Half Atheist, Half Religious Marriages

When couples cannot agree on religion they need to adjust to each other. I wonder how many people show up at atheist gatherings across the country every week without their spouse. I continue to meet new ones.

The link was written by a woman who has attended church for decades without her husband. She is not pleased things worked out this way but is happily married. She watches with some envy couples sitting together in church.

I recall reading over the years letters in Ann Lander columns from women lamenting that their husbands will not go to church. Of course, there are non believers among women with believing husbands as well.

The woman who wrote the link has learned from years of attending church alone some couples who attend together do not agree on religion. Often the non believer attends to accommodate to other. She knows also of couples who are both believers but struggle to keep an unhappy marriage going. Knowing all this she concludes attending church alone but having a good marriage is OK.

Maybe half a dozen times I’ve met privately with non believing individuals who have devout spouses. They have asked for advice though I am not qualified for such a responsibility.  My advice is always to do what is necessary to keep their marriage successful.

A long-time atheist friend in such a marriage tells me he and his wife never discuss religion. They live in a small community in southern North Dakota and have been married several decades.

9 Responses

  1. Juan Ruiz

    As I mentioned years ago here, my wife is a conservative Catholic while I am an unbeliever. On Dec 22nd we will be celebrating 38 years of marriage. We don’t discuss religion. She is not a lock-step believer; doesn’t care much for the present pope. She believes there should be kneeling rails, a crucifix, and a prominent Tabernacle. When we moved here, there were none to found.

    I respect her belief. I wear a small gold cross to show that. I have hosted a large number of priests to dinner, and even the bishop of Fargo on two occasions. Always had cordial conversations with lots of gemütlichkeit.

    1. JR: I’m with her on the kneeling rails for Communion (a Vatican II change). Every Catholic church is required to have a crucifix, or at least a cross. I can’t think of one where I haven’t seen one. The “prominent” adjective is subjective but the lit candle in the rose-colored glass holder signifies the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle. Prominent is usually in the mind of the beholder but I understand her point clearly.

      1. Juan Ruiz

        Where we live now, neither church has a crucifix. One has a tapestry of Jesus’ baptism in front, the other has a large Byzantine-style icon of Jesus holding the gospel.

        1. Juan 9:05 Where we live now, neither church has a crucifix. One has a tapestry of Jesus’s baptism in front, the other has a large Byzantine-style icon of Jesus holding the gospel.

          That’s interesting. I think it is smart to take down the crucifix art pieces. They are such bizarre imagines, a turn off.

          I sense there is a slow but steady drift in Christianity to “all Jesus, all the time.” That is, an increasing focus on the myth of a kind, forgiving and affectionate Jesus character. The other one who demanded followers dump their families, chew out their mothers, advocate the sword, was killed for breaking the law and dumped tables and whiped people in the temple is being dialed back.

  2. Rob

    I would think raising children and deciding if they’re exposed to religion or not would be one of the most difficult decisions in a marriage with one religious/one atheist person.
    I know a gay baker who once refused to make a cake for such a couple; they didn’t make a big deal out of it though.

    1. godless

      I had religion shoved down my throat as a child and young adult. I would be no different if I did the same with my lack of of belief. I like to think I teach my kids how to think and not what to think. My lack of belief does influence their beliefs though.

      I would be mortified if they were to ever become a jehovah’s witness or a mormon.

      1. godless 11:58 I would be mortified if they were to ever become a Jehovah’s witness or a Mormon.

        We all wonder what will become of our children and grandchildren. Our parents wondered the same I suppose.

        When I was a Mayor going around to events all over the metro, I went to some kind of Black Pride or Black History thing. While I was making small talk, an intense black male student came up to meet me. He said, “Do you have a daughter?” I told him of our daughter who was in college out of town then.

        “You would not allow her to marry a black man, would you,” the young man said.

        “I can’t tell her who she can or cannot marry,” I said. “If she said she is going to marry a black man I’d be fine with that.”

        “You wouldn’t allow it,” he said and walked away. Later she married a Catholic who became a United Church of Christ guy. If they had decided to both be Catholics that would have been fine too.

  3. Catcher

    A repeat I know. Tomorrow is Dec. 7th. “A day that will be remembered in infamy.”

    The day a 1/2 Japanese 1/2 Swede man attacked Pearl Olson. unconfirmed.

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