Hi friends,

I'm opening this topic up because I would like to hear from fellow atheists who have a religious spouse.

I have found myself getting less and less tolerant of the need to have an imaginary friend. I try to keep it to myself as much as I can, but we all know what happens from time to time eh?

I have some questions that I'd like to pose for anyone who cares to chime in.

Are you the dominant one in the marriage? Is that because of your atheism or some other reason? Do you think that would be even a factor? Is it the need for control or just the logical procession of the marriage? Or do you consider you and your spouse to be equally dominant?

I know that's a lot of questions there, but there are lots more to come.

What religious celebrations/ceremonies do you participate in with your spouse? Do you do this just to keep the peace, or do you do it as a supportive role ?

How much religiosity do you allow going on in your home? For example, the watching of Sunday worship shows or the persistent playing of christian music etc.

How much religious decor, symbols and statues etc?

If you have children, how are you handling the conflicting interests of raising your child, in so far as religious influence from your spouse or other family members around your children?

I'll continue for now by answering myself. Kinda like talking to myself. Here comes the straight jacket.

I consider myself to be the dominant one in my marriage. Not because of my atheism per-say, although I think that if I were too a believer it might be more swaying towards equally dominant. More so that it seems to be the logical procession in my case. Sole bread winner, and better educated in my opinion.

I do not and will not attend church service. That's off the table. I will go to the likes of a wake, but I'm probably not going to be at the funeral or the christening unless it's a really close family member.

I allow my wife a little slack on a Sunday to watch some mind numbing, sanctimonious bullshit. I can stomach a little bit in the background. As far as the music goes I'm usually complaining about it by the second song or so. "Surely there's something we all would like to listen to now honey?". I don't care about when I'm not there.

I have allowed a lot of slack in that area, but I have to say that my wife has not taken the piss in that department. She has a few angels and the odd cross here and there. There's no "Ten Commandments" on the wall or any of that nonsense. If you don't know how to act....there's the door.

I'm struggling with this whole thing because everyone I know is a theist. Therefore everyone my son knows is a theist. Now he understands what I tell him about them just being stories, and that a lot of people still live their lives in fear of the invisible and unproven, because they need to feel that there is a better place to go to when you die. And that all the religions think the same way about all the other religions. They will simply go to hell for not believing in their "One true God". I've explained about the facts of the ancient gods, whom no one believes in any more, and that the christian god will also be a thing of the past one day because the advancement of mankind and his intelligent discoveries are explaining the world around us with "TRUTH".

Anyways, that's enough to be going on with for now. If anyone has some questions themselves? Feel free to ask.

I look forward to hearing from anyone with a similar plight. I will soldier on for the mean time.

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There are many things about my wife that I respect and appreciate. I appreciate especially how she understands my feelings on the whole God subject. She knows no other way. Solely, in my opinion, because her mother is very strong in her belief. So strong that she is convinced she can convince me. And has instilled that very same fear into my wife. From birth until now.

I don't spend my entire time trying to convince her to stop believing in this old fairy tale and embrace life in a new light with belief in herself. But every chance I get, I do try to interject a thought or question. To which there's usually not any valid response. Mostly of late she just kinda doesn't know why she believes. I truly feel sympathy for her plight. I can help her because I'll always be here for her if she changes her mind or not. And as self conscious as she is, I'd doubt if she would because of her family.

As far as it goes with my son, well it will always be a struggle for me because I have "no back up" as they say. Meaning friends who agree with me. No one to be on my side. Looked at like I'm trying to deprive my son of the lord's love and stupid crap like that. I'm saving him. Screw them crazies.

To which there's usually not any valid response. Mostly of late she just kinda doesn't know why she believes.

That is the exact same feeling I get from my mother.  She doesn't really have very firm convictions anyore but isn't willing to look at why that is on any critical level, perhaps because she fears where it might lead... 

As far as your struggle with raising your son without a like-minded support system, I can only admire your resolve.  It can be very lonely, doing what is right.  Are there any atheist groups in a metro area around you?  I found a local group just in my backyard on meetup.com.  Maybe you could start one, if not.

As a life long atheist with a practicing Catholic fiancee, I decided (since she will never think atheistically) to go in her direction. Needless to say, she totally loves the whole thing and the "conditioning" she unconsciously bestows in my direction certainly helps it. In fact, I've ended up appreciating the sensuality of it all (I know, strange, but if you think about it, true).

I actually hired a certified hypnotist to embed inclinations into my subconsciousness which has had surprising affects/benefits to keep the direction going where I want it to go. 

So, my atheism and present juxtaposition has created in me a well entrenched humility while I quietly, but fervently, continue my "education" into the realm of believer. It won't affect my scientific knowledge and beliefs but, rather, I will use my newfound religion to better myself as best as I can, keeping it positive the whole time. I intend to indulge as much from the "cafeteria" as I can (and, as we see here, in this forum topic, that's a common reality) while joining my fiancee, her family and our Church based community in all the joys yet to be discovered. I'll choose to ignore the negatives like so many, except when it comes to possible breaches in Constitutionally based rights. So, I'll be a progressive Catholic. I think that's more acceptable anyway. :)

I'll provide an opposite point of view for ya. I am a Christian wife of an Atheist husband. Married 11 years.

