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by Abigail Van Buren

Ring From First Marriage Has No Place in Second

DEAR ABBY: When I read your response to "Longtime Reader, New York State," it broke my heart.

Abby, when I was 33 and our child was 3, my husband died of cancer. That same year, I met a man whose wife had also died. He had two young children. Gradually we became friends and then we fell in love. Three years later, we married.

At our wedding, we danced to "When somebody loves you, it's no good unless they love you -- all the way."

The woman's husband should NOT continue to wear the ring from his first marriage when he is aware of how much it hurts his second wife. Obviously, he needs help with the grieving process in order to move on and have a successful relationship with his new wife -- all the way.

Abby, please urge "Longtime Reader" to insist that her husband seek grief counseling. That man is fortunate to have a caring woman in his life, and this lady deserves to be loved and respected. -- ALL THE WAY IN L.A.

DEAR ALL THE WAY: I agree. The husband should seek grief counseling and learn to live in the present. However, HE did not write to me -- and whether he would consent to do it is questionable. I am printing your letter with the hope that he'll see it and have a change of heart.

Several readers informed me that my answer was far too charitable to the husband. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: A column of yours contained a letter that hit close to home. "Longtime Reader, New York State" said her husband wore two wedding rings -- the one she gave him and the one given to him by his first wife.

Abby, he shouldn't need to wear that ring to remind him of his dead wife. He has a living reminder -- his daughter.

Wearing that ring while knowing it is hurting his present wife is his way of showing her that she is his second choice, and he wears it to keep her in "her place."

Marriage is supposed to be 50-50, and a marriage bed is supposed to be shared by only two, not three -- even if one of them is a ghost. -- ALMA L. MARTIN, PARADISE, TEXAS

DEAR ALMA: I agree that the husband's behavior is insensitive. However, it's not unheard of for widowers (or widows) to keep mementos of their deceased spouses. Read on for a more sympathetic view:

DEAR ABBY: I admire the man who still wears the wedding band from his deceased wife. Please tell "Longtime Reader" that her husband is who he is partly because of his first marriage, and she need not feel threatened by this part of her husband's past.

My beloved husband passed away after 30 years of marriage. The ring he put on my finger has never been taken off. Three years after his death, a good man I had known for years asked me to become his wife. I said yes, but that the ring from my first marriage would remain on my finger. The dear man said, "I understand. Just put my ring next to it, as I have taken my place next to you now." I wear his ring in front of my late husband's. It has never been removed, either, and it's never been a problem.

"Longtime Reader" is married to a man who values the memory of his deceased wife. So what? She should stop and smell the roses. -- WILLING TO BEND, SYLACAUGA, ALA.

DEAR WILLING TO BEND: That's sound advice. Your husband appears to be a wise and sensitive man.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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