Dear Margo: This Fundamental Difference Bodes Ill for a Happy Marriage

In re-evaluating my beliefs I think I’ve lost my husband, please help.  Margo Howard’s advice

This Fundamental Difference Bodes Ill for a Happy Marriage

Dear Margo: After two years of research and soul-searching, I have rejected my faith and become an atheist/humanist. I grew up in a Christian household, and all of my family and most of my friends are Christians. I was once devout, and I married a Christian man. I have been honest with “Kurt” since I started doubting my faith — telling him of my doubts and updating him on my thoughts and findings. He was patient and supportive. However, that all changed several days ago when I told him I realized I was an atheist.

Kurt completely shut down and ignored me for the rest of the evening and the following day. When he finally did talk to me, he told me he felt like a failure as a husband, that I’d betrayed him, that he’s no longer proud to be married to me, and that my atheism is a “dirty secret” he has to keep. He proceeded to list all of the things that are wrong with our marriage and implied the fault was all mine. When I tried to interject my opinions, he told me to shut up because he didn’t care what I had to say on the matter. Then he went to bed. We have not spoken of it since. Needless to say, I am heartbroken. Since this incident, we have coexisted politely, like roommates. We obviously need counseling, but in the past when I brought it up, he said he wouldn’t go since I’m the one with the problem. Do you have any advice about how to proceed? I don’t know whether our marriage can survive this. — The Apostate

Dear Ap: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I believe the marriage is a goner. Your husband is clearly very religious. He is embarrassed that you have arrived at this decision and is unwilling to hang on to the marriage through counseling. I think your life will be happier when you two part, as this new barrier between you is such a basic issue. I salute you for taking two years to arrive at a decision, and I do not believe you have “a problem.” Good luck. — Margo, thoughtfully

Any Rules About Showers (of the Baby Kind)?

Dear Margo: My boss and his wife are expecting their first child. My co-workers and I are thrilled for him because many of us know he’s been waiting for this moment for a very long time. He and his wife opted not to have a baby shower, partly due to the fact that she’s a doctor at a busy urban hospital and now is on mandatory bed rest. My co-workers and I want to honor this occasion, and we all decided to contribute money to buy a gift and throw him a small office shower.

My task is to create the greeting card, as I do this as a part-time gig, but I am at a loss. Because the shower will only be for him at our office, I was going to have the card say something along the lines of “For the soon-to-be daddy.” But not including her doesn’t feel right. (Personally, I intend to send them a gift addressed to both, as I know them both socially.) Any advice? — One of the Girls

Dear One: Since the boss is held in high regard, I think it’s fine to have him be the single honoree at the shower. He knows his wife was involved, so don’t give it a thought that there’s no mention of the mom-to-be on the card. The interest of everyone in the office sounds quite sweet. I know the shower will be a great success. — Margo, festively

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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87 comments so far.

  1. avatar Beloved says:

    Ltr #1, no one can, will or should confirm or deny God’s existence using scientific evidence.  That is not how God intended to prove His existence and that’s why it will never work.  To prove His existence, you have to at least acknowledge that He exists, and obey the BIG 10 (Ten Commandments).  When you live your life as if you believe God knows your every thought and act (even the ones you know no human knows about) and shun evil thoughts and acts, you will feel a peace and joy that no one will understand.
    I know this sounds hokey, but there is no other way to explain it and discover Him.  This is a life-long activity, I know God exists, but I have to shun my own feelings and thoughts of intolerance, hatred, racism, and sexual perversions, in one form or the other everyday.  Why? Because every man, woman, boy and girl has a sinful nature that will never change, even in the next life, even when they go to heaven. And anyone who thinks differently is woefully ignorant of their true nature.
    Our churches are misinforming the laity, when they tell them that Jesus has literally died and washed away all their sins. If they knew that their acts and thoughts, whether good or bad, follow them in the next life, they would not be so intolerant of others and commit such heinous acts.  Unfortunately, most people wouldn’t believe this if you told them and won’t know what I say is true, until it’s too late.
    As for your husband, although I’m a Christian, I generally find most Christian men to be boorish, boring, and intolerant, I’ll pray for him just as fervently as I’ll pray for you.  Good luck to both of you, I hope that you both can come to have a loving, respectful and understanding relationship, even if you decide to divorce.  
    I won’t give up on either one of you because everyone needs help, especially these so-called “Christians”!

