Can an Atheist and any sort of Theist coexist in a lasting and loving relationship?

I have known a few couples where one is an atheist and (in most cases) the other a christian. None have lasted. I myself was in a relationship with someone that was raised to be an evangelical christian (apparently there are flavors) from Kansas. That relationship didn't work out. In fact, one of the reasons that was used to break up with me was... my views on religion and the church. That relationship coming to an end was probably best anyway.

So I beg the question........ Can an Atheist and any sort of Theist successfully coexist in a lasting and loving relationship?

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Comment by Justin Pearson Smith on May 12, 2009 at 4:18am
I've been in a relationship with a theist (Christian) for 10 years. So far so good. It can be a challenge at times but it all comes down to respecting one another's right to believe what they want. In a funny twist of fate our third year wedding anniversary will be this year on 9/9/09 or if you read it upside down....
Comment by Daniel on May 4, 2009 at 7:42am
I am also intrigued by Darwin's marriage and wonder how they managed. Apparently, they really loved each other and respected each other and tried hard not to purposefully disrespect each other (some have said that this respect was part of Darwin's long delay in writing and publishing On the Origin of Species I am an atheist married to a Christian woman, who is part of a christian church which distrusts and disparages rationality. We have a hard time having serious conversations regarding religion. I do feel like a significant part of our commonality has disappeared and has left a loud distance between us. Sometimes I wonder if our marriage will last under the strain, but we have four wonderful children to whom we are both committed. Maybe its not good to stay together just for the kids, but I grew up without my Dad, and I don't think I could live with myself doing that to my kids. Of course, I would never be a dead beat dad like mine was, but still . . . its just too painful a thought.
Comment by muhammad amer on May 4, 2009 at 6:07am
My wife gives a silent shake of head when I comment about prophit or history of Islam otherwise she is a very nice lady. Never prays. Infact she has noting to do with religon or athieism. If shake of head is thieism then YES both can live happily.
One more religious response she is giving recently is that she feels jealous about "Daniel" and "Judith" because she thinks I spend most of my time on AN with them.
Comment by Creature on May 4, 2009 at 1:37am
When my husband and I got together I was a moderate yet highly superstitious pagan, and well, he's been an atheist as long as I've known him. Religion was never an issue, largely because he already had an understanding of what my beliefs were, and forcing others to believe was never a part of what I was into. We knew we wanted to be legally married at least a year before I grew out of my need for religion, and in all honestly, our dynamic really hasn't changed.

I think it really depends on the couple. I don't think that it has to/will be a big issue for a couple suited for each other.
Comment by Rene Benthien on May 4, 2009 at 12:44am
This is a very relevant question for me. I've had this on-again off again relationship with a strong Theist for the last 3 years. I've broken up with the poor girl about 3 times, most of them precipitating from discussions (fights, really) about religion.

Of the two of us I would say she's easily the more accommodating one when it comes to our differences in beliefs. I'm of course completely disrespectful to her religion, and am worried about her corrupting any future children with such irrationality.

I've never seen a strong atheist make it work with a theist. Atheists with conviction can be an obnoxious and condescending lot, especially when we get frustrated. It's not the best for building trust and respect in a relationship.
Comment by Nikki on May 3, 2009 at 10:00pm
I imagine the major defining point is how important the belief or non-belief of each person is. It could definitely work out if it was both a casual atheist and casual theist. Say, someone who does not believe in any gods, but puts no effort into making it known, doesn't spend time on sites like these- someone to which it is all irrelevant. Likewise, someone that believes in any sort of god or gods, but perhaps doesn't attend religious services, preach, or many of the things commonly associated with religious fundamentalism.
I'd say it's extra likely if the atheist believes that religion can bring positive benefits to a child that's growing up, or if the theist supports secular education and government.
Comment by Dionysus on May 3, 2009 at 9:18pm
I've heard of even less likely arrangements. It can be done but I would imagine that the more relevant question would be why get yourself into that situation? It wouldn't be as difficult if the believer was less religious but a death in the family or other emotive cause can and many times does make a less religious person much more religious, at least for a time. The threat is always going to be there even if you can sweep it under the carpet most of the time. I would personally choose to avoid it.
Comment by Mark Johnston on May 3, 2009 at 8:06pm
I heard that Darwin did a pretty good job of it. My marriage is going strong - 6 years of Christian/Christian and 20 years of Atheist/Christian. If my wife wants to believe some crazy stuff, that's her business so long as she doesn't insist that I change. I hope she feels the same way about my beliefs that I do about hers; it's only fair. We do not need to have our beliefs validated by each other, so we don't feel insecure knowing that there's a difference of opinion in the house. BTW - there's a great group of people in the "In an interfaith relationship" group.
Randy Keating Comment by Randy Keating on May 3, 2009 at 7:19pm
I think it depends on the people, but I think I could marry a theist. Assuming we could agree to raise secular children.
Comment by Angie Jackson on May 3, 2009 at 7:11pm
Possibly. My godmother was devout Catholic, raised her kids in Catholic school, etc. but her husband is a university professor and calls himself a Druid, but I'm fairly certain he's atheist. The kids all caught some variant of the god virus though, so I think it only works if the atheist cedes all rights of parenting to the religious one (not an option for me). I dated a few non-believers when I was Christian but usually tried to get them to go to church with me (in between sex and drinking, lol). Religion was never the reason I broke up with them, but they were pretty short-term relationships anyway. Now I won't bother dating a theist because I think I'd spend all my time trying to deconvert them or thinking they were being an idiot, and that's not good for mutual respect and trust. Plus I have a son and I refuse to let anyone brainwash him.

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