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“We both found that each other was not the ‘scary atheist’ and ‘crazy Christian’ that we were led to believe,” says Julie, a Lutheran married to an atheist.

“We both have the same views and morals and outlook on how life should be, how people should treat other people, animals, and the earth. The only difference is I think there is a God and he does not.” Religious and nonreligious partners alike say that having a spouse on the other side of the aisle has made them smarter, more effective, and more empathetic in their engagement and activism and better examples of their own worldview.

In the exclusive excerpt below, Mc Gowan talks about the benefits of those mixed-faith relationships: …

Despite the general pall that so many commentators cast over religiously mixed marriages of every kind, the picture of the secular/religious marriage is positive and encouraging. After all, we’ve just spent a great deal of time examining the many issues and tensions that can arise when one partner is religious and the other is not.

“I’m sure religious differences sometimes tear relationships apart, but ours has only made us trust one another more,” says Amanda, an atheist married to a Baptist.

“I grew up Baptist, but now I am a closeted atheist in the South.

I was able to separate my true beliefs from just believing things because I grew up believing it.” Hope says much the same.

But if the rest are any indication, including many of my survey respondents, they might be missing out on a good thing.My husband is the only person I have entrusted with my nonbelief, and he has been kind and considerate and loving in a way that I know not even my closest friends or family members would be.And through it all we have realized that our relationship is built on a strong foundation. It’s trust, respect, communication, cooperation, and friendship.” If you share a belief system with someone, it’s easy to leave many of your beliefs unexamined.She makes me think first about whether I am expressing the true heart of Islam in what I say.I am a better representative of my own faith now than before I met her.” Many nonbelievers feel the same.

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