DEAR ABBY: I have been engaged to a widower I'll call "Grant" for about a year. Grant's wife, "Lilly," has been gone for 15 years. He talks about her frequently, which is OK with me. Lilly was an important part of his life for a long time.
My problem is, I feel I can never quite measure up to her. When we're out in public, he frequently refers to "his late wife," which makes me a bit uncomfortable. Recently he told me in conversation, "Do I wish I had never met you and Lilly was still alive? Absolutely!" It came out of the blue and hit me like a lead balloon.
I understand that Grant wishes his late wife were still alive, but did he have to say, "Do I wish I had never met you?" He is also critical of me and puts me down rather often. When I became upset about his comment, he acted like I was overreacting and overly sensitive.
I feel so hurt. I don't even know if I want to be with Grant anymore. Please give me some advice. My self-esteem is at an all-time low, and I am very depressed. -- UNDERVALUED IN PANAMA CITY, FLA.
DEAR UNDERVALUED: Is it possible that your fiance's comment was in response to something you said to him? (Example: "Grant, you bring up Lilly so often it makes me feel like you wish you had never met me ...")
It appears your fiance isn't particularly sensitive to your feelings and isn't likely to change. However, what troubles me more about your letter than the fact that Grant lacks tact and often refers to his late wife -- with whom he obviously had a lot of history -- is the fact that he puts you down and then blames you for reacting. If this is what you would tolerate in a husband, then you're a glutton for punishment.
DEAR ABBY: We recently invited friends to join us at a special event plus dinner. As plans are coming together, I find that their adult children and spouses have been invited to join us.
Am I wrong in thinking when you invite your friends to a special event, dinner, etc., that it's inconsiderate for them to ask other people to join the party? If I had wanted to spend the evening with their children -- or anybody else -- I'd have included them, but I didn't. I wanted to spend the evening with the people with whom I initiated the plans.
I'm hoping my letter will be published and those folks will recognize themselves. I still plan to go and will grin and bear it, but it's frustrating. What is your advice? -- REALLY ANNOYED, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
DEAR REALLY ANNOYED: Please do not rely too heavily on the people you mentioned reading your letter and recognizing themselves. Dear Abby readers are considerate, and the majority of them abide by the rules of etiquette -- at least the majority of the time.
What your guests did was extremely presumptuous. Perhaps they don't recognize that their "children" are individuals and not simply extensions of themselves. You are a good sport to go along with their co-opting your evening, but the next time you invite them out, state plainly that you want it to be "just the four of you." No need to be nasty -- just clarify.
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