Dear Abby: Can an atheist and a devout Christian make it work?

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DEAR ABBY: For the first time in my life, I am in love. We met about a month ago. I know he’s the man I have waited my entire life to meet. I am 33, so I know what I feel isn’t just lust.

We have one huge hurdle, though: religion. He’s actively religious, while I am not, and he doesn’t believe our relationship can survive this difference.

On every other level, we are wonderful. We want the same things in life and share similar values. Our difference isn’t that I don’t believe in God. I do. But that isn’t enough for him.

I told him I would go to church with him, and raise our children (his and mine) in a Christian home, but when they are old enough we should allow them to make their own decisions. He says that would be “just going through the motions” and I’d eventually resent him for it.

Must I let him walk away? Or should I fight for what could be (next to my kids) the best thing that’s ever happened to me? — HEARTBROKEN IN TEXAS

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: In what way do you plan to “fight”? Do you plan to convert to his religion and devote the kind of time to it that he does? Think carefully about what that would mean.

While his fervent religiosity is laudable, what this man doesn’t realize is that regardless of the example he wants to set for his children, eventually they are going to make up their own minds and live their lives the way they wish.

This “one difference” is a deal-breaker. He is looking for a spiritual clone. You’re not it, so let him go.

DEAR ABBY: The company I work for recently switched to digital phones that show the caller’s name and location on a screen no matter where they are in the building. Years ago, I formed the habit of introducing myself when placing a call: “Hi, this is Sally from marketing. How are you, Trent? Great! I’m calling because …” I have been informed that what I’m doing is old-fashioned, unnecessary and a waste of everyone’s time.

The preferred method would be to launch into the heart of the conversation with no introduction, just “Hi. I need instructions for the new projectors,” because the person already knows who is calling. To me, this feels rude, especially when talking with someone I see rarely.

I can’t help but wonder what the long-term office climate will be like if everyone is so terse. On the other hand, many of my younger co-workers would prefer not to talk at all and conduct business by email or text. ANY conversation feels excessive to them, and they are humoring me by answering the phone.

Where is the middle ground here? How can I maintain what feels like basic good manners and human interaction without annoying my colleagues? — POLITE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR POLITE: There are certain niceties that make interactions with others more pleasant. While you may no longer have to announce that you are “Sally from marketing,” it is polite to inquire how the person is doing or how the day is going. It’s a pleasant conversation-starter and a transition into the business you will conduct. Because you are getting flak for it, go to your employer or H.R. for guidance in navigating the new system.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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