Are you unequaly yoked?

May 4, 2010 at 12:23 am 31 comments

It has been over two years since I placed an article here at de-conversion.com, but I think it is time.  My wife Rosemary and I have been kicking this idea around forever, and we both think now is the ideal time to start acting on it.  We have been married now for 4 1/2 years, and we both wed as devout Christians.  I have since left the Christian Faith, and although her beliefs have also evolved, she still identifies herself as a Christian.  A couple of years ago, we posted an article here where we shared our views a little bit, but we would like to carry this to the next step and go into the world of podcasting.

I have scoured the online world looking for stories, experiences, perspectives and worldly advice from couples who are “unequaly yoked”, particularly those where one has de-converted after marraige.  With the exception of religious sites that dispense advice to win the heathen back to the Faith or consider divorce, I can find absolutely nothing out there.   People in hurting marraiges need more than that.  I am particularly interested in those who want to remain in a healthy marraige, and those who have children.  How do you maintain a healthy marraige when  you have different religious beliefs?  What challenges do you face?  What compromises do you make?

My wife and I would like to discuss these issues, and maybe (with Paul’s permission) post them here for your enjoyment.  I should be ready to put the first episode up in the next couple of days.  I don’t have any idea what will become of it, but I do think it is an important topic that *nobody* is discussing. 

I am interested in your stories.  Perhaps we can hook up a skype interview or something, if you are interested in sharing your experiences here – or maybe you can just submit emails for me to read.  Right now, I am just in the crazy, brainstorming phase, but this is a much more interesting and important issue to me (and I bet many other de-converts and their spouses) than yet another Resurrection Challenge debate.  De-converts, particularly new de-converts have enough challenges to deal with, and I would like to contribute some help with healthy discussion – even if it is nothing but stories that say “We have all been there”.

If you have any input, or just want to call me an idiotic dreamer, just leave it in the comments, or you can email me at unequalyyoked@hotmail.com- seriously, let me know what you think

- HeIsSailing

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Why Easter is Tough for Me Unequally yoked marraige – episode 1

31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ACN  |  May 4, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I don’t think you’re an idiotic dreamer. My dad has been an atheist ever since he left Iran for England when he was 16, but my mom has been a serious presbyterian (daughter of missionaries!) her whole life. My brother and I haven’t had the heart to tell her that we are both atheists yet, but she and my dad get along beautifully and are still very much in love after 25 years. I think that it can be hard to find other couples with common experiences in that regard; at least in my experience, all of my friends parents have been of the same religion. Having a resource to let people know that it can work, and that they aren’t the only couple who are “unequally yoked” sounds very beneficial.

  • 2. HeIsSailing  |  May 4, 2010 at 12:39 am

    ACN, thanks for your reply. It is good to know that marraiges like your parents can thrive, even with vastly different religious beliefs. My wife and I are also doing very well – but I fear so many marraiges just slog along from a sense of duty after one ditches religion

  • 3. Quester  |  May 4, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Sounds great, HiS! I know how lucky I have felt, after everything I have read online: my marriage is not only still intact but healthy, I’ve been able to re-establish a number of old friendships and make some new ones, and I’m back in a great career path. Deconversion is not the end of the world, and I think that’s something we need to share.

    I look forward to your podcasts. If you don’t end up posting them here, tell us where they do end up. I hope they stimulate some engaging conversation around here.

  • 4. BigHouse  |  May 4, 2010 at 7:06 am

    I’m very much looking forward to the series and glad to have HIS back and posting!

    BTW, I believe unequally has 2 L’s. /spelling pedant

  • 5. HeIsSailing  |  May 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Thanks for your reply, Quester. Maybe yours is a story we can share. I have further great news..!! I have had the email account unequalyyoked at hotmail for less than 12 hours, and I already got an email from an African Prince..!! No, not an apostate, but an offer to transfer 15 million bucks to a United States bank – and I can keep 60%!!!!! Well, that is what I get for foolishly putting my new email address in this article.

