QotD: Mixed Relationships

by VorJack

Are you involved, or have you been involved, in an intimate or romantic relationship where one side is an atheist and the other side is a believer?

How does that work out? Did you talk about religion or just avoid the issue?

  • dutchhobbit

    What relationships?

  • Baconsbud

    I was involved in a relationship where my ex-wife was a quiet believer in the beginning but once her father died she went full nutjob. In the beginning it worked out pretty good because we didn’t worry about religion and worked though most of our problems but as soon as she went to the nutjob part of it, it was all about praying and not about getting the problems worked out. It fell apart real fast.

  • http://www.vandendriest.com Maarten

    Works out very well. I am the atheist in this relationship and I take some care to speaking about religion in somewhat general terms. Personal attacks never work. We keep it theoretical and respect eachothers positions.

  • John Morales

    I’ve been married (well, shacked-up for the first 7 years) for over 30 years to a church-going Catholic, and me an atheist all that time.

    Works out fine, she admits she can’t justify her faith and that it makes no sense, I concede that it’s no skin off my nose if she wants to waste time and (some) money on nonsense.

    We don’t talk about it much these days, it was all sorted-out in the first few years, and we’re comfortable with each other’s position.

    About the only friction is when we’re watching TV and some religious bullshit comes on; I can’t help myself and make mutterings. :)

  • Nzo

    I dated a girl that had never known an atheist before the day she met me.

    The day we met, she was the server for the atheist group I’m a part of. We had our little hand-written sign on one of the order-number holders for the new members to be able to recognize us. We were surprised, and really happy that our server was so good to us, and was genuinely smiling the whole time she served us. I got her number and we played phone tag ’till late the next day. I was at trivia night at another bar and it was noisy, so I went outside and walked along the sidewalk towards the busy intersection near the bar.

    Our conversation went something like this -

    me: “Hi Brittany! It’s good to finally hear from you! What’s up?”
    her: “Hi Nzo! Yeah, glad I caught you this time, um… I have something to ask you.”
    me:” Yeah?”
    her: “Um… I didn’t know this until I was cleaning the table when y’all left, but… uhmm… are you an ATHEIST?” (quiet voiced, but atheist stressed)
    I’m currently standing right at the corner of said busy intersection, and to this day I’ll swear that the light went red on all four sides to give me an audience while I facepalmed… literally smacked my face with my hand, I took a deep breath and…
    me: “Yep, I’m an atheist…”
    her:”Really? All of you were atheists?”
    Me:”Yep, that’s our local atheist group”
    her: “Wow, I’m kinda scared, but kinda really interested… you’re like a dead body I want to poke with a stick!”
    me: ” Haha, wow, well, that’s an interesting way of saying you’re curious.”
    her:But y’all were so NICE and you tipped really well! I thought y’all had horns growing out of your head, and were violent and mean people”
    me: “Ahh, well, I personally don’t know of any horns growing out of anyone’s head, and we’re normal people like everyone you know… we just don’t believe what you believe”
    her:”Wow, I never thought I’d meet an atheist, much less a table of them… OH MY GOD, you guys must have thought I was a complete idiot when I said, ‘there is a god’ when talking about my test.”
    me: “I must have been on the wrong side of the table to hear that, but, umm… they probably just thought you hadn’t seen our sign”
    her: “Wait, so are y’all a group that plans like, attacks on churches?”
    me: “Nope, we’re just a normal group of people that don’t pray before we eat, and we just happen to have the same ideas on what’s important in life. So we gather, not unlike a christian wanting to join a church of likeminded people”

    OK enough of that. This went on for well over an hour. Her asking if I was angry at god, if I understood what christianity was, or if I knew what was in the bible. She was careful to try not to offend, and apologized a lot, I did the same. We managed to come to this agreement -

    When she says something christian, I smile and let it go. When I say something atheistic, she does the same.
    When a christian asks what jesus was doing in our lives, she’d answer and steer the conversation away from me, but only if the situation seemed like I’d get burned at the stake, or shivved for the lord, if not, I’d speak for myself.
    Same thing with atheists, I promised to keep her out of the conversations if they seemed like they’d eat her like they eat babies, though there was never any need to be weary of the atheists. She thought the same about christians, but she found out that we were rudely asked to leave, every time, from any christian event that she didn’t speak up for me.
    I met her family, and luckily I was able to keep a decent conversation going every time to keep the awkward pause and the inevitable jesus talk out of the picture.

    Our falling-out had nothing at all to do with our differing ideas on the metaphysical.
    ~~
    I’m afraid that’s the only time when something like that worked… this next one hurt the hell out of me.

    Have you ever met someone so smart that you can’t possibly believe that they’re christian? She was from Russia, and worked as a translator for huge international companies. I honestly thought there was no need to even bring up the religion thing. I was with this girl for 3 months of some of the most intellectually stimulating conversation… among other things. Lots of other things.

    One day I say something atheistic… I think I had some door-to-door visit, and I mentioned how silly it was. She said this to me.

    “These past three months have been some of the best in my life, you’re such a great guy, but if you don’t believe in god, this will be the last time I talk to you”

    She meant it.

    ~~

    tl;dr
    First girl was great, our agreement with our ideas on life is about halfway down the post.
    Second girl found out after three months and never spoke to me again.

