DEAR ABBY: I recently became engaged to marry for the second time. I am still close to my former husband's parents and would like to invite them to my wedding. I think they would be hurt if I didn't. My fiance has no problem with their attendance.
A few people have said that it would be ridiculous and improper to invite them to the wedding and reception. A friend suggested that with a sticky situation like this, I should ask you what to do. -- BRIDE IN MANCHESTER, N.H.
DEAR BRIDE: Since your fiance is comfortable with your inviting your former in-laws to your wedding, and you sincerely want them to attend, invite them. Although it is somewhat unusual for a former daughter-in-law to remain so close to her in-laws, it is a testimony to the respect and affection you have maintained for each other in spite of the marital problems you had with their son.
DEAR ABBY: When I saw the letter from "Forgotten Daughter," whose family is in turmoil due to her dad's infidelities, I had to respond. Call this letter a plea to parents who are contemplating having affairs.
When I was 13, my dad started having an affair with a younger woman and left my mom. My reaction to the situation was to cut school, shoplift and drink. This apparently isn't unusual, if you pay attention to the statistics or watch talk shows. The reality was that Dad did not have an affair on my mom. He cheated on the whole family.
Many cheating spouses say, "This is between my spouse and me, and it has nothing to do with the children." The truth is, it has everything to do with the children. Men or women who are considering having an affair need to stop and think beyond their own selfish needs, and consider the havoc it will wreak on the lives of their children. The message they're sending to their kids is, "This affair, which is based on sex, means more to me than creating a safe and loving environment for you." Children aren't equipped with the coping skills necessary to come through an affair unscathed. (Neither are many adults, for that matter.)
If your marriage is unsatisfactory, seek counseling with your spouse. If divorce is inevitable, seek family counseling to help your kids through the transition. But please, for heaven's sake, wait until the divorce papers are signed before beginning another relationship. Your children deserve that courtesy. Their very lives may depend upon it.
What was the outcome in our family? Dad moved back in with us two years later, with no explanation to the kids. I was in therapy for several years, trying to learn to trust men and to love again. My mother lost huge chunks of her self-esteem that she is just now retrieving, after 20 years. And my brother committed suicide.
I hope it was worth it, Dad. -- A SURVIVOR IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SURVIVOR: Your parents' inability to discuss their separation and reconciliation with you and your brother was deplorable. It is clear from your letter that you still harbor enormous hostility about the way it was handled. I hope that one day you will find it in your heart to forgive and move on, because nurturing bitterness will only corrode your future.
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