Dear Abby: About a year ago, my husband, “Scott,” started attending church. He had never gone in the few years we dated.
We discussed our feelings about religion before we became engaged. He comes from a family that attended church every Sunday and believes in God. I was raised the exact opposite; I’m an atheist. I told Scott that if we had children, I would be OK with him taking them to church, but I would not join them. It bothered him a little, but we talked it over and moved on.
After a difficult year that led to some mild depression (for which Scott sought help), he started going to church. I was happy for him because it seemed to help him.
After a few weeks he asked me to go with him. I went several times but felt uncomfortable. I feel like a fraud sitting in the pew. Scott says he “wants my support” and that means attending with him. I suspect he’s embarrassed to be there without his wife.
I do not enjoy it. I have been offended by some of the messages that were imparted, and I would prefer having time to myself on Sundays.
Abby, what should I do? Is there any middle ground here?
– Feeling Coerced in San Diego
Dear Feeling Coerced: Tell Scott that you are happy he has found comfort in going to church, but that you are not comfortable with what is being preached and find some of it offensive. Remind him that church attendance was not part of your agreement when you married him and that you value your solitary time at home the same way he appreciates the service.
While you might relent and go with him on major holidays – some nonbelieving spouses do that – there really isn’t a middle ground, and because you feel so strongly about it, you should stand yours.
Best not to ask about accents
Dear Abby: Is there some sort of etiquette regarding inquiring about someone’s country of origin?
While making polite conversation with a customer in my retail shop, I noticed she had an accent and asked where she was from. She became evasive and seemed offended that I had asked and refused to answer my question.
I tried to recover from the awkward situation, but I can’t help but feel I insulted her somehow. Was I wrong to ask?
– Friendly Retailer in Kansas City
Dear Retailer: Perhaps. Some immigrants to this country feel the question you asked is a very personal one. There can be various reasons for it. People may feel self-conscious about their accents, and you can’t know the political situation in their country of origin or whether they have encountered bias because of where they came from.