    • beyonddeities

      :/ fuck, man. Idk what else to say about the second girl, except that it must have been great while it lasted… that ephemeral ignorance on both sides. The men/women I’ve dated so far have been either agnostic or not hugely religious, but religious outlook is only one part of one’s character, because there’s plenty of other shit too -____-;

    • http://www.bicyclesandbeansprouts.blogspot.com Tee

      Wow. Until just now, I never realized that someone else has seen the way christians view atheists. As a former christian myself, I was drilled into thinking that all atheists were the devil’s playthings, tempting us away from god (intensive lack of capitalization). It was subtle…I can’t tell exactly when all of these weird notions “stuck”, but they did. For years. Not anymore. It was a story. A scary one…the memory is akin to watching a scary movie. You dig it…I dig that you dig it. Peace.

      My story: I was a christian married to an atheist. We agreed to disagree and not discuss things of a religious nature. Of course now, I think religion is a dangerous thing, and think nothing like my uber-negative husband, to whom I’ve been physically and romantically separated for over three years.

  • Stewart

    Well I am currently having an affair with a married woman at work who is a practicing catholic. Her daughter is going thru training for her first communion. We have been making use of these days to spend the entire time in hotels.
    Atheism and catholicism are common in France. I told her I understand her beliefs but don’t agree with them. I asked her if she feels any guilt over our affair. She says no, because she can’t see how love can be a sin.

    • beyonddeities

      She says no, because she can’t see how love can be a sin.

      No offence, but while she may be a wondeful lover, she’s a terrible Catholic; not only is adultery cool, but any love can’t be sinful? I’m sure that doesn’t harmonize too well with her beliefs. :/ While I don’t condone adultery in the slightest, good luck to you.

      • Stewart

        I think perhaps that because the Bible teaches that even thinking adulterous thoughts are a sin, many believers probably figure they may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.

    • cypressgreen

      Hmm, well, I appreciate your candor. I’ll reciprocate! As you can read below, my husband overcame his uncertainty about my beliefs partly because he was “getting some!” We met on a kinky sex web site. LOL

  • blotonthelandscape

    Wife is an evangelical, leaning (fortunately) towards moderate. She’s an Old-Earth-Creatoinist, and would most probably commit suicide if she ever came to believe that god didn’t exist. That makes conversations about faith… awkward…

    I occasionally mock her when I cook the dinner and she says grace out loud. Aside from that we generally avoid the topic, although she usually ends up in tears when we happen upon it.

    Watching anything by David Attenborough is a unique experience.

    Her family are the hardest part. Her parents are nutty evangelicals, as is her sister. Her two brothers both have theology degrees from a conservative college in South Africa, and rejected most of what they learned about christianity in favour of preserving their faith. One of her brothers is a “Worship Pastor” at a large church in London. The brothers I can handle, they’re relatively sober when it comes to discussing matters of faith, but the rest of them are frikkin’ “ooh, look, god blessed us with a sunny day for our picnic”, “microchips are the mark of the beast” types. *vomit*

  • tonyk

    Sure.
    He just shut up until I realized how silly I was being.

  • tonyk

    Oh yes… I was the believer.

    • Yabo

      I was in the same boat. I’ve been married for about 10 1/2 years and 8 of those I was “some” kind of believer. Finally 2 years ago it finally stuck that nothing of faith made any sense to me. My husband said he didn’t feel it would be right to try and change my mind, that I had to come to that conclusion myself and that he knew I eventually would.

      Just makes me love him even more for that, heh.

      The one thing that would always push me towards atheist/agnostic was the “homosexuality is a sin” position of almost every religion. I’m bi and every time I tried to get more involved with whatever flavor I was trying at the time, we’d come to that part of it and I just couldn’t overlook it.

      It took a while, but here I am!

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    I identified as agnostic when I met GPop, but a few years later realized that I wasn’t really comfortable with that label any more. GPop is mostly into ceremonial deism, if I might borrow a phrase. We don’t pray over meals or anything; we’ve only attended churches for weddings or funerals, and the last time religion came up in our household was when we rented Religulous.

    In seventeen years, we’ve talked about religion from a personal belief perspective probably less than five times. The last time I remember was over ten years ago, when GPop said, essentially (nerd alert), “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” That put a damper on our relationship for about a week, but we got over it. I see my copies of The God Delusion and Why People Believe Weird Things on GPop’s night stand right now.

    Our 15-year-old son is a fairly outspoken atheist. I think it irritates the boy some that his atheism does not push any of my buttons. He has to find other ways to rebel. I find that if I criticize hooded sweatshirts and “the skateboarding,” then it satisfies his need to rebel, and the things that I’m old-manning are not all that important.

  • J

    I’m in one right now…i’m an atheist (ex-roman catholic) and she’s Roman Catholic. Teaches in catholic school, goes to church every weekend and every holy day, etcetc. It’s tough..to say the least. I ask her a ton of questions, especially relating to the things that say i’m a bad person…e.g. bible verses or sermons (I still go to church on holidays with my Mother, at her request) that say i’m going to hell. I ask her how she can date me and still support her organization which says certain things about me….I usually get the ‘only god knows’ or ‘only god can judge you’ answer after we discuss/debate for a few hours. I think i’m starting to come to terms with the fact that she’ll never really be able to explain it completely.

  • Christine

    Me, atheist. Husband, believer-ish. He was brought up Catholic — you can take the boy out of the Catholic church, but you can’t…you get the picture.

