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by Abigail Van Buren

Suspicious Daughter Is Wrong About Dad's 'Conniving Woman'

DEAR ABBY: I have been divorced for four years. About nine months ago, I met "Cecil," a wonderful man who was widowed three years ago. We have fallen in love.

The problem is his adult daughter, "Wanda." She told me she won't allow some "conniving woman" to get her hooks into her father. She says falling in love with me is an insult to her mother's memory. Wanda made it plain she feels I am with her father only because I'm after his money. Cecil is comfortable financially, although not wealthy.

Now that she's aware that we have become serious, Wanda has begun trying to instill guilt and shame in her father. This is exceedingly difficult for him because Wanda is his only child.

What his daughter fails to understand is that I am secure financially. My home is paid off. I have assets and investments, a comfortable income and a future pension. I would be proud to become Cecil's wife, but if he were to ask me to continue our relationship without marriage, I would stay with him. Furthermore, if he proposed and wanted a pre-nup, I would gladly sign one.

I stand ready to love not only him, but also Wanda, if she could only open her heart to me -- not as a replacement for her mother, but as a loving, caring friend. What she does not know is that her parents never had the happy marriage she thought they did. They stayed together largely because of her.

What do you advise? I don't want to have to walk away so Cecil won't have to lose his daughter. -- LOVES HIM FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS

DEAR LOVES HIM: Unless Cecil wants to spend the rest of his life alone in order to please Wanda, he has some serious thinking to do. He fulfilled his marriage vows and is entitled to a full life. He should make that clear to his daughter, who appears to have some growing up to do.

So stand your ground, and be prepared to lay all your cards on the table. I can't promise it will completely allay Wanda's concerns, but it might put some of them to rest. If that's not the case, then so be it.