Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby puppha » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:35 am

Dear All,

I am married for almost 10 years now. My wife was initially a "moderate/liberal" Christian, now turned born again fundamentalist 2 years ago. I am Buddhist. We have a lovely daughter who is almost 8 years old now. We have been searching for another child for a few years without success so far.

My dilemma stems from her religious beliefs and the education she will give (and is currently giving) to our children. Essentially, born-again fundamentalists Christians value a lot of things that are diametrically opposed to my own views. They value blind faith, I value investigation. They constantly jump on the less likely explanation (Jesus healed me from my cold because I prayed), I value rationality (I stayed at home and I recovered from the cold naturally).
They ignore uncomfortable facts that go against their beliefs, I value truth above comfort even if it means you have to change your views. They value blindly the words of an old book, I value following what your heart says. They say everything comes either from God or from the Devil, I value personal responsibility. They say you can't be anything without God, that you are worthless without God, I value the humanity in people.

She speaks in tongues and goes into trances. She cries, weeps and shouts when praying, and of course she is 100% certain to be right and that all who do not follow the same path as hers are lost. She is proud of her intolerance and take it as a sign of her faith, I think people of different faiths should not judge each others. She believes the Earth was created 6000 years ago, but when I probe her a bit on the subject, she does not understand a thing about the science behind it.

For living with such a person in the same house, I can honestly say that it really looks like insanity to me. If it was not because of the 'Christian' label and the political correctness expected towards religions, I am quite sure that psychiatrists would classify such behaviours as heavily deluded.

In essence, I feel uncomfortable having more children with her because they might follow this path of blind belief and non-sense madness. I feel it is also my responsibility as a future father to check the environment my children will grow up in. I want my children to value truth, personal responsibility, non-discrimination, being honest with oneself and having confidence in one's abilities. I don't want my children to live in a parallel universe and deny truths and facts they see in front of them for the sake of clinging to blind beliefs. I don't want my children to blindly believe a book or a priest without checking the facts. I want my children to use their grey matter to the full, not to throw it in the bin. That's where I have an ethical problems having more children with her; that's about 6 months I really have some doubts about having more children with her.

Already my daughter is giving signs of not being able to apply the same judgement criteria to Christianity. She is perfectly happy to dismiss some fancy stories around the Buddha's birth (which I think is the right thing to do), but believe literally that Paul was feeding on locusts and wild honey.

I know she really wants more children. And my parents too, they want more grand-children... I know having more children will be a happy event in the beginning, but there is a strong possibility of it turning sour.

I would appreciate some external point of view. It always helps to have other perspectives on a certain situation.

Thank you very much for any help!
Last edited by puppha on Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:57 am

I think it sounds like a hornets nest. Conversation is probably the only way forward.

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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:15 pm

daverupa wrote:Conversation is probably the only way forward.

I think conversion is the only way forward. Who's it going to be — you or her?
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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:22 pm

I think you have some tough decisions ahead of you. I wish you and your family the best. :hug:
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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:28 pm

I agree with the second post in this thread, conversation will be necessary. I only suggest in that case that you exercise caution. One possibly really lovely way you could talk to your wife about these issues and slowly ease her into understanding your perspective (as opposed to bluntly and swiftly thumping her in the head with it) would be to find common ground such as showing love to all those you encounter even when they persecute you and perhaps even mentioning that if God wants your children to be christian then they will have to face the trials of modern society (such as learning about evolution etc. :juggling: ) and learn naturally they reap what they sow (new testament, old testament and kamma is contained within that statement). You should let her know that faith without personal responsibility is actually no faith at all because with faith comes responsible action and from that basis your children will be able to learn the skillful and the unskillful. You should let your wife know that if there really does exist an all-powerful and merciful creator of the universe that that God would encourage the use of critical faculties among his creatures and even the cultivation of sati, samadhi, wisdom, and virtue. It is indeed a hard course to navigate, a minefield to be precise, but with careful thought and action and the proper knowledge and intimacy that you have with your wife you could possibly pull off a way to raise your children in a way that could satisfy both of you. If that does not work though then the road ahead will be hard and filled with deep dukkha. Of course, you should take what I say here with a grain of salt but I hope you read it thoughtfully anyway and that it may provide you with something worthwhile to use in your quest to solve your current issues between you, your wife, and the future of your family. I wish you the best of luck!

