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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Should Stand Firm Against in Laws' Ultimatum

DEAR ABBY: I just finished the letter from "Marriage Bound and in a Bind," the young Catholic woman who is engaged to Harvey, the Jewish gentleman whose parents refuse to attend their wedding if a priest is present.

Abby, this is not a problem that requires counseling as you advised. The issue here is whether this young woman is marrying the right man -- a man who will stand with her against opposition from the outside. There doesn't need to be any "meeting of the minds" with regard to the parents and the couple. The engaged couple should make their own decisions jointly and stand united against any opposition from either set of parents.

If Harvey and his bride have decided to marry with a priest and a rabbi in attendance, that is their decision. Were we faced with the same quandary, my husband's and my response to anyone who tried to blackmail us with, "We won't come if ..." would be, "Then we will miss you on our special day."

Harvey's parents have put him into the position of having to choose. My guess is that it is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last. Mama and Papa want Harvey to marry a nice Jewish girl, and no amount of compromise on "In a Bind's" part will make them happy, because she's the "wrong" religion.

Take my word for it, if these two back down now, his parents will run their life. They'll tell them where to live, where to work, how to raise their children ... the list goes on and on. Now is the time for "In a Bind" to discover if she's engaged to the right man. Somehow, I doubt she is. -- WON'T DO IT AGAIN IN BRIDGEPORT, CONN.

DEAR WON'T DO IT AGAIN: I was hoping the young couple could make his parents see reason by being conciliatory. However, a slew of readers agreed with you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You advised "In a Bind" to get both sets of parents together socially, and that she and her fiance seek premarital counseling -- preferably from a nondenominational counselor. I disagree!

If that young man can't stand up to his parents for one day -- his own wedding day -- how will he handle their demands over the next few decades? Will there be a battle every December -- blue lights on a Christmas tree and red and green candles on the menorah? How about a Passover bunny? And bedtime prayers? The possible conflicts are endless. -- OLDER AND WISER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR OLDER AND WISER: I see what you mean. Of course, that wouldn't happen if she converted -- which is what his parents may be angling for.

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the young Catholic woman marrying the Jewish man, please suggest that she obtain three copies of Cokie and Steve Roberts' book, "From This Day Forward," one for each set of parents and one for the couple. The book includes a lovely and compelling description of their Jewish-Catholic marriage (with kids). -- TRYING TO HELP IN RENO

DEAR TRYING TO HELP: I have heard the book is wonderful, but one copy for "In a Bind" would be enough. Her parents seem to be accepting of the union. And his parents do not appear to be open to any opinion other than their own. They have my sympathy, by the way, because many Jewish people feel the greatest threat to Judaism in the United States is assimilation.