How to have a relationship with an Atheist

My wife is Catholic. She was born and raised in church. She finds comfort in the community, the family bond, and the idea that God is actively involved in her life – keeping her safe. She enjoys the traditions, loves Christmas time, uses prayer as a form of meditation when life is tough. She’s also married to a non-believer. Me.

My wife is aware of my agnosticism and honestly she doesn’t like it. She can’t relate to my way of thinking. She says I’m all logic and reason with no emotion. Of course that is partially true, but on the same token I fail to understand why she is pure emotion. In a way we balance each other out nicely. I remind her to think it through while she reminds me to have a heart. I don’t think this dynamic is unusual in a relationship.

Discussions on Religion

Sometimes we have brief discussions about religion, but I’m a bully. My thoughts are logical and well thought out – I have data points and examples to prove my thesis. My wife relies heavily on the emotional aspect, faith, and why religion just “feels” right. We quickly realize we aren’t speaking one another’s language and aren’t likely to convince the other of anything.

I don’t want my wife to be Atheist though. There’s something about her conviction that I really love. If religion is where she finds her source of strength and balance who am I to take that away. She’s peaceful and doesn’t use religion as a weapon – overall it’s a positive thing in her life. I suppose it’s no different than the way I use my own thoughts and moments of meditation to get through life.

Finding Happiness with Difference

Sometime people wonder how a believer and a non-believer can live a happy life together. The two ways of thinking seem almost diametrically opposed to one another. They’re not.

We still share the same morals. In principal I believe that many of the moral lesson taught by Jesus were good ones – just as I believe the lesson taught by the Buddha or Gandhi are good. So often instead of focusing on our difference – I focus on what works for us.

Good and Bad on Both Sides

While I am basically against the brainwash of organized religion I do not deny that there are good and bad people on both sides of the religious spectrum.   The Priest that married my wife and I is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. He is thoughtful, educated, and everything a man of the cloth should be. Carl Sagan, an Atheist, was by all accounts also a great man. I’ll bet if the two of them met they would have a lovely conversation.

I think my overall point, from a non-religious perspective, is that life is more about who you are as a person than what your particular beliefs are. Be a good person – religious or not religious. That is how my wife and I treat our relationship (though we’ve never officially said that). My wife is a wonderful, caring, beautiful person – much better than me. I try to be a man of integrity who puts his family first – treat people with respect. We both WANT to be good people, that’s an important step.

What about the Kids?

How will I raise my kids? I’ll raise my kids with truth and without bias. I’ll teach my children what the historians say, I’ll teach them to about the world’s religions, and a variety of viewpoints. My wife will undoubtedly teach them about Christianity, the tradition, the love, and the comfort of religion. Both are important.

I have complete trust in my future children’s ability to choose what life suits them best – without my wife or I forcing them into anything. What is important to me isn’t if my children are Christian’s or Atheists, but rather if they are good people.

Giving my children the ability to think for themselves is the greatest gift a father can give. Along with that comes the trust that my future children can make decisions for themselves. Love, support, trust, and freedom – that is what my children will receive. I don’t think anyone can ask much more than that from their parents.

Where they fall on the religious spectrum will be up to them.

Thoughts?

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7 thoughts on “How to have a relationship with an Atheist

  1. Hyperborean

    lol atheism. Why go from one extreme to another? Why not the happy middle that our ancients ancestors practiced – paganism? It is familiar to Catholics but isn’t dogmatic like Christianity? Also, real pagans don’t actually believe the gods exist externally in their own right. They are part of the human psyche. They are part of us.

    Reply
    1. Atticus Post author

      I think atheism isn’t really the practice of anything. It’s more the practice of nothing. For me it’s a stoic approach. A realization that there is no higher power, nothing more important than anything else, rather that everything is connected and part of each other, all interdependent.

      Reply
    2. Holden

      Personally, I choose to worship Thor, God of thunder and total badass. I too have a special hammer like Thor, and only those ladies pure or heart find they can lift it.

      Reply
  2. Paul Sunstone

    It seems to me that some of the things you say about your wife’s approach to religion fit in with the approach of many — perhaps even most — Christians. I think, for instance, that most of the Christians I know, at least, find comfort in the Christian community, the family bond, and the thought that God is keeping them safe. Theology is of much less importance to them. In short, I think you have very good insight not just into your wife’s religiosity, but the religiosity of many others besides. That was quite an interesting post!

    Reply
  3. Rattlesnake

    I’m not sure I could be in a relationship with a religious person. The religious beliefs, per se, aren’t what bother me, but rather the emotionalism. To me, reason is the only thing that really matters. It makes it difficult for me to respect people who “think” emotionally or put any sort of importance on emotion or faith.

    Reply
    1. Practical Parsimony

      I could never have a relationship with a religious person who relates every event to God or Jesus. Right now, I have some serious spine problems that need extensive surgery that will leave me unable to walk, needing to relearn how to walk.

      Comments from the religious: “You don’t need doctors. You need Jesus.” ” Start eating right and pray for healing.” “I will pray for you” as they hurry away.

      Reply

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