    On the plus side though,, I have already gotten half a dozen interesting emails from people sharing their stories.

  • 6. HeIsSailing  |  May 4, 2010 at 7:21 am

    “…unequally has 2 L’s….”

    Drat… the one time I misspell, and it has to be when I establish a new email address….

  • 7. Frreal  |  May 4, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Looking forward to it. Thanks HIS and everyone else that contributes to this site.

  • 8. Zoe  |  May 4, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Go for it! :-)

  • 9. Wes Widner  |  May 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

    How can two people who share deep and fundamental differences hope to do anything other than merely get along? If the Bible is true that those who have surrendered to Christ are a “new creation” then it would be along the lines of a bear attempting to understand and appreciate the life of a fish.

  • 10. DSimon  |  May 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Wes, then if a marriage between a Christian and an atheist can be truly loving and deep, that would be evidence against the Bible (or at least that part of the Bible) being true, right?

  • 11. DagoodS  |  May 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Popped off an e-mail to ya.

  • 12. DagoodS  |  May 4, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Wes Widner,

    I would be curious what you recommend the Christian spouse do, in such a situation? Remember, we are talking about couples who are already married and one deconverts. Divorce is not an option.

    While understandable, curiously it is often the non-theist who desires the relationship to continue, and the theist who leaves.

    Are you saying the Christian must resign themselves to being in a relationship where the best they can hope for is to “merely get along”? That the Christian must resign themselves to being a fish in a fish/bear relationship?

    Do you fear this becomes a self-fulfilling expectation? That if the best one can hope out of a relationship is neutral acceptance—that is the best they put into it?

  • 13. Kevin  |  May 4, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I am not sure our story is what you are looking for, but I was raised extremely Christian (almost became a pastor) until I graduated from my Christian grade-school and then high-school. I have become very resentful of how I was deceived by all teachers and people “in authority”.

    I eventually ended up in Japan and married a Japanese woman who had no religious beliefes. As the years passed, however, she turned to “Macrobiotics” and other new age ideas in an attempt to put her misgivings about life to ease.

    Since this happened, she has started looking at my science-based skeptical thinking as a threat to her and her beliefs. We have stopped discussing (read: I “agree” with what she says) her beliefs and my reliance on the scientific method.

    I feel especially strongly about taking a skeptical view of everything because I feel completely duped and betrayed when I was young. She, on the other hand, has just found her “religion” and for her it is new. It has caused us lots of problems.

    I can elaborate much more, either by email or chat or skype. Of course I would like her to join in the discussion if she agrees.

  • 14. CheezChoc  |  May 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Wes,

    There are couple who make it work. I don’t know how, but they do. Even Bart Ehrman remains happily married to his wife, who is a believer and a churchgoer.

  • 15. Quester  |  May 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I may share my story, eventually. Right now, it’s hard to coalesce it into any particular series of events. Maybe after I’ve read a few others, something will spark.

    Kevin, I’m interested in reading more about your story. Christianity is hardly the only “life of faith”. I encourage you to email HiS at the address above.

  • 16. withheld  |  May 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I’ll be interested to see how this comes out, but I don’t think I can contribute. I’m married, two kids, and I lost (or was released from) my faith over the past few years. I’m also completely in the closet, and haven’t even told my wife yet.

  • 17. LifeTrekker  |  May 5, 2010 at 12:15 am

    HIS,

    This is a great idea, and I am certainly looking forward to listening in on your podcasts.

    As a recent de-con myself, my wife and I are still working through the early stages of trying to figure out just how our relationship will balance out given this new reality. I am thankful that we have a strong, loving relationship, and that we committed to one another when we married that “divorce was not an option.” That commitment certainly helped see our marriage through some rough spots in the past, and I trust our continued commitment to and love for each other will see us through this rough spot as well.

    I told my wife when I came out fully with her about 6 weeks ago that when we made our wedding vows and committed to stay together “for better or for worse, till death do us part”, that I really meant it. I told her that even though I no longer feel it is even possible to “have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” that I was certain that I had a personal relationship with her and that I want that relationship to continue with all my heart. Our relationship remains strong. However, Sunday mornings are still awkward with her going off to church, and me not. However, I am sure we will reach an equilibrium in that area as well with the passage of time.

