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DEAR ABBY: My sister and her family recently moved out of state after having lived near our family all her life. Mom and I want to visit her this year, but she likely won't have enough room for us in the house because she has three kids and only three bedrooms. She does have a sofa bed and an air mattress, but neither my mother nor I want to sleep on them. Both of us suffer from back and knee problems and don't want to be uncomfortable.

Would it be rude if we stayed at a hotel? We have never stayed with her family before, so we're not sure if they would be upset. What is the proper etiquette here? -- PUZZLED GUEST

DEAR PUZZLED: Call your sister around the time you're planning to visit, and tell her how much you both are looking forward to seeing her. Then ask if there are any hotels or motels nearby, making sure to explain that you and your mother plan to stay in one because your physical problems prevent either of you from sleeping comfortably on a sofa bed or an air mattress. To do that is not insulting, and it may take the pressure of "entertaining" off your sister's shoulders, because with three children, I'm sure she's plenty busy.


DEAR ABBY: I had a relationship with a man who was introduced by a family friend. Our relationship lasted a month before he ended it without giving me a reason. I went on with my life.

A year later, he sent me a message asking how I was and what was happening in my life. I was caught by surprise because I thought he had forgotten about me. I replied casually, and the conversation continues.

He knows about my plans to work abroad. He says he supports them and would like to send money to help me start, but he wants to keep it a secret and asked me to promise not to tell anybody. Is it OK to accept his offer? -- TEMPTED IN THE PHILIPPINES

DEAR TEMPTED: I vote no. Unless you fully understand why your benefactor wants to keep his generosity hush-hush, I don't think you should accept. Keep your guard up and the relationship casual until you know a lot more about him -- like whether the man is married, because I'm wondering if he may be. When something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

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DEAR ABBY: I have read letters in your column with suggestions for how to be a good wife, daughter-in-law, etc. Would you please give me some suggestions for how to be a good former wife? I know things like not attacking the present wife, but when we are at family functions, what am I required to do? -- EX-WIFE ETIQUETTE

DEAR EX-WIFE: Good manners dictate that you act like a lady. Not all divorces are friendly, but if you exhibit hostility, it will make everyone at the gathering uncomfortable. Give a pleasant greeting when you see your ex. If relations are cordial, make conversation. If not, then occupy yourself with other family members. And when the party is over, say a pleasant goodbye. I think that about covers it.

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