In Faith and In Doubt

How Religious Believers and Nonbelievers Can Create Strong Marriages and Loving Families

 In Faith and In Doubt

Author: Dale McGowan
Pub Date: August 2014
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814433720
Page Count: 288
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433737

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How Religious Believers and Nonbelievers Can Create

Strong Marriages and Loving Families

Across America, particularly among adults under age 33, secularism is on the rise. Nearly one third of Millennials, according to the Pew Research Center, don’t identify with a particular religion. And 20 percent of Americans overall describe themselves as nonreligious. So what happens when a nonbeliever falls in love with a believer? If you ask most traditional pastors and rabbis, they’ll tell you: major religious differences make a marriage much more difficult, if not doomed. Imagine the problems and the odds stacked against a long, happy marriage when one partner is committed to an organized faith and the other is a committed agnostic or atheist.

Now imagine the potential for a mixed-belief marriage when partners embrace their differences, work out agreements on shared practices, and focus on their shared values. As secular humanist and popular author Dale McGowan shows in his new book, IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT: How Religious Believers and Nonbelievers Can Create Strong Marriages and Loving Families, mixed-belief marriages can be highly successful and deeply fulfilling. “Contrary to the naysayers’ assertions, mixed-belief marriages have just as much chance of succeeding as any other union between two independent people,” states McGowan. “And that is cause for celebration.”

Why do some mixed-belief marriages succeed while others fail? IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT is the first book dedicated to answering that question. Drawing on sociology, psychology, and real-life experiences, McGowan identifies specific qualities that separate stable, satisfying, and enduring secular/religious marriages from the disasters.

Beginning with the big picture, IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT opens minds with facts on how actual believers and nonbelievers span a wide spectrum of opinions, convictions, and tolerance levels. After shattering stereotypes, McGowan focuses on helping mixed-belief couples overcome common obstacles and appreciate their partnership’s unique strengths.

Filled with fascinating and helpful findings from McGowan’s comprehensive survey of individuals in mixed-belief marriages throughout the U.S. and Canada, and featuring the stories of eight diverse secular/religious couples, IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT offers:

* Guidance and insights to help serious daters discuss their differences in belief, with respect and honesty, and discover common ground such as shared values.

* Suggestions for planning a harmonious and meaningful secular/religious wedding ceremony, as well as strategies for dealing with pressure from extended families.

* Support for negotiating shared spiritual and ritual practices, including churchgoing (with a focus on meaningful connection to others) and prayer.

* Advice on bringing kids into the mix, from the importance of reaching an agreement on a family approach to religion early—preferably before having kids—to pointers on raising children to be both religiously literate and freethinkers.

IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT can not only ease the challenges of mixed-belief marriages, but also celebrates their many positive aspects—from increasing partners’ understanding of others to, surprisingly, strengthening their own worldview. For loving partners with profound belief differences and anyone interested in the age-old dialogue between faith and doubt, Dale McGowan offers a fascinating and uplifting read.


DALE McGOWAN, Ph.D., a Harvard Humanist of the Year, teaches workshops on secular parenting and serves as Executive Director of the charitable Foundation Beyond Belief. His previous books include Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and their three kids.

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