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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married just over a year. It's the second marriage for both of us. Since our wedding, my father-in-law continually "reminds" us that he helped my wife financially after her divorce. He does it because he wants us to continually acknowledge that fact.

I have offered to write a check and pay him back for all he did for her during that time, but he refused because he doesn't want the money; he wants the appreciation. To him what that means is when he calls on the phone, we answer. When he and his wife drop by, we are home, etc. I feel that since I have offered to pay him back and he refused the money, the slate is wiped clean. Your thoughts? -- NOT SON-IN-LAW OF THE YEAR

DEAR SON-IN-LAW: Your father-in-law regards his generosity as a means to control your wife -- and you by extension. You are not required to answer your phone if you prefer not to talk at a particular time, and you certainly do not have to entertain him and his wife at the drop of a hat. The next time the subject comes up, explain that to him, hand him a check and let the chips fall where they may.


DEAR ABBY: My best friend is pregnant. Her husband is a lazy jerk who, during her last pregnancy, caused her to miscarry. It happened after he informed her he was filing for divorce and marrying a mail-order bride.

I can't bring myself to be happy for her. What do I do? How can I be happy for the person who means the most to me, but will probably lean on me for more support than I can or want to give? -- BEST FRIEND BLUES IN KENTUCKY

DEAR B.F.B.: Friends do lean on each other for support, but you can only do what you can do. Frankly, I am surprised that she's still with the husband who treated her so shabbily. Help her in those areas that you can, but ultimately understand that she is responsible for her own choices. If she needs more help than you can give her, encourage her to reach out to a professional.

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DEAR ABBY: A colleague of mine was let go a few days ago and it shocked us all. I imagine it was even more shocking to her. She seemed to have a good deal of responsibility outside of her normal role, and from what we saw, she was excellent at her job.

We weren't close friends outside of work, but we would text each other now and again and I consider her someone I would like to keep in touch with. Would it be inappropriate to text her and offer my condolences? -- ETIQUETTE ADVICE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ETIQUETTE: You are entitled to a personal life outside the office. I don't think it would be inappropriate to reach out to her on your own time. As long as you don't discuss it at work, it is your business and no one else's.

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