My husband is the dominant one in our marriage. I don't believe it has anything to do with his atheism, but moreso that he is male along with his personality.
He is in control of our finances (even if I bring home the bigger paycheck), he wants things done his way, he has the final say in any decisions, etc. He feels he is more intelligent than me.
He does not participate in any religious ceremonies with me. He wants nothing to do with it (understandably). He allows me to attend church service once a week, but he expects me to be home right after and not stay to socialize. He doesn't like me going to other bible studies, events, socials, etc. He does not allow me to tithe. He does not care for my (religious) friends, so I only ever hang out with our mutual (atheist) friends.

I keep my religiosity pretty much to myself. He watches and listens to whatever he wants when we are together. I only do that when I am alone or not around him.
We do not have any religious decor. My husband takes it upon himself to organize and decorate our home. But I also don't feel that religious decor is necessary.

We do not have children, and do not plan on having any.. ever! (mutual decision). Our religious differences is a part (but not all) of why I never want children with him. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to raise a child in such a divided home.

He mocks and disrespects my faith, and he tries to convert me more than I have ever tried to convert him. My faith is a huge part of who I am, and its a part of me that I cannot share with my husband. So there's a lack of intimacy in that aspect of our relationship. It's a lonely road.

But I bury it. Its an elephant in the room, and despite it, we have an exciting, loving relationship! :)


Hi Peach Tiger.

 He mocks and disrespects my faith…

That is just plain wrong. Ok, this is an atheist site and it is part of what happens here but we only mock religions in general. We do not respect faith just because it is “faith” but we respect the individual’s right to be free to believe whatever they want to believe.

I would be what most Christians call a “militant atheist” but I would be the first person to berate another person – atheist or not – for mocking someone like that. We want to live in a secular society where everyone is equally entitled to hold any belief or none on an equal footing before the law.

What he is doing is disrespecting you as an individual and not just your faith. The only place I might agree with him is on the issue of tithing as I think it is a “scam”. However let’s skip that for now. I would disagree with him on almost every other point you raise. If your faith is important to you then you are entitled to participate in that community. It is part of who you are.

He seems very controlling of you. He is controlling the finances, whom you visit, how long you stay when you do and does his own thing the rest of the time without considering you.

Let me be blunt. You are in an abusive relationship. That is the elephant in the room. He is a bully. He is too controlling. Do not bury it. You need to discuss it with him but make sure he listens to you and does not dismiss what you are saying. Be forthright and do not let him talk you down. Write down what you want and expect of him and then give it ample consideration in your mind.

Maybe the atheism \ faith divide is what you see as the problem but I think it is his attitude. I don’t think he is as he is because of his atheism or because of your faith. He is as he is because he is an abusive man. Of course it is not all the time but try going for a walk after church next Sunday or dropping around to a girlfriend for a coffee and see how he reacts. You don’t have to tell him you are doing this. Just call him when you are there (at the start of the walk or at your friend’s house) and see how he reacts.

If I have overstepped the line or deduced incorrectly I apologise. I don’t think the subject matter needs to be sugar coated. So for the next while be more Tiger and less Peach :-)

I completely 100% unequivocably agree with Reg!!! And as a woman who has been in an abusive marriage I will be the first to tell you - LEAVE!

I might also add that I have known Reg the Fronkey Farmer for almost 4 years now (wow how time flies) and I completely trust him. His comments to you (as a man) come from a good place - as a man who believes that women should be empowered, not controlled - even if that means we choose differently than the men we are with - we still deserve to be respected.

I've been down the road of living with a husband who doesn't love or respect me.
I can tell you - do not be afraid to reach oit for help and get away from him "He makes you come home and not socialize after church -" What are you 12? He is treating you like a child. Not a wife - his equal. And I'm sure if you were really honest with yourself, the topic of religion is not the only aspect of your life he controls. It's just one of the big ones. Peel back the layers, I bet he is running the show.

You do not have to live like that!

No kids? Great. Get the fuck out and find a man who really loves and respects you for who you are!

That's so horrible and I am very sorry you are treated this way

I cannot stress this enough...I do not...and I don't think any member on this site...approve of how your husband treats you because of your different world view and you don't deserve to be treated this way....especially by someone who says he loves you. That's horrible.

It's one thing for us here on thinkatheist to laugh and sneer at religious guests who come to our website and make their God-claims...it's another to actively go to troll religious-online-forum and be horrid to people there or point and sneer at nuns in the street minding their own business or badger our friends and family relentlessly because they have a different world view. While I have little respect for the premise of God's existence...I and I assume the far majority of people here respect that people have different world views and shouldn't be hounded on about them or be denied access to their religious peers or have notable limits placed on their ability to express their world view...especially if they don't use their world view as an excuse to limit me in any way. It's despicable. I wish you didn't have to experience that.