  • 18. Anonymous  |  May 6, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Wes- but if the Bible is untrue then the fates of mixed marriages are not determined by supernatural (e. g., “new creation”) considerations; they are determined by the operation of ordinary human psychology. Which, being complex, should be expected to yield a wide array of outcomes – some which work, some which dont, and a lot of individual differences in between.

    If you’re right, though, then mixed marriages should very rarely, or never, work. So it should be interesting to see which it is!

  • 19. Richard  |  May 6, 2010 at 10:02 am

    That was me; sorry. Stupid ipod…

  • 20. BigHouse  |  May 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Richard, I fear that Wes wouldn’t use the evidence of mixed relationships working out to question tha validity of the Bible in general or that passge specifically. He would look to discredit or devalue the success of those relationships in order to remain firmly in the camp that the Bible has it right.

    Theramintrees on Youtube has an excellenct video “Atheism as Congruence” that describes these emotional and psycological states at work.

  • 21. Richard  |  May 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    BigHouse – yes, I know. The Bible is axiomatically true, so no empirical observations cant be explained away by a motivated believer. But I do like to make them work for it.

  • 22. Kevin  |  May 7, 2010 at 2:59 am

    This is Kevin, who commented above. I will try to get in touch. (I am bad at my reply times these days) and sorry, this comment got long.

    Reading more of the comments, I also thought about a good friend (two good friends) of mine. Both women, who were best friends – really best friends, so much that some suspected they were lesbians who were afraid to admit it to themselves – from their (Christian) high-school days.

    One has recently “come out” to the other that she no longer believes, or at least only believes because she is afraid of not believing (going to hell is pretty scary) The other is a Lutheran grade school teacher and someone who sees a rainbow and says “Isn’t it wonderful that god hath bestowed on us such a wondrous sign of his love and promise to never send a flood… etc.”

    It has caused a huge problem in their once very close relationship. In her defense, I completely understand the believer’s view. When I believed, to think that my best friend and someone I loved so much would “go to hell” would have shattered my life. I am guessing it is the same with any married couple.

    Can you imagine letting your partner go to the bad part of town when you know that they may be raped and beat and killed? The idea of hell is having that happen to them every hour of every day for eternity. How can anyone who loves someone and believes that feel good about their loved one entering into such a situation? The mental/emotional strain on the believer must be enormous.

    It gets even worse with children, I can imagine. I would want to raise my children with an open mind and intelligence. If I was married to a christian and had children, it would crush the mother to think that her children would spend eternity in hell. My situation is different in that my own wife’s beliefs are do not include an afterlife. If our daughter does not believe them, she will not be doomed to an eternity in hell. We can still love each other and let each other have our own beliefs, and let our daughter have her’s when she is old enough. (in the mean-time we will both try to indoctrinate her with our own leanings – only natural, I guess.)

    This is why I am still in the closet about my atheism (I do hint at it) with my family. Until my parents have died, I don’t talk about it and I dutifully go to church when I am back home. I can’t have them thinking about me in hell. I can’t do that to them. (and I am lucky that they are very accepting of anything I do without preaching on me). The hardest part for me so far was standing as godfather for my sister’s child, with the expectation that if something happens to her and her husband, I am in charge of the child’s spiritual growth.

    Sorry, I rambled. I forgot my point, but I think it was that I would talk to the non-believer friend of the evangelist friend and see if she had a story for your pod-cast as well.

  • 23. Olga Galchenko  |  May 7, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Hey, HeIsSailing,

    My case is probably not something you’re interested in. I’m not married or have children. I am a devout Atheist who is in a serious relationship with a devout Christian. I also have never de-converted. (I wanted to believe in god when I was much younger, but I don’t think that counts.) Everything is great, he is an awesome guy, we are generally very happy together, but he is hoping that I will convert and be with him forever in heaven. I have told him that it is very unlikely that I would believe and he seemed to accept that.