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      It is sad that you are full of hatred, racism and intolerance.  Not everyone is and not everyone needs to be of any religion.  I’ll believe in being taking care of others in the here and now and not worry about the here after, seems there are enough folks worried about that.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        I believe that each and every human has the potential to do anything, from the most loathsome of atrocities, to the most transcendent acts of beauty and compassion. Every human…myself included. Most fall in the vast gray areas that span the space between between the extremes. This has nothing to do with god, or religion. Good and evil are concepts created to explain those things…especially in this way: One’s loved one commits a terrible act of brutality, and one must cry out, “He was tempted by Evil, in order to do such a thing!”. For it cannot be that your family member, or friend, or minister, or politician could conceive of such a thing from within. Or, alternatively, an enemy performs an act of great good and kindness, so that the outcry is, “Such a thing was a Miracle of God! An Angel has inspired him!“, because no enemy could be capable of such things by simply being himself.
        Humans are astounding creatures. What a pity that religion divides us, promotes ignorance, despair, war, intolerance and primitive, tribal behavior. Man made god in his image…and it’s his favorite mistake (when I say “man” I do not mean “men”. Study your ancient history…the old goddesses were no sweethearts, nor were their priestesses, nor was misogyny and complete repression of women the rule of the day until the late 1700’s). We are the powerful, we are the weak, we are the leaders, followers…and the loners. We are the creators and destroyers. We are beautiful…and we are horrible…and we are all that we have.

    • avatar mmht says:

      Beloved you have just reaffirmed to me why I am atheist.  Believing that everyone is inherently sinful and evil is just a horrible, pessimistic way to go about life and it just breeds intolerance and hatred rather then dispels it as you claim.  You are right, no science can affirm or deny the existence of God, but I can tell you this:  to know that I get 1 and only 1 life and when I die its all over makes me more appreciative of every single day and every single person/animal/nature around me.  To know that my harshest critic is the one person that I have to answer to every single night when I look in the mirror makes me more compassionate to others.  And honestly, I feel sorry for people like you who use their religion as a reason to look down on others.

      • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

        How does believing everyone is the same “breed intolerance and hatred”?  Personally, my conviction that all people (especially and including me) fail and make mistakes and hurt others allows me to remember how important things like forgiveness, compassion, and humility are.

        The world is a beautiful, glorious, monstrous, and ugly place.  There’s no point in ignoring that reality.

      • avatar mmht says:

        Maggie did you even read what she wrote?  She said “Because every man, woman, boy and girl has a sinful nature that will never change, even in the next life, even when they go to heaven. And anyone who thinks differently is woefully ignorant of their true nature.”  Explain to me how that isn’t hatred of oneself and those around you.  Yes, everyone has their good points and bad points but is that sinful?  Is everyone out there so inherently awful of a person that they must work at being decent humans on a daily basis? You truly don’t see how going around judging whether people are working on being better then the terrible person they inherently are doesn’t breed intolerance and hate?  If you can’t see what’s wrong with her logic then you are just as messed up as she is.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        mmht, this is what makes me glad there is no such thing as heaven, can you imagine spending eternity with thinkers like this?  heanven it’s not!

