Skepticism

Four Tips for Dating Believers

People, I am exhausted. I spent the weekend in New York, hitting Coney Island with Wendy, Eve, Waltdakind, and Goodguyseatpie, and the wedding of NYC Skeptic Matt McCarthy. Sure, it wasn’t Dragon*Con, but at least I kept busy and had a blast.

Now I’m back at work and loaded down with deadlines, a circumstance made even more tragic by the fact that my work friends all quit last week and now I get to eat lunch alone at my desk. Suffice it to say, I’m having some trouble getting my skepticism on. In search of inspiration, I turned to the in-box and found this note from Skeptics’ Guide listener Neil:

My question for you is not of a sceptical nature but I think many of your listeners can relate to my predicament. My girlfriend has recently, and for the first time, expressed a belief in woo-woo. In particular it was a belief in pseudo-scientific psychic card reading tests and a healthy fear of ghosts. Apart from this she is non-theistic but never calls shenanigans, which I do quite often. I am concerned that if I don’t reason with her the beliefs will snowball and suddenly I’ll find myself in an angel shop buying energy crystals. However, reasoning with her may shake the apple-cart as I’ll appear to be blithely shooting down her beliefs.

I realise that these are both slippery slopes and that the middle-ground is to gently sit her in front of James Randi on YouTUbe, but…

How would the SGU panel, as activist sceptics, deal with a situation like this? And have you any advice for listeners in the same situation?

Thanks for the interesting question, Neil! First, let me just say that I don’t have a lot of experience with this exact problem due to my pretty good track record of dating skeptics (probably because psychics can psychically foresee that I will dump them as soon as I find out they’re psychics). However, a lot of what applies to romantic relationships can also apply to other relationships, and so I give you these tips, which I’ve mentioned elsewhere in various forms but are collected here for your convenience:

1. Don’t Have All the Answers

I was at a bar Saturday night where my fellow skeptics told the bartender about Skepchick. The bartender then insisted upon telling me story after story about her paranormal experiences, pausing to stare and demand I give a more rational explanation for each one. Her tone was pretty aggressive. One story was about a friend of hers dying and sending her a message through the spilled wax of a candle. She said, “Tell me how else you can explain that.”

I pointed out that there’s just no way I could ever know what happened, much less give her an explanation that would satisfy her, since I wasn’t there. I explained that when I say I don’t believe in ghosts or psychics, I mean that I have yet to see any evidence to suggest otherwise, and that every story I’ve come across that sounds convincing at first has become a lot less convincing the more it is investigated. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and unfortunately an anecdote told over a bar just won’t be enough to overcome mountains of evidence suggesting there’s no such thing as the paranormal.

When you have the courage to admit you don’t know the answers for sure, you can worry less about angering someone. You’re no longer shooting down their beliefs — you’re taking them on an investigation where you both learn together.

2. Do Have a Sense of Humor

Bigfoot (Ale)!The number one way to convince someone that you’re not just being a cynical jerkhole (sidenote: Firefox recognizes “jerkhole” as a properly spelled word) is to not take yourself too seriously. Laugh at yourself, and earn bonus points if you can make her laugh, too. My conversation with the bartender got a whole lot better when I switched it to talking about good (and fun) science, like Richard Wiseman’s search for the world’s funniest joke. That got us all telling really, really bad jokes and laughing like idiots, and it got my bartender to relax a bit. When she felt like I may be challenging her beliefs or telling her she’s a loon, she was more on edge and ready to (verbally) fight it out. When she was laughing and realizing that I’m just interested in talking about things, she was back to being a fun, easy-going girl who was pouring me more delicious, delicious beer.

3. Do Know When to Drop It

You won’t convince a person of much of anything over the course of one conversation. When you’ve both had your say, try telling her you’ll send her some links to back up some of the things you were talking about. That could be a link to a Skepchick article, a Captain Disillusion video, or whatever. Then, drop it. The skeptical talk didn’t go on all night at the bar Saturday — eventually we all just laughed it off and changed topics. If I were to run into that bartender another day, I bet she’d be willing to chat again because our talk about skepticism was just one chunk of a larger conversation that was rather enjoyable. Another chance to talk is another chance to impart some critical thinking lessons. In your case, Neil, it might be another chance to get some nookie, which is important in a relationship.

