DEAR ABBY: I am a 23-year-old child of divorce. For nine months, my father has been dating a woman he was seeing while still married to my stepmother. My youngest brother (age 19) and I have yet to meet her. If they marry, this will be Dad’s third marriage.
While I love him, he deeply hurt not only my former stepmother but also my mother, because he cheated on them both multiple times. He excuses it by saying he had no other choice.
I recently moved back to my hometown after living in New York for 16 months. At some point soon, the three of us, as well as my middle brother, will likely have dinner together. I’m afraid I’ll lash out at her and possibly lose my father in the process. I feel like a child when he tries to explain his behavior in an indirect way. Must I accept this new woman as my father’s partner or risk him dropping out of my life? — REVOLVING DOORS
DEAR REVOLVING DOORS: If you want a relationship with your father, it’s important that you not lash out at whatever woman he is with, whether it be “fiancee” number three, four, five, etc. This isn’t as much a question of accepting this new woman as it may be accepting your father for who he is. If things eventually turn out as I suspect they will, YOU may choose to drop out of HIS life.
DEAR ABBY: My wife’s niece had a baby. My wife called several times asking to visit the child but was told that her niece’s pregnancy and delivery were very stressful and she would have to wait to see the baby. She made more calls and was told the same thing. The baby is now a year old, and we heard the mother invited her cousin’s children to the birthday party but nobody else. The cousins have young children, too. My wife and I have a 12-year-old who is a second cousin. Should my wife say anything to the mother because our child was excluded? We don’t want to cause bad feelings, but my wife is hurt. — LEFT OUT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR LEFT OUT: Were your wife and her niece close before the baby was born? From what you have written, it doesn’t appear so.
Because the pregnancy and delivery were difficult, it seems reasonable that the mother needed time to recover and adjust. With a year gone by, a birthday party given for the child and your wife still not receiving an invitation, I would say the niece isn’t interested in maintaining a close relationship. Your wife may gain better insight into what has been going on if she talks with her niece’s parents about her feelings.
DEAR ABBY: I am curious about proper etiquette when a dinner guest brings a bottle of wine. Should that bottle be offered/opened instead of the wine already opened by the host? How should we respond to the guest? — CONFUSED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR CONFUSED: No rule of etiquette requires you to open the wine your guest has brought and serve it instead of what you have chosen for the meal. Thank your guest for their generosity and put it aside to be used on another occasion or as a second bottle for that night’s dinner.
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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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