants to continue going to church and raise our two kids in the church.
What/how/when should I tell my wife about how my faith is changing? I really have no idea how she’ll react, but I’m just afraid of revealing this. Do I just keep faking it in church?
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Faith Is Not What It Used to Be
Surely you didn’t choose me thinking I’d be the one to say yes.
Couples can survive differences, but they rarely survive contempt. At least not happily.
Rolling your eyes is contempt, and faking it can be, too, so strike both from your playlist and replace them with kindness and honesty. Those two aren’t just the standard-bearers for respect, but they’re also the “how” and “what” of telling your wife.
Which may not go well – I figure you’re afraid for a reason – but still beats concealing a significant part of who you are now.
The “when,” of course, is now, or as soon as possible. I can make an argument for keeping your doubts to yourself (and for sharing them, too) as you figure out where they’re taking you, but that “weight … off my shoulders” says you’ve clearly arrived at the threshold for sharing your truth.
A couple of points not to skip, assuming they’re also true: Your prior commitment to your faith was sincere; your drifting from it wasn’t deliberate; you’re not going to stand in the way of her worship; and you’ll cooperate with her on raising your kids in her church tradition as long as it doesn’t involve deceit.
People don’t always remain as they were when they met and married their spouses, so it is not a betrayal for you to evolve. It is on you, though, to make sure this doesn’t become one. Tell your wife what she deserves to know.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.