    • avatar susan hiland says:

      “no one can, will or should confirm or deny God’s existence using scientific evidence.  That is not how God intended to prove His existence and that’s why it will never work.  To prove His existence, you have to at least acknowledge that He exists, and obey the BIG 10 (Ten Commandments). ” You are sadly mistaken. Because if there is a creator of the universe then there must be evidence of such creator of said universe. So where is the evidence? You can’t use science to confirm the existence of God? What the hell not? Everything in this universe can be quantitatively evaluated in someway, every  atom, every ray of sunshine can be evaluated and yet there is no evidence to evaluate God. Why? Because he doesn’t exist but in the imagination of man. When scientist try to evaluate it, you Christians practically poop yourselves in fear and demand such exercises stop because….because why? Oh that’s right because your faith is so strong that it can’t stand up to serious evaluation by a 10 year old that’s why. 
      So if God exists then how do YOU know what his intentions are? How DO YOU know what God is thinking? You got a direct line to God? How’s that conversation going? Kind of one sided?  
      And the kicker the only way to understand anything about God is to follow the 10 commandments. Really? Or what? So nobody on the ENTIRE PLANET can evaluate GOD unless they follow all the commandments in the bible….no human has the capacity for thinking about the problem of “god” only you bible thumping experts have the answers, right? Cause you are all so even tempered, thoughtful, kind, forgiving, understanding human beings. 
      I propose this: if we are all made in HIS image then we are all God. If we are the image of God, then we are also all the attributes of God. Which means that God is racist, petty, cruel, malicious, deceitful,  sexist, and worst of all neglectful because that is what we humans are as the image of God. 
      All analyze god in any damned capacity I choose.  I’ll take the evidence provided and THINK about the issue of God as many times as I damned well please. Doesn’t mean I have to believe or follow the ten commandments or stand on one foot and rub my head and tummy at the same time to think about GOD. Because I do think about God, I think a great deal about the issue of religion, and faith. The worlds sorrows come not from God but from man’s incapacity to have compassion and understanding of the differences of other humans. It is a failing for which, no doubt God mourns. 
      And last but not least, why would you want to go through your life thinking that every single person you look at, talk  with, eat with, pray with is full of sin. Born in Sin, die in sin, right? That’s the motto. The reason you believe that is that it makes you feel superior to all those people you break bread with you. All your family members, friends, co-workers are just a little less than you because they are born in sin, right. How big of you, how generous and openhearted. How loving in the image of God you are…how proud Jesus must be of you.   

  2. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Letter # 1: To the wife: Be very careful. Hire a divorce attorney. Watch your back. Get all your ‘ducks in a row’ and leave this man. There is no remedy to modify a religious fanatic. Good luck to you.

  3. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1:  The real question is, why would you want to continue to be married to someone who clearly has no respect for you or cares about your thoughts and your feelings?  I get the fact that he is very religious and you deciding that you are not is a major roadblock if not death to the marriage in and of itself, but the way he reacted was beyond ridiculous especially since he knew that you have been questioning your faith and beliefs for 2 years.  The fact that he told you that you were the one with the problem is also a huge warning sign.  Recognize this as what it is, a blessing in disguise, and get out of that marriage!  You will be happier with someone who shares your same beliefs and values.
    And some advice from one atheist to another, your family and friends will be shocked with your new found lack of faith and be prepared to get questions, disbelief, people outright telling you that you “you really do believe in God you just don’t realize it,” and my favorite “your a terrible person who is going to hell” (never mind it generally comes from the most closed minded, hypocritical person in the room).  Be prepared to have to defend yourself and your decision.  If all else fails do what I do “I don’t demand that you defend your beliefs to me.  I also respect the fact that you have decided to be religious because believing in God offers you comfort, solace, and guidance in your life.  I do not feel that way and I just request that you show me the same respect that I show you.”  Your true friends and those that love you for who you are not b/c you are Christian will respect you and move on.  They will realize that you are no different then the person you were before, your Sundays are just free now! 

  4. avatar Lori Stewart says:

    LW1: I’m so sorry your husband flipped out when you told him you had become and atheist. I would ask him once again to consider counseling. If he was supportive previously, maybe his guilt just got the best of him. I’m a devout Christian too, and I would probably flip if my husband said he was an atheist. After I had a chance to get over myself, hopefully I’d be willing to discuss things calmly and rationally. Atheism isn’t a dirty little secret. I hope you can work things out.