:anjali:
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"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:45 pm

I wish you all the best with your discussions with your wife. I hope it all goes well but be prepared if the outcome is not to your choosing.
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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby gendun » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:01 pm

Do you think puppha that your wife may at this moment be sharing with her friends what she considers to be YOUR delusions ? Rebirth, karma, Buddharupas etc etc ?
The psychoanalyst RD Laing said " If you agree with my belief system you are being rational. If you disagree with my belief system you are irrational, If you have a different belief system you must be deluded. "
He was of course being ironic.

I think your children are very important, perhaps most important, in deciding together how you and your wife should proceed.
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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby puppha » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:31 pm

Thank you very much everyone for your posts! :namaste:

daverupa wrote:I think it sounds like a hornets nest. Conversation is probably the only way forward.

Within a normally functioning couple, I would agree wholeheartedly. But for a born-again, anyone who is not born-again is lost and manipulated by the Devil. You are part of "them". They view the world in binary terms only. If they have a chat with one of the "them", the only thing they have in mind is to convert you. I know by experience...
:rolleye:

polarbuddha101 wrote:I agree with the second post in this thread, conversation will be necessary. --- snip ---

Thank you for the advice, that makes sense. I'll give it a try... But I am afraid to say that I feel I need to tell her the truth about what I think of her beliefs; I suppose this will not go down very well. Although I already told her I think she is deluded...
Also, she mentioned a few times in the past that she is opposed to me teaching anything about Buddhism to our daughter, or bringing her to monasteries, etc. On the other hand, she says that because I am the father of the child, I have the right to do it. But she is against it...
:rolleye:

gendun wrote:Do you think puppha that your wife may at this moment be sharing with her friends what she considers to be YOUR delusions ? Rebirth, karma, Buddharupas etc etc ?

That's very likely, I am 99% sure she talked about myself at length to her friends or her pastor. That's amazing to see how she completely trust any stranger coming by as long as (s)he is a born-again Christian. She already tried many times to convert me in the past. Now she clamed down because she understands that this is just adding strains on our relationship.

gendun wrote:The psychoanalyst RD Laing said " If you agree with my belief system you are being rational. If you disagree with my belief system you are irrational, If you have a different belief system you must be deluded. "
He was of course being ironic.

This is not just ironic, this is very true! Within Chrisitianity itself, you have conflicting sects. Orthodoxy is "my doxy" and heterodoxy is "your doxy", as I once read in a book!
From my side, I value critical thinking and scientific methods. The Buddha repeatedely said that we should not believe anything until we have tried and tested it for ourselves. Ajahn Chah made a big point about accepting uncertainty.
BTW, it is the absolute certainity that is the major problem in fundamentalistic religions.

gendun wrote:I think your children are very important, perhaps most important, in deciding together how you and your wife should proceed.

Absolutely.

Does anyone see an ethical problem in having children in such a situation?
Or do you think that I am over-doing it, and that I should accept that anything can happen anyway? :thinking:

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby gendun » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:41 pm

It must be hard puppha. I have no easy answer. I know a family where he is a Christian and she a Buddhist and they have kids.
But the vital difference I would guess is that he is not a born again Evangelical..he is an Anglican and a big fan of the late Thomas Merton who was a Christian monk who the Dalai Lama described as " knowing more about the reality of Buddhism than any westerner I have met "..
So Christianity and Buddhism can be compatible..depending on the variety.

Maybe its important for your children to know that not all Christianity is fundamentalist..it might help them further down the road.
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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Puppha,

I would caution you against bringing more children into the situation unless you intend to go along with her desires.
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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby barcsimalsi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:07 pm

This is sick, for almost every youtube videos about Religion X vs Religion Y i had watched, the comments below were usually loaded with the sickest arguments that never seems to find its way into a good conclusion. Here's a few examples:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6XNO6Jv3q0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne-KYjUavaI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4C-jgnrBGs

Ajahn Brahm: "we need to find common ground between our beliefs, and keeping the peace is preferable than arguing who is right."


