I'm not here to figure out how to change him, or anything like that. I just don't have anyone to talk to, since he's asked me not to tell. All of our friends and family are Christians, so they would make a big deal out of it...and I just don't feel like they would understand.
I'm here because this is difficult emotionally and I think it would be to anyone, no matter what your spiritual beliefs are. I'm hoping there are others who have been through something similar and can understand my feelings and share their own. I'm thinking some of the same feelings might come up with any religion or spiritual views.
Emotionally, I'm having trouble with:
-the fact I feel like we're on such different wavelengths, and have such different worldviews, when I thought they were pretty similar. It feels weird knowing that he had decided this so long ago, but didn't tell me. (we were regularly going to a church at the time too). There's a closeness you get from really knowing someone and even believing the same things...and for now I feel an awkward distance. It just feels strange to all of a sudden know that my dh doesn't believe that any sort of spiritual realm even exists. I just can't relate.
-Also, him sharing all of his reasoning with me really forces me to question everything I believe. What if I find that he's right? That really scares me. I find a certain amount of peace and security from my current beliefs, and right now, the thought of ever changing such a foundational belief terrifies me. I'm not saying I will. ...but I don't know. I do know it's more of a possibility than 2 days ago. I just feel like I don't know anything all of a sudden. ...and for me, that's scary in any situation.
(Just so it's clear, there's no fighting, bickering, or judgement going on between us regarding this issue. We're both just trying to lovingly understand each others thoughts and respect each other's feelings.)
Maybe you've been in a similar situation. Maybe not. Either way, I'd really love to hear any advice or thoughts. Anything really. I'd appreciate it.
My husband grew up United Church of Christ, a very liberal Protestant tradition.
I grew up Catholic.
DH went to some of the RCIA info sessions, and eventually went through the whole conversion process to become Catholic.
About the time he became Catholic, I started questioning. I had a mentor who practiced Wicca (Paganism), and I started doing my research into early Christianity and the origins of my faith. It was a long, slow journey, and it was several years before I quit identifying as Catholic.
But as I was questioning, I was also talking with DH, and in time he also became Pagan. Now he leans sort of Buddhist.
Oh, and we've both found a home within the Unitarian Universalist denomination. Originally, again, I leaned more Pagan with UU tendencies. But with time I have come to identify strongly with UU as a tradition of its own. Mostly because UUism, like Catholicism, has a strong history of social justice.
The Pagan traditions are scattershot, and some are quite self-involved, occasionally without regard for other people. It varies widely from individual to individual, group to group, and also across the different traditions. Some Pagan communities are better at social justice than others (as is also true for congregations and parishes).
Anyway. My advice is to study, ask questions, and pray / contemplate what your heart says & what you feel God is telling you. Christianity also offers beautiful traditions, a defined spiritual practice, and priests/ministers who may be able to advise you.
As far as why all of this changed for him. I'm not exactly sure. I think it's a matter of just not "feeling it" led him to start questioning.
I haven't been in your shoes, but my husband has. My spiritual beliefs have changed in the years we've been together.
As far as him not telling you straight away, it sounds like it was a gradual thing for him. There wasn't one day when he believed, and the next day he didn't. When he actually said it out loud, it forced him to put into a few sentences something that is nebulous and possibly still changing in his own mind. I can understand why it was difficult for him to talk to you about it.
It also sounds like he is working at being respectful of your beliefs and those of your extended family/friend base, which speaks volumes about his character.
Rather than focus on this difference, think about what core values the two of you share. Even though it feels like a huge divide, I suspect that you really still have more in common that you have different. Try making a list of things about your DH's character that are amazing.
My dh and I don't have the same religious views, but he likes mine. Sometimes I think he wishes that he could sense something beyond the day to day, but he just doesn't. Yet, it finds it reassuring that I do. He says that I'm his heart.
It's also possible that as you look at this, your marriage and your spiritual beliefs can grow and deepen.
but everything has pros and cons
In my heart, I think I really always was an atheist to be honest. Guava girl, both dh and I are a lot like your husband. I want research and I want facts, and when I started looking carefully into the origins of Christianity, it all fell apart for me.
My advice is study, search, and pray.
DH was raised a fundamentalist Christian and now practices Anthrophosaphy and is also interested in Taoism and also holds some beliefs that (I personally) could best describe as "Western New-age."
I was raised Catholic and follow a Yogic/Tantric/Vedic path.
I am Anglican - but generally any born-again Christian denomination.
DH and I both attended Catholic elementary and high schools.
We started dating in University. He was atheist. I was attending a Baptist church at the time. I told him he had to go to church with me and promise to raise our potential future kids Christian. He did.
We got engaged at Christmas (still atheist). Just before Easter he prayed and became Christian. A month later he was baptized Baptist. That June we got married. 3 years later on the day of our first child's birth he was confirmed Catholic.
So in recap:
Engaged to an Atheist
Married a Baptist
Currently married to a Catholic.
And truthfully I dated and married the man that I wanted to spend my entire life with. I love him no matter what he believes.
