Hello Everyone. I've been in a relatioship with my boyfriend for just over 5 months now.
We both want to get married eventually and have a child. This is where the problem is arising.
He thinks marriage is 'spiritual' and can only be meaningful if done by a pastor in a christian setting. He cannot or refuses to understand that marriage does not have to be religious, that the church didn't create that institution.
He refuses to even try to see things objectively.
Coming from a religious background myself, I can understand how he feels in being afraid of thinking outside the box. The greatest problem I have is that he doesn't intend to have children with me if they are going to learn about atheism. Stating that if I leave the choice up to the kids, they'll never believe, which is totally true. How can he not connect the dots and see that this is because religion is totally illogical?
Before I totally give up on the relationship, what suggestions do you have for us? We've spoken on the issue a few times, apart from religion he is a great friend, but he is willing to give up on us over something that isn't even proven to be true. Beliefs are not important to me, I think this whole thing is trivial, but he is making it such a big problem I cannot ignore it.
What would you say to him to persuade him to at least not give up our future over something that may not be true?
if you're thinking of having a relationship with someone who is fundamentally opposite to you, i think a good question to ask yourself is "how will this work out in the long run?"
"if we were to have children, am i comfortable conceding and allowing them to be raised in a religious environment?" - it sounds as though your boyfriend isn't willing to let go (or even reconsider) his faith.
of course your love life is up to you completely but in my opinion this kind of relationship can get pretty messy and painful for both parties involved.
he is not willing to allow your beliefs or opinion to be shared or discussed, it sounds like the makings of a painful and potentially abusive situation.
HI and welcome to the group. I take it from the other replies your new like me. You can get really good advice here, so it's a great and open place for help!
Ok so to give my best to you I say this... If it's this hard now, in my personal experience it gets harder later because after marriage the option to evaluate the situation is gone. It's simply to late to say this isn't gonna work! Marriage is forever and to see it any other way is to doom it to failure. When you do have kids, will he change his mind and say "ok, you can talk to them about atheism"? Probly not so at least get these problems resolved first or they will make you miserable after marriage. I wish you the best of luck and remember "find happiness in your own heart before looking for it in others".
To make a situation like yours work takes a little flexibility...on both peoples part. My wife (a christian) and I have been married for over 30 years. This works because we both don't put up roadblocks like "doesn't intend to have children with me if they are going to learn about atheism". As it turned out, my kids learned about a lot of religions and atheism; and they made up their own minds. It appears this guy doesn't possess any flexibility to make your relationship work. Sorry to say this, but you are headed for trouble.
marriages have been happening before churches where even thought of. there is a few things that could be suggested for you to talk to him about, but it seems that he probably wont be open minded enough to consider them.
"doesn't intend to have children with me if they are going to learn about atheism."
this to me is a huge red flag.
the only relationships between atheists and theists that i know of working is ones where each partner is open minded.
sadly dear, i don't think this whole thing is going to lead to a future.
on a different note, relax, your young and five months isn't long enough to even be considering marriage if the guy wont even be open minded enough to try to understand your views.
The greatest problem I have is that he doesn't intend to have children with me if they are going to learn about atheism.
Wow, that is a big problem. If I were comfortable dating a theist and a theist were comfortable dating me as an atheist and they told me what your boyfriend told you that would be an instant deal breaker. I'd seriously break up with him that moment. The first thing that came to mind when I read that sentence is what a controlling asshole and then I though of how much resentment I'd feel toward my future husband for making me keep quiet about my beliefs or lack there of while he gets to teach the kids anything he wants in terms of religion. That's just flat out unfair and shows a complete unwillingness on his part to compromise.
Stating that if I leave the choice up to the kids, they'll never believe, which is totally true.
Actually that's not totally true. It happens more often than we atheists would like but children do sometimes pick theism even after being raised by an atheist or two.
Beliefs are not important to me, I think this whole thing is trivial, but he is making it such a big problem I cannot ignore it.
He's making a big deal because his beliefs are not trivial to him. If you relationship has any chance of working out you need to at least understand this and be willing to work with it.
What would you say to him to persuade him to at least not give up our future over something that may not be true?
I'd tell him that he needs to come up with a compromise for the whole children issue or I'd call the thing off myself.
I haven't read the responses yet, so I apologize in advance if someone else has said what I'm about to say. I have some experience in this area, and I wanted to at least give you some advice and some stuff to think about.
I am an atheist, and I have been since I was in 8th grade (ok, I called myself an agnostic then, but I was just scared to call a spade a spade). My wife and I were best friends in HS - we did date for a bit, but we didn't rekindle the romance until about 1.5 years after HS. In HS she still considered herself a xian, and she was raised in a strict Catholic household. She also knew that I was an atheist because we had a lot of really great talks about religion back then; in fact our discussions helped her name, and eventually face, her own religious doubts.