In your case puppha which concern not only about views but also about your children, you just have to figure it out what matters most.

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby Justsit » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:09 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:I would caution you against bringing more children into the situation unless you intend to go along with her desires.

Excellent advice.

You mentioned your wife became fundamentalist about 2 years ago. Just wondering if there was any kind of stress-related precipitating event? Experiences with my family show that fundamentalist beliefs may grow out of some type of fear - fear of change, of the unknown, of groundlessness. Those rigid beliefs provide security in an uncertain world, something solid to grasp onto. Perhaps if some of her fears were allayed, she might be a bit more flexible?

But don't count on it. Be prepared for change.

Best wishes for a positive outcome, however that may manifest.

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby Clarence » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:15 pm

Puppha,

Sorry to hear about your situation. I have a few questions for you though:

Do you still love each other?

When you married, were you Buddhist and she Christian?

Do you think this is only a phase where she will eventually grow out of?

Do you think she might have a brain injury or other sort of problem that could cause this?

Have you tried counseling or any form of therapy, either alone or together?

Why would you not just divorce instead of staying with her?

What level of fundamentalism would you be able to live with?

Sorry to ask you so many questions but I think they might give some clarity and that way we will be better able to advice (however much that is worth) you.

All the best,

Clarence

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby puppha » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:59 pm

Hi barcsimalsi,

barcsimalsi wrote:This is sick, for almost every youtube videos about Religion X vs Religion Y i had watched, the comments below were usually loaded with the sickest arguments that never seems to find its way into a good conclusion. Here's a few examples:

I don't understand the point you're trying to make here...

barcsimalsi wrote:Ajahn Brahm: "we need to find common ground between our beliefs, and keeping the peace is preferable than arguing who is right."

I agree 100%, but that does not excuse us for not taking responsibility for our actions. In addition, "keeping the peace" might be different from "constantly pleasing other people".

barcsimalsi wrote:In your case puppha which concern not only about views but also about your children, you just have to figure it out what matters most.

Thank you. I'll also have a look at the videos later.

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:21 pm

puppha wrote:I know she really wants more children. And my parents too, they want more grand-children...

So what? Nobody can force you to have more children. It's as simple as that. Don't allow yourself to be browbeat into something you are opposed to.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:30 pm

puppha wrote:Also, she mentioned a few times in the past that she is opposed to me teaching anything about Buddhism to our daughter, or bringing her to monasteries, etc. On the other hand, she says that because I am the father of the child, I have the right to do it. But she is against it...

So then do it. So she's against it. Duly noted. Does your being against all the things she does mean she has to not do what she does? No.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby barcsimalsi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:05 pm

puppha wrote:Hi barcsimalsi,

barcsimalsi wrote:This is sick, for almost every youtube videos about Religion X vs Religion Y i had watched, the comments below were usually loaded with the sickest arguments that never seems to find its way into a good conclusion. Here's a few examples:

I don't understand the point you're trying to make here...

From what you wrote on the original post, I doubt that you can ever talk her out into giving up her faith. Those comments in those youtube videos can be taken as example on how she will(she already did) refute your point which simultaneously leaving both of you in a sick mood.


puppha wrote:I agree 100%, but that does not excuse us for not taking responsibility for our actions. In addition, "keeping the peace" might be different from "constantly pleasing other people".

Have you ever discussed with your wife on letting your daughter to choose herself what religion fit her by studying both Bible and Dhamma? To make it fair for both of you so that no more "one-sided constant pleasing".

Edit: Oops sorry i miss this:
Also, she mentioned a few times in the past that she is opposed to me teaching anything about Buddhism to our daughter, or bringing her to monasteries, etc. On the other hand, she says that because I am the father of the child, I have the right to do it. But she is against it...

It seems that she had taken control... If arguing is not a good choice, just concentrate on practicing the right path and make an example of a good wise happy Buddhist, your family will soon notice who is right.
Last edited by barcsimalsi on Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby puppha » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:26 pm

Hi Clarence,

These are good questions!

Clarence wrote:Do you still love each other?