    To be fair, I called myself an agnostic when we met. In fact, I called myself agnostic for years after we married (over 25 years ago). And since he was a lapsed Catholic who was angry with the church, he considered himself agnostic as well. We had a Unitarian pastor marry us in a house. We didn’t have our kids baptized or take them to church (thank god!).

    I came to see how silly this fence-straddling was only a few years ago.

    I have to admit I find it somewhat repulsive that I sleep with someone who thinks some greater being is listening in to his thoughts, Maybe it’s easier for a man to turn that part of his brain off during intimacy.

    Our university-aged son is an atheist; daughter is a non-believer, but not as vehement about it as our son.

    I think my husband “gets” that his belief sounds ridiculous even to his own ears, but the indoctrination, although not as deep as practicing Catholics, has still got some kind of hold on him.

    • Christine

      Oh. And, although I could talk until the cows come home about religion, HE would prefer NOT to talk about it at all.

  • cypressgreen

    I was an atheistist wiccan (yes, they exist) when I met my husband. He was a lapsed catholic/former born again. He was afraid to go to the parties after our holiday rituals. You know, we might be “messing with something dangerous and not even know it.” LOL

    Well, he got over *that*! Two reasons I think: 1. He loved all his new friends, pagan and whatever and could see there was nothing to fear, and 2. He was getting some from a kinky wench who adored him. Always a factor for guys!

    Over time, I have quit the wiccan group, he has become unafraid, and we even married in a lovely pagan ceremony. (Which our friend tailored to his comfort.)

    I am now fully atheist, cool w-all our friends, and he’s more of an agnostic. I admit I rattle on to him all the time about my opinions and the books and blogs I’m reading even though he’s not much of a talker. (He knows who Daniel, Hemant and PZ are!)
    He’s still afraid of hellfire. I’ve told him I’ll soon talk him out of that. 8 yrs along now, and he is much more of a critical thinker on religion.

    At this point, I think he’s more afraid of ME burning. Since he was “reborn,” he thinks it’s his insurance and says that because I’m married to him I won’t burn either. He’s afraid to let it go mostly for my sake, I think.

    Lastly, we are the best of friends and there is only one secret in our relationship. Something very ugly turned him from the born again thing, and he says he’ll *never* tell me what it was. I have respected this. But I really wonder.

  • http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/ Larry Tanner

    When we started 15 years ago, my wife was Catholic and I was Jewish. Now she is a devout Christian (although I don’t think her church has a specific denomination) and I am an “out” Atheist. With 3 children and about to celebrate 10 years of marriage, we’re very happy together.

    • http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/ Larry Tanner

      I should mention that all of our kids go to church and are encouraged to pray and be devout. I’m cool with it, but I know that eventually the kids will start to have questions about where God comes from and was there really a Jesus. They’ll also want to know about how I developed the opinions and conclusions about God that I did. When the kids start asking questions, they’ll inevitably go down the road to Atheism.

      But in the end, it doesn’t matter. If my wife and kids believe that Jesus died and rose again for our sins, it doesn’t affect anything all that much. The more important thing is that we get to spend time doing cool stuff together. Next to sharing meals, doing homework, and horsing around, the question of of a “supreme being of the universe” seems stupid, actually.

      • Mark Mukasa

        That last paragraph was so poignant. I agree 100%.

  • Kodie

    I think my ongoing situation is complicated. I recently got together with someone who I’d been broken up for about 2 months after a very intense 1-month relationship that all for its brevity seemed a lot more like 6 months or more. He is bipolar and raised in Greek Orthodoxy, and when he is stable, religion doesn’t mean that much to him and me being an atheist doesn’t either. He tends more toward the buddhism spirituality or “self-help” woo, if anything, but he believes in god due to an incident when he was a child where he almost died in an accident but lived anyway.

    In the first part, I tentatively shooed away any his thoughts that “someone must be watching out for us,” and other vague statements with “I don’t know,” or “I don’t really believe that,” until it came out in the open and he was cool with it, and I was cool with whatever vague beliefs he retained. As I see him now, toward the end, he was possibly beginning mania, because me being an atheist suddenly bothered him. When he came to me 2 weeks ago, I didn’t realize he was actively manic for several days. I was nervous but happy to see him and tried to be as good a friend to him because he obviously needed someone to talk to and spend time away from his housemates with. My atheism again did not bother him, but he attempted to read the bible to me several times. “You don’t have to believe it, just read it, it’s not going to kill you or anything.” I am not against reading the bible at all, and even if you are an atheist or not, I think of reading it as like when I listen to a particular song when I’m feeling down. It’s not supernatural word of god, it’s just some comforting words if you see it that way.

    By the end of that sweep, he started “realizing” that I wasn’t budging and thinking atheism had something to do with satanism, and in his state of mind, there was nothing I could do to clear up the misconception because he would not shut up. He said he could not be with an atheist. He’s doing better now, he’s hospitalized since a few days ago. I still care for him, and have been to visit him a few times. The first time, he was hostile again, but asked me to come the next day and apologized. I’m not sure how it will all turn out. When he’s stable, he’s the best ever. When he’s not, it’s not like an ordinary disagreement on faith or lack thereof.