    Seeing these comments is making me really excited. As most of my friends are atheists I haven’t seen any “unequally yoked” couples. I hope you do make a podcast.

    Sincerely,

    Olga

  • 24. LoveandLosingFaith  |  May 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Hi HIS,
    This is a great topic and I’d be happy to share my experiences. I recently de-converted (about 6 months ago). My husband grew up Catholic, but never took it very seriously. When he and I first started dating, I was adamant in my faith, and discussed how important God was to me and brought him to church. Eventually, he decided for himself that he believed in God, began reading the bible, praying and we were baptised together in my(our) church. We were married in a church by a pastor and had a decently religious ceremony.
    When I could no longer believe in the God I had so fervently loved, he was incredibly supportive. At first, I didn’t talk to him too much about my doubts because I was afraid I would shake his faith and I wanted to wait until I was sure. Now I bring it up occasionally and we usually have a good discussion. He still believes in God, but isn’t sure about everything in the BIble being true.
    Whats really interesting is when we discuss how we will raise our children. He grew up in a household that allowed discussion and questioning about everything, and he and his brothers made up their own minds about their religious beliefs. In my home, believing in God was a given; we never questioned it, but spent most of our free time at church. We both want to expose our children to religion, allow them to have social groups at church, but feel this is a topic where education and searching are important. If my children decide on their own to be christians, I will love and support them, and the same is true for my husband if they decide to be atheists. I think this experience has actually brought us closer together when it comes to raising children

  • 25. HeIsSailing  |  May 7, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Thanks to everybody for your replies and stories, both here and via email. RoseMary and I have recorded about 1/2 hour worth of material, and I will be putting it up here as soon as I figure out how. Actually, I do need to do a bit of editing – there were a few spots where I slipped and called her by her real name, and I need to find and erase them. We still value our privacy.

  • 26. HeIsSailing  |  May 8, 2010 at 12:15 am

    LoveAndLosingFaith,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It closely mirrors the story my wife and I share. She was raised Catholic and has no intention of leaving. I was raised some kooky brand of Pentacostalism, went from there to Calvary Chapel, then to a liberal Baptist church, then to atheism. She does not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, in fact like most Catholics, thinks the Bible contains good stuff, but should be left for the professionals to read and decipher. We do not have children, but we have talked about how to raise them, and our intended approach is very similar to yours. I would love to read more of your story..!!

    **************************************

    Olga, true I am really interested in marraige partners that begin with both as committed Christians and one leaves the Faith. I wish you success with your Christian boyfriend, but I do hope you have long, deep discussions regarding your religious differences before you wed..!!

    **************************************

    Keven says:
    “…This is why I am still in the closet about my atheism…”

    Interesting, in that this is exactly one of the reasons I am *out* of the closet with my atheism. I want Christians to question their belief in Hell, to fully understand that the God they worship and believe in intends to cast me into the Lake of Fire. I am not against Christianity, and do not seek to convert others – but if their is one belief I could Evangelize against, it is this boogey-man called ‘Hell”. I think that holding this poisonous belief brings nothing but fear. What a tragedy..!!

    Oh yeah, never apologize for long comments..!!

    **************************

    Life Trekker says:
    “…I told my wife when I came out fully with her about 6 weeks ago that when we made our wedding vows and committed to stay together “for better or for worse, till death do us part”, that I really meant it….”

    Good for you. I had that same talk with my wife. As we discussed in our podcast, we had to remind each other of the many reasons why we fell in love with each other and wed – there were many, many things besides our religious beliefs, and we had no intention of throwing our marraige away because one of those things changed. We did believe we went into our marraige with such a fragile foundation. Please keep us updated..!!!

    ***********************

    Quester, I know you have a fascinating story – if only we knew what it was. You have only dropped a few hints and crumbs for us to see, but I would love to hear the rest of it someday..!!

