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DH is a born again christian. Need support.

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I've been gone from Mothering for a long time. Thought I'd come back and try to find some peace, or at least vent a little.

My husband was raised Pentecostal, but when he and I got married, we were both "freethinkers." Secular humanists. Agnostic at best. He felt like the Pentecostal church had damaged him as a child.

After Sept. 11, he found God again. For about a year, I braced myself for what this would mean for our marriage and our kids. My reaction to his "revelation" was so intensely negative, that we didn't talk about it. About a month or so ago, he asked my permission to start going to church. I had no idea what that meant, really. He's back in church, twice on Sunday and Wednesday night, speaking in tongues, the whole bit.

I feel like I've lost my best friend. I'm constantly crying, mourning, trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my life. I was 21 when I got married, and I loved my husband intensely. I still do. Am I wrong to feel betrayed? To expect the core beliefs that we went into this marriage with to remain constant?

I never felt threatened by Christianity before. Now everything he says to me or my kids I feel suspicious of. I went to church a bit when I was a kid--Methodist. I don't mean to offend any Pentecostals out there, but of all the churches he could have chosen, I can't imagine one that would feel more strange to me.

Open-minded people, please offer your thoughts. I want to stay married to him, but I also want to live a happy life without bitterness.
post #2 of 37
I try to imagine what it would be like if my dh became a devout Muslim (half his family background) and I can well imagine how you must be feeling.

I think you need to put your bitterness aside for a bit to have that heart-to-heart talk about why his views have changed, what they actually are and how he sees them playing out within your family. He needs the space to be able to share with you openly, without fear that you're going to freak at him. And you need the space to be able to share your feelings with him, without fear that he's going to dismiss your concerns. Maybe an impartial third party would be beneficial?

It's normal to feel betrayed and confused and angry when your partner changes the rules of the game, so to speak. I imagine that you especially feel helpless and out of control in regards to the direction that your family is taking. That just doesn't seem fair.

But few of us remain the same people we were when we got married for the entire length of our marriage. We grow in many ways and sometimes we change drastically. The trick, as I see it, is to find some common ground. What beliefs do the two of you still share? What practises do you both want to share?

When my highschool sweetheart had a born-again experience I was none-too-happy. (I'm Christian now, but wasn't then) I was horrified. Looking back now I'd say that was because I was afraid he'd judge me. Maybe I was no longer "good" enough for him. Maybe now he'd have a problem with activities that we used to both enjoy... and if I still enjoyed them, then surely he would think less of me.

So, (((hugs))) to you and I hope that the two of you have a real good clearing of the air. I just don't think there's any moving forward until you do.
post #3 of 37
It's really hard when you have shared something so important as similar spiritual beliefs with your spouse to have that gone.

Have you both talked about how you feel about the change. What it means to your relationship and your kids? Of course you have a right to your feelings. I think my husband probably wondered who I was now, or who I would become when my spiritual beliefs changed. I know he was scared. Until we talked about it anyway. I thought he was afraid of what I would expect of him. Did I want him to follow me? And did I want to raise our dd with my beliefs and not his? Maybe those are questions you have too?

Sounds like a good heart to heart is in order. I think as long as you agree to talk about things, and to make decisions together things will be fine.

((HUGS)) to you.
post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 
Oh gosh, I should have mentioned that we've talked ourselves to death!

As far as clearing the air goes, here's what I've said:

I think you're participating in mass halucinations.

I never want my children to go to that church. (After all, he used to think it was damaging to children, but now he's part of the herd, I mean fold, again. Feels a little like brainwashing.)

His need to go SO FREQUENTLY makes it feel cultish.

I give our marriage 6 months, tops.

I don't want to hear about the Bible or Christ or Epistles or Apostles.

Sure, some of the stuff I said was damaging and uncalled for. I feel so out of control, I want to lash out. I guess for some background, dh doesn't just do something. He gets CONSUMED by it. This is no different.

And sure, it hurts because I don't want to be judged. I'm a moral person. I follow a christian ethic. But my husband thinks I'm going to go to hell. Ugh. He says that I'm some cross he has to bare because he'll never be able to "reach me."

My whole world has gone crazy.
post #5 of 37
Wow. This'd be hard for me, too. I think I would try to approach this from a place of learning -- not about God or the bible, but about their new place in your shared life. I'd ask dh how he feels his new (renewed?) beliefs will enhance his life, your life, and your life as a family. How he thinks they might detract from it. What he feels his obligation to God and the church are -- will he feel he needs to try to convert you or escape your influence or just live a separate life alongside you? Will he start choosing friends only from the church? Are there other needs in his life that are being filled by the church that could be met in other ways? So many questions. I think getting as much info as possible could help you see where he's coming from. I know it's really hard to listen, bite your tongue, and open your heart at times like this. But it might pay off in understanding. At least you'll be able to make a more informed decision. Good luck, jessjax. It's a complex one, alrighty.
post #6 of 37
I wish I knew the magical answer, but I can share what worked in a mutual friendship (although I understand that a marriage with children is an entirely different 'level').

