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An ongoing series of five-minute posts while I’m writing a book on the religious/nonreligious mixed marriage.

letterzOne more post on terms, then on to content and process.

I had the pleasure of lunch with Greta Christina a few weeks ago. At one point she asked how my search was going for a word to describe the religious/nonreligious mixed marriage. I told her I was stumped — that despite a lot of really smart and thoughtful input, I couldn’t seem to find something that completely worked — not too obscure, cumbersome, unpronounceable, unfocused, or too broad (including other types of mixed marriages) or too narrow (excluding some types of religion and/or irreligion).

For one or more of these reasons I’ve considered and rejected Ambitheistic, Contratheistic, Intracredo, Reciprocal, Binuptial, Matri-omni, Omniunion, Variage, Varimarriage, Variwedded, Matrimerge, Marimerge, Faith/apistos, Quantum, Quarky, Heterognostic, and Cantilevered marriage, among many others. (Actually, Contratheistic is still slightly in the running. It would be perfect if it were one syllable shorter.)

I loved Mixistential and Maradox, but ultimately left both of them weeping at the altar. Just a wee step too obscure. Most of the slash-names (Super/Natural, A/theistic) are confusing when spoken, which is a problem for interviews and audiobooks.

Secreligious marriage is delicious…and no. But a similar variant, Relicular marriage, still appeals to me. Rhymes with “vehicular.” But the fact that I have to add that counts against it. I’m likely to simply use “secular/religious marriage,” despite those who prefer the narrower def of “secular” referring to church/state separation. (Oxford Dictionaries favors the broader def.)

Greta made an interesting historical point — that it’s a lot like the search for a more concise general term for “significant other.” The term partner is now so familiar that most of us can’t even recall a time it


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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.