Relationships are complicated enough, but when you add God or religion to the mix, things really begin to spiral. Dating an atheist when you’re a believer in God is challenging enough as it is but when you involve the families, there’s no going back, they will never accept the atheist view on marriage.
Catholics are faithful and extremely devoted to their religion and to the Church. Questions will come up, about how you will manage long term, how you will raise your kids, etc. It is only if you can respect each other’s opinions that you can make this relationship work. If you ridicule or try to change the other person’s view, you can expect the obvious.
Dating And Marrying An Atheist
Can a Catholic marry an atheist without the world coming crumbling down? The only thing more complex than marrying an atheist is handling and dealing with nosy relatives and extended family; the melodrama will never cease to exist. They probably think this is one of the reasons you should opt for premarital counseling.
Although we have made it sound gruesome, and it is, dating an atheist is not impossible. And while it is true that most relationships fail because of this reason, if you think you can make it work, then you shouldn’t give up. Do what it takes to balance your married life and your religious side.
Single and ready to mingle
Those were tough times; hard, grueling, and mentally exhausting. I was single for almost 2 years after coming out of a 6-year-long relationship. Being cheated on does take a toll on your psyche and it’s not easy getting to trust someone again. But then, even when I felt I was ready, being out of the flirting, dating, and courting game for so long, I was rusty.
I tried hitting a few clichéd spots in pursuit of love. But love seemed to be on vacation. The gym didn’t work, the jogger’s park didn’t work, the club didn’t work, my workplace was a desert and the ones I clicked with were already taken.
Well, there’s always the Internet, I thought. So, I went online and made myself an amazing profile on one of the several matrimonial sites that have infested the Internet. As I kept browsing, my conviction of dying alone grew stronger with every profile I flipped through.
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I found a Catholic girl
And then one day, just when I was about to give up all hope and call my Grandma for help, I got a call from a Catholic girl based in Atlanta. She loved reading, dogs, Bruce Wayne, was working for a tech giant, loved classic rock and Manchester United!
“Are you seriously real?” I asked her. This had to be a dream.
She laughed the most beautiful laugh and replied, “Of course! I’m real!” If this was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up.
She told me she was born Catholic but wasn’t particularly religious, which worked for me. I am an atheist, but didn’t mind others practicing their faith as long as they left me alone. She knew my opinions and we were both fine with having different religious beliefs in a relationship. However, in my mind there was a niggling thought that an atheist dating a Christian would not be without its own set of problems.
Meet the family
We courted for 6 months, decided it was time to meet her parents in New Jersey and drove down to meet them over the weekend. I was nervous about meeting them and was a little anxious about what they were going to think of their daughter marrying an atheist.
So there I was, sitting in her living room with her parents with a giant crucifix hung on the wall with a candle, flowers, a rosary, and the Old and New Testaments on a small shelf just below. This was bang opposite where I was sitting.
Crap, I thought, this doesn’t look good.
After the usual pleasantries, we dove straight into uncomfortable details about salary and investments and future plans. From there, we shifted to religion. I decided to choose my words carefully.
“Aunty,” I said. “I was raised a Jew.”
Aunty shifted uncomfortably. “A Jew ? We can’t let a Jew marry our daughter.” She looked towards her husband, who acknowledged her with a little nod. “We don’t want to ruin our family reputation and get people talking. It’s a small neighborhood and everyone knows everyone.”
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I broke the news
I saw this coming a mile away, and smiled. “Well, Aunty, you’ll be happy to know that I’m an atheist.”
“You’re a what?” Aunty asked, squinting a little. I wasn’t sure she knew what an atheist was.
“He doesn’t believe in God,” my girlfriend clarified.
Aunty gasped aloud. “Jesus! He doesn’t?” Clutching her chest she continued,“How can he come here and ask for your hand when he doesn’t believe in God?” And then Uncle added, “An atheist dating a Catholic in my house? Never going to happen!”
“Aunty, I have no problems with you being religious. I’m not and that’s my choice,” I replied smiling.
“No…no…no! This won’t do!” Uncle snapped. He was clearly agitated. “I mean, being a Jew is fine. But you’re an atheist? So you what, worship Satan?”
I coughed to suppress a laugh. “No, Uncle, I don’t believe in God or religion. I’m a man of science. I’m a realist.”
Uncle and Aunty looked at each other in utter disbelief. They kept stealing glances at the cross on the wall! My smile didn’t take long to disappear. The air was tense.
Maybe I should say something. “Uncle, realists are —–”
“Oh God! Have you thought about the kids? Is it okay for married couples not to have kids?” Aunty asked, cutting me off midway. She was still in disbelief, “how can a Catholic marry an atheist? This relationship is fundamentally wrong.”
“Well, your daughter says that she wants to bring them up the Catholic way, which is fine by me. But once they reach an age of understanding, I would like them to choose their religion,” I replied. Every word of it was true.
Uncle shook his head in disbelief. He looked at his daughter, “Don’t tell me you’re okay with this, an atheist dating you?”
“Yes, I am! And he’s right,” my girlfriend replied. “I want the kids to decide when they’re old enough.”
A melodramatic end
“If you’re going to marry him, buy me a bottle of poison first. You will first have to bury me and then you can marry him,” Aunty croaked, her voice shaking. I wasn’t sure if it was panic or despair. Perhaps, a little bit of both. But she did cross herself. That did it for me.
I couldn’t hold it in any longer and let all that pent-up laughter rip right through from deep within. I exploded like dynamite, clutching my cramped-up stomach as I positively howled, involuntarily slapping the sofa with my other hand.
Oh man, the drama!
I put my foot down and gave them a very insightful lesson on modern love and being progressive in today’s world. It took about two days for them to come around but I know they’re still not convinced that their daughter is dating an atheist.
Every family is unique and a little crazy so don’t give up too soon. To them, an atheist dating a Christian is a totally bizarre idea and nothing could possibly be more revolting than this. Take things step by step and get them to warm up to the person, their non-religious values, and prove to them that you’re going to raise the best kids together.
Of course! But only be one if you yourself are convinced. Don’t give up on the idea of God just because your partner or someone else is influencing you.
The marriage rate among this group is smaller. This was noted in a 2012 study that only about 36 percent of atheists were married compared to 54 percent of Christians.