I am Christian.
In college I spent everyday with a close friend who was/is Atheist. We still correspond, but unfortunately are on opposite sides of the nation.

People wondered how we were so peaceful together.

I think it was because we both felt strongly about what we believed, but also felt strongly that the other had the free will to believe what they believed.

In college it seems you endure many hardships and I would tell her I would "pray" for her while she would comfort me by giving me encouragement in non-spiritual, but 'active' more logic-based ways - she was/is such a nurturer.

I guess what I'm saying was that there was this understanding that neither one of us was trying to 'win' the other one over to our belief system. And we really loved each other.

It sounds as if you REALLY LOVE your husband and I'm quite certain it is returned. Just as he does not need to tell you that you are his cross to bear and devote his every waking hour to the church (b/c even biblically Christians are taught that spouses and family come before the church body), you probably don't need to yell hurtful things about his beliefs either. It sounds like much is being said in anger.

Is there any way to continue in your separate beliefs and enjoy the things you have always enjoyed together - basking in the love for your children, sharing dinners, movies, books . . . I don't know . . . whatever you did BEFORE 9/11 so drastically changed his outlook.

Just some thoughts. Marriages are so sacred - in every belief system. I sense that yours is truly sacred to you as well.
post #7 of 37
eeek, well if he thinks you are some cross to bear because he can't get you to his way of thinking I don't know what to say.

a HUGE ((HUG)) for you.

maybe he'll come to his senses?? I know tha'ts not pc, but if he can't respect your choice of belief then what can anyone say?

I wish you much peace during this time.
post #8 of 37
Yeah, wow, I'm as stumped as Arduinna. I can't fathom feeling that one's spouse is a "cross to bear" because he or she doesn't share one's religious beliefs. In fact, I don't find that a very Christian thing to say.

Before you give up on your marriage I highly recommend counseling. Although I imagine that he may feel that no secular counselor is going to understand where he's coming from. But it's the counselor's job to teach you tools to communicate better, not to pass judgement on who's religion is right or wrong.

Imo, you need to be able to respect his newfound beliefs and he has to respect your concerns. That's where a third party can help clear through the accusations and hurt feelings and help you both to hear each other more.

Best wishes to you. Marriages can survive more than you might think. I've been there.
post #9 of 37
(((jessjax))) Wow, I feel so bad for you. I tried to imagine what this would be like to have dh become a christian fundamentalist, and it would be devestating. Particularly in the way you are describing his experience.

I think you have received some wonderful advice. I second the recommendation to get counseling.

To have this conversion sprung on you is such a betrayal. On the one hand, I think individuals should always be free to expand spiritually. But that is something I consider more a searching process, constant growth. Your dh seems to have devoted himself to a rigid set of beliefs without stopping to ask why or whether it is the right thing for him to be doing to his family.

Possibly, it is just a phase. But I don't think it is easy for people to just "walk away" from such fundamental beliefs.

I wish I had more advice but I don't. (((jessjax)))

post #10 of 37
Dear jessjax,
Wow. What a time for you. You have received some good counsel here.
I think it is important for you to find out if this church really is borderline cultish. Have you talked with your dh about finding another church with which you would be more comfortable? If he insists that no other church is acceptable, then you can safely suspect that it is not Jesus that has gotten hold of him, but a cult. But if he agrees to look for another one, I think you should compromise a bit and agree to his taking the children. And you might even go with him on Christmas and Easter or something, if only so he doesn't have to sit all alone in the pew while everyone else is there with his family.

