DEAR ABBY: I'm a 21-year-old woman who is happily married to a wonderful man. My best friend is a guy I'll call "Tom." We have been friends for four years. My husband likes Tom, trusts me and has no problem with it.

The problem is Tom's live-in girlfriend, "Ginny." Ginny doesn't like or trust me. She doesn't like any of Tom's other friends, either. (Most of his friends are female.) Abby, Tom is not a flirt. He's loyal to Ginny and would never dream of cheating.

Ginny is extremely insecure. She goes haywire if Tom has any contact with any of us -- so he has begun sneaking around behind her back to hang with us. I'm uncomfortable with the sneaking around because it makes me feel we're doing something wrong when we aren't, but it seems to be the only solution.

Tom and Ginny are not engaged, but they're in the process of trying to buy or build a house together. He acts like he's unhappy in the relationship, but seems afraid to stand up for himself. What should I do? -- TOM'S BEST FRIEND IN FORT WORTH

DEAR BEST FRIEND: You, your husband and some of Tom's other friends should stage an intervention with him. Warn Tom that sneaking around and trying to fool Ginny won't work. At some point she'll catch on and erupt like Mount Vesuvius -- and who could blame her? Instead of behaving like an adult and informing his girlfriend that if the relationship is to continue, she'll have to accept that he has platonic female friends, he's taking the coward's way out.

A home is the largest investment most people make in their lifetimes. Tom should carefully consider the wisdom of making an investment like this with Ginny under the circumstances. If you can't make him see reason, then urge him to discuss it with a lawyer. You'll be doing him a huge favor.

P.S. And while you're at it, do yourself a favor. Distance yourself from Tom a bit, until he works this out.

DEAR ABBY: My parents are planning a family vacation -- it's an annual tradition in my family. The problem is my sister-in-law has been inviting members of her family without consulting my parents beforehand.

This is supposed to be a special event that both my parents and I feel should be limited to only our side of the family, not hers. We feel helpless to stop her from inviting everyone in her family, because we don't know how to tell her, "Please stop because this is not an open invitation event."

She has done this before with other events, and the results were chaotic. The last thing we want is to have this vacation in chaos, but if her family is there it will be inevitable.

What can we do to stop this without stirring up a hornet's nest? Or must we all smile through gritted teeth all throughout this vacation? -- GRITTING AWAY IN SAN JOSE

DEAR GRITTING AWAY: It's time your parents stop gritting their teeth and bite the bullet. Because they are planning this family getaway, it's up to them to tell their son and his wife that this isn't a cattle call -- and the invitations she issued will have to be postponed for another occasion (when you all will have been fortified with tranquilizers).

DEAR ABBY: I am being married soon, but the engagement has not yet been formally announced. I am 42 years old, and this will be my first wedding.

Although I know my friends and family will be happy for me, I anticipate a number of people saying, "It's about time -- what took so long?" They'll think they are being funny, but really, it's a sensitive subject and it makes me want to respond with a sarcastic retort. What's an appropriate response so I can take the high road? -- WANTS TO BE POLITE IN CALIF.

DEAR WANTS TO BE POLITE: Smile and say, "I wanted to be sure I got it right the first time."

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