4. Do Follow Up

Look, you gotta be you, so don’t drop it forever. If you start avoiding issues that you find interesting just because your friend or lover is a believer, you’re going to be miserable and you’re going to end up hating her, and she’s not even going to realize why. Instead, learn more about her particular belief. Read the studies, and if you can, do some simple tests yourself. Include her and talk about the results. Give her the skeptical ammo she needs, and you may be pleasantly surprised when one day she shoots down a crackpot theory on her own.

So Neil, I hope that helps. Anyone else out there have experience dating someone with a weird belief? Let us know how you deal by commenting below!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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42 Comments

  1. I did, and recently. Only I didn’t handle it with nearly your finesse.

    Mine was a doctor, so my expectations were probably too high. We had several suspect exchanges, but the one that broke the camel’s back went like this – he basically told me that the universe is “eternal” and “time is in the universe, not the universe in time”, which “wipes both the big bang theory and creationism right off the slate”. He said to ask how the universe began is an invalid question because it has always existed.

    I just told him we were fundamentally incompatible.

  2. And who would ever want to date anyone who thought the Big Bang was “just a theory”? I mean, dayum. Can you say “inexperienced”?

    (Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. And if you like my act, be sure to buy my spoken-word album Homework on a Friday Night on your way through the lobby.)

  3. My fiancee was raised “girls-are-servants”, “no-makeup”, “everything-bad-is-your-fault” evangelical. She’s come a long way from that time (calls herself agnostic) but still gets shocked when I deny the holy ghost or respond “Yes?” when she says “Oh god”.

    What’s really helped is simply asking her WHY she feels that way. What’s she’s thinking. Not to convert either of us back to faith, but just to make me understand where she’s coming from. There’s often no way to change someone’s Woo factor, but if you frame the conversation about what he/she believes, and not why you think he/she shouldn’t then it goes much smoother.

  4. This seems like fairly sound advice. My own experience is that it is usually sufficient to make it clear that I held my beliefs for reasons that I could articulate, and that they were based on evidence. I don’t bring the subject up unless something happens that makes it a natural topic of conversation, but I don’t avoid the topics either. And I also try to listen to what they have to say on the matter, sometimes prompting them to speak by asking questions, trying to remember to hear them out before I offer comment.

    In my experience, the women I have dated who have been into things that I don’t believe found this to be respectful of them – I assumed that they were mature enough to handle disagreement, rather than simply avoiding the topic at all times, and I’m clearly not trying to convert them. As a result, they are generally willing to listen to what I have to say than when someone that agress with me but seeks out confrontation tries to talk to them.

    They usually haven’t ended up agreeing with me, but they respected me, they felt respected, and they typically give my own views a fair hearing.

    Importantly, I also have found things of value in what they have to say. Their view of, for example, astrology may seem silly to me. However, in listening to them, and finding out WHY they are interested in astrology and how they use it, I learn something about the underlying psychology of the belief, which helps me to understand the people around me.

  5. I try to avoid dating anyone with strong beliefs in the supernatural, which isn’t easy. Various online dating sites let you filter by religion. I’m particularly fond of okcupid’s method of specifying affiliation and degree (e.g. “Catholic but not to serious about it”).

    Even so, this requires that the person in question has enough self-knowledge to fill out their profile accurately. I once met someone who listed herself as agnostic. Later found out she went to church twice a week and decorated her apartment in saints and crucifixes. So, no, not all that agnostic, then.

    And, of course, there’s nothing on most dating profiles about belief in UFOs, ghosts and such. Pretty much have to take your chances on that.

  6. I ran into a similar problem in that after we married, I “diverged” into skepticism and secular humanism after a period of being a “not-so convinced” born again. (Enough peer pressure is deadly when you are young. “Follow our beliefs or lose all your friends” – How many insecure teens can stand up to that?) My wife, however, did not and retains her beliefs in a quiet fashion. I guess we’re the classic couple that the churches like to call “unequally yoked.” However, she has moderated some of her views from listening to me. We’re coming up on 29 years next week, so I guess she’s not too upset about it anymore. She has no pseudoscientific views that I know of, other than her faith-based ones.

