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DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Karl" for nearly two years. We are discussing marriage. The problem is, I can't stand his family. They are rude, unkempt, lazy and opinionated. Karl's family blames me for helping him to overcome his poor social skills and unhealthy lifestyle. Karl has lost a lot of weight since we started dating. He now wears clean clothes and has had his teeth fixed.

I have always wanted a lavish outdoor wedding and reception, but I don't want to invite Karl's family. I am afraid they will ruin it. I think it might be better to have a small civil ceremony. Karl disagrees, and it's causing a rift in our relationship. Please help. -- BEWILDERED IN OHIO

DEAR BEWILDERED: Before your wedding plans go further, you and Karl have some important issues to iron out. For better or worse, those rude, unkempt, lazy, opinionated people are his family. Do you expect him to divorce them in order to marry you? If the answer is yes, tell him now. If the answer no, accept that Karl comes with some heavy baggage that will be difficult to handle, unless a way is found for you to accept his family the way they are. Remember, too, that his parents will be YOUR children's grandparents. So look again before you leap.

DEAR ABBY: I am gay and have been dating "Warren" for more than four years. He's wonderful. The problem is, some members of his family strongly oppose his homosexuality and are rude when we visit his parents.

Because of their overt hostility, I no longer wish to attend these family functions. However, I want Warren to continue to go to the gatherings -- without me. Warren disagrees. He says I should continue to go with him, because the more his family sees us together, the more understanding they'll become.

Do you agree? Should I go to Warren's family gatherings, even though it's clear that I am not welcome? -- HELPLESS IN HARTFORD, CONN.

DEAR HELPLESS: Since this treatment has continued for more than four years, it's obvious Warren's family is not receptive to the two of you as a couple. Warren might try speaking to his parents about this problem, if he hasn't already. But if that doesn't change the atmosphere, I see no reason for either of you to subject yourselves to more rudeness or hostility.

DEAR ABBY: I have been widowed for five years. My neighbor, "Matt," lost his second wife three years ago. We are both in our 60s and have been friendly for two years.

Matt seems convinced that every woman who is nice to him has marriage on her mind. I don't want to remarry -- and he knows it -- but it doesn't seem to matter. He has been in my home numerous times, but nothing comes of it. He seems shy, and I know he is lonely, but he doesn't seem interested in an intimate relationship.

Matt is a wonderful man. I know he and I could be closer if he would just open up a little. People need people, Abby. What do you suggest? -- PEOPLE PERSON IN PEORIA

DEAR PEOPLE PERSON: That you ease up and accept your neighbor for the person he is. Matt may not want an intimate relationship -- or he may be unable to have one.

It's also possible he doesn't want to be hurt again. His reasons are his own, and if you pressure him, you may cause the end of a very nice friendship.

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.)

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

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