Auntie SparkNotes: My Boyfriend And I Can't Stop Fighting About Religion
I'm in a bit of a tricky spot with my boyfriend right now (we'll call him Chris). Chris used to be part of the Mormon church, and a few months ago, he did some research and found that he was being lied to. Needless to say, he became atheist.
I am Christian and have currently been trying to lead a better life and fix some major mistakes I have made. But because of our drastically different outlook on religion, Chris and I have been getting into some extremely heated arguments. Think fighting for two hours when I call him, which is almost every day. I about broke into tears the last time we fought. It's extremely frustrating because neither of us is going to convert the other. He's been a great friend for four years now, and the last thing I want to do is break up with him. But is there any way possible to get us to stop, or at least cool down the fights a bit?
Why, yes! Yes, there is! Here's what you need to do: before your chats, you and your boyfriend should each find a large, thick, comprehensive reference book that explains—in detailed but accessible language—the history and founding principles of your respective beliefs, and make sure that you keep said book close at hand during your conversations.
And then, when one of you feels compelled to bring up the topic of religion, that person should grasp his book firmly in both hands and beat himself in the face with it until he passes out.
Because the best, fastest, easiest way for you to stop fighting about religion is to stop fighting about religion. Really! Just stop! You each know perfectly well what the other's beliefs are, and you also know this is something on which you'll never see eye-to-eye. Repeatedly attempting to convert another person to your belief system, no matter what it is, isn't just frustrating; it's rude, and obnoxious, and it has absolutely no place in a relationship based on mutual affection and respect.
What this means in practice is that whichever one of you keeps forcing this issue needs to knock it off, immediately. (If it's him, explain that you're tired of the pointless, fruitless arguments, and that you'd like to agree to disagree and drop the subject permanently. If it's you...well, knock it off.) There should be no more debates on the validity of your respective beliefs; there should also be no reason for either of you to ever broach the subject again.
And if you can't deal with that, for whatever reason, then you really do need to break up.
But wait, there's more! Because while staying together means that both of you need to lay off the religious debates, you'll also both need to resist the urge to turn even the mere mention of religion, or atheism, into another argument. Because your beliefs are a fundamental part of your lives, and sometimes, purely in the context of sharing those lives, they're going to come up. You need to be able to talk about the role of faith in your own life without your boyfriend sneering at it; your boyfriend needs to be able to talk about his personal antipathy toward organized religion without you getting defensive about it; and you both need to recognize that the other's affiliation, or lack thereof, is not about you.
Don't get me wrong, I know this isn't easy. In fact, it's one of life's bigger challenges to accept that there's no one right path through it—and to understand that a person who chooses a path that's different from yours isn't dissing your life by implication. But if you want to have relationships, romantic or otherwise, with people who think, feel, and believe differently than you, learning to live and let live is an essential skill for all parties involved.
Do you fight with your SO about religion? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.