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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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ceilingfanswitch posted 1/23/2016 22:38 PM

Hi, Im an atheist who is going through the pain of infidelity and divorce.

I am sooo glad I am free of the Christianity of my upbringing. It would have been ten times harder to deal with the guilt knowing I let god down in addition to all the pain I otherwise was experiencing. I probably would have found a way to rationalize it but it would have hurt more and been an obstacle to the healing I already have experienced.

Tecuacuicani posted 1/23/2016 22:45 PM

CFS I have read your story. YOU letting GOD down? Seriously? If I were of a religious mind, I would be wondering why God put the STBXW in my life, have my heart fall for her, only to have her go totally psycho like that. God is omnipotent and omniscient, I would think God was playing with me!

I, too, was raised in a conservative Christians household, and I know my parents often wonder what they did to make me a liberal Atheist! We still love each other dearly; we just don't talk about religion much.

I think life would be so much easier if I were a person of faith, believing there was a reason and a plan, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The sad fact is that there isn't always a light (I have witnessed this with infidelity in my family), and there isn't a plan save what we put in motion ourselves.

[This message edited by Tecuacuicani at 10:46 PM, January 23rd (Saturday)]

ceilingfanswitch posted 1/24/2016 09:56 AM

I definitely don't feel I let god down now of course. My life as a Christian was basically constantly letting the god down although he was loving and forgiving except when he wasn't etc. Believing this definitely wasn't good for my self esteem.

I think the comfort religion offers is nothing compared to the joy and excitement of accepting reality, either on dealing with affairs put in real life. I never experienced infidedlity while I was religious though.

edited to fix autotype

[This message edited by ceilingfanswitch at 6:34 PM, January 24th (Sunday)]

chickii06 posted 2/3/2016 01:19 AM

Hi everyone,

I have been on SI for a while but haven't been on this thread before.

Tomorrow is the 1st anniversary of dday for me and everything in my life seems to revolve around that fact at the moment.

I was wondering if anyone on this thread is a fan of Sam Harris and has heard his theory on free will (or the absence of it)? I only recently heard a talk of his on this topic and my mind immediately went to the implications of this theory on infidelity.I don't know if I agree with his theory or not, but I would like to discuss it with someone in a similar situation to me.

If anyone is familiar with this topic please let me know what you think of the theory and what it makes you feel regarding your partners (or your) infidelity.

Thanks

GotTheTshirtToo posted 2/9/2016 20:25 PM

chickii06,

I have a copy of Sam Harris's Free Will and also Incognito by David Eagleman (both inexpensive paperbacks). Both are full of references to experimental evidence which seems clearly to demonstrate that our decisions are made in our unconscious brain based upon our unique mix of nature (our inherited genetic base) and nurture (the sum of our life experience). It seems very, very likely that Free Will is simply a story we tell ourselves (as we largely do with memory) to make it seem like we are more in charge of our lives than we really are. There is a TV series of six programmes called The Brain with David Eagleman - I believe it has shown in the USA, the first three have been shown in UK, the fourth is tomorrow. Don't know if you can access them. Fascinating stuff!

How do I relate it to my XW's behaviour? I removed her from my life when our younger was 16 - twenty+ years ago - and I've become convinced that any competent psychiatrist would rate her with very high tendencies toward both narcissism and sociopathy (both widely regarded as untreatable with current tools). She had the self-esteem of a newt that has been dead three weeks, no empathy, took silly risks and demonstrated a massive degree of entitlement. She also seemed to be determined to fail at everything she did, almost as though she was conditioned to be unable to handle success in any element of her life. If I had a pound for every time she told me she always expected the worst so that she could be happy when(if) it didn't happen I'd be much richer than I am. My XW compartmentalised her life (generally another family-wide trait). In her case our marriage and her affairs were completely unrelated. She never suggested we part, even on a trial basis. XW desperately wanted me to cheat on her - she considered that that would "make us even" - to the extent that two of her "best friends" hit on me at different times and she arranged for us to attend a colleague's house for a meal which, it turned out, was intended to lead to a four couple swap!


Recalling her family (they're all fairly intelligent - teachers, engineers etc.) it seems that the traits run through the two generations I knew. Sociopathy is often associated with incomplete development of the brain, such imperfection can be passed from parent to child or be the result of illness/physical damage. I see similar traits in her father whom she idolised/sought to emulate/wanted to please (caught cheating on her mother) and 10(?) years older brother (who fled to Oz to avoid several husbands who each wished to point out the error of his ways late at night in a dark alley). Her mother's reaction to a grandchild's class beating test result of 94% was an instant "what happened to the 6%" and XW's sister was the last person to call me by my extended first name, despite being well aware that I preferred the contraction used by everyone else (sister also gave her three children two forenames each and then always called them by the second - go figure).

