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Re: Doomed Relationship?????

Hello All....

 I am a newbie on "the nest" so please forgive me if I don't use all the acronyms that are commonly used as I have yet to pick up on all of them.   Anyhoo.. I need some advice.   My SO is an atheist and I am Christian.  I love him to death as he is intelligent, funny, likeable, all the good things a woman could want.   The only thing that really stands in our way is "religion".   He is well aware that I go to church and all that and is still willing to marry me.   However,  what concerns me is all of the horror stories I get from secular and non-secular people alike about how this union will not work.   He says he loves me and accepts me no matter what, but he will not conform/convert to something he doesn't believe in.   And BTW, I would never force anything upon him that he was not comfortable with... I am not a bible thumper.  

What is your take on this?  Please help.......

Re: Re: Doomed Relationship?????

  • image toybee:

    Hello All....

     I am a newbie on "the nest" so please forgive me if I don't use all the acronyms that are commonly used as I have yet to pick up on all of them.   Anyhoo.. I need some advice.   My SO is an atheist and I am Christian.  I love him to death as he is intelligent, funny, likeable, all the good things a woman could want.   The only thing that really stands in our way is "religion".   He is well aware that I go to church and all that and is still willing to marry me.   However,  what concerns me is all of the horror stories I get from secular and non-secular people alike about how this union will not work.   He says he loves me and accepts me no matter what, but he will not conform/convert to something he doesn't believe in.   And BTW, I would never force anything upon him that he was not comfortable with... I am not a bible thumper.  

    What is your take on this?  Please help.......

    PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW THIS UNION WON'T WORK?
  • As I see it, he gets to sleep in on Sunday mornings and you get up to go to church.

    Listen, at this juncture, religion is probably not an issue. ?If you guys progress to the point of wanting to marry, you will need to have some serious discussions. ?Will you raise your children within your religion? ?How religious will you want their life to be? ?How will you answer your children's inquiries about why daddy doesn't go to church with you? ?Will he make comments about his doubts about your faith in front of the children?

    This relationship is not doomed, but you will have to be proactive about discussing religion in regards to child-rearing. ?You both will have to be on the same page BEFORE you get married because we Nesties have long memories and will berate you soundly for not listening to our advice.?

  • As a Christian (I am one also), you should recognize that marraige isn't just a secular institution based upon mutual admiration and love. It is covenant, literally- a promise that binds you, your spouse, and God. If your spouse doesn't believe in God, that poses a HUGE problem. Everyone has their own beliefs and you shouldn't force anything on anyone, but from Christian perspective, it's not about forcing others to believe what you believe, but about trying really hard to live Christ-like and adhere to the biblical principals standards that God has set forth for us.

    I should also add that marraige is different for everyone. But be honest with yourself for a minute...  If your partner in life doesn't share your beliefs (or any for that matter), will you feel alone? Many relationships with people of differing faiths have some sort of foundation of cooperation. But no faith in a higher being at all poses a bit of a problem when raising children or focusing on growth within your own faith... Just something to consider, IMO.

  • Besides the questions about children and how they'll be raised, what about the role you want religion to play in your life as a married couple?  Will you want a wedding in your church, or a wedding that has religious references, and will your SO be okay with that or not?  What about celebrating religious holidays?

    Religious differences are one of the top five reasons for divorce, so it's a legitimate area for concern.  It's not insurmountable, but it is something you should consider carefully about what exactly this major difference is going to mean for you in a marriage before you walk down the aisle.

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  • image toybee:

    Hello All....

     I am a newbie on "the nest" so please forgive me if I don't use all the acronyms that are commonly used as I have yet to pick up on all of them.   Anyhoo.. I need some advice.   My SO is an atheist and I am Christian.  I love him to death as he is intelligent, funny, likeable, all the good things a woman could want.   The only thing that really stands in our way is "religion".   He is well aware that I go to church and all that and is still willing to marry me.   However,  what concerns me is all of the horror stories I get from secular and non-secular people alike about how this union will not work.   He says he loves me and accepts me no matter what, but he will not conform/convert to something he doesn't believe in.   And BTW, I would never force anything upon him that he was not comfortable with... I am not a bible thumper.  

    What is your take on this?  Please help.......

    It can indeed work but if your religion is important to you and you are actively worshipping and you have every intention of raising the kids in your active faith, it could be a dealbreaker.

    I would not suggest a faith-based wedding if you choose to marry. He does not worship and you are at the opposite of that belief.

