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Dear Abby: Question of religion changes dynamics of family friendship

Dear Abby: About a year ago, my daughter befriended a schoolmate. After numerous playdates, our families have become close. While my family is atheist, we know this family is devoutly Christian. Recently, after I mentioned in conversation that we “weren’t religious,” they invited us to their church for service. I diplomatically declined, but it felt awkward having told the mom our non-beliefs.

Since then, this family invites us to church constantly, and the mom routinely brings up scripture while we’re talking. I feel like they are trying to convert us. I’m hurt that the respect we have extended to this family isn’t being reciprocated. How do I let her know she’s being disrespectful to me and my family’s beliefs without jeopardizing the friendship between our families?

– Atheist In the South

Dear Atheist: Try to remember that she thinks she’s offering you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. It might be gentler if you told her that in light of the fact that you are an atheist, you find what she’s trying to do to be “hurtful.”

Continue to politely refuse her invitations to attend her church. If she’s in the habit of quoting scripture in normal conversation, you will have to grit your teeth and tolerate it. (Remember, we all have freedom of expression.) But I can’t guarantee that you will always remain as close as you have been, not because she’s hurt that you’re not interested in being converted, but because at some point you may find her behavior so annoying that YOU will end the relationship.

Pregnancy hurts husband

Dear Abby: My wife, “Mimi,” and I have been married nine years and together for 14. We have agreed that while we love each other, we are no longer “in love.” We have stayed together because we’re comfortable.

Mimi has just informed me that she’s pregnant with someone else’s baby and will be moving out soon. She is all I have known since we have been together. I feel lost and confused and sad. Do you have any advice?

– Deeply Hurt in Tampa

Dear Deeply Hurt: That you would feel sad is natural because there is loss involved in the demise of your relationship with Mimi. And so that this doesn’t happen in your next relationship, I’m advising you to discuss this with a therapist. You have some grieving to do and it would be better if you don’t do it alone.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.