    At least for my preferences, his vague belief in some god somewhere sometimes is about as far as I think I can stand to be with anyone. My parents never spoke of religion and didn’t bring us to church. If you keep it to yourself, I’m cool with that, as long as you’re cool with me, and we never need to talk about it. I do not think I could be with someone who went to church or was vocal about their faith or hostile towards my lack of faith. It’s a fundamental aspect of who you are, this is just not something I can agree to disagree if we are too far degrees apart. If you’re suffering from mental illness, there’s not too much I can do there either except encourage him to stay on his meds, peace for everyone, and realize that any of the religiosity when he’s unwell is temporary.

    I have not been in too many other relationships over my life, and have been lucky, I guess, enough to get guys who are either atheists themselves, or don’t care about religion too much (possibly never really thought about what they truly believe – as close to perfect as I have come to expect), although some have come from religious backgrounds, usually Catholic, and Irish Catholic at that, so I’ve been to the magic show a couple times as a show for the parents. I’m not sure how I feel about a guy who still has to go to church, like on Easter, just because his parents like to, and make me an accessory to the charade, but I missed the bullet on Greek Orthodox Easter this year. I know it’s his favorite holiday and very important to Greeks, I guess I’ll deal (if we’re still together next year) since it’s for him and not to appease his parents.

    • cypressgreen

      You are a very patient and understanding person.

      My husband not only had to accept my (then) paganism when we met, but also that I was bipolar, going thru a divorce, and had a 2 yr old. Luckily, I have never been hospitalized. His family has a history of mental illness. His ex was just diagnosed schizophrenic. I think it’s really true that we pick mates of a type we are already familiar and comfortable with.

      I am fortunate to have such a loving, supportive husband.

  • Gary

    I’m atheist and she started out an a non practicing catholic. We talk about it every time I hear about a member of the clergy abusing there god given rights. Every Day. 16 years and we are still together. Some days I think that I should back off, but hey it is just my opinion and I listen to hers. Makes for a relationship with lots of discussion.

  • Jeremy

    My wife is still a Christian and I’ve deconverted.

    We don’t talk about it.

  • Gibs

    My current girlfriend was right there beside me when i went through my deconversion from catholicism. She engaged me in open discourse about our opposing beliefs which was very helpful and constructive. I think more people of any religion should be like this, engaging in discourse, instead of blinding protecting their faith with irrational and totally absurd arguments. Lots of things can coexist if people just stop trying to shove their beliefs down other peoples throats like many religions do.

  • KimchiGUN

    I’m an recently converted Atheist and my wife is a Christian by the Baptist belief. We get along great. She talks about God and blessings. I just nod my head and smile. It soothes her that my atheism is backed by science and facts rather than hate. I know she clings to what faith she has to help her cope with life.

    It doesn’t bother me or her. bottom line, religion or non religion shouldn’t dictate love.

  • idioteque

    In the past, I was working through lots of issues. At age 20, due largely to lots of low self-esteem, I joined the very fundamentalist Church of Christ– living in Lousyana no less. About three years later, I got out (lonnnnng story) and I started putting the whole religion question “on hold,” but began questioning things. It was during this time that I met my wife-to-be, who was a Christian, though not an active believer, fairly open minded (especially in comparison to her hardcore fundamentalist family). We married a year later.

    My own personal questioning of things led to a more wishy-washy pseudo-mystical notion of “God” for me (more akin to Daoism really), but it was a far cry from any orthodox Christian faith. As I went through these various phases of belief, going further and further on the left end of the religious spectrum, my (then) wife used to joke about me going through “my phases” and didn’t take it too seriously. In the meantime, we *both* hid my rather liberal religious views from her family (they already had some distrust of me because my family is Catholic).

    When I started going to UU churches and Quaker meetings, that might’ve rankled her a bit. But it wasn’t until in 2001 when I finally was able to let go of all the metaphysical gymnastics that my ex-wife then started taking some issue with me, though still more on a theoretical level. I as hardly out to convert anyone, though I was quite lonely, being stuck in Lousyana, not really having anyone to talk to about any of this. To my surprise, my not-TOO-religious ex-wife did start attending more church services with her parents (she may have felt threatened by my own little philosophical excursions?).

    While religion or lack thereof was not any real cause for our breakup, it was another area where I felt more of a disconnect. Philosophy and *thinking* in general are things that matter to me and not just in an abstract sense. Our marriage lasted almost ten years.

    Its depressing to read many of these comments where basically that topic of conversation is off limits– a whole part of one’s life is shut off from a relationship that should be one of intimacy and friendship.

    Since my breakup I’ve been involved in an online relationship with someone Down Under (it didn’t start off with the intention of being romantic) but who is thankfully an atheist (her total innocence from religion astounds me still). And it is wonderful. I would never ever in my life be involved in a romantic relationship with someone who is religious ever again. It simply isn’t worth shutting out one whole aspect of one’s life.

    • Jeremy

      Its depressing to read many of these comments where basically that topic of conversation is off limits– a whole part of one’s life is shut off from a relationship that should be one of intimacy and friendship.

      Well the alternative is to have her break down in tears.

      I’m hoping it’ll one day be open for discussion, but right now, it’s not.

      • Kodie

        My preference is to just live in a secular home like I grew up in. I don’t need discussions about faith or why there is no god with my partner, just to sort of understand that we are coming from the same place. I of course resist any relationship where we would be on two sides of belief and not be able to bring it up, that’s just something I think is important inside of a person not to disagree too much. I guess talking about it too much agitates me, and if there was a lot of god-talk in my house, I’d be forced to discuss it when I don’t want to, and really think things of my mate that I don’t think are healthy to think of him. If we had to let it lie, but it was there, it would bother me all the time, so I don’t envy relationships where people disagree about god and consider it a forbidden topic either. I like just knowing that we’re in agreement or close enough that we can just talk about everything else.