     Before you marry this guy, (not after you're married) make sure you throughly discuss religion and what religion your kids will (or won't be) raised as and also discuss holidays and how they'll be worshipped after you're wed and after kids enter the picture. Ensure that the solution is amicable and one that the both of you can comfortably live with.. 

     

  • Are you two engaged?

    I'm curious how you, as a Christian, feel about someone who is an Atheist. Are you devout in your practice? Do you plan to "backseat" your faith? Will putting your faith in the backseat cause resentment? Will he resist to raising children in a Christian tradition? ?

    Just really talk this out with your SO. Don't think this is just a little tiny thing like chewing with your mouth open or leaving the seat up. As a pp said, this is often a cause for divorce.?

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  • I'm a practicing Catholic, and DH is a non-practicing Protestant (has never been christened, etc, and only went to church a couple times w/his mom). Once we got engaged, he started going to church w/my family every week, and he still does, but I know that he doesn't enjoy it. 

    We discussed all of these issues before we got married (which was in my church), including how we would raise our children. I personally feel that it is very important for children to see a united front when it comes to their parents, and for me, that meant all of us attending church together, and teaching the Catholic beliefs to our children, even though DH doesn't fully believe in all of them.

    The amount that this affects you and your SO depends on how religious you are, and how much of an impact it has on your daily life. We don't discuss religion on a daily basis in our home, but our different backgrounds give us different opinions on things.

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  • I didn't read all the posts, but *if* you guys get to the marrying place, how do you want to raise your kids? Also, do you want to "grow" in your faith with your partner? I feel like you need to reflect on these things. They might help you decide. I'm not especially religious though, but I know these things matter a lot to some people and shouldn't be taken lightly if they are important to you.
  • I definitely think it can be done. DH is an atheist and I'm a Christian - we have some lively discussions, but we are very happy together.  There is a LOT to discuss before getting married, though, and I'd definitely recommend doing counseling to discuss how you're going to handle your faith differences - your expectations for each other and especially, how you're going to handle kids.   We have had to compromise a lot - we planned our own wedding ceremony and fleshing out what religious elements we would use and such was our first major exercise in that.  I know it's going to continue to be a challenge throughout our marriage, but it is totally worth it to be with my DH. Hope that helps!
  • If you want this relationship to work out, and he's wanting the same things, you can make this relationship work.  I was told the exact same thing when I married my Mormon husband.  But two years later we're still happy as ever.

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  • My marriage is similar to your relationship, but reversed roles.  I am atheist and DH is/was Catholic.  However, he no longer follows traditional Catholicism, but still believes in god, Christ, etc.  I have similar views as your SO, and my husband respects my viewpoints.  Being married to him has not made me start attending church or change my viewpoints on religion, and we have discussed the role religion will play in our marriage and with any future children (religion will play little, if any role).  You cannot marry someone and hope that they will "change" (become religious) for YOU; marrying and hoping that the partner will change is a recipe for disaster.  I would be livid if DH began pressuring me to attend church, etc.  He knew my beliefs prior to marriage and accepted them.  Vice versa.  I do not interfere with his beliefs. 

    It could be a potential issue with family, as some of my ILs are convinced I am going straight to hell, and are not sure quite what to make of me;)  I was raised Catholic and chose atheism...which flabbergasts them.  DH's family lacks experience with others of different beliefs, but have come to accept that my views will not be their views. 

    It can be done if you discuss your expectations and future concerns well in advance and are realistic about things.  I woud not have even entertained the idea of a relationship with DH had he not been so open-minded, liberal, etc. 

     

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  • For some people it can't work.  1) If when faced with a problem (or even daily life), the two of you turn to a different set of core values, then you're going to have issues.  2) If you can't agree how to raise the children you may or may not have, then you're probably going to have even worse problems.

    Fi is Catholic and I am Jewish.  We both agree that our children ought to develop an understanding of their heritage, of the values and beliefs of both religions, and respect for both religions.  We both agree that faith is a very personal thing, and that after reaching the point where they have developed said understanding and respect, our children will have the right to choose what's best for them.  And, when they're particularly young, all they really need to know are those basic concepts that are central to both religions.  The one thing that I absolutely won't have is telling them that they're going to hell if they don't believe in a particular idea, or if they complete/fail to complete a set of prearranged actions. 

  • IMO, you will have alot of problems in the future which may not be a big deal right now. For instance, when you have kids, is he going to church with the family or staying home? How will you explain to the kids daddy doesn't have to go but they do? Will you feel resentment towards him b/c of this?  What happens if you pray before dinner? How will you teach the kids about God while he tells them ( more or less ) that your not right? If the kids do go to church, learn about heaven and hell, how will you tell them that dad is going to hell unless he asks for forgiveness? What will you do when he explains that what you believe is a joke?

