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chyna's avatar

Would you choose a life partner that had the opposite religious beliefs as you?

Asked by chyna (50814points) August 24th, 2012

For example, if you were an atheist, would you choose a partner that believed in God or if you believed in God, would you choose to spend your life with an atheist?

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36 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If I love the person I could handle anything. I’m tolerant of other views. I’m not going to miss out on a wonderful person because they look at things differently.

gailcalled's avatar

We had a good compromise, or so Ibelieved. Then he turned out not to be my life partner as I had originally thought.

I was a secular Jew, he was a nominal Protestant; we were involved in a Quaker School and both loved attending the Friends’ Meeting for Worship. That was essentially sitting in a plain meeting house on hard benches with lots of students and keeping the silence. Occasionally someone might speak, or not. (This also enabled me to send daggers of the evil eye towards my kids if I spotted them giggling or whispering.)

In fourteen years I stood up and spoke three times.

On Sundays we attended the Meeting’s Meeting, if you get my drift.

The idea of a deity was vague; one’s actions in the here-and-now fitted in with my Jewish upbringing. I loved the Quakes I worked with. They lived the ideals rather than spouting the rhetoric.

reijinni's avatar

Depends if they try to force their beliefs upon me. If they do, they’re gone, if not, then I’ll see if I can tolerate them.

gailcalled's avatar

@reijinni: You accept the idea of a life partner whom you can only tolerate?

Earthgirl's avatar

First of all I think just using the word “opposite” conjures images of “opposing”. I can tolerate many different ways of looking at life and looking at the world and belief systems as long as the core values we hold are the same. The golden rule holds for Christians, Jews, Atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Moslems, etc. Although the Golden rule is just a point of reference it gets to the heart of human compassion and human striving to be good. I need to be with someone who is loving, compassionate and empathetic. I need to be with someone who cares about treating other people with kindness and tolerance. What religion they are or aren’t means nothing to me.

nettodo's avatar

I wouldn’t care too much about their religious beliefs. Love is love.

Jeruba's avatar

I can’t quite imagine what “opposite” means when it comes to beliefs. Do you just mean “different”?

filmfann's avatar

My wife’s faith isn’t as deep as mine, but we are in the same ballpark. I think as we get older, she will embrace it. That I haven’t talked a lot with her about the importance of faith is a personal failing.
I cannot imagine marrying someone who worshiped Satan, or believed the world rode on the back of a Turtle, or someone who is a Scientologist.
Those people are just nuts.

Jeruba's avatar

I think it’s important to have compatible philosophies and outlooks on life. Some people with different stances on religion might actually be closer together philosophically than people who nominally subscribe to the same dogmas; for instance, if two practicing members of the same church were not equally rigid in their views or equally tolerant of differences.

I could never have married someone who was a religious zealot or a fundamentalist of any stripe. But a little honest, nonproselytizing theism didn’t bother me. In fact, my own views have changed a bit over time, and I would not have been in a position to guarantee that they wouldn’t.

DominicX's avatar

Sure, though it would depend on the difference. My mom is a pretty serious practicing Catholic; my dad doesn’t subscribe to any religion and it works out fine. My religious have also been somewhat variant, so I might not always have a strict “opposite”. Any attempt at conversion of the spouse probably wouldn’t work out for me…most theists I know aren’t interested in converting anyone to their beliefs, though. But most of them are liberal Christians…

Ayesha's avatar

Yes, if I love him and he doesn’t have a problem with my religious beliefs I wouldn’t have a problem with his. I’d never impose anything on him.

leopardgecko123's avatar

My opinion is I would only marry somebody who loves Christ more than me. I couldn’t stand living with somebody who doesn’t believe in God, because I would want to talk about it and pray with them and everything.

CWOTUS's avatar

The woman I would like to make a closer relationship with is an ethnic Indian practicing Hindu Democrat who likes the Yankees. I’m an ethnic Yankee atheist / agnostic libertarian who’s been a Red Sox fan for most of the past 45 years. Not only that, but she’s a woman. I think it could work out just fine.

JLeslie's avatar

Opposite seems an odd word choice to me. My husband believes in God and I don’t. Never mattered to me. What I did care about was how religious he was. If he wanted to go to church every week. If he wanted to raise our children religiously. If God and religion were part of his daily life or even weekly. If he looked to or relied on religion or God in general when dealing with life questions. Turned out he didn’t really rely on religion much at all, so all was good. I wanted to be in sync wth how religious we are, no matter what the religion was he identified with. He was raised Catholic, I am Jewish. He wound up converting, his choice, I never asked him to.

I would not choose a life partner who believed only one religion is right and the rest of us are going to hell. I guess that leaves out a lot of Christians. I would have to feel he respects my beliefs, and traditions, and be willing to participate to some extent. For instance If I wanted to do passover dinner, I would expect my husband to be happy to partake, same as I would celebrate Christmas with his family. I would not exclude anyone simply based on the religion they identify with, only exclude them if they are too religious for me to build a life with.

CWOTUS's avatar

A late uncle of mine, who had been widowed for several years in his 70s, lived in Florida where we didn’t keep up very well with his day-to-day existence. He told us several years after the funeral that he had met and started keeping company with a nice woman, which we had not known. He also told us sorrowfully that they decided to be “just friends” because of their religious differences. She was a Catholic, and he had been an Episcopalian all his life. He had several grown kids, and so did she.

They decided to call it quits because “they couldn’t decide how to bring up the kids”.

I miss his humor.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS Are you being serious?

CWOTUS's avatar

About what? He said those things. He seemed serious when he said them. We didn’t realize it was a joke until he finished saying it. Surely you realized it was a joke?

