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by Abigail Van Buren

Deceased Wife's Relatives Keep Husband in the Family

DEAR ABBY: My high school sweetheart and I reunited and married after his wife of eight years died of breast cancer. She was only 39. They had a sweet little girl together, and I brought my two little ones into our new relationship. We have been together for five years and are a very happy blended family.

My husband's former wife -- I'll call her Nicki -- was very close to her parents and siblings. After Nicki's death, they continued their strong relationship with their granddaughter and my husband, and were very accepting of me and my children when we joined the family.

However, one issue troubles me just a bit: Nicki's parents and siblings continue to address my husband as "son-in-law" or "brother-in-law." I know they loved their daughter, and I respect their feelings, but "till death do us part" means just that, and sadly, the title son-in-law died with their daughter. I feel their continued use of this term shows a lack of respect for me and our marriage.

What do you think about this? -- "AUTUMN" IN NEW YORK

DEAR AUTUMN: Lack of respect? Bonds of love are not severed by death. Nicki's family welcomed you. Are you LOOKING for trouble? If the answer is yes, keep dwelling on this imagined slight, and you'll have unhappiness, dissatisfaction and discord in abundance.

DEAR ABBY: I have a very dear friend, "Lois," who lives 600 miles from me. I visit her once or twice a year. She tries to make me feel welcome and comfortable. However, there's one big problem: her St. Bernard, "Bud."

When we sit down to eat, Bud stares at me face-to-face. His doggy breath wafts over my plate. He steals my food if I don't watch him closely.

Lois scolds him, but Bud ignores her. Then she looks at me with an "I'm sorry" expression and does nothing.

I think it is very rude to allow a dog to act this way. Lois could put Bud in another room or on the screened-in porch while we're eating, but she doesn't. This has made me so uncomfortable that I don't think I can bear another visit.

Abby, please print your opinion. Maybe Lois will read it in the paper and recognize herself. Thank you. -- DOGGONE DISGUSTED IN ALABAMA

DEAR DISGUSTED: I don't blame you for being disgusted. Dogs are pack animals -- and Bud is clearly "top dog" in Lois' household. Your friend should have asserted her dominance and exercised some discipline with her dog long ago.

You would be doing Lois a favor to level with her. And in the future, you'd be doing yourself a favor to stay in a hotel and arrange to have your meals with her away from the house until she teaches her pet some manners.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "SCARED ABOUT THE NEW JOB": Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic. (Submitted by David Broome)

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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