I have never fancied myself as an agony aunt, but here goes: you have to think of the practical side, later on, if you try to pursue this relationship. Some Catholics can be pretty relaxed about their â€˜faithâ€™ and theyâ€™ll use sensible methods of contraception, not insist on your conversion, etc. Others will go for the full suite of nonsense and youâ€™ll perhaps find that your children will be cuckoos in the nest. Could you put up with that? If sheâ€™s a full-on, eyes-closed believer, you have two options, really: you could run and be thankful for the lucky escape or you could negotiate if youâ€™ve really got it that bad. You say sheâ€™s â€˜Down to Earthâ€™; this may help. If you negotiate hereâ€™s just one way you might choose to do it:
Firstly, talking about Jesus isnâ€™t a particularly good strategy for you; you ought to look, instead, at doing some joint study. This is a serious suggestion: see if you can get her to agree to study two books together. The first would be Alone of all her sex by Marina Warner. Itâ€™s an academic study of the Virgin Mary. It is seriously interesting. Just try to discuss it sensibly. (If she wants to choose a theist text, I warn you that most of them will drive you mad by their relentless series of assumptions. The text I suggest has the great benefit of being discursive but hardly neutral. If she insists on the Bible, start with Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Judges. Make sure she understands what sheâ€™s reading.)
In return, she must read the second, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, with you. Donâ€™t be aggressive about it. Donâ€™t claim a point every time she shows doubt. Try to be genuinely neutral. Just let her make up her own mind about things. It often takes years to dump the indoctrination. Although I myself became an intellectual atheist in my early teens, it wasnâ€™t until my forties that I really managed to dump the emotional attachment, too. So donâ€™t expect quick results.
By working together in the way Iâ€™ve suggested, you will find out lots of things about each other, most of them pleasant, Iâ€™ll bet. You may even be able to agree, amicably, to go your separate ways. Perhaps youâ€™ll end up lifelong â€˜platonicâ€™ friends. I have a few – there are such things, you know…
This comes back to the main point: even if you reach some romantic accommodation, and it looks as though sheâ€™s â€˜coming roundâ€™, can you wait? Are you prepared to make the effort with nothing at the end? I understand that there are several good atheist dating sitesâ€¦
Good luck and, if it comes to a wedding with this lovely lady, please invite me, whatever sort of marriage you have.
Posted: August 7th 2007
See all questions answered by flagellant