I have wondered if, in addition to growing up in a generally toxic environment, she was a victim of some sort of abuse whilst a child.

I truly believe that my XW's decisions to cheat were inevitable - rather as tomorrow's weather is inevitable. Predictable? in general trends perhaps but, as with the weather, there are so many inputs providing so much data that certainty is never possible.

That said, presumably my decision to stay to protect my kids was presumably also inevitable, as was my exit when I felt that the benefits no longer outweighed the costs.

For what it's worth the last dozen plus years have been brilliant - I suppose I ought to be grateful for my XW's behaviour as, without it, I never would have got together with my gorgeous, precious, longterm partner.

ceilingfanswitch posted 2/17/2016 21:28 PM

We are a collection of molecules that move in predictable ways.

But meaning is what we make of it. So yeah if someone placed the exact same group of atoms in the exact same place where the exact same experiences would happen exactly the same time to another exactly same group of molecules it would be logical to think that the outcome would be exactly the same.

With a human life there are just so many millions of billions of random chances that make us who we are. Plus one might want to take into account quantum randomness which could theoretically cause variations. Part of the way our brains work is to make us feel like we are in control, but that part of our brains that makes us feel like we are in control is only acting how that part of us acts according to laws of the universe.

So although theoretically through science I might understand that matter acts in reliable patterns and that perhaps means that if we had a giant computer we could input all the bajillions of variables and it would tell us what would happen.

But I also realize that my brain is making its own decisions (although on a deeper level those decisions may be predictable) just like my stbxw brain made the decision to cheat. She has responsibility for her decision, I don't.

chickii06 posted 2/18/2016 22:17 PM

Thanks everyone for responding to my post.

Hi GotTheTshirtToo - I am planning to read Free Will when I have an opportunity and will look into the tv series you recommended as I am finding this whole topic fascinating.
I am glad you have found a new partner, that doesn’t have the character flaws you describe in your XW.

I am in the process of trying to reconcile with my WH. With the frame of mind that free will is just an illusion, things have become easier in some ways and harder in others.

My WH is in most respects a decent guy… but since the affair I have recognised a selfishness, lack of impulse control and lack of self-esteem that I was previously unaware of. In addition he doesn’t have a very supportive family and they really didn’t teach him communication or conflict resolution skills as he was growing up.

By looking at his actions as something inevitable given his genetics and past experiences (rather than a choice he willingly made) it has made me less angry at him and what happened. It has also taken away the false-pride I felt at having never cheated on him. I still don’t like that he cheated on me and I still like that I haven’t cheated on him. But there isn’t the same level of blame and indignation that I previously had…. This has helped. It has pulled me back slightly from the depression I previously felt.

However I now wonder even more if we are just doomed to have this happen again. If what made him cheat on me to begin with wasn’t just a bad and selfish a choice – but rather something he was always going to do given who he was and the situation he was in – then does that make it more likely that given similar opportunities to cheat, he will go down that path again? I am just left hoping that the agony of the last year since dday has been enough to change him, and that with these additional experiences the inevitable action for him to take in a similar situation would not be to lie and cheat…

But I also realize that my brain is making its own decisions (although on a deeper level those decisions may be predictable) just like my stbxw brain made the decision to cheat. She has responsibility for her decision, I don't.

Ceilingfanswitch – I think what you are saying here is similar to my idea that even though I can’t “blame” my WH for being a cheater (as he didn’t decide to have the brain and past experiences that led him to be the type of person that cheats) I can dislike him for it and I could leave him because of it.

[This message edited by chickii06 at 10:18 PM, February 18th (Thursday)]

GotTheTshirtToo posted 2/20/2016 17:54 PM

chickii06

However I now wonder even more if we are just doomed to have this happen again. If what made him cheat on me to begin with wasn’t just a bad and selfish a choice – but rather something he was always going to do given who he was and the situation he was in – then does that make it more likely that given similar opportunities to cheat, he will go down that path again? I am just left hoping that the agony of the last year since dday has been enough to change him, and that with these additional experiences the inevitable action for him to take in a similar situation would not be to lie and cheat…

I think this depends upon how much his behaviour is limited by nature. If someone's brain is underdeveloped in certain areas due to genetic inheritance or has been damaged by accident or illness there may be an inability ever to change. If, on the other hand, his behaviour is driven by his life experience and he is capable of feeling remorse* he may never stray again. You will see people asking about consequences that the cheater has suffered, exposure to family and friends, total transparency on all communication devices, job changes etc. - these are ways of impacting the life experience balance and may be enough to modify a pattern of behaviour.

