Dear Abby: My success came from hard work, not God, so don’t call me ‘blessed’

When religious family uses that word, it offends non-believer pleased to have a well-paying job and a healthy child.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have had some crazy life swings since the beginning of the pandemic, mostly positive. I found a wonderful, well-paying job that I enjoy. In our 16th year of marriage, we have also brought a healthy, happy daughter into our lives. We recently bought a lovely home, and have added another, nicer, used car to our assets. In addition, my job allows my husband to live his dream of being a stay-at-home dad 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 have adopted the philosophy of mostly “don’t ask and we won’t tell.” My dilemma is: How should I respond to their constant comments that we are “so blessed” to be where we are?

I have worked extremely long, hard hours to get to this point in my career. I put myself through school with no support from my family and worked my butt off to get us to where we are. Yes, I’m thankful for the people I’ve worked with who have helped me to grow and reach this point. However, it feels wrong for me to equate my success to being blessed from God.

That statement comes up numerous times during family get-togethers. Normally, I ignore it or say we feel very lucky to have what we do. Should I continue saying that or ignore them altogether? Is there a tactful response I’m not seeing 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 are deserving of your success. But to announce it in this instance and with those deeply religious people would be braggadocious and is uncalled for. This is not a personal putdown, so continue to resist the urge.

DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for 32 years. My wife is going to a girls’ thing this coming Saturday and asked me what I will be doing. I said I’m going to a funeral for 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 one of my friends mentioned it during our Monday night football chat. She said, “You haven’t talked to her in more than 40 years. You really didn’t know her anymore, but you’re going to her funeral?” I said yes. Then she said it is “eerie, strange and weird” and it seems inappropriate. I reminded her that people print obituaries to let people know.

I asked the guy who told me what he thought about me going. He said it sounded fine to him, but I shouldn’t go stag. I said, “Doesn’t ‘stag’ mean single and looking? I’m an old married man.” I’m perplexed about both of these conversations. Am I missing something? AM I a weirdo if I go? Can I go alone? — PAYING RESPECTS IN CALIFORNIA

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

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 $16 (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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