The help desk: A question of flagging belief


Q. We've been married almost five years and have a one-year-old son. My husband is a Christian and goes to church fairly regularly. When we met, I'd say I believed in God; as time has gone on, I've begun to doubt, but I didn't want to potentially upset him by telling him. Now, however, while I'm happy for my husband to have his views, I'm not keen on trying to make my son believe something I don't believe to be true.

I've also now decided that I can't agree with eating meat for various reasons. He doesn't agree with this, but we have reached a compromise, where he and my son eat meat occasionally, and I don't eat it at all. How do I tell him I don't believe in God any more, without it ruining our relationship? If we seem to be diverging in views more and more as time goes on, do we have a future? We love each other, but I'm changing so much, am I endangering our lives together?

A. Harmony doesn't mean agreeing on everything. I am the product of parents of very different political colours. My mother was a lifelong Tory, my father an old-style Liberal and latterly a Labour voter. Theirs was a blissful union that produced six children and lasted 40 years until death them did part (though it's true that the Suez Crisis remained a no-go topic in their house).

Ours, too, was a religious family, and though I'm a non-believer, I've always felt the Anglican church I was born into to be quite benign. Of my parents' six children, half are still in the faith and half are not. (None, incidentally, votes Conservative.)

The point I'm making is that what shapes a child's world view is not a set of instructions from its parents, but a smorgasbord of views and influences from all over the place.

A lot depends on just how you feel about your husband's branch of religion. In general, a bit of bells-and-smells is easier for non-believers to stomach than the happy-clappy sort that requires you to believe that gay people need saving. But you mention in your longer letter that you like the values of Christianity, just not the God bit.

So perhaps it's not a matter of how to tell your husband but whether to. After all, some religions require spouses to convert in order to marry. Do the converts all suddenly embrace the Koran or believe in transubstantiation just because they've fallen in love? Of course not, but they turn up smiling at mass or mosque and make cakes or samosas for feast days.

All of us change over time, and it's not as if you want to take up pole-dancing or go and live in a yurt. Surely the key to contentment is not that neither of you should change but that each of you understands that change is inevitable and is willing and able to negotiate any differences, as you have done admirably over the matter of meat-eating.

You also tell me you like to strive for perfection, and yes, it would be great if the two of you could agree on everything. But if you can agree to disagree on something pretty fundamental, I'd call that an achievement to be proud of.

Your problem shared

Have a dilemma? email your predicament, no matter how big or small, to Louisa at

Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living