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.

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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.