    Still, I think it bothers her sometimes. After all, her grandmother was one of the first women ordained as a Baptist minister. I don’t mention my beliefs at all to the in-laws. There are some places I just don’t want to go. I see no reason to, anyway. Why stir up a hornet’s nest when it is quietly buzzing far away? ;-)

  7. I would start by acknowledging that ghost stories and tarot cards are, in fact, pretty cool. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good ghost story? And tarot cards have an interesting history, and many of them have really cool art and symbolism. And you can acknowledge all this without admitting that any of it is true in any material sense.

    As regards ghosts, I like the approach that Kentaro Mori takes at Forgetomori. At first glance, his blog looks a lot like a typical woo-filled Fortean/credulist blog. Whenever a new ghost video or photo starts making the rounds, he always begins by acknowledging what a cool image it is. Then he starts picking at the image, ultimately concluding that in this particular case, it’s paraeidolia, or a trick of the light, or a hoax/photoshop. He never rules out ghosts completely, he just says that it’s not true in this case (but he says that for every case).

    Tarot reading is another situation, I think, where you can bring someone around to being to material explanations without being confrontational and dismissive. You can start by bringing in Freud and Jung as a bridge to psychology, then show how modern psychology has left Freud and Jung behind. You can talk about apophenia and cold reading; you can bring up the history of Tarot (it’s actually a game similar to bridge), and then talk about Crowley and other Edwardian mystics inventing a lot of these “ancient traditions” out of whole cloth. But again, you can bring up all of these things in specific instances, a little at a time, without dismissing the whole business out-of-hand.

    Of course, she may eventually dump you for being such a big know-it-all all the time, but I guess then you’ll know where you stand.

    NB: I am the last person who should give dating advice.

  8. Rebecca, you are clearly psychic. I was just thinking this morning about future panel topsic for D*C and TAM and one of my ideas was that a discussion about how to handle believers in your life (friends, families, partners) would make for a great panel discussion. Go see JREF about that challenge, maybe.

    But to answer your question, I used to be a believer in a lot of things, not limited to but including God. When we got married, my husband never forced atheism or skepticism on me – but he always brought up good points in our discussions about it and helped me when I started asking questions. His patience was much higher than mine would have been. He probably has a pretty good perspective. For my part, I feel like I came to the conclusions myself – he just helped nudge me along when I needed it.

  9. Wow, that’s the best advice I’ve seen on the topic! I’ve been lucky enough to not deal with that in my romantic relationships. As I get more skeptical, so do my boyfriends. Well, okay, that’s not luck. I’m pretty verbal about my views, and so you’d have to get past that to even find me remotely compatible.

    But I do have to keep these tips in mind when talking with friends!

  10. I’m married to a wonderful wonderful woman who is intelligent, beautiful, funny, and above all puts up with my bullshit.

    She is also, unfortunately, Catholic.

    We’ve had religious discussions before and they always seem to come off sounding like I’m calling her a naive idiot, and she’s defending herself from my relentless character attacks. I think the reason for this is that it’s impossible to attack the lack of a belief. If I tell her that God doesn’t exist, it’s offensive. If she tells me that He does, it’s … ineffectual. So already, you start out looking like the cool-headed bad guy.

    The biggest problem I have in swaying her over to my side is that she recently lost her father. It was her belief that he is in a better place that helped her get through the grief of his death. For me to tell her, essentially, that he’s nothing more than a rotting corpse, would be insensitive and cruel.

    But we still communicate, so I try to tell her WHY I believe in the things that I do. I try to tell her that I’m not attacking her beliefs, and above all, that she’s still the most intelligent person that I know. A person’s faith has nothing to do with their intelligence, and I keep reminding her of the respect that I have for her. I also like to point out the many positive things about her religion. (helping the poor, grief counseling, etc)

    She’s still fairly devout, but I think I’m wearing away at her belief structure. I could be wrong, though. The only thing that I have unconditional faith in is her love for me. :)

  11. I dated a guy once who had described himself as a “recovering Catholic.” Fine, I thought, “recovering” is a good thing.

    During our date he referenced his desire to “get back in the habit of going to church” and when I was surprised he reverted back to his ‘recovering Catholic” label. I pointed out that what he was doing was more long the lines of “reclaiming” his Catholic faith instead of recovering FROM it as it had sounded like…

    We agreed to disagree, however when I cited this (along with a few other things) later down the road as ways in which we were incompatible he got huffy.

