Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I have been separated for three years and am now going through a divorce. I have started a new relationship, and, for the first time, I know what being in love feels like.

"Mason" is a remarkable man with many great qualities. However, when we go to my friends' parties, they often make comments and belittle him because he didn't graduate from college. Mason is a security guard. It doesn't bother me, but I feel bad when people ask him why he didn't become a police officer "instead."

My friends are all professionals who married other professionals. They don't realize that they can sometimes be snobs. I don't know how to approach this subject without getting into an awkward confrontation. Mason's feelings were hurt before by a prior girlfriend whose family and friends thought he was a loser because he's a security guard.

I love him and want this to work. Why do I let other people's comments affect me? And how can I approach them about this matter? -- UNHAPPY IN NEW YORK

DEAR UNHAPPY: You may be affected because your friends are unable to see the wonderful qualities in Mason that you do. Please understand that they may feel they are trying to look out for your best interests after what has to be a traumatic disappointment -- the long, depressing slog through your divorce. If your friends persist in making comments to Mason about his job, you should ask them to please stop because they are making both of you uncomfortable.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't caution you: After someone has experienced a divorce, it is not unusual to experience a rush of adrenaline -- a kind of "high" -- during the next relationship. While it seems idyllic, the problem is that it usually doesn't last, which is why rebound relationships often don't work out. This is not to imply that there is anything wrong with Mason, only that you would be wise to take your time before rushing into another marriage.

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End Christmas Tug-of-War by Taking Turns

DEAR ABBY: I want to be at home on Christmas! Am I so bad? Every year, my mother-in-law pushes us to be at her house on Christmas. My husband and I have even discussed this issue with a marriage counselor. Together, we agreed to always be in our home on Christmas Day. I am happy to have my in-laws over, but not bothered if they choose not to come.

My husband talked to his mother, and everything was worked out last year. However, when I told him she was starting up again, he got mad at me! It makes me sad that he is more worried about pacifying his mother than making memories with me.

I want to fix dinner and do special things in my home because I didn't have that when I was a child. Am I so terrible to want that? She had her time. Now I want my time. -- WANTS MY TURN IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR WANTS YOUR TURN: Your husband got mad at you because he has been on the receiving end of heavy pressure from his mother. She's alive and kicking, so in her mind her "time" is not yet over.

While I sympathize with your desire to establish traditions of your own, you will encounter less resistance and resentment if you do it gradually. A way to do that would be to alternate Christmas holidays between your home and your in-laws' -- a suggestion I hope you will take to heart.

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For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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