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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My fiance, "Bob," and I have a problem. It seems like every few days we receive an invitation to a birthday party for someone in his large extended family. Just yesterday, we received an invitation to a joint celebration for both his aunt's birthday (she will be 41) and his cousin, who will be 22. The problem is, none of these people ever send Bob a birthday card. He does receive cards from his immediate family, one of his two grandmothers and my family, but nothing from any of his extended family.

Abby, it hurts him when they forget his birthday, especially when we receive an invitation to yet another family birthday. I don't feel comfortable saying anything to them on his behalf.

Is there anything we can do? -- FEELING FRUSTRATED

DEAR FEELING: Do you send cards to these family members whether or not they're having a party? If you do, then they should reciprocate.

If you want your fiance's family to make a fuss about his birthday, throw him a party and invite them. Far better to perpetuate family traditions than to do nothing and brood because they don't observe your fiance's birthday in the way you think they should.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old male. Three years ago I met a wonderful woman two years my junior. We dated, fell in love and became engaged.

During the last year, we've been arguing about personality differences (disrespectful behavior, selfishness, insecurities -- the usual stuff). We love each other very much; however, we have both behaved inappropriately when we were angry.

She broke off the engagement. I desperately want to work this out, but she's acting very cold and says she's not sure she wants to marry me. I've told her I'm sorry, that the issues we fought about are trivial and we can work them out, but she is hurt and afraid.

Abby, what do I do now? -- STRICKEN IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR STRICKEN: Back off for a while, but try to maintain contact until she calms down. She may change her mind after a cooling-off period.

Meanwhile, the library has many books on relationships. Among them are some that teach couples how to fight "constructively." It's a skill that isn't always taught in public schools or even in many homes, because the majority of people have never learned how to disagree without alienating the other person. Learning this important lesson can help you detour from bumpy roads ahead.

DEAR ABBY: When you have made the suggestion in past columns to offer making a visitor's reservation at a nearby motel -- who is supposed to pay for it?

Is it assumed that the visitor will pay for his own accommodations, or is it assumed that with the offer of making the reservation comes the obligation to pay for it? Thank you for your answer on this one. -- JUST WONDERING

DEAR JUST WONDERING: The visitor should pay the bill for the accommodations.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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