DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Dan," and I have been married for 10 years. We are childless by choice and happy with our decision. Recently, at a family gathering, Dan's sister put us on the spot by asking us to be the guardians of her two small children should anything happen to her and her husband.
Dan agreed without discussing it with me, and I was furious. The whole thing made me very uncomfortable. We talked it over, and Dan confided that he wasn't comfortable with it either. However, he thinks we shouldn't worry about something that probably won't happen.
Abby, if something DID happen to my sister-in-law and her husband, it certainly wouldn't be the right time to announce that Dan and I had changed our minds about caring for their kids. Dan and his sister come from a large family, so there's no shortage of more qualified candidates.
What should I do? Should I go along with my husband on this or put a stop to it now? -- RELUCTANT GUARDIAN ON THE EAST COAST
DEAR RELUCTANT: You and your husband MUST tell his sister and her husband that after giving it careful thought, you are unable to make the kind of commitment for which they are asking. Explain that you are honored they asked you, and will make sure the children are provided for -- but you cannot be the primary caregivers.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 33-year-old mother of two little girls and a teenage stepson. This is my second marriage. It has lasted eight unhappy years, but I've stuck it out. My husband and I went to counseling and tried all the things you do when a relationship is failing; nothing has worked.
Recently, I started calling "Paul," my high school sweetheart, and things are blooming. We are both unhappy in our marriages. We have told each other we don't want to give up what we have -- only because we're both secure and comfortable.
Paul and I haven't seen each other since we were 18. (We live on opposite coasts.) So far, all we've done is talk on the phone, but things are definitely heating up. What now, Abby? -- UNHAPPY EAST COAST WIFE
DEAR UNHAPPY WIFE: Now it's time to realize that you are no longer 18 -- and teenage romances are highly idealized. It is also time to tally up what you both have to lose, should this progress into an affair. Before you make an irrevocable mistake, and in fairness to both of your spouses, go to another counselor and try to get your marriage back on track. This may not be what you want to hear, but it's the best advice I can offer.
DEAR ABBY: My husband's parents are wonderful people whom I've grown to love in the 12 years I've been married to their son. The problem is, every time we go out to dinner or stay overnight somewhere, they insist on paying for everything.
My in-laws have three grown children with good jobs. But every time the check arrives, it becomes a major fight.
Last weekend, my husband and I took his folks on an overnight trip for their anniversary. They knew ahead of time that it was our gift and we were going to pay. However, when we checked out, the desk clerk told us the rooms had "already been taken care of."
How should we handle this in the future, Abby? Should we give up and allow Mom and Pop to pay all the time? -- TIRED OF IT IN POMPANO BEACH, FLA.
DEAR TIRED OF IT: Probably. Your in-laws regard you and your husband as "the kids." They can afford it, and they still see their role to be providers. I'm sure they mean no offense, but they probably don't realize how heavy the burden of gratitude can weigh after a while. Since you cannot change them, rather than cause a scene, accept graciously and let it go.
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