Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Marrying an Atheist

Hermant, The Friendly Atheist, has a post on interfaith dating. While it's good it's the comments that really interested me. It doesn't take long for someone to remark that:

I’m not sure I could date a religious person. My standards now are such that I require the skeptical mindset in order for a woman to be personally attractive to me. Some people prefer blondes, I prefer freethinkers.

Uh huh. Maybe I'm wrong but all I see in comments like me is, "I could only date someone who thinks like me". Maybe that's all I see because that's exactly what I used to think. I would never date someone who supported the death penalty, who didn't believe in God, who voted for a certain political party...

Guess what? I'm buggered on all counts. I married an atheist who thinks certain criminals should be fried and always votes for that certain political party.

And it still works brilliantly. Why? Because I don't need a mini-me to reflect my views back to me. I simply need someone with whom I can exchange ideas in a respectful manner. It's not the disagreement that makes problems, it's how those involved handle the disagreements. I agree that if you don't know how to navigate disagreements than finding someone who agrees with you is probably a good thing but why not keep the pool of potential partners as big as possible by simply learning how?

I suspect that this is something most crusty old married people know but I'm interested in seeing what other people have to say on the matter.


Frankie said...

Hmm. My husband is a Wisconsin Evgangelical Synod Lutheran. I was lucky to get to church as a child. (Neither of us go now.) I'm also a little new-agey. He's very right leaning in his views, I'm moderate to left leaning.

I admit sometimes I want to bonk him on the head when he doesn't see things the right way (MY way lol) but I can't imagine not being married to him because our discussions bring me to really think on issues. I ask myself WHY do I think this way all the time. That wouldn't happen if I weren't married to him.

So being married to him encourages free thinking--for both of us.

My dad is an atheist, something I just learned in the last couple years. We have had *tons* of great converstations about our beliefs.

So it's my opinion that diversity brings about free thinking. You can't be a free thinker if you only surround yourself with like-minded people because then you're NOT thinking.

Dawn said...

Of course! That's the point and I missed it! :)

There was something that bothered me about the comment and I quoted and I think you nailed it.

Heather said...

I'm also married to someone quite opposite of myself. He's the Anti-Me. He's a Good Ole Boy, he likes eating furry woodland animals, making fun of other cultures, and looking at porn. We've had many an argument started by what he calls my "feminist b.s." Sometimes this is frustrating, when I can't begin to see things from his side and wonder "HOW can you THINK that way?!?"

But, like Frankie says, it leads to some very interesting discussions. I think he's the reason I can be so tolerant and accepting of others, because I have a constant example of the fact that not everyone thinks like I do. Sure, I could have calm conversations where we always agree, but how boring would that be?

Lisa said...

Interesting. I am an atheist and married to an atheist. We married late in life. We have often discussed that it "didn't work" with other people , partly because neither of us could tolerate being a partner with someone with such totally different way of looking at the world. We do disagree on some things and that does make for some interesting discussions.

Bruce said...

I think most people would agree that someone who is exactly the same as you is not a great person to have life-long conversations with. At the same time polar opposites can get old really fast too (organic vegans and commercial hog farmers, snowmobilers and Caribbean cruisers, NYC urban dwellers and Montana ranchers).

I think the key is to have love for one-another and some set of core beliefs that you can come together on as a base. It is difficult when basic life decisions (i.e. where to live, if/when to have kids, how/where to vacation, what is right/wrong (morals), etc.) are always in conflict.

If "religion" or spirituality is just what you believe about where we come from and how we should feel about that, then it could be one of the "agree to disagree" things. But if it gets into "why we're here, what we should do, and what happens after we die" then it really gets into the day-to-day operations of things - especially when kids are involved.

I debate/argue about things nightly with my wife and enjoy many of our encounters - we are different in an almost perfect way (i.e. my weaknesses are her strong points). And I wouldn't change her for anything to be more like me. But it makes things much easier knowing that have certain core beliefs in common.

Dawn said...

I suppose this all depends on what core belieefs are. In our marriage atheism and Christianity aren't the core beliefs. He's an atheist simply because he doesn't beleive in a god/gods and it says nothing about his core beliefs. I'm a Christian (and a specific kind - I wouldn't be a christian if the only church around was an evangelical baptist one methinks) because I found it matches well with my core valus and beliefs.
Regardless, we still share a lot of those core values, we just paste different labels on our foreheads.

Having said that I have to admit there probably are people for whom the labels ARE the core values and they would have trouble with a partner who didn't share that label.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give me some much needed advice? I was raised catholic and my family is catholic, but I guess I don't know what I am, but I do feel spiritual. My very serious boyfriend is an atheist.

I thought it would be okay, but it seems like times get hard and I wish I had someone to pray with.

He doesn't believe in fate and I am trying to understand, and figure out whether this relationship has a future. He is the most wonderful person I have met, and I would hate to loose him, but I don't know what to do.

Amy said...

Hello All, I am thinking about marrying my boyfriend who is an atheist, and I would love to know what you guys experiences have been. Do any of you couples have kids? How did it work raising them? I will probably have more questions to come, it means so much to have somewhere to talk about these things, thank you sincerely.