    “What? You won’t date me because I’m a Christian? Isn’t that judgmental of you?”

    “Well, perhaps… but…”

    “Have you ever dated a Christian?”

    I had to think…

    “No, actually I haven’t.”

    “Well,” he sputtered, “was that by coincidence or design?”

    “Intelligent design!”

    (Well okay, I thought I was being witty. He called me something else.)

  12. “‘Have you ever dated a Christian?’

    I had to think…

    ‘No, actually I haven’t.’

    ‘Well,’ he sputtered, ‘was that by coincidence or design?’

    ‘Intelligent design!'”

    Brilliant.

  13. I’m always glad to hear stories about people with different beliefs (particularly religious beliefs) being happily married/committed for years. We should all get along, and all of that. But I can’t help wondering — when one person believes the other is eternally damned for their beliefs or lack thereof, or both people believe this about the other, is it really a happy marriage, based on love and respect? And if it is, should these people really consider themselves believers? I have a hard time understanding how this is possible.

  14. I guess I’m fortunate. My husband has put me in charge of all “thinking issues” for our family. He’s not a skeptic, but he’s working on developing a BS detector. He also doesn’t have any sacred cows.

    In turn, I put him in charge of all “spider issues” and he’s the designated driver except for when I’m pregnant (which is rarely).

  15. I was once engaged to a Jehova’s Witness. All it really took in that case was a little research and a couple of poorly timed questions about her beliefs and the relationship was essentially over…

    Ah, how well I know that pain, Detroitus– I fell in love with a J.W. when I was 28. She was disfellowshipped at the time, and I was a Jew-for-Jesus (who felt horribly vguilty about being in love with this woman, but not SO horribly guilty that I could get away.

    We had been friends before for three years, even knowing about our differences. She fought hard to get reinstated, I got carried away thinking and left my faith altogether (though not for several years after that).

    For some reason, we are still friends at a long distance; but one day, I’m sure her elders will tell her to cut me off utterly.

    The bugger is, I have too much vasopressin in my system, and am missing a particular gene.

    Bugger.

  16. When I was a teenager, a guy I was dating brought me up to a bridge to look at the sunset because he knew I was an atheist (I should point out that this started as a romantic walk and he ambushed me when we got there). He said “How can you look at this and not believe in God?” I said: “Because I believe in refraction.” We broke up a few months later.

    He always seemed to make a face when I said I was an atheist, but it never seemed to really bother him. Clearly it had been festering for a while though until he thought he finally had an ironclad argument. I don’t know what he expected me to do. “Oh my gosh, the SUNSET! Why didn’t I think of that before!?”

  17. One of my first serious boyfriends was a SERIOUS skeptic in a family of religious people. His grandparents honestly didn’t like me because I didn’t regularly go to church, and then something about money (apparently there is a decent bit of it running through his family). Anyways, his parents never MADE him go to church, and I respected them very much for that. He was the first person to -really- get me thinking about critical issues like religion and the supernatural. We used to talk about religion for HOURS – most of the stories that many religions are based on are fascinating. I had a lot of fun dating that guy – discussions with him were endless, and I always felt so smart.

    Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. We are still good friends, and I go to him constantly to be my ground base when I need to talk something out.

    However, the next boyfriend DID believe in God. He doesn’t go to church on a regular basis, and he isn’t terribly religious, but we had a couple of nice discussions on his views. He’s one of those “Believer in God AND Evolution” sort of people. Honestly, it never bothers me that he believes in God – I consider myself agnostic, and religion is never such a huge part of either of our lives that we argue about it. I think it is better this way. I can understand -how- he thinks, and that is enough for me.

    On the other hand, does anyone have any advice for dealing with FAMILY that believes in God? Religion was never a HUGE part of my everyday family life, and I respect my parents for not making us follow a sect. My mother was raised Mormon, and as soon as she was 18, she got out of that AS SOON AS SHE COULD. My mother and father believe in God, and occasionally fights break out between us. The most recent one was over a discussion about discovering the oldest remains of a human skeleton (was her name Lucy?). My sister mentioned that the remains were the single oldest human remains to our knowledge, and my father started talking about the fact that they had discovered Eve. My sister and I just kinda awkwardly stood there and tried to nod and smile.