  • Andy

    I’m about to marry a Christian (I’m an Atheist). Honestly what get’s us through it is that neither of us take our beliefs super seriously. She doesn’t call me a dirty sinner, and I don’t call her a fairy-tail worshiping idiot. We’ve had struggles with it at times, but essentially when we both know each other as good, loving people were not going to let beliefs stand in the way of that.

    However we have had problems with one of the Churches she used to attend. Boy did they have a problem with me.

  • Custador

    My better half was Christian when we got together. Four years later having done a Ba in Human Sciences at Oxford (one of her lecturers was Dawkins), she’s fairly solidly atheist.

    • Ben

      Lucky girl. I wish I could have Dawkins as a lecturer.

  • http://shatternicely.com Charity

    My husband and I were both evangelical Christians, but then I became an atheist. In the beginning, it was pure hell. He thought the things evangelicals think about atheists and I was insulted that he would think those things about me. We avoided the topic for the most part, but it would come up. It has to when you are in that kind of faith that permeates every corner of your existence. Honestly, we would have split up, if he hadn’t realized that my doubts were justified and re-examined his own faith. Now he’s sort of spiritual, but no longer calls himself a Christian, and we get along just fine.

  • Kit

    I’m an atheist dating a conservative Jew. In general I don’t think faith is really an issue because I don’t even know how much HE believes of his religion, because he certainly doesn’t keep kosher (minus pig. He doesn’t eat pig) and he doesn’t go to synagogue and so on. But he’s mentioned that he would like to keep kosher and I think he does believe in God.

    However, his dad is apparently an atheist Jew so while sometimes he gets offended by my comments about religious people I don’t think it’s actually a problem.

  • KimV

    I seem to be at the other end of this dilemma right now. After being married for over 20 years to a non-believer, I’m again looking for a mate. This process is difficult enough at the best of times but it seems to be even more complicated by the fact that, at least right now, I’m not willing to compromise on the religion question at all. Since one of the traits I look for is the ability to hold an intellectually stimulating (and rational) conversation, the idea of dating a man who can suspend reason & believe in woo just doesn’t sit well with me at all. Unfortunately, this also means that the pool of eligible men who are my “matches” appears to be, well, tiny. Hence the dilemma: is it worth it for me to expand my woo tolerance level and risk hooking up with someone I disagree with on such an important (to me) issue, or do I continue to search among the like-minded albeit rare? Dating sucks.

  • Luz

    I am an Atheist Latina( rare, I know) and My African American husband is… I’m not sure? A deist? He believe in a supreme being, but not in any books,prophets or religion.We get along great.
    How is that for a mixed relationship:)

    • Siberia

      Cheers! I’m an atheist latina too :D from Brazil.

      • Ben

        Cheers for atheist Latinas!! Never met one, it seems like all Latin girls (and guys for that matter) I meet are deeply religious…

  • http://www.takedeadaimontherichkids.blogspot.com Alice

    I had a serious boyfriend that I lived with for 3 years who was a practicing Catholic. The religion was never really a point of contention though, because he felt religion was a really personal thing, so he just never talked about it. He went to mass during the week and put up with my wisecracks.

    He was pretty messed up in a lot of ways though, so in a sense, Catholicism was the least of his problems.

    Additionally, I was a different person when I met him (atheist, just a little more tolerant of hypocrisy, I guess). I’m not sure if I could be in a relationship with a theist anymore.

  • Nelly

    I met, dated and married my third (and final) husband knowing his family are all raised fundy. He participated in church when he was married to his first wife (the mother of his kids). When we started getting serious he knew I wasn’t very religious and we never really talked about it. I dabbled in Wicca for awhile, trying to find my course, but was done with it shortly after we married. We’ve been married almost 15 years now.

    When we visit his ailing mother back in Virginia, I keep my mouth shut and close my eyes at grace. She wouldn’t understand and I won’t try to make her. The rest of his family aren’t regular churchgoers, but believe nonetheless.

    Bottom line, we really don’t talk about it. He has his beliefs and I have my facts. ;-)

    p.s. one thing does bug me a little. Years ago I asked him point blank how he can love me and still think I’m going to hell for not being saved. He wouldn’t answer. That was about 14 years ago.

    • Nelly

      p.s.s. after re-reading my last comment, I’d like to add that I don’t really think HE thinks I’m going to hell. That was a long time ago. We really love and respect each other and are great friends to boot. Perhaps someday I’ll ask again.

  • http://Twitter.com/tophertron Topher

    Living in the Southeastern United States, every girl I’ve dated has had religious beliefs, I’ve been an atheist since i was 16 or 17, usually it’s something that draws them to me, bc I’m so open about it, but my most recent gf was “agnostic”, but took her kids to church… What a train wreck that was! I feel like church is child abuse, and if you don’t believe something why would you take your kids to be brainwashed?! I couldn’t keep my mouth shut knowing how i was brainwashed as a child. She was worse than a Christian at this point, says she doesn’t believe, but goes to church and blows smoke up their ignorant asses?! I’d rather date a Christian…

  • Paul

    I dated a mormon for a while. Although she seemed to be the most liberal in her family, religion was a hot topic that even barely touching on usually ended up with allegations that I was trying to undermine her beliefs. I don’t think her family ever trusted me, except for one of her younger brothers who really admired me, for reasons I know not. Eventually I started noticing offhanded and unspecific remarks that were implying Muslims and gays as of evil (I had one in the closet gay friend, and another who was Muslim), which led to our breakup. I don’t know how we managed to make it work for those 4 months.