    I would say sit down with your minister and/or parents and talk about what could come up regarding moral, beliefs, raising kids and how you what your marriage to wok.

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  • image shellmh:

    We discussed all of these issues before we got married (which was in my church), including how we would raise our children. I personally feel that it is very important for children to see a united front when it comes to their parents, and for me, that meant all of us attending church together, and teaching the Catholic beliefs to our children, even though DH doesn't fully believe in all of them.

    It is not necessarily a "bad thing" for children to see that their parents have different beliefs.  I would have appreciated as a child/teenager having another respected adult to converse with regarding my viewpoints.  We attended church together as a family, and I often felt it was a farce (for me).  As a child, I would have appreciated knowing that another adult felt similarly, and would have allowed me to explore other options (i.e., not attend church, rather do good works such as participate at a food kitchen, help the elderly, etc. during "church" time).  I fully support being a united front in parenting/discipline, but not so much with religion.  I feel it is a personal choice.  In the end everyone has their different beliefs, we just need to be respectful with all (all beliefs and non-beliefs).

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  • I think there are two things you have to address -

    1. How religious are you? I mean, do you want to say grace before every meal, do you have a daily devotional life, are you involved or would you want to be involved in your church outside of the Sunday AM service? If you are a "Sunday Morning Christian" then yeah, it could def work. However, if your religion permeates your life, you might find yourself a bit frustrated by not having a peer/mate to discuss/take part in religion at home.

    2. Kids - here's the biggie. Are you ok with your kids choosing to not be a christian. No matter if dad makes them go with mom to church or not, he will absolutely have an effect on what your future children decide.

  • How do your values stack up?  When DH and I got engaged, he considered himself Catholic, and I considered myself atheist.  But that didn't mean we had even remotely different values... in fact, it's always been amazing to me how similar they are.  With specific regard to matters of religion, both of us think it's a very personal choice, and neither of us believe that there will be a punishment in the here-after for failure to believe in the "right" God (he believes that that the requirement to believe in Jesus/God to get into Heaven is just a load of bull created by people to get control over one another, and the only thing we will be judged on his good deads and good intentions).  With regards to religion and children, neither of us felt strongly about what religion or lack there of they should be raised in, so long as they grow up to be good people, and so long as we are not presenting anything to them as fact that is actually a matter of faith, since that would be essentially lying to them.  I also didn't want them brought to any church were they would be told that Mommy was going to Hell.  While I think it would have been DH's first choice to raise them Catholic, he doesn't believe I'm going to Hell, so he found it pretty hard to argue this point with me... and come to think of it he certainly didn't want them being told that either.  At first, DH wanted to bring them to church anyway, but offered to compromise and have it be a Unitarian Church. 

    As much as he is now and always will be a believer in the teachings of Jesus, after taking a walk in my shoes, he's become more and more aware over the years of the way that so many churches distort the message.  So now he calls himself an Atheist, "but still a better Christian than most Christians out there."  Meanwhile, I became a Pagan, and plan to become a Priestess.  It's all good though.  So long as my religion doesn't say he's wrong, and his doesn't say I'm wrong, there is absolutely no reason why there would be any conflicts.

    So that's our story.  I think it's time for you to really examine your beliefs.  There are a lot of kinds of Christians out there.  What kind are you?  If you believe that your SO will go to Hell for failure to believe in God, perhaps in this life you should be forming a relationship with a man who will be with you in the next.  If your children grow up into atheists, will you feel that you have failed as a parent or that your SO was a bad influence on them, or will you feel that you have both succeeded as parents and role models because they have grown into good people regardless of their religion or lack there of?  Will you feel that your life is lacking if you never have a husband who worships with you?  Will he support you in your spiritual growth and consider it important because it is important to you?  Can you do the same for him even though his beliefs are so different from yours?  Do you believe his promises to you in marriage will be compromised by his lack of belief in God?  These are very personal questions, and there are no right or wrong answers so long as you are honest with yourself.  Interfaith marriages can work out wonderfully or horribly, depending on the underlying beliefs of the individuals involved (which vary greatly even within each religion or non-religion). 