    Any advice with family? They are a little harder, cause you have no choice on who your family is.

  18. If we aren’t just talking about serious relationships here, I had a really insane encounter/date with a catholic girl once. I met her in a bar and at some point during the conversation religion came up. When I told her that I was an atheist she seemed shocked but got over it quickly and the topic never again came up.

    A few beers later the bar was closing and she invited me back to her house. Well, later that night, after the things one would expect to happen happened, she gets this funny look in her eyes and turns around to her bedside table to get something out. When she turned back around she was shoving a silver crucifix in my face and demanding that I admit that it made me feel something! Then she started audibly praying over me.

    Well, I did feel something. Extremely annoyed and somewhat frightened that I had gone home with a nutcase… Eventually I broke out of her bedroom (which she had locked) and stormed naked past a very surprised roommate eating breakfast.

    A week later she called me and asked if I wanted to move to Ireland with her.

  19. I remember an experience I had with some family holy rollers. My uncle’s a religious guy, and he’s okay. His wife on the other hand scares me. She once said something about the sky being blood red on 9/11, and then said it was just like this other passage in the Bible. The only thing that really made it awkward was that she seemed to think everyone there knew what she was talking about (I’ve never read the Bible). Luckily the conversation moved on and away, and I was smart enough not try to explain that red sky’s are not that uncommon.

  20. The last girlfriend I had came from a Mormon family but was not active in the church when we started dating. After about 6 months together, long enough for me to develop some pretty serious feelings for her, she decided she wanted back into the fold. She started having women over from the local Mormon church who looked at me like I was the Anti-Christos. All of a sidden, I get a call one day from her telling me she met someone at a church dance and didnt want to see me anymore. I was pretty crushed about the whole thing because I really didnt have a clue she was actually going to this church so it came as a shock. I realize that this was mostly my own damn fault because I should have been paying more attention to what was going on. My only defense is that I trusted her. And also, I was thinking with Mr Willy. (She was absolutely fabulous in bed…go figure). Bottom line is this; this relationship ended during the first Bush adminstration (1991) and I haven’t dated since. That’s right, you heard me correctly. I havent dated in 17 years. I had had enough. I figured I must not be much of a catch and stopped trying. So this whole question is kind of irrelevant to me.
    The only issue I have any more are these nasty calluses….hehehehe

  21. I’ve never dated a skeptic. I usually get frustrated when discussing just about anything with a girlfriend, to the point that she beings to annoy me, and we break up.

    I’ve never dated another skeptic, but I’d like to.

  22. I’ve dated more than a few religious people. I’ve never tried to lead any of them away from their faith… I’m not the leader type. I’ll state my case, and I’ll argue ad infinitum if other people care to (I’m sure this has been noticed here before). If that leads to ongoing discussion, I’m cool with that. If it leads to occasional talk, I’m cool with that, too. If it never gets brought up again, I’ll probably never bring it up myself.

    I’ve converted a few, had a few walk away because I can’t be converted, and had a few stick around regardless of the fact that neither of us changed our minds.

    I think the most important thing when dealing with any conflict in any relationship is to be true to yourself. If it’s important to you, make it important between you. If it’s not that big a deal, then don’t let it get between you. If it bothers you, say something.

    ..and always, always, always remember that one day, you’ll be thinking back on this. You may not be happy with how it plays out, nothing you do can guarantee that, but you can be happy with yourself and how you handled it.

    If you ever find yourself really stuck, just use the Rystefn Rule: When in doubt, go for the kiss. At least then, you know.

  23. Maybe these pointers might be helpful. I seem to find myself inexplicably attracted to guys that either turn out to believe in acupuncture/big foot/fate or if they fit the skeptic mold I find out they are very religious (my last boyfriend was a Mormon…that was a very long 5 months).

  24. “And run away at the first sign of bible thumpage.”

    I’ve done that once or twice and it was like getting out of the way when a bus is coming toward you, with much haste and without even having to think about it first.

  25. I became skeptical after I began my relationship with my husband. He is, fortunately, not religious. But he believes a lot of silly things. I’m lucky that he doesn’t mind that I think that his ideas aren’t silly.

