DEAR ABBY: I am having trouble dealing with my wife's extended family, who are mostly evangelicals. My family isn't overly religious and some are atheists. Her family doesn't think twice about asking me if I have a relationship with God, and have even declared that they are praying for me and my children. I chafe at these comments because I feel they do not respect our religious beliefs, as I do theirs.
This has been going on for all of the 40 years we've been married, and I'm ready to disassociate from them altogether. I do not want to be negative about their beliefs, but I should be entitled to mutual respect. Can you help, please? -- LOSING PATIENCE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR LOSING: I can try. One of the tenets of the faith of evangelicals is evangelizing -- in other words, spreading the word about their beliefs. They feel that by doing this they are following their religion. When you are asked whether you have a relationship with God, your response should be that your relationship with God is as close as you need it to be, thank you -- and please do not ask again.
When they tell you they are praying for you and your children, say thank you again. A little prayer on our behalf hurts no one, and may make them feel better about their own lives. Limit your exposure if you must, but shunning your in-laws isn't the answer if your wife wants to maintain a relationship with them.