It can be the hardest at Christmas, particularly since my daughter has chosen my husband's "side" in the spirituality debate, thanks to her deeply alternative school (full of anarchist vegan atheists) even though she came to church with me extensively when she was little (we let her choose her spiritual stance without judgement; we're THOSE parents).
When we got sober, my husband tried to find a spirituality that he could accept, but today he's quite happily a staunch agnostic or, as he calls himself, "aspiritual." Throughout our twenty-two year relationship, he's viewed most of my spiritual explorations kindly, supporting me as much as he could. He could care less about church and I could care less about trains, but we're partners so we indulge each other without complaint.
But when I returned to my childhood church, he struggled -- just like I struggled when he gave up all attempts at spirituality around the same time. Ultimately, being married to an atheist as a believer is just like being married to someone that loves football when you can't stand the sport; you tolerate the differences because that is what couples do.
I’ve dated theists before and I can tell you right now, they can be wonderful, loving and adventurous people and it’s just as easy to fall in love with a believer as it is an atheist.
The problem though, is that when you fall in love, you tend to turn into an idiot and overlook things that could potentially become serious problems. A truly fucking great relationship is with someone whose annoying habits and perceived flaws are things you can deal with, because literally every last meat sack on the planet will have one or two.
In this day and age, most marriages will end in divorce, let’s face it. My favourite example of this is the episode of Seinfeld when he breaks up with a girl because she eats her peas one by one. When you’re with a theist, you just have to ask yourself, is this difference between us something I will still be able to deal with when the euphoria wears off? The chances of you deconverting him or her is next to nil and that is the only rational and logical position to take on this.
The thing that concerns me about dating between an atheist and a theist, is that this difference gives you a perfect out, should you ever be feeling anything less than slap happy in love. Here are 7 things to remember, before you make that call: 1. No matter how clever you think you are or how great the arguments you plan to present may seem, your significant other will likely remain a theist until the day he or she dies. If you marry a theist, you’re likely to be with a theist until you die. It’s hard not to be at least a little bit annoyed at some point, by your significant other’s refusal to see logic and reality.
Then some bad things happened in my life -- infertility and third trimester pregnancy loss -- and God and I broke up for a while. My job is not to convert him to a believer and his job is to leave my beliefs alone and not mock me for having them (the not mocking part is important). We are both "good, giving, and game." Yes, that term was created by Dan Savage and is meant to tackle sexual turn-ons in relationships (if your partner is into something you're not, you should still try to be good, giving, and game even if you don't want to do that particular act every time), but it also works well with most relationship challenges.
But in my grief I found myself drifting into another liberal Methodist Church, and I found solace there for many years. He grew up without much religious exposure, although his father was a "spiritual seeker," dabbling in everything before returning to the Catholic Church. My husband and his aspirituality cheerfully join me each Christmas Eve at a candlelight service and I drive the car when he wants to photograph freight trains.
Now, you’re dealing with all of that, while being shit on, pissed on, not getting any sleep, and coming to the realization that a clean home is a luxury only for the childless.
Whatever little things between you and your theist SO that had been successfully suppressed before, could become a war zone under that sort of stress. If your partner comes from a very religious family, your relationship with them could cost them a lot.
Now you'll have to excuse me, I need to go blast the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in my office.