When our relationship became more serious I sat her down for a heart-to-heart talk about religion. We discussed her current beliefs, my approach and thoughts about religion in general, and even about how we would raise our (eventual) children. By this time she definitely didn't consider herself a Catholic, and she wasn't even a xian; however she still considered herself "spiritual", in a touchy-feely sort of way. I am very respectful of other people's beliefs and spirituality, and will vigorously defend their right to believe and practice as they wish - as long as it does NOT impede on anyone else and their right to practice (or not) as they wish. We both agreed that we would not raise our kids in a xian church when we got around to having them, and we would address the issue when the time came.
We got married very young - I was 20, she was 18. We both agree now that we were way too young, and we even knew that way back then. Because we were very young we waited over 6 years to have kids (the best move we ever made). Once our kids reached the age where you would typically take them to "Sunday School" we discussed what we were going to do again. You need to understand that we're in Georgia - the heart of the Bible Belt. Down here the second question anyone is asked upon meeting is, "What church do you attend?", right after, "What's your name?" There is a great deal of pressure on people to go to church - and that type of pressure is really tough on young kids - and we wanted to deflect as much of that pressure as possible. After quite a bit of research we finally found our answer - the Unitarian Universalist church.
The UU church near us (Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta) is fantastic - and back then their minister was an outstanding orator who consistently gave sermons on thought-provoking, interesting subjects. As a UU I could also feel very comfortable there - I don't have to feel like a hypocrite when I walk through the doors, as about 50% of the congregation are atheists/nonreligious. In fact I taught RE (Religious Education - "Sunday School") for about seven years as an "out of the closet" atheist. When RE in a UU church addresses other religions it is a place where kids learn about the major ones in an objective, respectful way. Kids are taught the history and customs of a religion, and are shown that, overall, most religions have many common elements (and they learn why).
Taking our kids to UUCA allowed them to have an answer to that aforementioned "second question", and they were much more comfortable with it. My wife and I also found that we enjoyed UUCA as well. Our favorite minister has since retired, but he did us a favor by presiding over my eldest daughter's wedding - and it meant a great deal to her as she is very fond of him as well.
Well, this is our 25th wedding anniversary this year. Since we got married we've had five kids, and even though we're not exactly on the same page to this day regarding spirituality, we are still compatible - and being a UU helps strengthen that.
So, why did I tell you all of this? Because I want you to understand a few things. First, you MUST address your conflicting views on religion and spirituality NOW, before you get more serious - or get married. I can promise you that if you do not find some common ground where you BOTH feel comfortable and not resentful of each other it will be increasingly difficult and stressful on your relationship. And when you do eventually have kids, it may cause so much angst and conflict that it becomes untenable for on or both of you - and could quite possibly end in divorce. You say that "beliefs are not important to me" and "this whole thing is trivial", but I can promise you that if/when you have kids, it WILL be important and nontrivial to you - and you will greatly resent each other, and your kids will be extremely tense because you two will be tense whenever religion comes up. And the idea of teaching your kids about each of your religions/lack thereof is nice in theory, but is not workable in practice. They will feel greatly conflicted because you two are greatly conflicted. This is one area where the parents should be on the same page, or at least in the same book (like my wife and me) - and a practicing xian with an atheist is about as diametrically opposed as you can get.
So, I hope you take my advice and experience to heart. I know this is extremely difficult to confront, but you must confront it and not trivialize it or avoid it so that it doesn't come back to bit you in the ass later, causing you great pain and strife.
It sounds like a poor foundation on which to start a life with someone. I have seen many marragies break up over religious differences. A lot of those were just between different forms of christianity. If you are dealing with a personality that cannot get past his religious delusions you are just not going to find lasting happiness. I think you would be happier in life finding someone who is rational and logical. My wife and I will have been married 28 years this year. We have grown in our understanding from being married in a religious format but over the years with open conversation and rational and logical thinking we have both concluded that the idea's behide religion and gods just makes no sense at all. Just remember loving someone can bring you joy or sadness. You have to choose.
I know you guys all say its soon, but I recognized the problem early. I'm trying to attack it now instead of just continuing 'getting to know him'. We are both in search of a life partner. Yes its too early to decide on that but it definitely is not too early to try and fix that red flag. Your comments have been helpful, I really wish I could get him to read the post but he passively refuses to. (Saying he'll do it when he is ready, and we all know that means never).
If you think Georgia is bad, perhaps you should come to Antigua, where a week can't pass without some religious article in the paper; where business places ask about religion during interviews; where politicians openly have prayer ceremonies before elections and other events. Pastors write all the time about about having a theocratic nation. Its just ridiculous. There is no school here that does not teach christianity. Atheists are pointed and referred to as stupid. People who changed their minds after studying are referred to as 'so smart that they turned stupid.'
It will be hard to find a person that will tolerate me as much as he does. The majority is blinded.