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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Help! My daughter, a medical professional in her 30s who has earned bachelor's and master's degrees from two of the top universities in the country, is involved with a guy who doesn't have a high school diploma (not even a GED). She's now talking marriage to him. He does not now, nor has he to my knowledge ever, held a steady job. He lives with his aging mother.

I can see what's in it for him -- a meal ticket for the rest of his life -- but for the life of me, I can't see what my daughter has to gain from this relationship. He doesn't even talk to her with dignity and respect. I'm just baffled.

Wouldn't you know that she's convinced that her mother and I -- as well as her three siblings -- are all wrong in our assessment of him? We have always contributed to those on welfare, but, Abby, what would compel my daughter to marry a welfare case? Please help me understand. -- STRUGGLING IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR STRUGGLING: Love can sometimes be blind. Your daughter may be so physically attracted to this man that she cannot see beyond it. Or she may have a need to be needed. Or she may need to feel "important," and thinks that having the financial upper hand will assure her security in the marriage. Or she may see some quality in him that you all have overlooked. Not knowing your daughter, I can't judge whether her attraction to him is because of low self-esteem, or because it's so high she doesn't need a man as a status symbol.

DEAR ABBY: My father passed away three months ago. He remarried shortly after our mother died 10 years ago. All of us children were with him at the end. We all loved and cared for him very much.

My concern is, none of us has seen his will. Before Dad remarried, my youngest sister was supposed to be in charge of that. We are guessing that the will was changed. None of us cared for his new wife much, and we don't really want to ask her whether there is a will or not.

How long does it take for a will to be filed after a spouse has passed on? And how can we find out without talking to his second wife? -- CURIOUS IN CINCINNATI

DEAR CURIOUS: Contact your father's attorney. If your youngest sister was "supposed to be in charge of that," she might already know who that person is. That way you won't have to talk to your father's second wife, and your questions will be answered by a legal expert.

DEAR ABBY: Two of my friends are being married a distance away and are having their wedding reception here in Washington, D.C. I received an invitation a few days ago to attend the reception. I like both of them very much. They are upstanding, dedicated, outstanding individuals. They are also both guys.

I am torn. I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Part of me wants to attend because I am friends with them, and if I went I would be polite, charming and come bearing a gift. However, another part of me does not want to attend because I don't believe in what they are doing. What should I do? If I don't attend, am I still responsible for a gift? -- CONFUSED ABOUT ETIQUETTE

DEAR CONFUSED: I am sure that if your friends knew that you disapprove of their marriage, they would find your presence at their reception an act of hypocrisy. So send your regrets for being unable to attend. And because you will not be a part of the festivities, you are under no obligation to send a gift.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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