We’d been friends for years, but my atheism had never come up. Six months into dating, it still hadn’t. I knew it needed to before I proposed. I’d been sitting next to her in church every Sunday, so there was no reason for her to assume I wasn’t a Christian believer as well. But I knew I couldn’t enter a marriage on false pretenses.

I was terrified I’d lose her over it, but I knew it was just too big to come up years later as a “hey-funny-thing-about-me” kind of thing. If it was going to be a big deal, it needed to be a big deal right then, before we got engaged, before we got married—before we had kids.

I figured a moving car was the right place to bring it up.

Dale McGowan is chief content officer of OnlySky, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies, and founder of Foundation Beyond Belief (now GO Humanity). He holds a...

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