If the church does have a controlling hold on him, I really don't know what to tell you. It doesn't mean that you have to automatically give up hope for your marriage. You may even have to live apart for a while. But the best thing you can do for someone in the grip of a cult or cultlike church is to let him know that you are not a potential recruit, and never will be, but you'll be available to resume your old relationship independent of proselytization, whenever he is..
As weird as it is for you to see you dh going through this, it is also hard for a Christian to be married to someone who is not Christian. Especially in the beginning. He has conflicting feelings about the marriage right now partly because there's this ideal that Christians are supposed to marry Chrisitans and have picture-perfect families which do devotionals and Bible studies together, go to church together, etc. And because he believes that Jesus is the only hope for salvation, he worries about your eternity. Telling you you're going to Hell and calling you a cross to bear were immature and selfish things to say, and hopefully as he matures spiritually those kinds of comments (and the sentiments that led to them) will disappear and be replaced with more kindness and concern for your welfare. My prediction is that as he settles more into his new life, though, he'll chill out a little, start appreciating more what you guys have together, and try to be a better husband and father.
At least this is what I hope for you!!!!
post #11 of 37
((hugs)) It sounds like a hurtful, scary place to be. Even most Christians would feel that he is displaying behaviors that are on the fanatical side.
Would he be open to trying a different Christian denomination? One that is not so pentecostal? (no offense to Pentecostals, its just that this is obviously one of the issues tearing your marraige apart) Then hopefully he could get some more moderate christian counselling that would help him see how he is pushing you away. Pushing you away is not the way to "lead you to Christ" (again, not that he *should*, but I'm sure that is something he thinks about)
Maybe you could visit some more mainstream churches and maybe even talk to a Christian counsellor or pastor yourself to get some ideas on how to discuss this with your husband?
post #12 of 37
Thread Starter 
I asked him if he thought I was going to hell. That was just asking for trouble. His response was, "It is my understanding that the only way to get to Heaven is to live a life devoted to God." Or something like that.

As for the cross to bear thing, he was saying that about all his heathen friends. I included myself.

He's not being hateful at all. He's really walking the walk, so to speak, and being a loving father and husband. I just don't like what it's all tyed up in.

As for his church being cultish, it's a United Pentecostal Church. Some Christians believe it's a cult. I don't think it would qualify under most definitions, though. I tried to talk to him about finding a church we'd both like. I've attended UU and Episcopal churches that I really like in our area. He's just says, "They don't believe what I do." Apparently it's very important to him to attent an apostolic church. The idea of the "oneness" of God is at the heart of his beliefs. That is God=Christ=Holy Spirit. There is no trinity.

His beliefs are SOOO rigid, which is one of the things I've always disliked about some forms of Christianity.
post #13 of 37
I don't know you or your husband. I am not a liscensed psychologist. That said...

I think your dh is very scared of something, right now. And, I'm not talking about going to hell or anything like that. For him to completely change his life and mentality all of a sudden would freak me out, too. Since you said this is all post-9/11, I feel safe assuming he is afraid that he is going to die, and soon. Perhaps he has never been as anti-Christianity (or whatever) as you thought (and he projected). It's likely that he felt traumatized by his past church experience, but wasn't ready to completely throw in the towel. Now, tho, he is going back to what he was taught growing up because it feels safe to him. Now, he "knows" he'll go to heaven if Saddam starts blowing us up or whatever, like they imply on the news.

He needs therapy. He is not being brainwashed, he is brainwashing himself.

Good luck!
post #14 of 37
The church sounds extreme. Likely it isn't a cult (I know a little teeney bit about UPC) but they *might* well use cultic methods to attract and keep members.

Try to talk with your husband, that you accept his acceptance of *Jesus* but all the church baggage is just that....baggage.

Encourage him to keep Jesus and ditch all the church yukky.

Perhaps you could even agree to go to another church...once/week, thank-you.

It's a shame he can't be a *freethinking* *Christian*, it *is*possible but not in that climate.

Debra Baker
post #15 of 37
I think most of the posters here are being unfair to your husband by suggesting that he "tone-down" his beliefs, get counseling for his "fears", or go to a less "extreme" church. While I am not a
pentecostal, most of my aunts and uncles are. At first, I thought that their church was really strange and it scared me. But then I attended a few services and did some research on their beliefs. I came to an understanding of why they believe what they believe, even if I disagree with it. I have an appreciation for their faith now - even if it is from outside the church. Isn't that what love and tolerance is all about?

I personally see nothing "cultish" or rigid about believing strongly in your faith and practicing it. Jesus was a pretty radical figure - he said a lot of things that offended people and was pretty rigid in his beliefs about sin - "Go and sin no more."

If your husband is happy with his new found faith and is being a good husband and father then what is wrong? Maybe counseling could help you deal with your bitterness towards this change in your husband. Love means allowing people to change, grow, be who they need to be...I have had to learn that the hard way...(long story)

I guess you just have to decide if you can love and live with a Christian husband...

I am sorry that you are suffering...it is hard when people change-but we can adjust to it. It just takes time and work. I hope you and your husband will stay together because it sounds like you both really love each other.
post #16 of 37
Thread Starter 
I don't think it's unfair to suggest that my husband go to a church that I might like to go to with him. :

We are a family after all. And if I, an affirmed non-christian, am willing to go to a church at all. . . well that seems like a bigger consession than him just going to a different church.

