DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Doreen," and daughter-in-law, "Melanie," don't get along. They used to be good friends and went everywhere together. But from the day Doreen learned that her brother was going to marry Melanie, she did a total reversal. My husband and I can't figure out what went wrong. It is very difficult to have a family function now. Doreen comes in and completely ignores both her brother and his wife.
I finally confronted Doreen and asked her to explain. She told me it appears that we care more for Melanie than we do for her. I told her we try to treat everyone in the family the same, but I think Doreen is jealous of Melanie.
Abby, Melanie has always been nice to my husband and to me, and I'm happy our son married her.
The whole family was at my son's house this past weekend for an anniversary dinner he and Melanie gave for us. It just happened to be Melanie's birthday. Neither of my daughters mentioned it or wished her a happy birthday. They had to have known. Although Doreen talked to our son, both of my daughters ignored Melanie.
I'm at my wit's end. I'm at the point of giving up family gatherings. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. -- DISTRAUGHT IN MISSOURI
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: Doreen told you what's bothering her: She views Melanie as a rival who stole her parents' affection.
I suggest you have a talk with Doreen, and this time, instead of telling her that you try to treat everyone equally, reassure her that as your child she is irreplaceable in your heart. Assure her that, as grateful as you are to Melanie for making your son happy, your feelings for her are not the same as a mother has for a daughter.
Remember: Even though Doreen is behaving childishly, you are all adults. In the final analysis, it's up to Doreen to sort out her feelings and patch up the rift she has created.
DEAR ABBY: "Broke in San Francisco" does not necessarily have to level with his girlfriend about his economic situation. I dated a man in the same boat. He solved the problem by using a little imagination.
He took me on romantic picnics and read poetry aloud to me. We went to the beach at sunset and strolled through the surf hand in hand. He took me to art shows, museums, the zoo. He brought me handpicked field flowers artfully arranged in wine bottles and left sweet notes on my windshield. I could go on, but you get the idea.
It eventually dawned on me that he didn't have a lot of money to spend, but I couldn't have cared less. I felt pampered, spoiled and loved. What was this man doing with all the money he saved? He was paying off the mortgage on his home so I would always have a place to live after we were married. -- LUCKY IN INVERNESS
DEAR LUCKY: What a fine tribute to a special man. You were not only lucky, you were wise to hang on to him. Not everyone is as fortunate as you:
DEAR ABBY: I have a solution for "Broke in San Francisco," who cannot afford to wine-and-dine his girlfriend as before. Marry her; then you'll no longer have to take her out. That's what my ex-husband did. -- DISAPPOINTED IN SAN DIEGO
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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