  • http://uponariver.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    I haven’t had a relationship with someone religious, however I did have a brief fling with someone who told me they would only go out with other atheists. That disturbed me. He claimed that I wouldn’t be me if I was religious, which I guess is true. However I found the idea that you could only like someone if they were atheist similar to people not voting for someone because they are atheist. Your religious beliefs do not have to be all you are, of course it can be and in that case I couldn’t date them, but I could be happy with someone religious – as long as they didn’t mind debating it. I don’t really see it that different to political leaning, and I am living with someone supporting a different party and we just debate it a lot without getting personal.

    • Kodie

      I read your comment and remembered what I wrote upthread about not wanting to discuss faith with my partner. It makes me feel better if we are on or near the same wavelength about this. I don’t think I could get along with someone religious, I don’t want to hear it and don’t want to talk about it. Likewise, I hate talking about politics beyond making fun of Sarah Palin maybe. She’s such a cartoon character, I couldn’t be with someone who supports her. I do think I could get along with someone with different political views as long as they didn’t have to talk about them with me. It’s uninteresting and I don’t want to fight.

      There’s a general rule about polite gatherings not to discuss religion or politics, and I think it’s mostly because either side is inclined to think the other “stupid,” and then there’s no debate, just agita. I don’t think other political views are necessarily as “stupid” as any vocal amount of faith, just don’t want to live with someone who thinks I’m the stupid one, I guess. I personally feel faith is at some degree ignorant, and I can’t live with anyone I feel that way about, and they probably wouldn’t tolerate me, and I swear I would not shove atheism down anyone’s throat unless they made me. I like peace, and I like like minds in that particular area. I think it’s way more important than liking the same movies and music, which can be a deal-breaker for some people. I don’t think that’s important at all, that’s what headphones and more than one tv are for.

  • http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com Michael Caton

    Religion necessarily perpetuates itself “extra-logically”. It’s a social medium. One of its most powerful strategies is assimilation through marriage. Guys and gals, by all means have fun dating the faithful if you can, but no matter how much they insist that they won’t insist on a [fill in religion] wedding, attending regular [fill in religion] services, or raising the kids [fill in religion], even if they mean it when they say it, the family comes into the picture as soon as the wedding bells start to ring. Don’t kid yourself. Marry a serious theist, and you WILL be raising more theists, if not becoming one yourself.

  • Phillip Moon

    My wife and I met in High School. She was a sophomore and I was a senior. She was raised an atheist and I was raised a Southern Baptist. I had lost most of my Christian beliefs at that point, but still believed in god, an afterlife and a lot of the paranormal bs.

    We talked about religion and all the other subjects all the time, from the moment we met, and the result was by the age of 24, just a year before my daughters birth, I found myself being an atheist. We never had a problem with the subject and figured if we still disagreed about religion when there were kids, we would explain both and let her/him figure it out for him/herself.

  • jen

    I’ve been on both sides of that relationship.

    In high school, I was a believer (not extremely devout, and certainly not a proselytizer, but I did truly believe) in a fairly fundamentalist religion. I was dating a guy I’d known for about 4 years (since Junior High), and I didn’t believe him when he told me he’d never held a copy of the Bible. The relationship didn’t last long, but not because of religious issues.

    Then I was in a long relationship (13 years) where we started with me still fairly religious but not churchgoing, and him seeming to be a once-a-year-at-Christmas type. Over the next few years, I became an atheist, while he became much more religious. It added to the tensions, but only in the sense that it was one more thing I couldn’t talk about with him.

  • claidheamh mor

    (Long ago and far away) It was okay to have high motives, being like Jesus, helping Habitat for Humanity (try it sometime, Republicans), not okay to say “You do what God wants you to or you go to hell”. Decent otherwise, but basic incompatibility. We’re not together. I miss having the drinking and dining partner though.

  • JonJon

    My GF is non-religious. To be honest, I was anticipating that the disparity would be a much worse issue than it actually has been.

  • busterggi

    My believer ex & me were married for thirteen years but the last couple were pure hell as she got close to her newly divorced & newly reborn ex-sister-in-law.

    After the divorce she jumped hip-deep into a Baptist church complete with healings & speaking in tongues. Also complete with collecting lots of money to upgrade their building & acoutrements.

    Took her about five years to see the collected hypocrisy of the congregation (help the poor? they just need to pray more & give more money. aren’t we just the bestest of Jesus’ humble children!) and quit.

    She’s an unattached believer now. But at least we’re friends (I’m not taking that chance again).

  • wintermute

    I’m an atheist from Britain, a country where even the nominal Christians don’t actually believe in all that God stuff. My wife is a Southern Baptists from the US’s Bible Belt. Of her family, she’s the liberal, open-minded one.

    We generally don’t discuss religion on a day-to-day basis, but we have spoken about theology and the like fairly often. Neither of us is trying to convert the other, but her friends and family do pray for God to take away my free will fairly regularly.

