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Religious Relations. When relationships have religious friction.
Bringing Atheism to a Religious household
I am atheist, I have been ever since I started to question my religious faith back when I was 13, almost immediately after my confirmation. While that is when I started to question, I hadn't declared myself an atheist until partially after I turned 14. I had been an atheist for the better part of 2 years before I met the love of my life, and soon to be wife. Now previously I had known my fiancees older sister, due to the fact I had many high school classes with her. However I hadn't met my fiancee until 2 years later also.
Although I hadn't met my fiancee yet, there was one thing I learned from her older sister. That was that her family was very religious, and on top of that, very recently had become such religious fanatics (always the worst). Me and my fiancees older sister were never very close friends at all, more like casual acquaintances; saying hello engaging, in minor conversation, the usual business of "friends" like that. Now among st the many conversations, Jesus and God had popped up as repetitive subjects because of her. Now at the time I wasn't a anti-theist, or as eccentric about religious debate or discussion as I am today. So at the time the religious discussion was spearheaded by her at the time, while I just sat and listened whilst she did the talking. She very often invited me to church, repeatably asking if and when I'd be joining her and her family. She'd always go into great details about how she wants to please God, and be as sinless, and pure as humanly possible. You can obviously tell why I assumed her entire family was extremely religious. But at the time I assumed I would only have to engage with this individual for another 2-3 years in high school, so I never paid much time or mind to her religious affiliations.
Like I said I hadn't, met my fiancee for another 2 years, not meeting until a little over half way through my Junior year in high school, her sophomore year respectively. Now through this year I had all but forgotten her older sister, We hadn't had any classes together since the end of our sophomore year, putting us close to 8 months to no conversation excluding the friendly hello accompanied by a smile in the hallways of said year. Now when I ran into my fiancee, and starting dating her religion was far from either of our minds. A couple fresh in the honeymoon phase, after 2 months of awkward and stunningly messy inexperience with relationships. Obviously this would come up almost never, excluding the occasional idea spouting every so often. It wasn't until my curiosity in philosophy, and science, started growing that the religious tension began to sprout out of the routes.
I have always been fascinated with science, but it wasn't until I matured that I started to grow to want to learn the sciences. Coincidentally this growing interest that I was developing, happened at the same time a growing religiously occurred. She had been on and off with religion frequently, but my growing towards atheism might have sparked a grow in religion for her.
Previously me and her father had a falling out, and as a result we were unable to go on dates, and had to sneak around Romeo and Juliet style, minus the suicide. This resulted in me needing to get back into good graces wit her parents, which of course included going to church both for her and her parents. "Just give it a try" was frequently uttered passed her lips. I did, I tried it a total of 5 times.
Now because her family was very religious I didn't bring up religion very often at all, I tried avoiding talking about my atheism or their religion at all, at least in the household. I didn't want to cause tension or friction with her family. But there came the day that her family found out I was an atheist. This put great strain on our relationships at first, and even on me and my fiancees. Affecting everyone of them differently. Her brother didn't really care that I was an atheist, maybe cause he just isn't at that age yet. Her sister on the other hand already knew I was an atheist, she drastically tried to convert me from time to time, giving me speeches and the whole spiel every so often. It was her parents finding out that made her sister do it with more vigor and more repetitious. The parents is where it started to get really interesting. Now because I already had strain with her father, this created even more tension and trouble, probably being the reason it took him the longest to accept me into the family. I had asked my fiancee to marry me and asked her father if I could have her hand, as in tradition out of respect. It is because of my atheism that he said no and still says no to this day. While he has moved on from our previous endeavor and has become much of a father figure to me and we get along, he still does not and will not approve of my atheism. He mostly just ignores it all together. Her mother is a completely different story though, although she contrasts with her father with the falling out. Her actually forgiving and forgetting much faster than her father, she is maybe the only one that still brings up my atheism as a constant problem. It mostly only ever has to do with the marriage coming up, and she freaks out about why I still can't see the "obvious way and light" that god "provides" for us all as his creations. I don't fight with her on the matter, because she is usually good at ignoring it otherwise, unless something some how reminds her I am a completely against Christianity atheist.
