DEAR ABBY: My fiancee and I are being married in September. Last December I asked a longtime friend, "Mitch," to be a groomsman. We have been close ever since we met in middle school 20 years ago. Mitch and I were still close until about three years ago, when he married and moved out of state. (I was in his wedding party and attended his rehearsal dinner.)

Last week, Mitch informed me that he won't be attending our rehearsal dinner because he will be attending another event that same evening. He will be coming in from out of state and plans to go to his nephew's football game instead. He said he doesn't feel it's necessary to be at the rehearsal since he has "done it before and knows what to do."

I do not feel that Mitch has taken into account the fact that it is not just the formality of rehearsing, but that his presence means as much to me as his being at the wedding. He said he will be glad to step aside if this is not acceptable, but this creates problems, as I do not have anyone else to ask, other than someone I have no history with. Am I making a bigger deal out of this than necessary? -- HURT IN LEANDER, TEXAS

DEAR HURT: I don't blame you for feeling hurt. Part of being a member of a wedding party is to support your friend in any way you can -- and that includes showing up for celebrations and preparations.

It should be clear to you by now that Mitch no longer feels as close to you as he did before he moved out of state and on with his life. If you want him to be a groomsman because he symbolizes a period of your life, let him show up for the ceremony and stand up with you. However, had this happened to me, I would invite someone else to take his place. Mitch has demonstrated what his priorities are, and they are not those of a close friend.

P.S. Be grateful that he gave you enough warning that he can be replaced.

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DEAR ABBY: I feel sorry for a friend of my husband's. "Joey" is a really nice guy, but his wife is driving him over the edge. She's obsessive-compulsive and, despite their financial problems, refuses to get a job. She says her mother never had to work and she shouldn't either.

They went to three sessions of marriage counseling, and she refused to go back because their therapist told her she had a serious problem. She told her mom what the therapist said, and they agreed he must be a quack.

Joey is so worried about having to pay alimony and child support that he won't leave, but he confided to my husband that he has thought about doing something to himself. Any advice? -- BONNIE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR BONNIE: The economic realities are very different for today's generation of women than they were when Joey's mother-in-law was married. If you and your husband haven't already suggested it, you should urge Joey to seek professional help -- not for his marriage, but for his sanity.

Instead of aiming his frustrations and anger where they belong, he is turning them back on himself and in the form of self-destructive impulses. Counseling will help him regain his perspective. And consulting an attorney will give him a more realistic view of what his responsibilities will be if his marriage cannot be saved. Both will do him a world of good. Please urge him not to wait.

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