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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A few months ago, I met a lovely young lady and we began to date. Soon the relationship was exclusive because we fell in love. Our relationship is perfect except for one thing. We are of different religions. I am Jewish and she is Christian.

Religion is important to both of us, and neither of us wants to convert. We realize that marriage would present problems; however, we don't know if the problems would be so serious that our marriage would fail.

Abby, would our marriage have a chance, or should we go our separate ways before we invest any more time in what could be a disaster? -- TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY

DEAR TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY: Interfaith marriage can be difficult, but the problems are not insurmountable if both partners are willing to communicate honestly and compromise.

Before you make the commitment, there are some issues that you should discuss to determine how important they are to both of you and how you should handle them.

Could she accept it if you want your children raised in the Jewish faith? Could you accept it if it were important to her that the children embrace Christianity? How would you handle the holidays? If you have dietary restrictions, could she accept that? Would your wedding be Jewish or Christian?

It would be a good idea for you and the young woman to meet with both a rabbi and a minister to discuss the differences so that you don't misunderstand each other's religion and expectations. Good luck.

DEAR ABBY: What do you think of sending wedding invitations to every possible acquaintance? I know a gift is supposed to be voluntary, but during the last year I have received invitations from the daughters of casual friends or co-workers. I've met these daughters only once or twice in my entire life. They probably wouldn't know me if they ran into me on the street.

These invitations arrived with cards included that state where the bride is registered, or, in the case of the most recent, stating that contributions could be made to a honeymoon cruise with the check made payable to the cruise line! That one was for a wedding that's three states away. The mother of the bride is fully aware that there's no way I could attend the wedding. It's obvious that a gift or contribution is expected when a card like that is included.

Because I either correspond with the mother of these brides or work with the father, it's very awkward for me not to buy a gift for these events. Yet I would never dream of sending them an invitation to my son's wedding next year, because my son wouldn't know them any better than their daughters know me. Please tell me how to deal with these kinds of invitations. It's emotionally unsettling when one barely has enough funds to buy gifts for actual relatives. -- DESPERATE FOR RELIEF

DEAR DESPERATE: It is inappropriate to include information about where the bride is registered with the invitation to the wedding. The proper way to transmit the information is verbally, in response to an inquiry from someone who has accepted the invitation.

Respond to invitations such as these by sending a card or letter congratulating the happy couple and expressing regret that you will be unable to attend. If you are not attending the wedding, no gift should be expected from you.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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