When and How to Come Clean on Atheism

Right now I know I’ve given up on my Christianity, the reasons are many and varied, which will become more clear as I continue this blog. The question that’s bothering me most at the moment is when (and how) to come clean on the matter.

This is really only relevant to one person in my life, and that’s my wife, the person I love the most and whom I least want to hurt and upset. Telling my wife that I have turned my back on the Christian faith that we have shared so many years will be very hurtful to her and its just not something I am ready to do to her.

I know the day will come when we have the conversion where I admit that I’ve made the decision to abandon Christianity and adopted the atheistic conclusion that there is no God. I want to be able to tell her, rather than have her find out, but the right time is always tomorrow and never today. My biggest fear is she’ll work it out and challenge me, which will likely be worse than manning up and telling her.

So for the moment I am in a self induced limbo, knowing the truth about my state of disbelief and going through the actions of Christian every Sunday.

I know there will be many friends who will be very upset as well, our closest friends are all part of the church. Their reaction is far less important to me than my wife’s. Do I tell her at home on a normal day or do I wait until we are alone and away from home? Either way will be emotional and will likely be unpleasant for both of us. What is of more importance to me is how we deal with the after effects.

There is just one person who knows, my brother. I told him very soon after I made the decision, because I knew he had already done the same. He confided in me several years ago and it really wasn’t a surprise for me at all. However, I’ve always been the devout and sensible older brother, coming from me, this news was more surprising.

My brother’s main concern was also for my wife, did she know? Why not? When did I plan to tell her? And critically, don’t leave it too long. I love my brother dearly and his advice is usually very good. He understands my reticence, but cautions strongly against doing nothing.

So I’m doing nothing. One day we’ll have the discussion but I don’t feel capable of having it just yet.

So the pretence continues…..


8 thoughts on “When and How to Come Clean on Atheism

  1. When I finally realized I was losing my religiosity I was also most afraid of losing my husband’s love. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened though its taken some readjustments in our priorities.

    So your wife has no idea you have doubts? You went through this whole process of deconverting while saying nothing? She has NO idea that your beliefs have changed or that you’ve been asking questions? Surely she must have some idea? You must at least know how she feels about atheists, right?

    I am a little flabbergasted and hope for your sake that the situation is not as dire as you make it sound! Don’t you have any recovering Xian books that you have laying around and have been seen reading? That might be a good place to start?

  2. Hi Erica,

    No its not quite as bad as it reads in isolation, but your questions and points are very relevant and give me much to pause and consider.

    My wife knows that I no longer accept creationism. All my books on the subject got disposed of a few years ago, along with many other religious books that we both no longer have a need for. I have no books relevant to my current state, having got all the information from blogs, podcasts and other websites.

    I am fairly sure she suspects I have doubts and if I’m honest I do wonder if she doubts more than I give her credit for. I’ve actively avoided the subject for the reasons stated above. Its a little complicated by the fact that we are both unhappy with the church we’ve been attending for the past 10 plus years and so I no longer attend, she supports that so its possible that she knows more than I realise, its just simple fear of what might happen that keeps me in the status quo.

  3. Pingback: When Friends are Unkind « Confessions Of A YEC

  4. You seem like a man of extremes from creationist to atheist is quite a transformation. I think the things they have in common are the most interesting. Neither has any room for doubt. Both have a dogmatism I personally find disconcerting. When I was a more conventional believer I could never embrace the pseudoscience and anti-rational excesses of my fundamentalist belief. I instead embraced doubt and left it to god. It was the idea of ethnocentrism that caused me to let go of my fundamentalist ideology. It is akin to a house of cards and when you pull out one the whole thing does tend to crash down. It is what we rebuild it with that intrigues me. I still embrace the teachings of Jesus and still love much else. I just reject the dogma. I embrace concepts like emergence and the platonic view of the ideas of things being more real then the things themselves. I embrace spirituality and rationality. ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’. thanks for sharing your journey, really interesting stuff.

    • I definitely agree with you about the house of cards analogy with regards to religious fundamentalism.

      To clarify on my atheism. I use the label atheist because it accurately describes my rejection of the existence of any god. That’s because, having considered my options and the evidence, that’s the most honest conclusion I feel I can come to.

      Atheism is also associated with hating of religion, hating of the concept of god, persecution of the religious, lack of morals, and all sorts of other unpleasantness. I’m not any of those.

      I am intrigued by your use of the word dogma in relation to atheism. Could you expand please, because I am not sure there is anything that I’d describe as dogma in my atheist position.

  5. atheists often are like fundamentalists in that there is not only what they believe but that everyone else should believe it too. a lot of them spend a lot of time attacking others for not coming to the same conclusion as them. atheists sometimes want to identify a certain way of looking at the world as the only valid way. all of that seems dogmatic to me or at least reductionist and narrow minded. i have some attraction to believing that the universe is governed by immutable laws and natural processes but there is an intangible element, a majesty, a spark that seems divine to me. when i studied the philosophical arguments for the existence of god i found them all pretty lacking except for william james’s argument from religious experience. i personally believe in god because of experiences i have had that led me to believe but i know those experiences are not valid for others. creationism seems animated by a simplistic and unscientific set of beliefs that run counter to what we really know about the universe. rejecting that cartoon god seems appropriate but i wonder if you might not be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. i am not anti-atheist, you seem like a thoughtful fellow with a well considered position there’s just a lot of the same pitfalls on that side of the argument as well.

    • I understand what you are saying, though (predictably) I don’t entirely agree.

      Yes there are atheists who fit the description you have put and I am glad you qualified it with some. The problem for both atheists and fundamentalists is that people tend to remember the noisy ones. I have heard that some people avoid the atheist label for that very reason. Too many negative connotations.

      People are much more than their religious state and often its their character that shows through to their religious views and not the other way round. So an obnoxious fundamentalist (or atheist) could well be an obnoxious person anyway.

      I have chosen be use the atheist label, not because of the wider implications, but because it accurately describes my state of belief with regards to god, any god. I should not defined by any persons view or opinion of atheism.

      (that last sentence is a generic one and is not specifically aimed at yourself)

  6. Hello! Like you, I’m a former Christian who later turned away from belief in God. My experiences with religion have been of numerous twists and turns from which I learned a great deal, good and bad:


    I would suggest that you and your wife look into visiting a Unitarian Universalist church. The reasons for doing so are given here:


    Also, read this:


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