Dh was raised UCC (more social than spiritual); and i was raised catholic (more spiritual than social. LOL!). I still considered myself catholic until i was about 22-23 or so.
i had been practicing zen meditation since 14, though, and DH since she was 22 or so (he was 24 when i met him), and i'd also practiced yoga. we went from no church to quakerism for a spell (though absolute pacifism wasn't a great fit), and then just to nothing. around that time, DH got involved in the mythopoetic movement, and i'm somewhat of a universalist.
i identify as "non-theist" which is neither atheist or theist. that is to say, i am as comfortable asserting that there is no god (but rather in the buddhist sense a higher state of being-ness to which all of us are capable of at all times, and which we all are at all times, but ego sometimes confuses the issue), and that there is a god (in the vedic sense of divine unity) and that there are many gods and goddesses (in the sense of individuated divine personalities and/or archetypes).
so, for me, it's part comparative religion, part mythology and jungian-styled psychology, part shamanism, part buddhism, and just part whatever i'm happy with. i think i identify closest to buddhism just because it's plain and simple. you meditate, and that's that.
DH doesn't like to identify as anything, and just likes to take a mytho-poetic approach to life, digs shamanic work, and just meditates.
we sort of weave in and out and around each other, but it works out.
I can understand being nervous/scared about leaving what you know, what you experience, and even feeling a discomfort or difference, but you're probably not all that different. not much has changed, i would say, in his inherent person. he's just re-cast his experience in different terms, non-religious ones, that help him clarify and identify who he is and how he walks through the world. that's a good thing.
We enjoyed going for awhile but then he decided it wasn't a good fit. However it has come about that the specific one we went to wasn't a good fit for him. It is perfect for me but he wants a bit more tradition I guess.
However recently (as in the last couple of weeks) he has told me he doesn't think he is Christian. He still believes in God but he just can't believe in the Christ part. He isn't sure what he is and I have a feeling he will continue to try and find specific answers rather than just being comfortable the way I am but he wants to start attending UU again (we will be moving when he gets back from deployment so it will be a different location.. a different state!)
Honestly, I'm happy he has decided he isn't Christian. I can relate to theism in general a lot better than Christianity. However, I try to just support any of his religious ventures so long as they don't affect me in a negative way (for instance, if he decided he believes a wife should be a helpmeet. I'm all for those who want to do that, but I will never be one myself. I will however go kosher for him though if he were to go down that route someday... kosher is closer to my own dietary preferences anyway!) because I feel like that is my job as his wife. It isn't always easy (like all the sundays I spent in churches I didn't like just driving by... ) but I know I'd want him to support me in the same way. I AM honest though. He always knew it wasn't my thing and was surprised I said I WANTED to attend church with him FOR him, but Sunday morning for him isn't a big deal in the long run. I can always take sunday afternoon for something more my speed anyway
I think the most important thing you can do is continue to support his differences so long as he isn't hurting you (such as degrading you for being a Christian. That is a no no in my book) and to also look for things you still have in common. Perhaps you both can just enjoy the beauty of the physical world together. Silently you'll enjoy it for who created it and silently he'll enjoy it for just what it is at face value... but you both can enjoy something together. Or maybe just focus on completely different things. Pick up a hobby together that has nothing to do with spirituality and gain a new closeness that is over something you both are comfortable with.
I'll also add, it is okay to question your beliefs. It doesn't mean you'll stop having them, just that you are considering his viewpoint. Also, if you feel great peace and security in your beliefs, I also think it is okay to just say 'meh, this is what faith is for.' Some people might argue how ignorant that is, but if it doesn't hurt anyone and only makes you feel GOOD... feeling good can't be WRONG. I see religion as a deeply personal thing. We are all on our own path and at a different place in the journy. We all believe something different and for different reasons. None of us can be certain that any set of beliefs is the right one... or even that any are wrong (for all we know, we all have separate realities... we just don't know!)
and don't worry about him telling you late. Maybe it wasn't a big deal to him... maybe he was worried about a strong negative reaction from you (he did ask that you keep it a secret.) just let it go and support him as best you can. He DID finally share his new belief system with you and trusts you to keep it for him.
I would say that DH and I are going through this right now. Except that I am in your DH's position. Over the last 2-3 years I have transitions from a Christian perspective to a... well, I still haven't really defined what it is I am. I am a member at a UU church that I love. I believe in the goddess and have some earth based/pagan leanings to my spiritual beliefs. I'm still trying to figure out how what I believe translates to a personal spiritual practice. DH very much identifies as an Epsicopalian. We are currently attending different churches and he comes to church with me every few weeks. It's not a perfect or a permenant solution, but we are trying to feel our way through it as we go.
I will suggest to you that you try to be open to the transition that he's going through and try to be as non judgemental as your conscience/spirituality will allow you to be. At one point, I went to a Pagan meetup group and was feeling pretty interested in learning more about paganism. I came home from that meeting and was talking to DH about it and he told me that I needed to be really careful with the pagans and that paganism creeps him out. I can tell you that that was really discouraging for me. I was already having issues with leaving the church we were at b/c I didn't feel spiritually safe at a Christian church. And then, after his comment, I felt pretty spiritually unsafe in my own home. We had some very serious conversations that came out of those comments.