DEAR ABBY: I could not disagree with you more strongly regarding your advice to "Worried About My Friend," who doesn't want to be in her friend's wedding. She told you she thought her friend's fiance was abusive, and the marriage would be the biggest mistake of her friend's life. You told her to be there for the bride on her big day and afterward, in case she had to help her pick up the pieces of her broken heart -- that's what friends are for.
Abby, a friend should speak up when a friend is about to make a terrible mistake. Most of us need help when making important choices. We may not see ourselves -- or people with whom we are in love -- as others do. We lack objectivity.
In my opinion, a true friend values the friend over the friendship. Risking the friendship for the sake of the friend can be an act of great love.
Anyone considering giving this kind of advice takes the risk of rejection, embarrassment or error. When making a decision to offer advice, one should ask: "Is my decision made to help my friend? Is it motivated by love?"
You may be right, Abby, that it's unlikely anyone with wedding plans will listen to such advice, but it's not impossible. Some may listen. For the sake of those, I hope you will publish my letter. Friends are not just for picking up the pieces of a broken heart. They are also for trying to catch that heart before it shatters on the hard pavement of a poor discernment process. -- (REV.) RICHARD G. FRANCESCO, PASTOR, ST. BENEDICT CHURCH, NEWARK, N.J.
DEAR FR. FRANCESCO: You are a wise and caring religious adviser, and I'm pleased to print your letter. However, I think your timing is off.
While it is never pleasant to hear that one's friends think the object of our affections is an unworthy jerk, the time to speak up is while the two are dating.
By the time the wedding plans are being made, most brides are deaf to anything beyond the sound of wedding bells and will probably react defensively to criticism of their intended -- preferring instead to believe the friend is jealous, overly judgmental or has ulterior motives. Furthermore, many young women would be reluctant to face the potential embarrassment of calling off a wedding once the announcement has been made.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a longtime reader wishing I'd been a heeder. I don't know how many times I've read in your column the advice, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." This is especially true when dealing with relatives.
Last fall my brother desperately needed a loan to get out of financial trouble with the IRS. Ignoring my first instinct, I sent him the money. He assured me this would solve his problems and that he would be able to pay me back in full by May or June of this year. Guess what? Those dates are past and I haven't been repaid.
I've lost more than money. I've also lost all respect and trust I once had for my brother. Also, I feel like an idiot for allowing him to prey on my sympathy. He's made me look like a fool in front of my wife.
Say it again, Abby: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I don't know who this sage advice is attributed to, but sign me ... POORER RICHARD IN FLORIDA
DEAR POORER RICHARD: The quote is from "Hamlet," written by William Shakespeare, and the line that follows it is, "For loan oft loses both itself and friend." Prophetic words, indeed.
You were not foolish to help your brother, although you would have been wiser to have documented the loan in a businesslike fashion. However, since you didn't, you may have to chalk it up to tuition in the school of experience.
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