    The key for us is that I need to be careful not to come off sounding like I think he’s dumb (he’s not), and he needs to realize that I will never be able to calmly watch “Monster Hunters” or “Ghost Hunters” or “UFO Hunters” without ranting and raving.

    When I make all of my good points in a discussion I think I am getting through. He looks all enlightened and says “that’s a really good point”. But when we talk again he has no recollection of those points, so he is clearly humouring me.

    We love each other anyway.

  26. My advice with religious or woo-woo families:

    When in high school I was a tie-dye wearing, scruffy looking, Deadhead with hair down to my waist. With EVERY girl I dated I got the “Oh no, what has our daughter gotten herself into” look from the parents. Once they met me, talked to me and realized I wasn’t their stereotype they all loved me.

    The same thing has worked, to a certain extent, with my bible-thumping future in-laws. Show them the kindness, rationality and happiness that a non-believer has. Confound their expectations.

    Above all: wait until the in-laws are out of earshot when you suggest baby-eating for Thanksgiving dinner.

  27. Things have been a bit touch and go on the “spiritual” front between my wife and I. When we were married nigh on 13 years ago we both had a similar “spiritual but not religious” attitude, although we both enjoyed the community of people we met at church. During that 13-year span she has now become a scientist, and ironically her journey through graduate school and the rigors of training has led me to a much deeper appreciation for the scientific method and critical thinking. Now I would describe myself, as Bertrand Russell did, as an agnostic to philosophers and an atheist to everyone else. She has remained with a belief in “something larger than ourselves,” which does not interfere in any way with her scientific research or a critical evidence-based reasoning mind. My own enthusiasm for critical thinking/skepticism has led to numerous enjoyable conversations analyzing paranormal claims, finding the inconsistencies or lack of scientific reasoning, and using them as a springboard for further understanding human nature. Where things have gotten a bit rough, however, is in the area of belief in God.
    Looking back at our conversations in this area I would say that a couple of themes emerged as the biggest obstacles to reconcile our views on the nature of the universe:
    1. Can one have morality without belief in God? Obviously one can. I would argue (as others have) that a morality based on the premise that there is no God and we are all unique, precious and irreplaceable is superior to a morality based on an Authority. Once it was clear that my morals had not been affected, and I wasn’t about to start smashing stained-glass windows, boiling kittens or clubbing baby seals, we made it past this particular hurdle. Particularly once it was further clarified that our priorities for educating our kids on moral issues are, in essence, the same.
    2. If I believe something You don’t, does that mean You think I’m stupid? In general my wife and I come to very similar conclusions, sometimes she’ll get there sooner than I will, as she’s the smart one. Having a strong conviction that there is no evidence for a belief in God, and that such a belief is superfluous, has made her feel that I think she’s unintelligent for persisting in her belief in God. Nothing could be further from the truth. I admire and respect her intellect. Faith and Belief are a choice, and although I don’t share that choice, it is not mine to make. And I don’t believe that it is a measure of intelligence unless it leads you to refute evidence. Whew! Another hurdle cleared

    The conversation is ongoing and I hope will continue for many many decades. Although some of the discussions were intense, we have a great foundation to build on: trust, willingness to communicate, empathy, respect, and unconditional love.

  28. Thankfully, I’ve not had to deal much with the whole “dating” thing. My first girlfriend claimed to be Wiccan and occasionally rambled on about some “goddess.” She was also, coincidentally, of a highly promiscuous nature. This is what broke us up, though I’m sure that, had the relationship continued, her “faith” would have come up. She later married into money so she’d never need to work.

    My second girlfriend was an entirely different story. She attended church with her parents, but never bought into the whole unquestioning faith thing. She was also fairly gullible, but when I introduced her to the world of high-speed internets and showed her exactly where to find real science and information, it was a simple matter to mold her mind into a skeptical one. Whenever she has a question, I try not to feed her answers, just nudge her in the right direction. Sadly, education and knowledge are not highly regarded in her household, so as soon as I’d finished my preliminary college education, I convinced her to move with me to State College, beacon of diversity, knowledge, and bars in rural PA.

    We wed in two years. I tried to go for a non-theistic ceremony, but then I don’t think her parents would have attended.

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