I do have a clear understanding of his church's doctrine. As for love and tolerance, well, they do seem to be a loving group of people. But I don't think tolerance is encouraged by any group who think they have THE one and only "truth."
post #17 of 37
Jess, i hope you won't mind if i put in a few thoughts.

jess is my very best friend in real life. a wonderful mother and very, very smart. she loves her dh and is so protective of him even through this, even tho she does feel betrayed and scared, as she wrote.

to understand the magnitude of her current experience, it seems necessary to explain a bit about the past. i've known jessjax for five years, and i met her through her dh, who i've known now for more than 10 yrs. in fact we started college together and were part of a small tight knit community at our college, part of a separate "honors college" at our university. everything we learned there was about critical thinking, rhetoric, logic, and community. the very core of our education was based on these principles. that may not seem very odd to those of you from bigger, more progressive schools, but me and jess' dh (and most of our friends) were raised in rural arkansas towns (that's anything but fayetteville and little rock, really) where fundamentalism is really the *only* religious experience offered. there are a few more ecumenical churches but they are definitely in the minority.

so we had this life-changing experience in this fabulous educational program that truly set us apart from many around us.
we were taught about all the religions and like many of you i believe that living a christ-like life is a worthy goal. but we have a tight friend group, arising from this college experience, that has lasted these ten years--and a large part of what held us together is/was a rejection of mainstream values that do not honestly improve the "quality" of your own and others' lives. me, jess' dh, and three other friends built our relationships around that principle, a very intellectual and exciting family. then jess andher dh got married, i married a likewise freethinking man and another of the group married someone similar (another alumi of the program). we started talking about building a intentional community.

now none of us know what to think. we *do* want to support a right-thinking, right-acting life. but this is a church that proscribes dress/appearance habits for its members. women/girls don't cut their hair (because hair is a woman's "glory", it says in the bible) and do not wear pants. really think about that for a moment. we called the taliban horrible things because they restrict women's dress, etc. my anthropological training tells me that cultures which are controlling about women's appearance tend to be misogynistic. that's scary to my, and jess', core egalitarian philosophy.

and really imagine basing your marriage, at least in part, on sharing the rejection of fear as an ethical system, and on a shared idea of "god" as an abstract, a "watchmaker" at most, who has stepped away from this creation. and suddenly your husband thinks you are doomed to burn in hell for eternity because you haven't signed on the dotted line with this angry god. imagine hearing your husband talk about judgement day approaching when you are an atheist.

jess is a good person. i'd go so far as to say christian except that she doesn't accept the divinity of christ. but when i imagine someone believing she is going to hell i get mad. you know?
and to know your dh is speaking in tongues, with all our intellectualism up to this point rejecting such experiences as a rather frightening group hallucination/trance...texas suz is it really so easy to say she should just accept his new faith? the truth is we are all afraid for him. he seems so lost, not found at all. maybe that's my anti-established-religion talking.

i read back over what i have written so far and i don't know if anything i've said helps clarify to all of you or helps jess in any way. maybe i am working through my own loss of understanding and shared values with a close friend. all i know is i love you both, jess, and i am sending out my desire to see you both get through this to whatever gods or goddesses are out there, if any, and i'm devoted in an even more concrete way to helping you both in any way i can.

much love,

post #18 of 37
Joy, it's great to have you back, I've missed your posts.
post #19 of 37
It is always a pleasure to see how someone close to, but not directly in, a situation sees it.

I stand by my post. He seems like he's having a breakdown rooted in fear. He needs help. I'm not sure what your options are, Jess. I have no other advice, but I'm sending you vibes of strength.
post #20 of 37


Hi there,

I feel really bad for you...it seems that he has taken a very drastic approach and group to be involved in.

I am Christian, have gone to church since I was two...but have always realized that any times you go to extremes it is dangerous and not what my Higher Power expects of me...
I say all that just because allowing myself to judge someone and their salvation is so wrong...do so in my opinion can send me right to hell!!!

One of the things I have realized in the last few months (as my dh and I were on the outs) is that I can only control myself. I can only make decisions for myself. If this was my situation, I would put up some boundaries. Let him know that you can not control what he does as far as his beliefs but that he has to respect you and your choices, and if he doesn't there will be consequences...
So, if you don't want to hear about "bible" things, then tell him "I am not interested in hearing about those things...please keep them to yourself, or I will leave the room"
It's not a matter of trying to change him, you can't...you can only control yourself and provide consequences when he does not respect your boundaries.

I am the kind of person that would use his information against him, like I mentioned above...to tell you that you are going to hell, is wrong and in my opinion could seal his own fate, not because that is my opinion, because it's in the bible...there is only One that can judge to make that decision...also if he sees that you are doing your own investigation and not being "converted", that MAY make him start to wonder about his own thoughts. I'm sure he loves you as much as you love him and so deep down he does want to be connected with you.

I hope you find a solution to this...it sounds very scary and hurtful...hugs

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