Unbeliever credits work, not “blessings”, for success

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have had some crazy life changes since the pandemic started, mostly positive. I have found a wonderful, well-paying job that I enjoy. In our 16th year of marriage, we also brought a happy and healthy daughter into our lives. We recently bought a nice house and added another nicer used car to our assets. In addition, my job allows my husband to realize his dream of being a stay-at-home father with our daughter.

I come from a very religious family, although I am no longer religious. We don’t attend church services with the family, and it seems they’ve adopted the philosophy of “don’t ask and we won’t tell” most of the time. My dilemma is: how do I respond to their constant comments that we are “so blessed” to be where we are?

I have worked extremely long and difficult hours to get to this point in my career. I went to school without the support of my family and worked hard to get us to where we are. Yes, I’m grateful to the people I’ve worked with who have helped me grow and get to this point. However, it seems wrong to me to equate my success with being blessed by God.


This statement comes up repeatedly during family gatherings. Normally I ignore it or say that we feel very lucky to have what we do. Should I keep saying that or ignore them completely? Is there a tactful response that I don’t see in this kind of awkward situation?

— DESERVING IN MICHIGAN

DEAR DESERVING: In the interest of family harmony, smile, nod and agree with the person making the comment. Of course, you have worked hard and deserve your success. But to announce it in this case and with such deeply religious people would be boasting and is out of place. This is not a personal review, so keep resisting the urge.

DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for 32 years. My wife is going to a girls thing next Saturday and asked me what I would do. I said I was going to the funeral of a girl I knew in high school. (We were never boyfriend/girlfriend, just friends.)

My wife asked me how I heard about it, and I shared that a friend of mine mentioned it during our Monday night football chat. She said, “You haven’t spoken to him in over 40 years. You really don’t know her anymore, but you’re going to her funeral? I said yes. Then she said it was “strange, weird and weird” and felt inappropriate. I reminded him that people print obituaries to inform people.

I asked the guy who told me what he thought of my leaving. He said it looked good to him, but that I shouldn’t go to bed. I said, “Doesn’t ‘bachelor party’ mean single and handsome? I’m an old married man.” I’m confused about these two conversations. Am I missing something? Am I a weirdo if I go? Can I go there alone?

— SEE YOU IN CALIFORNIA

Dear paying respects: The answers to your questions are no and yes. If you feel the need to pay a final tribute to a friend from high school, there’s nothing “weird” about doing so. Your soccer friend may have replaced the word “stag” with the word “solo”, which means “alone”. (I see no reason why you shouldn’t attend the funeral alone if the spirit moves you.)

Close-knit family worries about daughter’s new boyfriend

DEAR ABBY: We have close family, and we’ve helped our children with the installments on their homes. My daughter has a master’s degree, is a professional with a good job, and owns her own home. She corresponds and visits an acquaintance from high school who has been in prison for three years. She doesn’t see anyone else and calls that person her boyfriend. She is often on the phone with him because he constantly calls her to ask what she is doing.

My daughter is a nice person. She has many friends and always has a smile on her face. Prior to her involvement with this man, she was very social. People often comment on how lucky we are to have such a loving and kind daughter. She now visits her family. Should we be as afraid for her as we are?

— FEAR IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FEAR: You wouldn’t be typical parents if you weren’t concerned. Have you spoken to your daughter about it? Do you know why her “boyfriend” is in jail? Did she give him money? What are his plans after his release?

Women engage with incarcerated men for many reasons. Some do it because they are alone or because they need to feel useful. Others do it because they feel that in a relationship where their love object is locked up, he can’t cheat on her. (The latter is a mistake because criminals have been known to use multiple women to fund their prison bank accounts, and they sometimes trade suggestions with each other on how to do this more effectively.)

While you have every right to worry, you can’t live your daughter’s life for her. Her old school pal may turn out to be a prince – but you won’t know until he lets it out.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a retired woman who got a part-time job in a small town. It is a highly regarded company with less than 20 employees. In the past, I have worked for companies that valued employee contribution.

I just got fired because my boss thought I was telling him how to do his job. Even though it was a month ago, I replay my actions daily. I feel like I was fired for doing something that in the past I was rewarded for. How can I overcome this? I really don’t want any other job. I loved that one.

– CAN’T SLEEP IN THE EAST

CHER CAN’T SLEEP: You WERE fired for doing something you were rewarded for in the past. Has your employer told you that your contribution annoys them? She should have, so you could reduce the impulse. She may have found your helpful attempts boring, but if that was the case – and she was an effective manager – she should have communicated that to you.

Consider contacting her again to tell her how much you enjoyed working there and explain why you spoke the way you did. However, if that doesn’t help, understand that personalities don’t always match. If you won’t get a second chance, consider putting your skills and experience to good use by volunteering for an organization in your community that will appreciate what you have to offer.

About Dear Abby

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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