It seems as though robbing you of your world view is not the only part of your personal autonomy he has snagged away but in general...the limits on your bodily autonomy (to go where you choose), on your social autonomy (to have close friendships with whoever you like), financial autonomy (to have the means to do costly activities or purchase costly things regardless of whether he approves of it or not), autonomy of ideas/world-view/opinions (express your beliefs, express yourself at home per organization and decoration etc, not be abusively insulted for your beliefs) amongst others.

You must have one incredible outrageously amazing relationship in all other ways to make up for the incredible amount of personal autonomy and self-respect that's lost. Is that really the case? Is it truly worth it?

+ infinity Davis!!!!

You are SO eloquent I could just KISS you!!!

+++ on the comments @tigerpeach advice.

I would add that I have been an atheist since childhood, and, married my wife ~ 40 years ago, with her knowing I was an atheist, anti-superstition, and anti-religion, and me knowing she loved jesus, believed in ghosts and other supernatural entities, etc.

She STILL believes in the supernatural, doesn't believe in the church per se, but, still has religion...and I'm still an atheist.

I offer to go to church with her because she feels weird going alone...and have done it every time because I am supportive of her.

Its one thing as Reg et al said, to criticize a person, and another to criticize what they said.

She and I can have discussions about topics we disagree on, and, agree to disagree where appropriate.  I do not tell her what to do/what not to do, and, she doesn't do that to me either.

We respect each other, we love and care about each other, and we trust each other.

Sure, we can have fights/rocky periods...but, we don't forbid each other to have friends or participate in activities, etc.

We work things out.

YOUR relationship sounds bad, even though you describe it, at the end, positively.

So, while you, and my wife, both believe what you were indoctrinated with since childhood, and do not know that you are brainwashed, you do not deserve to be disrespected and abused mentally, or physically.

If you were taught that divorce is not an option, well, that same lie is trapping you...and, its in your best interests to strongly consider escape plans.  Starting as Reg described is a good start.

Good Luck!

William - I am not currently in a similar situation, but I can imagine the compromises it would take. When my now husband and I started dating, he was Catholic by default as he was raised. I was also raised Catholic, and I had drawn some very clear lines with my family when I "came out" atheist. He wasn't really practicing, but it was one of those things that he thought he'd always go back to when he had a family. It was very clearly tied to family and community and tradition for him. Giving it up meant giving up all of those important things to him as well (it really didn't but in his head he thought it would). I would never want to take all that from him, but I am strong-willed, and I speak my mind. I unintentionally ended up taking my husband on a journey, and sometimes I wonder if it was the right thing for him. He devoured books on atheism to learn more about me and my positions, and to be able to discuss topics with me. In his reading, he found his way to atheism as well, but accepting the label was much more difficult for him than it was for me. He seemed so conflicted at times, and I felt like I had caused the conflict in him without even meaning to.

When we began splitting the holidays between our two families, I told him that he was welcome to go to mass with his family, but that I would stay home. I had to draw this line with my family, and I couldn't go with them but not my own family. He chose to stay home with me (even though I urged him to go with his family), but it was incredibly difficult for him; easier now, but hard then. It seems that, now a decade later, everything is much calmer and everyone has adapted well. The problem is that for some reason my husband seems to think that it's a good idea to try and point out all the contradictions and fallacies to his extremely devout mother (but that is another story).

Anyway, my point is that my husband can no longer believe in a god, but I think he finds it all a bit more depressing than I do. I wonder if he would be happier had I not been so vocal about my views. Perhaps it is difficult to let some things be (believe me I entirely understand), but maybe it's what is right for her maybe it's what she needs to be the person you love. Trust me I could go on and on about all the bad aspects of religion, but I also realize that not everyone is built for atheism. It takes a certain inner strength to accept that we're all we've got and this life is the only one we'll live, and looking around I see that we're just not all built for that.

I think about what we'll do when we have kids (we've been trying, but our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage earlier this year). It can't be easy figuring out how to help your son navigate everything. We thankfully live in an area where we're exposed to all types. We really want our future kids (if that happens for us) to learn to explore the world rather than just take what we spoon feed them. We want to teach them critical thinking skills and tools to sort through the massive amount of information we're all bombarded with every day. We don't want to say we're atheists, so you have to be that too. I am so very glad we agree on these things now (we didn't always - my husband had always thought he would just rely on the structure of the catholic church to teach his kids certain things just like his parents did for him), but I'm sure we'll disagree on other things. In the end, we're different people with our own thoughts and feelings. We choose every day to come together and find ways to make it work, but when what I need and what he needs are in conflict it's a challenge - one I happily accept and one we always seem to work through in the end, but a challenge all the same.

Not sure if any of that helped, but it's what I can contribute from my perspective over here. I wish you all the best, and admire you for continuing to be there for your family while navigating these tough situations.


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