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS I thought it must be a joke, because it seemed ridiculous. But, wanted to double check. Is the story true at all? Did he date her and then break up? Or, is the whole thing a total joke?

CWOTUS's avatar

He dated her; they had a very close relationship – I never asked about details – but by that time they were both in their mid 80s and had no desire to marry and change their living arrangements.

If I had started the story with “An elderly widower… etc.” then it may have been a total joke. I thought personalizing it and making it a story about “My uncle” would indicate that it was really true. Because it was. He was a widower, he did meet and have the relationship with the woman, and he told us the story, totally deadpan. And we all broke up at his punchline. Whether she was really Catholic or not, that may have been a fabrication.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS I understood it the way you intended, but on the internet it is easy to get it wrong.

6rant6's avatar

I wouldn’t marry someone who was devout, any flavor of devout. I couldn’t voice my opinion without deriding her beliefs. How could that work?

Sunny2's avatar

I would have (and almost did) when I was young and my beliefs were not so strong.
Now? No way.

augustlan's avatar

I was a Christian, and married a Jewish man. Neither of us were actively practicing our religions, but we had our own beliefs. Over the years, I became an atheist, while he still believed in God. We raised our kids with the traditions and holidays of both our religious backgrounds, and taught them about the beliefs and traditions of many other religions. It was all fine. We later divorced, but religion or lack of played no role.

Now I’m married to a deist, and I’m an atheist. Every now and again we have debates about the likelihood of a god’s existence, but it’s no issue in our love or lives. I couldn’t marry a fundamentalist of any religion. Probably not someone who was very involved in any organized religion, either, but I’m not positive I’d rule that out.

ucme's avatar

Err, yeah, why the hell not?
Religious convictions are after all, a purely individual decision.

JLeslie's avatar

@ucme What if every time something bad happens one spouse wants to hold hands and pray and the other thinks that is total bullshit? What if one spouse wants to go to church every day and take the kids, and the other spouse doesn’t want the kids to be indoctrinated? What if one spouse thinks the other is damned to hell for not accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and saviour and it only intensifies as they get older; so they are married to someone who will not be with them in the afterlife.

ucme's avatar

@JLeslie Under this hypothetical scenario, a couple would be more than aware of each others religious beliefs & therefore avoid such unnecessary conflicts of emotion.
As for the kids in any such relationship, then i’d hope the father would leave the kids open to their freedom of choice, as I would.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would find it difficult, but not impossible. The difficulty would be proportional to the level of dedication the partner had to their religion. A fundamentalist would likely be impossible as would a person who is constantly proclaiming “the glory” and must give up time and money to attend a service 3 times a weeks just make sure they stay on the good side of their deity.

A successful relationship is hard work. Both parties need to respect each other and feel they are working together as a team. They don’t need to agree on everything all the time but constant disagreement about basic beliefs and values does not bode well.
For me, there are other factors that carry about the same weight as religion: spending habits, drug use, education, body image, addiction.
There are so many fish in the sea. Why start a relationship that is automatically handicapped?

Blackberry's avatar

Their degree of belief would matter. There’s nothing wrong with believing in a god, but if they were a Rick Santorum type we obviously wouldn’t be compatible.

When my ex-wife and me were having marital problems, her solution was that I needed to go to church. Not both of us going, not marriage counseling: just me finding some church and going to it…

She bought a Joel Osteen book and told me to read it, and became upset when I told her it sucked after reading a few chapters. Haha.

reijinni's avatar

@gailcalled, As long as I can. I will ditch if it become unbearable.

Blackberry's avatar

I also recently fell in love with a woman who is very religious (Ok, I don’t love her, but she’s really hot).

After spending some time with her, I realized we definitely wouldn’t work out. She’s trapped in the danger zone lol.

A form of punishment she would receive by her parents involved taking everything out of her room, including the sheets on her bed, and giving her a bible to read and water to drink.

She has a ring on her wedding finger because she is married to god. You can’t make this stuff up.

MilkyWay's avatar

Respect for each other’s beliefs and everything will work out fine.

wundayatta's avatar

It depends. There have been times in my life when I saw someone else’s religious feelings as a kind of attack on me. But more recently, I see religion as serving primarily a social bonding and cohesion purpose. I see it as very useful in many ways, although very dysfunctional in some important ways and dangerous in some ways, as well.

I would never or could never be with a partner who used their religion to harm others. If they used their religion in a helpful way, then I think I could be with them, although it would be disquieting. If someone strongly believes in something irrational, it is hard for me to predict them and therefore hard to trust I know how they will behave. If their belief is more casual or based on traditions and customs (as opposed to theology or dogma), then it is more understandable to me and less threatening.

It’s the dogmatic beliefs that lead to policies like being against choice, or against social recognition of same-sex marriages, or against social support for people in poverty and on and on—that’s the kind of thing I couldn’t live with. That would be a philosophical difference that is basically evil in my opinion. It is anti-human and I don’t see how I could love someone who held religious views like that. It would be like loving a rattlesnake, I think. And I’m just not into snake handling.

Seek's avatar


I’m sorry, I don’t care how hot she is, that kind of crazy is way too much trouble.

Seek's avatar

In some cases it can work. In most, it doesn’t.

I’m an atheist. My husband’s a theist, but not of any particular denomination. We have fairly compatible outlooks otherwise, and we generally put up with each other’s belief (or lack thereof).

Most of the time we just don’t talk about it, but I certainly don’t hide my Dawkins books or anything.

Paradox25's avatar

I’m not sure how to answer this. I’m a theist myself, without a religion, but yet I get into more arguments with other theists than I do against atheists when it comes to my beliefs. It likely would not work if the person was too dogmatic with their beliefs. God and religion has never come up in any of my relationships so far, but I’m sure I’ll be tested sooner or later on this issue.

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