Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced woman with two teen-age daughters at home. Recently I became engaged to a wonderful man. My fiance lives in another city and has a better-paying job than I do, so I plan to move after we marry.

The problem is my 14-year-old daughter, "Ryan." She refuses to even discuss the possibility of moving. I understand the transition may be hard for her, but she is a minor and I am the custodial parent.

Ryan has informed me that she has talked to her father about moving in with him so as not to leave her friends and school. Her father is an alcoholic and to this day refuses to get help. The reason we split up was that he was physically abusive to me.

Abby, I cannot in good conscience leave my daughter with him, so my only choice is to wait until Ryan finishes high school to be married. This is putting a huge strain on my relationship with my fiance, but I don't know what else to do.


DEAR DESPERATE: You are the adult -- the custodial parent. The time to move is now, before your daughter becomes socially established in high school.

Ryan owes it to you to move with you and her sister and try it for a year. If, after that, she hasn't adjusted -- then it will be time to discuss other living arrangements.

DEAR ABBY: I recently moved to a small town in Texas, in order to marry a man, "Kenny," who has lived here all his life. This will be his second marriage and my first.

The problem? Everywhere I go -- the beauty shop, the market, church, get-togethers with Kenny's friends, you name it -- someone always brings up his ex-wife.

When Kenny and I announced our engagement, one of the girls at a church potluck complimented me on my ring. Then a guy piped up, "Well, Kenny ought to be good at picking rings out by now!" Abby, it ruined the entire moment. This happens all the time.

Will I forever live in the shadow of my fiance's first wife? What can I do to change it? Please don't reveal my name or city -- everyone in town would know it was me. -- IRRITATED IN A SMALL TOWN

DEAR IRRITATED: You don't have to live in the shadow of anyone unless you choose to. However, what you are experiencing is not unusual when you have a "recycled" fiance.

Accept the fact that, in an attempt at humor, people sometimes say thoughtless things. It may take time, but eventually the local folk will stop associating your husband-to-be with his former spouse.

In the meantime, keep your sense of humor and remember that Kenny is yours -- and you have the ring to prove it.

DEAR ABBY: My husband died one month after my daughter was married five years ago. After he died, I gave his expensive watch and gold ring to my son-in-law, "Cyrus." Unfortunately, my daughter and Cyrus are now splitting up. He has asked for a divorce and is moving to another state.

Abby, I would like my husband's jewelry back. However, I have always heard that once a gift is given you cannot ask for it to be returned. The jewelry has sentimental value, and I want it in our family. Under the circumstances, is it wrong to ask Cyrus to give it back to me? -- DOUBLY-SAD MOM

DEAR DOUBLY-SAD: By all means ask your son-in-law to return the items because of their sentimental value. However, you are right, once a gift is given it belongs to the receiver. Sweeten the pot by offering to replace the jewelry.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600