    *************************

    Wes Widner asks:
    “How can two people who share deep and fundamental differences hope to do anything other than merely get along?”

    As I already said, religion is just one of the things we shared, and certainly not the sole foundation of our marraige. True, I have left Christianity, but that does not make me love RoseMary any less. After we hammered out the initial fears, doubts and questions, we have each used our differing views to make our marraige even stronger.

  • 27. Kevin  |  May 8, 2010 at 7:44 am

    **************************************
    Keven says:
    “…This is why I am still in the closet about my atheism…”
    Interesting, in that this is exactly one of the reasons I am *out* of the closet with my atheism. I want Christians to question their belief in Hell, to fully understand that the God they worship and believe in intends to cast me into the Lake of Fire.
    ……
    **************

    I completely agree, and we have to take different steps with different people. I care more about my parents feelings than I care about what they believe. Mostly, this is because i love them and don’t want to hurt them. I know they will not change their beliefs no matter what I say, so I choose to make them comfortable until they die.

    There is absolutely no way to “show them the way” or convert them to common sense. It would only cause trouble, and, living across the globe, I see them much less than I would like to anyway, so I don’t want to do anything to reduce the meeting time, or spoil it with religious debate.

    I feel fine that they believe what they believe. And I feel fine that they don’t know what I believe, because I love them and don’t want to hurt them.

  • 28. 4riozs  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    In regards to some of the comments I’ve seen posted. I think it is a good idea not to become an “atheist evangelist” perse. When I first left the faith I was so confused and mad at “God” when I realized what the Bible really said that I was a bit rude with my family, they are very understanding though. But it caused me alot of pain when I lost my faith, I still feel some confusion in regards to my identity- all them years my whole idenity was in being a Christian. I wouldn’t want to hurt someone else, especially my parents since my mother is older, she might feel worse than I did since we’re taliking about her whole life. I think it’s a good idea to be cordial and consider your audience.

  • 29. letjusticerolldown  |  May 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    My personal two cents, being a rather devoted Christian and widower. My wife, while fighting for her life following childbirth a few years ago, taught me much about gratitude–and living when life does not turn out the way we imagined it would. I watched her day by day for several years basically decide, “If I had to allocate my last breath to a single activity–what would I do?”

    I had not previously known such gratitude. I had never been through this experience–very intense–for several years.

    I think I learned something about being willing to just be on the journey together. I could not walk in her shoes. Only next to her.

    I think the anchor is not being in agreement on everything–but being willing to walk in love and relationship. If a couple was at complete odds about the purpose or destination of the road–it may be hard. But I think giving each other space on the journey is a gift not only to each other but many who simply wish to be with you–not feeling they have to fight just to be on the road.

    There is no guarantee you will have each other tomorrow

  • 30. HeIsSailing  |  May 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    letjustice,

    thanks for your well-worded comment. Funny, I was thinking much along those same lines earlier today on my morning jog. My wife RoseMary and I differ in many key philosophic ways – and not just religiously. We come from vastly different cultures, and think in drastically different ways. And while we debate and challenge each other on a number of issues, in the end, I have to ask myself, “What do I want more – a wife whom I can love and share this journey of life with, and who can occassionally stimulate my maturity by sharing of differing views? Or – a wife who thinks just like me, agrees with all my opinions, or at the very least, whos will is so malleable that I can get her to eventually agree with my views? No – we are different, and we both accept each other for who we are, religious differences and all, because, as you say, there are no guarantees in this world. De-conversion has taught me that we truly are but a vapor, and I treasure my wife and this world all the more because of that fact.

  • 31. societyvs  |  May 21, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    People make a bigger deal of this than is actually reality. My wife and I are nothing alike and yet we manage to make a 10 year relationship thrive.

    Culturally we come from differing backgrounds.

    Religiously, different backgrounds – my wife has never read the bible (for example).

    Eductionally, we have varying levels of post secondary.

    Unbelievably, we still manage to love another and make it work pretty good.

    Christianity is over-blowing this ‘unequally yoked jazz’.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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