DEAR ABBY: I am a 38-year-old woman with two daughters, 17 and 13. I've been divorced for eight months, but the marriage was dead 10 years ago. Most of that time, I have slept on the couch. Although my daughters never saw me hold hands, kiss, or show any kind of affection toward their father, I'm not sure they realized how unhappy our marriage was, and they were upset when we divorced.
I met "Andy" while separated but still legally married. We have fallen in love and want to marry in about six months. However, my daughters are not crazy about him and think I should date others.
Andy and I have been looking at engagement rings. I'm worried that if I just show up with a ring on my finger, my daughters will be upset. They don't like it when they see Andy and me being affectionate with each other, and I'm not sure they know how serious we are. When should I tell them? I've been somewhat of a pushover in the past, but I won't budge on this. Andy and I love each other and we will be married. -- FUTURE FIANCEE
DEAR FUTURE FIANCEE: Forewarn your daughters and explain, without blaming or belittling their father, that you are seizing this opportunity for a happy future. If they're not forthcoming, make it clear that just as you treat their friends with respect, you expect the same from them with regard to your future husband. Reassure them that your love for them won't change, and ask for their blessings.
DEAR ABBY: I have begun a weight-loss program after having been seriously overweight for many years. This time I seem to be on the right track because it's working.
When I go to a dinner party, is it OK to take a cooked chicken breast with me and give it to my hostess to serve to me? It would not be putting her out, as I would have already cooked it. I cannot eat ham, roasts or steaks, but I don't want to miss being with my friends.
Please answer ASAP because the holidays are upon us. -- MOTIVATED IN MICHIGAN
DEAR MOTIVATED: I admire your determination in negotiating the holiday minefields. You certainly may take your specially prepared food with you, but warn your hostess when you accept the invitation, so she won't be offended. Most guests will respect and admire your efforts to lose weight. And nuts to those who would criticize you!
DEAR ABBY: I went into shock when I read the letter from "Stressed Daughter in Florida." She perfectly described my mother, who insisted on living with me rather than in the apartment next door.
My mother had money and was in excellent health, but couldn't keep a friend. She would eat only certain foods. My life was hell if I went out with friends and didn't include her. Her lies to my friends caused a lot of heartache.
Please tell "Stressed Daughter" to say "NO" and not back down. I've been there and know how it feels. My mother died five months ago after four years with me. I am still recuperating mentally, physically and spiritually. I would not say "yes" again. Thank God, I'm free at last. Hell is gone, heaven has returned. Sign me ... NEVER AGAIN IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR NEVER AGAIN: I advised "Stressed Daughter" to stand her ground and not back down. If she had any doubts before, seeing your story should convince her.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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