Hello all,

 

I am curious to some of your opinions/experience dealing with relationships with a semi-religious person.  Also, I would like to hear what role you believe religion should play in a relationship, being that one is atheist and one is not.

I have been in a relationship for going on nine months with someone who claims to have a relationship with their “god”, yet does not attend church, but at times feels she is very well committed to religion and connected to her Catholic ways.  Our agreement is basically if I don’t make any religious comments, the whole “atheism” conversation is ignored. I sit and contemplate on a daily basis as to how I should go about trying to handle this, whether I should stay or go? 

My question/discussion for you all is to get your opinion or past experiences dealing with this type of situation.  My main question is if it’s possible for a relationship to work with someone who is somewhat religious, where religion plays no part in my life.  Has anyone had success with this sort of events?  I feel that in the long run, raising a family would cause major problems being that religion is involved, even though it is to a small extent in her life.

 

Post away!

Thanks!

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I think the question you're asking is a very conditional one. In short, it is possible for a relationship to work between two opposing religious views but it depends a lot on how those views play into each person's life.

Unfortunately for you, your situation doesn't sound too promising. The fact that you're essentially not allowed to make any comments regarding religion is an unsettling one. In a relationship, as I'm sure you know, you ideally want to be with someone whom you can talk to about anything. If this is something that irks you on a daily basis, you should be able to talk to her about it. You might first want to come up with a better agreement because the one you have now is a little unfair.

Personally, I would try not to date anyone with religious beliefs that actually dictate their actions or opinions unless they were willing to discuss the topic. There is nothing I find sexier than intelligence and reason. As an agnostic atheist, I'm willing to change my views in light of evidence and I would expect someone I date to be the same way - religious or not.

I feel I can't answer this question adequately without knowing exactly how religious she is. If it's an occasional prayer now and then or she looks to God for comfort in difficult situations then I wouldn't think it would be a big deal. The beautiful thing about atheists is that we don't have to lose sleep when we encounter someone with an opposing view. We may be certain they're wrong but if it's taken in moderation and makes them happy, then so be it (I understand that's not everyone's viewpoint). It's not like they're going to be disappointed after death.

The raising-a-family-thing, again, really relies on how your views affect the two of you. I think it's safe to assume you both eventually want kids so what you need to ask yourself is: "Would I be upset if my child chose religion?" and "How upset would my wife be if our child chose atheism?"

To reiterate my main point; this sort of relationship is entirely possible but very conditional.

Feel free to give more information and I'll try to give a deeper analysis.

    

I am an atheist, married to a Christian wife.  In my experience, it is possible to have a great relationship between people of opposing views.  Communication is a big part of it - you have to be able to talk to each other about everything.  Understanding where the other person is coming from is a major factor in being comfortable with such a fundamental difference.  It doesn't matter how religious your girlfriend is.  The fact is, she is religious to some degree.  This cannot be ignored if there is any hope of your relationship going to the next level.  You need to know how you both feel about kids, if you want them, how you want them to be raised etc.  It's not fair to the kids have them before figuring this stuff out.  My son is being exposed to many things, from a young age - christianity, judaism, atheism, etc.  He will be able to make his own decision someday, and his mom and I will support him no matter what.  You also need to figure out how you'll feel if/when her beliefs change or evolve.  If she becomes more religious over time, would that be a problem for you?  I can tell you that although I knew in my head that I was an atheist for many years, my wife didn't know that until last year.  She thought I was a non-religious Jew who still believed in something.  Things are ok, but could have gone more smoothly.  Bit of a different scenario, but the point is that you need to fully communicate about both of your beliefs in advance so that you go into a potential marriage without any doubts or questions.  It is too important to ignore!

"It doesn't matter how religious your girlfriend is" vs. "If she becomes more religious over time, would that be a problem for you?"

You're going to confuse the poor guy.

