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DEAR ABBY: I'm planning my wedding for the spring of next year. My fiance has lined up his groomsmen. I still have two more bridesmaids to ask. Unfortunately, there is a problem.

My fiance's brother (who is one of his groomsmen) hit his wife in the face with his fist, breaking blood vessels and leaving terrible bruises around her eyes. I do not approve of this violent behavior and told my fiance that I do not want his brother in our wedding.

My fiance is leaving it up to me to tell him because we're not supposed to know about this horrible "family secret." What should I do, Abby? Make up something -- or let him be in the wedding anyway? I don't want to start our marriage off with tension between me and my new in-laws. -- WANTS EVERYTHING PEACHY IN GEORGIA

DEAR WANTS EVERYTHING PEACHY: This is more advice than you asked for, but before you make any more wedding plans, you'd be wise to find out much more about this "family secret." How long has there been a history of violence in the family? Did your fiance grow up in a home where it was normal? Was he beaten as a child? If the answer to those questions is yes, you and he have serious issues to work out before you marry.

If it turns out that wife-beating is a trait unique to your brother-in-law, your fiance should insist he seek professional counseling and attend anger management classes before the wedding. The responsibility for dealing with this troubled man belongs to your fiance. It should not be delegated to you.

DEAR ABBY: Having read the column of reader reaction to the 52-year-old woman who wondered if she should marry the older man, I would like to comment. I speak from experience. I, too, am 52, and have been married to a 70-year-old man for 2 1/2 years. What happiness! He is not old ... he is "old enough":

Old enough to appreciate and accommodate our differences, as well as our shared views and habits.

Old enough to be truly patient with my faults.,

Old enough to lovingly accept my aging body.

Old enough to manage our finances wisely.

Old enough to encourage me to maintain contact with longtime friends.

Old enough to never feel threatened by the independence he gives me.

And caring enough to unselfishly prepare my meals almost daily because I must still work. (Oh, how I look forward to going home for lunch each day, and how precious to return to him after work each evening!)

Abby, marrying him was the best decision I ever made. -- B.M.P. IN OLATHE, KAN.

DEAR B.M.P.: What a beautiful tribute to your husband. I couldn't resist setting it up as the love poem that it is. May you enjoy many happy, healthy years together.

DEAR ABBY: During my grandson's third birthday party last weekend, he became agitated and cranky. Some of the adult guests called him "monster," "brat" and "Satan."

I have heard him called these names before under similar circumstances, but this time I lost it! I'm afraid I made a scene -- partly because I feel that name-calling is verbal abuse, and it can have long-lasting effects on someone so young.

Abby, was I wrong? I should add that 99 percent of the time, my grandson is extremely well-behaved and a happy, polite and well-adjusted child. -- WISCONSIN GRANDMA

DEAR WISCONSIN GRANDMA: You were not wrong to defend your grandson. However, you were wrong to have allowed yourself to have "lost it." There is now no doubt who the little boy takes after.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, 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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