Say two people get married. Woman is from non-religious background and man is raised hard core Muslim.
They both don't care about religion. Woman believes in some form of God but she is not part of any particular religion. Man does not want to be a Muslim and that was never an issue between them.
Now two things happen!
First woman gets pregnant to have a child against all odds. Starts to believe even more in blessing.
Man stumbles to a group of men who claim to be ex-Muslims, agnostics and humanists. He believes even less in existence of God now.
They both turn into extreme. Believer and non-believer.
Do you think that marriage can work?
That particular didn't and try to guess why!
I never get along with any girl that believes hardcore, because they always talk about church and praying and, to be honest, it gets really irritating. That would be my guess. "He" got irritated.
I could never be disrespectful of others' beliefs and opinions but deep inside I would never EVER be able to take seriously a person who talks about and strongly believes in an existing god.
Religion just isn't a part of my existence and surely is something I do not want to have any kind of interference in my life. Therefore, it would be very, very difficult (if not impossible) to be sharing my life with a religious person (even a non-hardcore one).
But, hey, probably I am just not tolerant enough! After all you don't get to choose who you fall in love with... and then again, love can surely change the way you look at things... any thing!
Contradictory fundamental values between two persons who will pretend their whole life it's not there = shallow relationship. Sadly, people DO believe love is stronger than X and Y (hence the 50% divorce rate), but they don't realize X and Y should be what brought them together in the first place, not what they have in difference. Common interests that are superficial (knitting, cooking, taking walks) can't cement two people together properly (or at all). The focus should be on more profound things. I personally wouldn't marry a murderer, rapist, non vegan (this is *not* a "food choice", but a serious sentients' rights issue), religious, circumfetishist, because all those things clash in various degrees with my most important principles, and "I ain't giving those up for nobody".
I've been married for over 10 years to a devout Catholic woman. We have a great relationship because we respect each others' right to believe something that the other things is bullshit. I've never understood the idea that people have to AGREE on things to get along or have a good relationship. It's nonsense. I'm quite happy, thanks :)
things only stop working when one decides to impose their opinions and beliefs on the other... Relationship management involves respect and acknowledgement regardless of the differences... Easy in principal, hard in practice!
"They both turn into extreme. Believer and non-believer." I guess I can't get pass the 'extreme' part of this. To me that means non-accomodating. My wife and I have been married for over 32 years. She is a believer and I am not. One of the big reasons it works is that we are accommodating.
The "extreme" part is what defines them as incompatible. Fundamentalism is inherently dividing; if there's no middle way, there's no peace (*cough*Buddhism, just saying)
I have been married over 26 years, and we have five kids. I made it very clear, from the early part of our relationship, that I was an atheist, and we discussed where she was with religion. She was raised in a very strict Catholic household, so letting go of that is tough. She admitted that she didn't believe any of that, and that she didn't believe in some god-daddy in the sky. She still believes that humans have some sort of "spirit" or life force that isn't intelligent or conscious, but it rejoins the energy in the universe. OK, a little hokey, but hey - close enough for me. So, we've raised our kids nontheist and Unitarian Universalist, withoiut any pressure on them to believe in any deity - nor any pressure to NOT believe. We've given them the information, and it is up to them to do their own "soul searching" (so to speak) and find their answers. So far, so good.
So, I think it is important that you be as close a possible in your beliefs. The farther apart you are, the worse it will be in the long run - especially if/when you have kids. Also, the in-laws will add additional pressure as well.
Just stuff to keep in mind.
Wait how old are your children? I think this is the direction America's headed in and families like yours are early-pivotal (a family in which one parent is a true atheist to the religion in which the people of their society have traditionally been indoctrinated into and the other is technically atheist to the same religion, as opposed to both parents being only technically atheist-- a slower process of dilution). If your children don't turn out to be axe-murderers... you'd make a great case-study for this theory. That being that Christianity is dying out that is.
I wrote that in haste. I don't care. I was excited.
No problem - I got the gist of your post ;)
To answer your question - my kids are as follows:
I think the best thing we ever did was to get them into RE (Religious Education) at the UU (Unitarian Universalist) congregation we attend. I taught RE there myself, and they were able to be around adults and kids who were all over the map in their beliefs and personal spiritual journeys, and they were able to see that there was no dogma, or persecution there - we simply talked and enjoyed the conversation. Also, the RE classes themselves gave them an outstanding foundation in the major religions, their histories, and their customs. For instance, the class I taught was called "Neighboring Faiths", and my students were 7th graders. On one Sunday we would talk about a religion - say, Catholicism - where we would discuss their history, tenets of their faith, customs, and the things they did in their typical service. Then the next Sunday we would go to a local church and attend a service/mass - and we did this with the church's full knowledge that we were doing this. Afterwards one of the leaders of the church - a priest, for instance, in the Catholic church - would meet with us so the kids could ask them questions. It was an OUTSTANDING way for them to learn about the other faiths without feeling uncomfortable about it. And the religions they were exposed to was vast - from Hinduism, to an Indian Sweat Lodge, to Greek Orthodox, to Judaism, to Baptist and Penecostal (Assembly of God) - and so when they experienced these in the real world, they knew what to expect. For instance, my kids quite often attend church services with their friends, and I know that I don't have to worry about my kids getting caught up or sucked in by what they see, because they usually know more about the tenets and history of their particular religion than their friends do. So, that's why I am pretty sure that my kids won't go xian, or be sucked into a cult, or anything like that - and I know that they will have respect for other people's faith, as long as they're not preached at or otherwise aggressively confronted.
I hope that gives you some more insight into our family and my kids, where religion is concerned. I am pretty confident we did the right thing with them from a religious standpoint, especially considering we live in a very "Red", religious part of our state and country.
Ok here's what's happened in our household, for what its worth... I was brought up really strict evangelical... 'The Brethren' for the first 14 years of my life before I discovered girls and decided that I was more into the fruit of the forbidden tree than the rest of the blessings of the garden, so that was the end of the curch for me. I sinned and discovered it wasn't all bad... Funny that!
My wife who I have been with for 24 years now was brought up strict Anglican. We are both free thinkers however and both of us decided to bring our children up totally without any religious grounding whatsoever. We have however taught them the importance of discipline through sport and being responsible for themselves and their actions. We have three daughters aged 23 to 17 and so far so good! They seem to be doing fine without any religion whatsoever... Amazing!
Two of them have already played sport for their country and the other one has got a head on her shoulders that I know isn't wise to argue with already...