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 thehelpdesk@independent.co.uk

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    English Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

    ICT Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Maths Teacher

    £90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week