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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Must Mingle Single When Husband Stays Home

DEAR ABBY: I am a 40-something female personnel recruiter. I have worked for the same company for many years. Once or twice a year, our employers host a party for all employees and their spouses. I love going because it gives me a chance to get to know the wives of the men I work with.

The problem is my husband, "Brad," hates going to these events. Brad claims he has nothing in common with my fellow employees -- or their spouses -- and doesn't feel comfortable mingling. I say he should be able to find something to talk about with someone. He has accompanied me for umpteen years and happens to be in the same profession as a number of the spouses. And then there's always sports -- that's a subject he could talk about in his sleep.

When Brad has gone with me in the past, he has always complained afterward that I didn't pay enough attention to him and that he felt awkward being left alone. I do circulate, but always try to introduce Brad around and bring him into the conversation with people he's meeting for the first time.

This year, he's insisting I go alone, and I'm very disappointed. I would hate to have to lie to my employers and co-workers as to why I'm there solo, but I could never tell them the truth about why Brad didn't want to come.

What irks me is that I'm willing to go with him to his work parties, even if I feel uncomfortable and just stand around with a frozen smile on my face. At least I'm there for my husband. So why can't Brad do the same for me, Abby? Am I wrong to push this issue -- or should I throw in the towel and go without him? -- TROUBLED WIFE IN RIVERHEAD, N.Y.

DEAR TROUBLED WIFE: Your husband has "done the same for you" and it hasn't worked out. He's miserable. Out of the kindness of your heart, go solo this year. I'm sure he'll be grateful. If you are asked about his absence, tell your co-workers that "Brad has other plans." You don't have to say his plans include watching TV in his pajamas. And if anyone asks to be remembered to your husband -- relay the message. Perhaps if he knows someone missed him, he'll feel more comfortable attending next year.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Tony," my 36-year-old never-married boyfriend, for two years. I am divorced with a teenage daughter, "Skylar."

Every summer Tony's entire family gets together at his parents' lakeshore home. Last year I went with him for a long weekend, but didn't take my daughter. This year, however, I've been invited for a week, and I'd like to bring Skylar along.

The problem is Tony's mother doesn't want my daughter to come. She says her three granddaughters need to bond with each other, and if Skylar were included in the visit, the "mix" wouldn't work.

Abby, those girls are the same age as Skylar. They have all met previously and they like each other. Naturally, I'm not going now. Tony will be leaving soon for the weeklong stay, and he doesn't understand why I'm upset over this. Do you think my feelings are justified? -- MAD IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR MAD: Absolutely. The refusal of Tony's mother to accept your daughter is a veiled rejection of you. Even if you and Tony were to marry, his mother would still try to create a wedge between the girls, because she views Skylar as an outsider. Until Tony finds the backbone to stand up to his mother, you'd be wise to rethink the relationship.

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