Many people consider a second incidence of cheating (post D-Day 1 and consequences) to be a strong indication that change is never going to occur.

*Regret is when a cheater is sorry that they have been found out, remorse is when they dislike themselves because of the pain they have caused others and share. There is a hypothesis, I believe it's still unproven, that many of us have "mirror neurons". These are neurons in our brain that are activated by the knowledge (sight/hearing etc.) of another's pain and cause us to experience their pain as though it were ours.


ceilingfanswitch

We are a collection of molecules that move in predictable ways............................But I also realize that my brain is making its own decisions (although on a deeper level those decisions may be predictable) just like my stbxw brain made the decision to cheat. She has responsibility for her decision, I don't.
Agreed, apparently we are also finding that our DNA is more malleable than was thought - people's character/behaviour can change because of changes in their DNA as well as for experiential reasons.

Touchstone posted 2/20/2016 18:57 PM

Hi everyone, new here. I posted a thread to the General thread about my husband's affair if anyone wants to read it.

I've been an atheist my entire life and I'm grateful for it. I feel like I'm a more logical and reason based person. That being said, I do dwell on the fact that my husband's affair partner is a supposed good conservative Christian girl. I get incredibly angry because she, a recent divorcee, (supposedly) honored her vows of fidelity during her entire marriage, but apparently had no problem helping my husband throw his away. I don't understand in the slightest how the hypocrisy can be justified. She actually said that she thought god wanted her to be with my husband. I mean, really? so your loving, caring god thought the best way for them to be together was to start with infidelity? The cognitive dissonance astounds me.

chickii06 posted 2/22/2016 15:06 PM

Hi Touchstone,

The OWs actions can't be justified by belief in God or reason. What she did is completely hypocritical and directly defies her religious beliefs.... But that is the logical answer. She has already proven that she is not logical by being a 'devout Christian'. When you get down to it hypocrisy is the bread and butter of most religious groups.

Ascendant posted 2/24/2016 22:55 PM

Just a friendly reminder, as always, that this thread is not intended to be a "religion haterz" club, it exists to give people like us (non-believers in some form) a space to talk about our experiences dealing with infidelity without some of the spiritual structures other people lean on.

In other words, *please* no throwing rocks at the believers and/or their beliefs.

The key here is to keep it specific to your situation....I think Touchstone being upset because the AP presents one face to the world (in this case, of a devout christian) while secretly being an affair partner and helping to hurt a marriage is a valid thing to be upset about.

However, saying that same person has already shown they are illogical due to their beliefs? I think that's generalizing, and potentially hurtful to other BS' on this site who are hurting just like us and use a different belief set to help them along.

[This message edited by Ascendant at 10:56 PM, February 24th (Wednesday)]

monstermash posted 2/25/2016 05:49 AM

I remember once knowing a guy who kept arguing about free will not existing as an excuse to not take responsibility for his actions. He did many shitty things to girls that i would tell him he should stop doing and said he felt helpless because he has no free will.

The argument that 'free will' doesn't exist makes sense in one sense (lol) but i don't think it is proven perfectly enough to feel helpless about it. In fact we can not experience anything except through 'free will'. To say we exist just as one would watch a movie is an oversimplification of perception/experience imo.

I also believe that time is static but this is not separate to the belief that free will exists as our existence is via human perception in every way. Even as you consider the effect abuse has had on your ability to react calmly in difficult situations you are giving your being the ability to choose. That's what makes consciousness soooo fascinating.

Abbondad posted 5/21/2016 08:33 AM

Hi, Everyone,

I just attended a lecture by David Silverman, president of American Atheists (he was promoting his book). As a lifelong hardcore atheist, I of course disagreed with none of his positions in terms of belief. But I did not care for him. He came across as a cliche of an atheist: unhappy, angry, strident, offended, condescending toward anyone who did not share his views. But it was nice, as always, to be in a room filled with atheists :-)

On another note, both my children (9 and 12) are "coming into their own atheism." I have never "taught" or "told" my children to reject religious or supernatural belief; rather, I try to teach them critical thinking skills: Why do you believe somethings is likely true or likely false? What does evidence mean?

Along the way I make it clear that I do not believe I have all the answers--but also drive home that they should always remember that nobody does. And if someone does claim to "know" 100%? Especially about the "big" questions? Be skeptical. Be humble in your knowledge. Be kind. And appreciate this life because it is very very likely that there is no other one we will have. I believe my atheism has enabled me to love this existence rather than be embittered that there is no other.

