What Do You Do When Your Spouse Believes in God?

Morning Edition on NPR is running a weeklong series on “Losing Our Religion” and today’s story focuses on relationships in which one person is an atheist and the other is not. Looks like they picked a perfect couple to profile, too:

Mike Bixby is an atheist, while his wife Maria Peyer is Lutheran (Leah Nash – NPR)

So how does the relationship work? Even though they have different beliefs, they share common values:

“I hear it a lot from Maria, ‘You’re very spiritual in this way,’ and ‘You’re very spiritual in that way.’ And a couple days ago, I kind of joked with her, ‘That is a very secular humanist attitude, and that shows a lot of growth, a lot of not faith,’ ” Bixby says.

Bixby and Peyer may disagree about faith but they share common values…

“I can love you and think you’re wrong, and you can love me and think I’m wrong,” Peyer says. “So I appreciate this opportunity to grapple with it, and I appreciate you for being the one I get to grapple with it with.”

[This is where everyone lets out a collective “Awwwwwwwwww”]

For what it’s worth, the couple got together later in life, so deciding how to raise kids was never an issue for them. That can often be a dealbreaker in a relationship, since you almost have to pick a side and compromise may be even more confusing for the children.

Incidentally, five years ago, I wrote about a younger couple in a mixed-faith relationship. Update: They’re still together and doing very well!

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