When I said "it doesn't matter how religious your girlfriend is" I was basically saying that by having any degree of religion, there is a fundamental difference between the 2 of you which should not be ignored - believing in god, vs not believing in god.  As far as her level of religiosity, you need to understand your own feelings towards her beliefs, and try (if possible) to have an idea of how your feelings might change if her beliefs or attitudes towards non-belief change.  Hope that helps avoid confusion...  Again, the bottom line here is communication.  Talk to her.  All successful relationships, no matter the other factors or backgrounds of the individuals, are based on good communication!

Thanks for your input on this situation.  However, my issue is we have briefly spoken about the future, dealing with religion (i.e. raising children).  It ended with her stating that her children would attend a catholic school for no reason other than she did, and led to tears, ha. So trying to converse is such a difficult thing to go about doing, but I know that it is something that has to take place, soon.

That's part of the Catholic doctrine - for the Church to consent to the marriage, the children are required to be brought up Catholic - it's their way of asurring an ever-increasing congregation, the same is true of Judaism. A compromise might be that they go to a Catholic church and submit to all of their ceremonies, but attend a secular school.

My son, also an atheist, married a Catholic girl, and their older son, 12, is already beginning to question the bullshit, just by watching his dad lead by example.

Far be it from me to stereotype, but if your avatar is accurately you, you look a bit young to be getting serious anyway. I know all grownups say that, and when I was your age, I was ten times more convinced than you are, that I had found my soul-mate, but we say it for a reason - we've been there, done that, and have the boot-prints.

In her case, it's because she buys the whole hell-fire/damnation package, and rightfully, would not like to imagine her children writhing in flames for eternity, but can't bring herself to question why a loving god would do that to any of his creations.

Be sure of the reason you're together - is it just because you're tired of being alone? Because someone finally loves you? That can change, you know --

Hey, Chase, I'm concerned about your hypothetical future children experiencing childhood indoctrination. That's a very evil thing. 

What about CCD? Could the kids go to a secular school and spend an hour a week in CCD? That's still not ideal, but better than wasting an hour or more per school day of your children's life sitting in religious studies and going to extra masses at school. They could be learning a second language or studying an instrument or practicing sport instead of polluting their brains with useless piffle. It would be much easier on you to countervail the weekly CCD course than the ubiquitous catholic culture and instruction they would be part of at school. 

oh my.

If you don't mind your child[ren] being raised catholic, no prob.  My ex tried to raise our son religiously [charismatic] but he turned out the way he turned out - thankfully, like me, even though I made no effort to interrupt his religious instruction from his dad.

BUT - big issue.  Only you and her can decide.

I don't see it as much different from one of you liking chocolate ice cream, and the other preferring strawberry, as long as one of you doesn't try to force their flavor onto the other. A pre-conception agreement should be in place, that any children should have free access to both flavors, and the option to choose one or the other, or a third flavor, if they like, without the slightest repercussions.

On the other hand, all relationships have problems, and adding another one to the mix can't be idyllic by any means, depending on how strongly each person defines him/herself by their viewpoints. Each of you has to ask if the extra effort is worth the reward.

Problem is that even in the few rare cases where the religious partner isn't a complete asshole about their religion, their family usually is. She might not force it down the kids throats, but I'm sure there's an aunt or dad in her family that will make sure to tell the kid it's going to burn in hell forever if it doesn't eat the strawberry ice cream.

To OP. If you can keep her family in check, it shouldn't be a problem. As she lingers in your atheist shadow, with time, she might change her views. Until then you shouldn't have to make it a taboo subject though, that's just stupid. Religion is sadly not like ice cream, and what flavor you like. One is objectively false, the other depends on your subjective taste. She has no right to be offended if you bring up facts, and if she wants to make a big deal out of it and live with her fingers in her ears, then I'm sure you can do better.

Yeah…….that’s the issue. When I state the facts, she understands them, but then it all goes back to “well this is how I was raised”. So all of this weighs on my mind, being that intelligence is quite high on my list of standards.  With that said, logical thinking doesn’t appear to be her greatest feature...

Do you respect her? 

Be honest. If you don't, it might not be easy to maintain a healthy relationship.

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