So yeah, this is an Alt, for reasons that will be quickly become obvious.
I have come to the realization that I am an Atheist. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is a big deal to me. A huge, life-altering, paradigm-changing deal. I was raised Southern Baptist, and participated (and more, actually believed!) in the theology taught in the church. My entire family Is religious. My wife and I have been quite faithful to the church for all the years we've been married, and we've raised our children the same way.
But over the last couple years, things have changed. It started when we felt our oldest was old enough to begin understanding what it meant to be saved (I'm going to be purposefully vague on gender here). As good Christian parents, we were concerned for our child's soul. We asked the very serious question... if they didn't accept Jesus and died that day, would they go to hell? This seems silly for people who didn't grow up in the church, but it was more serious than life or death to us at the time. This concerned their immortal soul. So naturally we did what we believed we should as good parents and led our child to salvation. All was well.
Except that the question began to nag at me, somehow for the first time in my life. Would God really allow our child to go to hell if they died before being saved? What if it were only one day before? Supposedly Jeffrey Dalmer accepted Christ in prison before he died. So I'm supposed to believe that he gets to spend an eternity in heavenly bliss, while my innocent child suffered for all eternity? And the only answer I found was... yes, that is exactly
what I was supposed to accept.
It left a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn't say anything to my wife, because I assumed I was just missing something and needed to research and pray about it more. So I did. I started reading more theology, studying the bible more intently, and at the same time expanding my horizons to more secular authors like Hitchens and Dawkins to make sure I was getting the whole story. And I prayed. Constantly I prayed. And the more I studied, and the more I prayed, the more I realized that I was studying about and praying to a God who wasn't there. I moved from skepticism to deism to agnosticism, slowly over the last couple of years, and finally this year I've accepted that I am fully in the Atheist camp. And though my new world view keeps me open to more ideas than I ever was before, I doubt my views on God or Religion will ever regress again.
So now I have a problem. My wife and children and family have no idea. I still go to church, still pray before meals, still give the impression that I'm a good Christian husband and father. But I can't do it any more. I can't keep lying to the ones I love most and pretending to be someone I'm not. It's killing me inside.
But I'm also scared to death. I know I have to tell my wife first and foremost, but I'm terrified of how she'll react. I still love her, and I want to be married to her. But her faith is such a huge deal, I'm afraid that this is big enough to tear our marriage apart. And it will be my fault. After all, I'm the one who has changed, not her. I broke the contract, so to speak. I never intended to, but it happened, and I can't go back. How will we function? How will we raise the kids? Will our marriage turn into nothing but a string of uncomfortable silences and arguments, or worse, will she simply leave me altogether and take our children with her? I know that seems extreme, but for anyone who has been in a fundamentalist faith, you know... these aren't unfounded fears.
My question is, has anyone else ever been through anything like this? If so, how did you handle it? How did you "come out of the closet" so to speak, and what happened afterward? I'm just looking for some advice on how to go about this. I feel like I have to tell her soon, probably within the next week or two. If anyone can provide some advice on how to handle it, or just encouragement that it turned out okay for you, it would be most welcome.TL;DR
... I've recently become an atheist and my wife doesn't know. How do I tell her?