[This message edited by Abbondad at 8:34 AM, May 21st (Saturday)]

sisoon posted 5/21/2016 16:13 PM

I make it clear that I do not believe I have all the answers--but also drive home that they should always remember that nobody does. And if someone does claim to "know" 100%? Especially about the "big" questions? Be skeptical.

Those were my goals, too, along with guiding him to be a committed Jew.

Didn't work - he became an atheist.

Just musing....

Abbondad posted 5/30/2016 10:37 AM

Those were my goals, too, along with guiding him to be a committed Jew.

Didn't work - he became an atheist.

That's funny :-)

I'm half Jewish and my kids' mother is Jewish, yet my children are always asking me, "Am I Jewish?" To which I respond, "Of course you are!"

Them: "But you don't believe in God."

And thus commences one of the enduring debates/conversations among Jews: "What is a Jew?"

My mother was a Jewish atheist, her father (raised Orthodox) became an atheist but also considered himself deeply Jewish and took great offense when fellow Jews questioned his "Jewishness." :-))

BrokenAngry posted 10/13/2016 07:59 AM

Hello! Just noticed this sub forum. I didn't grow up in a very religious family. I may have went to church on Easter sometimes. WH was brought up Catholic. But as an adult he didn't go to church either. Maybe once a year like me. Well I met him when I was almost 16. So I've been with him half my life.

We've both grown up together. He goes to church once a week (although not in about year; probably had to do with infidelity). I went from going to church with him to pagan to Buddhism to atheism. I've been atheist probably 5 years. That cause problems with WH at first.
He didn't like it that I was no longer attending church with him. We also decided that the kids should have a choice if they want to go to church or not. They haven't been at all in years.

At MC he says he thinks our marriage started to unravel around the time I no longer went to church. He said because after church we used to go out to eat and spend the day as a family. she recommends a semi religious book to me knowing that I'm atheist. I now have appt with a new therapist since old one wanted me to rug sweep.

Anyway he says he was a real dumbass for cheating and that he wasn't thinking of the consequences. He's been sounding remorseful.

My friends know I'm atheist. But I tell my kids not to tell anyone because we live in a very conservative Christian area. I don't want them to lose friends or be judged.

I'm just real glad to see other likeminded folks here.

[This message edited by BrokenAngry at 8:00 AM, October 13th (Thursday)]

ChangeMaker posted 10/13/2016 10:10 AM

But I tell my kids not to tell anyone because we live in a very conservative Christian area. I don't want them to lose friends or be judged.
I tell people loudly and proudly. Others are proud of their beliefs and, as a rational, clear thinking human, so am I.

First off, Christians shouldn't be judging you - their book frowns upon it (Matthew 7:1, 1 Corinthians 5:12). Judging is to be done by God.

Secondly, if friends leave you because of your belief system, they are not true friends anyway.

IMHO, It's not healthy to hide who you are, or to pretend to be something you are not, just to gain the acceptance of the other humans.

fireandflame posted 12/24/2016 00:38 AM

I'm from Sweden and we're like the least religous country there is. 83% of the population doesn't believe in any kind of god.

For me, being an atheist is the norm. So I might not have much to gain from this topic, but maybe I can provide some kind of support?

I love science and I love watching documentarys about space, life and history.
But sometimes when life gets really hard I wish I had faith in a higher power. It would be so nice to just believe something else is responsible.


glowworm posted 12/26/2016 05:43 AM

Fellow atheists,
and fWS in particular,

Here's a Q for those who rely on science to understand cognitions and behaviors:

I completely understand that an A rewards the brain much in the same way as an addiction, and that this state of infatuation is not to be compared with the deep love in a M. A statement that is typical to hear after infidelity, is that the WS "will start to see things clearly once s/he is out of the affair fog".

But how can the WS know that the fog is still playing tricks on him/her? How can s/he know that his/her cognitions are (still) being distorted by the A? How can they deal with the potential distortion of their cognitions in the R process?

And more generally, a question that goes for BS and WS, given that cognitions are malleable, to what extent is R making oneself believe certain things in order to make (positive) change?

_________________
Me: fWS
15y relationship, married 11y
3 months EA/PA
2 months of NC

sisoon posted 12/26/2016 11:24 AM

glowworm, I really wish you'd post this in G or R. Your questions deserve a wider audience than this thread probably gets. Having said that...

...to what extent is R making oneself believe certain things in order to make (positive) change?

100%? I chose to believe the A was the 'worse' part of 'better or worse' and the sickness part of 'in sickness and in health'.

Others choose to believe an A is unacceptable, and they D.

My W is 71. She looked a lot better at 21, but I choose to see her as desirable now as she was 50 years ago. And that makes it so - for me.

But let's take this to G or R....

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