Friction with the Fiancee
Now I haven't even started on the friction that gets started between me and the fiancee. Like I said there wasn't ,much discussion with religion. This was until, like I said, when I grew to be more of an atheist activist. At first she was very open to my ideas, seeing my point of view and even agreeing with me on many subjects. She understood my reasons for being an atheist, but she wouldn't come to my side of the argument herself. This understanding stood for a very long time, that was of course, until the issues with her parents occurred. Then I had to do what I could to get on their good side again, which involved church time.
Once I started going to church with my fiancee she expected me to immediately change. She assumed as if I would walk into the church, hear the word of god, and abandon my atheistic ways. That simply wasn't the case. I felt absolutely nothing in the church, all I felt was obscene amounts of boredom, and instantaneous regret to waking up that morning. This baffled her, and aggravated her to no end. I went from being a very intelligent man, with many interesting points of view, to all of a suddenly being the most idiotic, close minded individual, blind to the truth.
This created lots of friction and many problems for months to come. I promised that I would at least try to give her views a chance, but I always told her that I must take into consideration and try every religion then, otherwise I am being close minded. Time passed and with every church going she grew more and more irritable. This is when many problems can come up in any atheistic, religious relationship. If both people are pretty big proponents and advocates for their side, there will no doubt be friction.
My friction still comes and goes with my fiancee. Sometimes it depends strictly on her parents, or if my atheist writing is being extremely ignorant in her eyes. It all depends on the mood or attitude of the week. We still have those moments, but it is usually avoided by just not bringing it up at all. It makes her head hurt, and she doesn't like thinking about it.
How do you work with it, and religion with Kids
I asked my fiancee what she thought about this topic of discussion, and asked her from her point of view what would work well to avoid the friction. She responded with and I quote, "Just shut the fuck up and agree with me." All joking aside she is fully aware of my type of personality and knows that is not an option.
I obviously have my own opinion and believe discussion is important, and in a relationship you guys should be able to live with each others views. They should be understood, tolerated, and at the least should not be causing any fights. If the fights are unavoidable than there may be issues, or it might be best to not talk about it. if you are hiding your views from your partner, than there is a issue also that should be checked into.
Now here is a biggy. A issue with religion might not even come up at all in the first several months to years into the relationship. This is very possible, it might not come up in conversation, You may not see each other every day, or you may just not be the biggest excerciser of your faith or lack there of. So many things can prevent you from seeing the lack of faith one might have, the faith someone has, or even that they are a different religion. Kids is when it can become a exxtreme issue, because you have so many different ways to raise the child you guys create together. For example, I will allow my fiancee to teach our kids about her religion, she can bring them to church and I would expect them to go until a age that they make a decision for themselves. I will of course teach them about the many vast options of religions out there, and the various opinions on the matter. I will of course explain my point of view, and why I believe it, and I will tell them they are free to make their own choice, choose their own path, make their own decisions. This can come up in multiple ways with many solutions or problems. For example your spouse might not want you to tell your kids anything about your religion, or atheism. In which that case a serious discussion is needed. Neither parents could care how the kid is raised with religion, which usually can end up fine, the kid will either end up non-religious or find one on their own, or worse case scenario they get super confused and get simply indoctrinated into one religion or another without a second thought. No matter what happens, if there is religious friction prior to a child, without a serious discussion there will be many problems and issues with raisng the child with religion.
Sometimes the best way to avoid problems is to stay quiet. However Ialways think that the ones partisipating in the relationship should respect each others religions or lack there of. If your boyfriend doesn't believe in god and doesn't want to go to church, respect that and let him sleep in. If your girlfriend invites you to church atleast consider it, maybe think about going or give it a chance for the parents or to look good for the family. You don't need to comprimse your beliefs to be with tthe person you love, if you do there are some very serious issues going on that need some very serious looking over and attention.
I have said most of this towards people with friction going from the religious to the non-religious, but many of these things apply with other religions too. However if two people with two different religions get married you might face more issues than the average atheist religious marriage. In a two religion household you may be faced with even more conflicting ideas, emotions, and problems, to face and discuss right away. This is especially and more urgently with a child in the picture.