DEAR ABBY: I am 21 and have a complicated problem. My mother, whom I love very much and who is one of the most wonderful women ever, has, at 41, found herself in a very difficult situation.
She recently confided to me that her marriage of almost 12 years to my stepfather has been extremely unsatisfactory -- especially in the bedroom. He has absolutely no interest in the deed at all, and, as a normal, red-blooded woman, she does.
I suggested they seek professional guidance, but they have yet to do so. To further confuse the situation, Mom has found herself attracted to a 28-year-old co-worker who is also very attracted to her and has made his feelings known.
I am not sure how to advise her about this. On the one hand, it's wrong to have an affair. But on the other hand, you only get one life, and I want her to be happy. Mom is a wonderful woman and deserves everything good in life, and I don't know what to tell her. Please help, Abby. -- IN A HOT SPOT IN TUCSON
DEAR IN A HOT SPOT: Your mother may be a "wonderful woman," but it was extremely inappropriate of her to try to involve you in her sex life. Please don't give this your blessing, or the person who will get the blame for it later is YOU.
Tell her again that she needs to resolve this problem with her husband and a marriage counselor. It's the mature way of handling the kind of problem she's dealing with.
DEAR ABBY: My sister and I are throwing a large 40th anniversary/60th birthday party for my parents and sending them on a trip as our gift to them.
In lieu of gifts, my sister sent out invitations that stated we would instead be graciously accepting donations to help pay for the trip. Because the range of donations will vary from person to person, my sister has decided to give Mother a list detailing the amount given by each guest. She feels that because some folks may go "above and beyond" what others donate, our mother needs to know who the most generous gifts come from.
I am vehemently opposed to the idea. I feel that any donation that helps to pay for the trip is "above and beyond" anyone's obligation, and that their being part of the celebration is enough -- regardless of how much they give.
I see no reason for my parents ever to know who gives what, and think that my sister sharing the information is in terrible taste. Your thoughts, please? -- EMBARRASSED IN PITTSFORD, N.Y.
DEAR EMBARRASSED: If the party and trip are a gift from you and your sister, I am mystified as to why the guests are asked to make contributions to foot the bill. I agree that any donation that will help to pay for the trip is above and beyond anyone's "obligation," and for your sister to give your parents an accounting of what each guest forks over would be tacky in the extreme.
DEAR ABBY: A good friend of mine from work and her family are from Romania. They moved to the United States nine years ago. She, her husband and son have all just become U.S. citizens. I am happy for them and proud to know them.
I would like to get them a gift in celebration, and I'm not sure what would be appropriate. Could you suggest something that you think would work? I'd appreciate any input you would give. -- PROUD OF MY FRIEND, BROWNTOWN, WIS.
DEAR PROUD: How about giving them an American flag?
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