    We both want our children (we currently have a 3-year-old daughter) to grow up to be free-thinkers and able to make their own religious choices.

  • Mark Mukasa

    My parents aren’t very religious but they’re from two different faith backgrounds (Islam and Catholicism) and although my Grandparents on both sides were pretty vocally in opposition to each other (although more contentious was the fact that their child was dating an African, or in my father’s case a Caribbean) it was a relatively smooth transition. My Islamic side are all in Africa, so it’s not really an issue of whether they would try and intervene religiously and my Grandparents in the Caribbean eventually dropped their prejudices. My parents lasted for 18-20 years until my father died in 2006.

    I’m dating a Muslim right now. I’m more of an agnostic bordering on being an Atheist, so while it isn’t an issue for my mother and brothers, with my girlfriends family it still is one. I’m very much in love with my girlfriend, and hopefully after my degree I would marry her, but I can see some bumpy roads ahead with regard to my mother-in-law!

    As for faith. I know she has her beliefs, so I don’t try and change that. Occasionally I’d make the odd critical observation, but we don’t speak on it generally unless we’re talking about how much her mother wants to marry her off to an Arab rather than an atheist. Which in that case we get angry not at each other, but her specifically.
    If or when we have children, I’d probably leave the faith based stuff to her, but if they ever want to question it, I’d be there to provide opinions.

    I used to live in the Caribbean, and over there virtually no atheists exist except maybe for some British ex-pats. I kind of resigned myself to eventually ending up with a Christian or a Hindu (you get them a lot in my island!) in some cases. So I’ve always known that somehow my kids will grow up half-theist, half-secular.

  • Dyedinthewoolcynic

    Phhht…My husband calls himself a “Christian” and I call myself an “Agnathiest”. He prides himself on logic except when it comes to the bible. I chide him for his lack of logic in that department. He says the bible is the only area in life were logic doesn’t apply, and that I am wrong for questioning everything. “You should just have faith” he says. Phhht!

  • Brian

    Mine was fine, until the missionaries sucked him into Mormonism. He stopped drinking caffeine, still smoked (but hid all evidence when the missionaries came over), and was even concerned about us being in a relationship. Apparently, if you’re Mormon, it’s OK to be homosexual, as long as don’t ever have any kind of a relationship with someone of the same sex.

    This is a little off-topic, but I thought it was crazy that he had paperwork, from the church, with all of his personal information on it. I guess you have to “register” for church. They must have a HUGE database with all the personal information of their members. It seemed to me that it was more like a corporation than a church…

    • Kodie

      The Mormons have a huge database on almost anyone. They are one major resource if you are researching your genealogy. You could say it is also a database of their members, as they routinely baptize dead people to LDS and/or marry dead people into their church if they’re not already LDS.

  • mikemarsh

    Christian turned agnostic, married to a Christian

    An eerily timed QofDay, as my wife and I are currently facing the pains that come from such a split in philosophy. We came together through my father’s youth group about 10 years ago. She began attending our church after meeting our group on a camping trip (I was not present), and experiencing a life-changing spiritual encounter. So, our relationship took root in the church and grew from there.

    My father is a minister and I was raised in the Christian church, having many spiritual experiences growing up. I was a devout Christian until I left high school 12 years ago. Funny thing how a real world education and experience can muck up the waters of religion and spirituality. I left university with major questions and doubts of my faith, but did not seriously and openly face them until a few years ago after moving away from home with my wife. The independence from family religious influence allowed freedom of thought and expression. My wife has always been very liberal and open-minded… but has held on to her strong belief in God. I am thankful that she is not an evangelical, and approaches spirituality on a more grounded level. Christianity is more or less a label for her connection to God.

    In the last year I have opened myself up completely to the world of free thought and skepticism, and have read the Bible more than I ever did as an evangelical. Putting myself outside of the bubble, I could easily poke holes in the Christian faith and see it’s fallacies. I am now agnostic, and teetering on atheist. Due to the many spiritual experiences I have had throughout my life, I have not jumped fully in the atheist camp… and my wife’s strong belief plays a role in this as well.

    My wife wrestles with mixed feelings on my change in religious beliefs (or lack thereof). She is proud of my dedication to seeking truth and an authentic faith, and for empowering myself with knowledge… but she is also very hurt by my loss of faith, which has affected the connection we had as our relationship grew. We have a very strong marriage… we love each other to the absolute fullest. In 4 years of marriage, we have had VERY little challenge to our bond. This is a minor threat… and I am confident she will come to a stronger understanding of my skepticism as we are able to talk more openly about it. She has been incredibly understanding, given the fact that the news of my agnosticism seemed to completely blindside her, and that she retains a strong faith in God. She understands that I can’t fake our prayers together at night. I still want her to pray for us when we go to bed… because it helps in her own faith, and she feels better about our relationship. But it’s often uncomfortable for her, and she’s reluctant to do it. This is where the main struggle with our differences currently lie… connecting on a spiritual level. As well, she has seemed to overreact to my normal, male mistakes, seeing them now as coinciding with my loss of faith. Though I disagree with this, it has caused me to look deeper in to my heart and examine closely how I treat her and show my love (I don’t need a religion to cause me to self-assess and learn from my mistakes). I am a great husband… and I treat my wife like a queen.