Yes, but definitely not in the way it was before. We matured, and also our religious differences are weighting heavily in the balance.
Even if I still wish good to her, I have to admit I don't feel emotionally tied to her anymore.

Clarence wrote:When you married, were you Buddhist and she Christian?

Yes and yes, but we were both not very engaged in our respective religions. She still tried to convert me very early on. I refused and we still managed to get over it and stay together. I was too young, inexperiences and in love to hear the alarm bells!

Clarence wrote:Do you think this is only a phase where she will eventually grow out of?

I hoped it was a phase, but it's 2 years now, and I can't see her growing out of that. She has some pre-dispositions, in the sense that she always tended to trust her instincts without checking the facts or had strong opinions on anything included fields she knew nothing about.
I don't see her investigating or questionning her beliefs any time soon. These people subconsciously try everything they can to ignore facts that go against their beliefs; psychologically, it's a question of life and death (death of the ego in that case). Questioning themselves or doubting would deny their "born-again" experience and thus would be a sure gateway to Hell!

Clarence wrote:Do you think she might have a brain injury or other sort of problem that could cause this?

No, unless she didn't tell me. I will ask her.

Clarence wrote:Have you tried counseling or any form of therapy, either alone or together?

No. I am quite sure she would accept only Christian counselling/therapy, and only from a born-again Christian on top of that. For example, she is currently trying to find a solicitor to help her on a business issue, and she only wants a Christian solicitor... Once I suggested to switch our broadband to 'Zen internet', she said she didn't like the name!! (because it was buddhist, obviously)

Clarence wrote:Why would you not just divorce instead of staying with her?

Good point! I am worried about the well-being of our daughter. But to be frank, I considered divorce quite a few times already.

Clarence wrote:What level of fundamentalism would you be able to live with?

None, pretty much. I am not sure that there are "levels" in fundamentalism... Be it Christian, Muslim or whatever, fundamentalism means shutting down your brain and litteral interpretation of the sacred, infaillible scriptures.

Clarence wrote:Sorry to ask you so many questions but I think they might give some clarity and that way we will be better able to advice (however much that is worth) you.

Thank you very much for asking these questions! That also helps me see things a bit more clearly.
And I definitely welcome any advice, opinions and external points of view!

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby puppha » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:32 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:From what you wrote on the original post, I doubt that you can ever talk her out into giving up her faith. Those comments in those youtube videos can be taken as example on how she will(she already did) refute your point which simultaneously leaving both of you in a sick mood.

All right, I get it now! I think you're quite right, unfortunately...

barcsimalsi wrote:Have you ever discussed with your wife on letting your daughter to choose herself what religion fit her by studying both Bible and Dhamma? To make it fair for both of you so that no more "one-sided constant pleasing".

Edit: Oops sorry i miss this:
Also, she mentioned a few times in the past that she is opposed to me teaching anything about Buddhism to our daughter, or bringing her to monasteries, etc. On the other hand, she says that because I am the father of the child, I have the right to do it. But she is against it...

It seems that she had taken control... If arguing is not a good choice, just concentrate on practicing the right path and make an example of a good wise happy Buddhist, your family will soon notice who is right.

Yes, that's what I am trying to do. I understood early on that arguing is a waste of time and energy and just make both of us weary and sad. We don't understand each others. What I say is necessarily anti-Christian, so to her mind she can dismiss whatever I say very easily. And when she talks to me about her relationship with Jesus and all the miracles she witnesses, I can only see the delusion disorder she fell into...

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Re: Having children with a strongly deluded spouse?

Postby puppha » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:39 pm

Hi kirk5a,

kirk5a wrote:So then do it. So she's against it. Duly noted. Does your being against all the things she does mean she has to not do what she does? No.

Don't worry, I will not be easily bullied like that! I do bring my daughter to monasteries and teach her about Buddhism. But I don't force anything. More often that not, she is asking to go with me when I say I am going. She does have some interests in Buddhism and likes very much a comic book I bought for her telling stories about the Buddha and his disciples.
Whatever my daughter chooses, I will respect it. I just want her to make informed choices. And that's exactly what my wife wants to avoid. She wants our daughter not to know about anything that could drive her away from the "True Faith" (TM)!
Sad, isn't? :cry:


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