  • image livfree:

    As a Christian (I am one also), you should recognize that marraige isn't just a secular institution based upon mutual admiration and love. It is covenant, literally- a promise that binds you, your spouse, and God. If your spouse doesn't believe in God, that poses a HUGE problem. Everyone has their own beliefs and you shouldn't force anything on anyone, but from Christian perspective, it's not about forcing others to believe what you believe, but about trying really hard to live Christ-like and adhere to the biblical principals standards that God has set forth for us.

    i agree with this. i don't see how it COULD work. your faith is supposed to be the foundation for your life, and especially  your marriage.

  • I'm a Christian, and my husband is agnostic/ atheist, so no, I don't think interfaith relationships are "doomed". I do think there are some important distinctions to make, though. ?

    1) There's a difference between liking or loving someone "in spite of" their religious views, and liking/ loving someone "including" their religious views. My faith is a very big part of who I am- it is a big part of my value system, the way I deal with stress, the attitude I have towards everyone else- just to name a few examples. ?It would be impossible, I think, to love me but just kinda not be too crazy about the part where I believe in God. ?Same is true of my husband. ?We love each other completely- and part of the complete package of who we are is what we believe. ?

    2) it makes a big difference to be able to comfortably discuss this- often and in depth. ?For us, it's come up way more often than just on holidays, and honestly, if it was a touchy subject or one or both of us got defensive when these things came up, we'd be miserable. ?

    3) I do, however, think that failing to be honest can "doom" a relationship. ?If you are tearing up when you see a nuclear family with small children sharing a pew and pushing it away with thoughts of "But I don't really care/ shouldn't really want that", it's going to crop up in the future. ?Same for him- if he is privately annoyed that you're gone every Sunday and pushes it away with thoughts of, "But I don't really care"- it's going to come up again. ?If you always wanted a family where Mom and Dad went to church together and it will hurt you not to have that, be honest about that now rather than try to push it down and have it come up when you've been married ten years and have two little kiddos. ?Same for him. ?If the lives you have aren't compatible after all, that's not the worst thing in the world- it's a heck of a lot better than getting married and then finding that out!

  • My husband and I have very different beliefs when it comes to religion -- I am Catholic, and he is...not.  He believes in God, but is not Christian, and does not believe in organized religion.  This has caused many arguments in our relationship (in terms of my concerns for his spiritual well-being, and how our children will be raised), but we are BOTH willing to work on this aspect of our relationship because it is worth working through for us.  We both understand where the other is coming from, even if we don't agree with it.  My parents went through the same thing -- I wasn't baptized until I was 4 yrs old, my mother took us all to church every Sunday w/o my dad, etc., but their marriage was still strong and they still made it through.  My advice to you is that if you feel like your relationship is strong enough and worth fighting for, you will be able to make it.  Don't ever hold the expectation that he would convert (although it is possible for some people, my father is now Catholic -- which he did, not for my mother, but for himself).  While you and I both agree on NOT pushing religion or Bible thumping, you can still be a good Christian role model for your SO, and, if nothing else, you will have some GREAT discussions together, as my DH and I do.

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  • There are lots of couples who have different beliefs. ?But, you really need to figure out how this will affect your lives in the long run. ?Are you okay with him not going to church with you always? Or are you hoping deep down that he will change and join you? ?If you have kids, how will they be raised? ?Will they go to church with you or stay home with him? ?Will they be baptised? ?Will he attend the baptism? ?Are there other religious rites of passage that your children will have and will your SO go to those? ?If he won't go to those type of events, are you okay with that? ?You just need to make sure you are both clear or these things and that you are both okay with how it will play out.?
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  • The Bible says people shouldn't be unequally yoked (Christians should not marry non-Christians). If you are serious about your faith, it should the most important thing and obviously that makes you and your spouse have very different beliefs.
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  • If you take the Bible literally, word for word, then you know you shouldn't marry a non-Christian.  Similarly, like babygirlpriest said, if your beliefs permeate all aspects of your life, it will be pretty difficult to have the closest relationship of your life with someone who doesn't share those beliefs.  I'm guessing, however, that neither of those is the case, if you are to the point of discussing marriage.

    If you are like me, and your Christian beliefs pretty much stop at "Christ is our savior" and "love God and love others," and it isn't going to bother you that he doesn't share your faith, then don't listen to people who are more religions or different brands of Christians than you are (or to people who are athiests but only have experience with very conservative or devout Christians). 

    I agree with everyone who has said that you do need to consider and discuss how you will raise kids.  How will you handle religious-based holidays? Will you take them to church with you? Will either of you be bothered by the other sharing his or her beliefs with them? Will there be a struggle between the two of you to "win" your children to your belief system?  You need to be honest with yourselves about this. Unless, of course, you don't plan on having children. :)

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