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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Early this year, my brother and I both announced our engagements and agreed that our wedding dates would be within six months of each other. We're both in our early 20s, still living at home, and our parents are well-to-do.

Immediately after the announcements, our parents told us they could only give me (the bride) $7,000, and my brother would get half that amount. Considering the cost of weddings these days, this would hardly cover 25 percent of the expenses, but there was nothing we could do, so we went along with it. Our parents explained that they were in a tight financial situation at the moment, and this was all they were willing to put out for our weddings.

Exactly one month later, our parents purchased another home! Our family home is already large, but they consider the second house an "investment property." Both my brother and I are extremely hurt by this -- after being told that our parents were in a "financial bind," they were somehow able to scrape up the money for a new house.

Neither of us is planning a very large wedding -- only 150 guests or so -- but some of the money would have to cover our parents' guests, as well as ours. Our parents don't seem to understand this and are standing their ground, saying they have supported us all our lives, but they are not responsible for paying for our weddings.

They have also asked that since we both work, my brother and I start paying them rent until our wedding dates. We feel we should be saving our money at this time, but once again, our parents don't see it that way. I am a 4.0 college graduate, have worked and gone to school at the same time, and have always tried to be the model daughter. Abby, are my brother and I wrong to think that our parents are being selfish? -- SINGING THE WEDDING BELL BLUES

DEAR SINGING: Yes, you are wrong. Please change your tune. A wedding -- or money toward a wedding -- is a GIFT. It is not an entitlement. Your parents have told you what they feel they can comfortably afford. Please accept it like the mature, about-to-marry adults you are.

While it would be wonderful if your parents would support you all the way to the altar, it's clear that for whatever reasons, they feel they can no longer carry that burden. You and your brother are over 21 and ready to build futures of your own. It's time to grow up and accept the responsibilities your parents are asking you to take on without sulking.

DEAR ABBY: I am 19 and dating a 25-year-old married man. Three months ago he left his wife and moved closer to me. We were spending 24/7 together -- and it was wonderful.

A few weeks ago, he decided that for the sake of his three children he would give his marriage another chance. Now he is back living with his family and seeing me on the side. I'm heartbroken. We were just getting somewhere, and now I'm back at "square one" -- alone most of the time.

I've tried staying away from him, but I can't. I know in my heart that he will leave his wife soon, and we'll be 24/7 again. Abby, what if he comes back to me, and then changes his mind again? -- HURT AND CONFUSED

DEAR HURT: What IF? If you think this romance is going anywhere, you're dreaming. Stop wasting your time. Your lover made his choice when he returned to his family. Trust me, the time has come to accept reality and go on with your life.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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