  5. avatar avast2006 says:

    Open letter to LW1’s husband,
    Nothing has changed about your wife except that she now has concluded that your religion is mythology rather than literal fact.  Despite this, she remains the same loving, ethical, thoughtful being that she was before she came to this realization.  In other words, finding out that she is atheist has not ruined her in the slightest. 
    You, on the other hand:  Nothing has changed about you except that you have learned that your wife believes something different than she did previously and from what you still believe.  That miniscule change was enough to make you yell at her, ignore her, be ashamed of her, tell her to “shut up”, tell her that you did not care what she thinks.  In other words, your attitudes have completely ruined your marriage.  I suspect this reflects your true character more than you would care to admit.  In other words, being a Christian has not redeemed you in the slightest.
    You should spend a while seriously contemplating the prospect of standing before Jesus and explaining yourself. 

  6. avatar avast2006 says:

    LW2:  I am confused why anyone would seriously worry about it somehow being inappropriate to address the card and shower “to Boss and his new family (squeeee!)”  Does anyone seriously think that Mom-to-Be should be excluded from the sentiments, aside from the pragmatic fact of her physical absence from the festivities?

  7. avatar Pdr de says:

    I haven’t read all the comments but no one has mentioned the fact that while the pregnancy seems to have been announced fairly recently, she is already supposed to be having bed rest.  Don’t know the ages of the parents-to-be, but could be that they don’t want a shower because there’s a possibility she may not carry the baby full term.  Some people, even professionals, could be superstitious about that.  I think perhaps the shower should be postponed for a couple of months to see how things go.  They know their boss better than anyone else but he might be uncomfortable with the whole idea of a shower, even then.  It might be better to pool their money and give one larger gift closer to the time of the birth. 

  8. avatar animelily says:

    L1: It takes two to tango and only one of you wants to dance. I’m sorry, but it sounds like a councilor will do nothing to help you, if your husband refuses to budge. People of different backgrounds and faiths can get along if they’re willing to see past themselves and try to work together, but your husband does not. Find a good divorce lawyer and keep moving forward.
    L2: Hope you have a wonderful baby shower for your boss. I know my husband’s coworkers threw him a surprise “Paternity Party.” Though they let me in in know, and I attended the surprise bash. I wouldn’t have been offended if things were written just for him, but I know that if I was on bed rest and feeling isolated, my own name on a card would have made me feel really nice. Up to you, but I think putting both names would be a nice gesture.

  9. avatar VJ Dark says:

    I would love to share with “The Apostate” the wonderful website, It is one of many good sites, and has leads to them and excellent bloggers, authors, and books. The forum has many “regulars’ with their own fascinating stories of growing up out of a conditioned, reflex, automatic faith belief.

    It was started by someone who had been an evangelical christian, and studied divinity or pastor studies or whatever you call it, and changed his belief and became atheist through thought, reasoning, and challenging. He describes his story eloquently. 

    My three teenage years at church of christ, a denomination that doesn’t think it’s a denomination, were exceedingly damaging. Yet they pale by comparison to Daniel’s expertise.

    I highly recommend it! 

  10. avatar John says:

    Why can’t the card just say, “To the soon to be parents” or “to the newest mommy and daddy” or something silly cute like that?  This way everyone is happy.  I’m not sure I got why this was even an issue.

    As for the first letter writer, I fully agree with Margo.  Sounds like hubby took this opportunity to air his many grievances, which, of course, are your fault because you no longer believe in God.  Clearly you are in the wrong for not washing the dishes right – a God-fearing woman would know better.  Clearly you are in the wrong for little Susie having trouble with math – a God-loving woman would teach her better.  Whatever the case, sadly, this union is over.  Apparently this very Christian man doesn’t believe much in the “for better or WORSE” part of his vows.