Choose your spouse well

If I have one solid piece of advice for any readers looking to have some kids, it’s this: choose your partner well. If you’re an atheist and have a religious girlfriend or spouse, you need to keep in mind that once children enter in the mix, it’s very likely your beliefs will begin to clash. Religious folks have a tendency of trying to indoctrinate children from a very young age, and it usually isn’t a very pretty sight. It’s torn apart plenty of families before.

Take this couple: they had a daughter together, but once they split up, the mother began homeschooling her child to the dismay of her atheist father. He had to involve the court in an attempt to allow her to be exposed to public education and away from the fundamentalist teachings of her mother. The courts decided she should attend public school, but it’s no guarantee the child will be able to break free of her mother’s dogma.

The courts agreed the child was becoming estranged from her father because of her intense religiosity, itself only a consequence of her mother’s influence. Could you image this happening to your child? If I had married someone who was teaching my children fairy tales as though they real events, I would lose my fucking mind.

I don’t want to make the blanket statement that all relationships involving believers is bound to failure. I’m sure some couples can make it work. However, if you want to avoid the hassle of having your own child grow distant from you because of their “convictions” (how a 10 year old can even claim to understand the world is beyond me), it might be a good idea to have that conversation BEFORE the baby comes. That way, at least you know where you stand.

Comments (6)

  • avatar

    Joreth

    I hear some people say that people of mixed faiths can coexist as partners but I have some problems with that.

    1) if they’re strong in their faith, they are inherently incompatible on those points which conflict in their differing faiths (or lack thereof).

    2) if they’re not strong in their faith, then they’re giving lipservice to their faith, in which case, what’s the point of having that faith if it’s not doing anything for you? It loses its meaning to say one is a Christian (or pagan or muslim, or whatever) but one doesn’t really think much about Christianity, doesn’t attend services, doesn’t know the history, doesn’t know the texts, etc. Then really, how much of a [fill in the blank with your faith here] are you and how meaningful is it to say you are?

    Partners with differing world views should be considered carefully. After all, no one standing at the alter really thought that they would end up in a court battle 10 years from then. No one proposed to their fiance by saying “I know that we’re inherently incompatible and you’ll eventually turn on me and take my kids away and clean out my bank account, but I love you, so will you marry me?”

    It’s still no guarantee that you’ll remain compatible for life, but one can minimize the chances by choosing partners who have similar values and worldviews at the start. Marriages don’t usually end in custody cases because that slurping noise you thought was cute way back when is now annoying, but they *do* end up in court over things like religion, finances, parenting duties, and the type of relationship the participants want, even when those things didn’t seem like a problem in the beginning when all the addictive happy brain chemicals are convincing you that it’s not a problem.

  • avatar

    Tom Slatter

    I can get on well with believers, I can have professional relationships with them, I can be polite civil and tolerant.

    But how could an atheist respect a believer enough to consider having kids with them? And why, for example, would a Xtian want to raise a family with someone who, from their point of view, is doomed to hell?

    I mean, I’m not a militant, campaigning, evangelical atheist. But if someone tells me they believe in fairies, I’m not likely think ‘great, you can be the mother of my children’.

  • avatar

    Julie

    I saw this article being tweeted around by the #tcot people along with “Christian girl forced to attended public school–and we thought this was a free country????” It sparked my interest to see how accurate the freedom allegation was, and obviously a load of crap after reading about the custody battle.

  • avatar

    Dave

    My Girlfriend is a practicing Pagan, while I’am an Atheist, I respect her all the same. I consider her religious beliefs to be just that, beliefs not focused in any reality, but as someone who possess a degree in Psychology, I understand WHY She has her beliefs, and also have the judgement to relise she is not a Fundamentalist who would put anyone in danger.

    Being that Atheism is not any sort of “Faith” itself, their is litterally nothing to clash over. Their is more to the totality of existence of an individual when it comes to whether or not they have a religious belief. For myself and her, our similarities and compatability far outway our differences in whether or not we believe in the existence of a soul.

  • avatar

    Tom Slatter

    Fair enough, Dave I’m glad not everyone in the world thinks like me.

    Of course, atheism isn’t a belief. But there is a potential clash – she believes things about the world that are not true. That’s a bigger difference than most couples face in terms of say politics or moral attitudes. I couldn’t take someone seriously who believed in a soul.

    But, that’s just one man’s opinion. I’m not sure I could take seriously someone with far-right politics either. Or someone who liked soccer. Or snored. Or wore clothes that clashed with mine. Or opened their egg at the big end, rather than the little end…

  • avatar

    Dave

    For me, Political Beliefs are FAR more important then if someone belives in something that doesn’t exist. Of course, it also depends on the strength of that belief.

    We’ve already agreed upon any children we have will be allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to any form of Religion or Non-Religious beliefs.

    Her beliefs allow her to feel she has a higher outward Locus of Control over the world, which is fine, it means she feels she has more control over things that happen to her, the fact she does this through her own paganistic practices, is the same way many Major Leauge Baseball Players count the Stripes on a Baseball before Pitching it. Human beings have an inherent need to put Order on Chaos.

    The Danger becomes of course when they end up as Fundamentalists, when it comes to embody every aspect of their existence.

    If I was with a Fundamentalist who tried to force her religious beliefs onto every aspect of her being, I’d be with you completly in terms of how her beliefs would be a bigger difference then say our Moral or Political leanings. But as those are only a minor part of herself, our similarities balance it out.

    I’m just saying, be careful about how you lump people. Personally I do one day hope everyone in the world can leave behind supersticious and religious beliefs, but being a Scientist who studies the mind, I can say… it’s not very likely to happen easily, or any time soon. Unfortunetly.

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