DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law, "Dale," was planning a surprise 40th birthday party for my sister, "Linda." I found out about the party one week before it happened. Dale made a point of telling everyone he invited not to tell me about it because he knew I would tell Linda and spoil the surprise. My husband was also in on it and said nothing about it until the week before the party.
Linda is my sister, and I know how much this party meant to Dale and the surprise was also important. However, I cannot forgive my brother-in-law for going out of his way to tell people not to tell me. In the end, I heard nonstop comments about it, and wasn't even involved in the planning of my only sister's big party.
When Linda found out, she was also upset with Dale. I no longer speak to him. I'm still angry at being excluded from the planning and the fact that he made it a point to tell everyone why. All of us have problems keeping some secrets, but a secret like a surprise party could have been kept from my sister. This whole issue is causing tension between Linda and me, and Dale has made no effort in reconciling this issue. Am I wrong in feeling this way toward Dale? Should I continue to dislike him about it? -- FURIOUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR FURIOUS: You stated clearly that you have a reputation for not keeping secrets. It was important to your brother-in-law that the party be a surprise. I think he acted prudently in keeping you out of the loop as long as he could. If you are looking for someone to blame, look in the mirror.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Elmo," hid money from me for more than a year. When we did our taxes this year, $11,000 of what he earned was unaccounted for. He said he kept it for his "security," and he doesn't think he did anything wrong or that he lied or deceived me. He said the money was his to do with as he wished, without my knowledge or consent.
Abby, during our eight years of marriage, I have never hidden any money from Elmo. At times I have supported both of us because of his frequent illnesses, or the fact that he was out of a job, or simply didn't earn a decent salary. There is more to our problems, but this was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I feel I have been deceived and lied to, and we have separated over it. For my peace of mind, shouldn't he have to acknowledge what he did -- or am I overreacting? We have been to marriage counseling several times, and this is our second separation. I need a third-party opinion. -- ELMO'S WIFE IN ARIZONA
DEAR ELMO'S WIFE: It has been my experience that people who are secretive usually have something to hide. Most couples who pool their money give themselves some kind of "allowance" to do with as they wish, and do not have to account to each other for every penny. Because your husband deliberately kept the information from you, I have to agree that his actions were deceptive. But getting him to admit that fact may be more trouble than it's worth. So please accept that "You're right," the words you are longing to hear your husband say, may never pass his lips.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600