    The most difficult part for me is carrying on a deep conversation about faith. She wants to leave it at “there’s something greater than us… it’s not just science… you and I are not a coincidence.” I want to go in to a full re-examination of our Christian beliefs… but it never gets to that point. When we approach having children, I think it will be the time for us to fully hash it out. I don’t want to raise them with the delusion of religion… I want them to feel empowered to seek on their own. I know my wife, for the most part, feels the same way… when I have presented my issues with the Bible and Christianity, she always agrees and has nothing to back it up. I know she is agnostic, but unwilling to fully face that and admit to it. There is still the “fear of God” and of hell.

    **This ended being quite long, but thank you for taking the time read. It was actually quite therapeutic for me… even though very few will actually read it to the end. I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions from you own experiences.

    • http://www.bicyclesandbeansprouts.blogspot.com Tee

      I read to the end. I understand it. I was there, on your wife’s side, once upon a time. Now, I am on yours. And yes, writing in response to this question was therapeutic. Namaste’.

  • laura

    I fell hard for a guy who said he was christian but had stopped attending church due to unpleasant & oppressive experiences in his past. He knew my general feeling on religion early on and the subject didn’t come up that often. We were together for almost 4 years, and the majority of that time was wonderful. We had a only a handful of bad days where he would suddenly act annoyed and make comments such as “the only way to salvation is by accepting Jesus Christ.” I initially thought he was just pushing my buttons in a playful manner, but he’d become sullen & serious. I asked if he really thought I’d end up in hell, and he would just repeat the statement. This only happened once or twice in the 4 years, but still it was “Clue #1″.

    He talked a lot about wanting to have children together. I’d try to engage him in the specifics of his child-rearing ideas, but he’d avoid any in-depth conversation. I thought hard about this over some days, trying to discover how much compromising I’d be able to extend when it came to children. And I needed to know how he felt – I couldn’t start a family with someone without knowing. I later brought the subject up again and made some suggestions. I was feeling pretty good at my crack at diplomacy, but my heart dropped when his only reply was “my children will be Christian.” Still trying, I pointed out that our children will be quite smart indeed, and capable of making decisions that are right for themselves. Besides, how did he appreciate it when his parents made decisions for him? I got no response… but was handed “Clue #2″.

    Another time he brought up the bible I asked how he reconciled with god that we were in a sexual relationship outside of marriage… for now (he kept telling me he was “about to” propose. yeah so we could start having our seriously messed up children). He coldly replied that he “asks for god’s forgiveness every day” regarding our sinful relationship. That cut me to the quick and I knew we were doomed. Our relationship was the most important & beautiful aspect of my live at that time. Ouch. Clue #3 hurt pretty bad. Thank you little clues for helping me let this man go, even tho it broke my heart. And I lost my best friend… and Thank you christianity for making my best friend into an abusive schmuck.

  • Pinkerton

    Twice.

    I fell in love with a traditional Catholic believer. We were young, and I was starting down the path to agnosticism. The Sacraments are important to Catholics, so she got to thinking about how things would end up with a non-believer. She was also genuinely concerned about my pending absence from eternity. She’s probably the only woman who ever saw me as a “bad boy”. In the end, we had other life-plans besides religion that didn’t coincide, but religion was the big factor in her decision to call it quits. I’ll admit, in my own pride I tried to sway her to my side of the fence, too.

    The next time was with a luke-warm Methodist. We came to an amicable understanding about one-another’s beliefs, and religion was not discussed much (usually poking fun at Catholicism, a pass-time of many a Methodist, especially the luke-warm ones). However, after her mom succumbed to a brief bout with leukemia, religion became more important to her, and she became more marriage minded. She told me in so many words that she wanted to end up marrying another Christian. Maybe we could have worked things out, but I stayed out of her way. Thankfully, we continue to be friends, and she is happily married.

    My current sweetheart is non-religious, which has made a significant difference. To me, it is preferable to be with a non-religious. Even when religion doesn’t seem to be an issue, it can still bite you on the ass.

  • objectifier

    My second wife is a minister. She started as a Methodist then when we were first together she was converting over to being a Unitarian Universalist. I am an atheist who was raised Southern Baptist then sent to a Catholic High School, the perfect recipe for producing an atheist and it worked for me and my brother. We were also very different politically and one of the things we both enjoyed was a good argument, not angry but very good natured. It was probably what pulled us together most. She kept telling me I would make a good Unitarian and I countered that the best part about being an atheist was sleeping in on Sunday mornings. The marriage lasted only 3 years but we had a son together and are still on relatively friendly terms. The break up had nothing to do with our religious differences.

  • Lane S.

    My girlfriend right now is kinda sorta Christian. Most of her friends are very devout Christians. I’m an atheist. We get along great, we just don’t talk about religion. Of course, she really doesn’t go to church anyways, and just wants people to believe in something. We’ve been going strong for about three months now, and we knew each other for 4 years before being together.

    I get along great with her friends too.

  • Mike

    My wife was Christian when we started dating. We went to a universalist church for a while but it was too fuzzy for either of us. Eventually she converted to atheism, and we borrow freely from any religions for purposes of holidays. I’m raising my kids to be skeptics. I tell them if they ever want to break my heart, join a church.

    My daughter went with a friend to a church youth group and came back horrified. “You were right about Christians is what she said to me.” Good girl.

  • http://billym.macabreink.com Billy

    I dated a Christian girl for a year. Eventually we just grew apart. We weren’t bitter or anything, it just ended.


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