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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Oscar" and I have been married for three years. We have had many ups and downs and a few near-separations, but we're now on a better path and working hard on our relationship.

Because my friends have seen the rocky times Oscar and I have been through, they are not as nice to him as I'd like. In particular, this applies to my best friend, "Tish," and her husband.

I have tried many times to get us together on double dates, but they always refuse. They socialize with other couples, but refuse to associate with Oscar and me beyond birthday and holiday celebrations.

I'd love to have my friends and my husband all together for other social functions. What can I do, if anything? -- IN THE MIDDLE IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: Frankly, you can forget having the idealized relationship with Tish and her husband that you're looking for. When you confided all the ups and downs you were experiencing with Oscar to them, they lost respect for him. Whether your husband will ever earn it back is questionable. Sometimes that's the price you pay when you unload your marital problems on your friends instead of working them out with your husband and a counselor.

DEAR ABBY: I recently canceled a party that has been an annual event. I did it because, of 20 invitations I mailed out, only three individuals bothered to respond by the requested RSVP date. This has happened before, and I am tired of trying to guess how many will attend.

Some years I have been left with too much food, which went to waste. Other years there wasn't enough to go around. Now, some of the invitees are upset. I am getting comments like, "I was going to reply," or "You know we ALWAYS come, so we didn't think we needed to reply." I have also received e-mails bemoaning the fact that I have ruined what was always a fun event.

I refuse to allow them to bully me into throwing the party or feel like an ogre for canceling it. And no, I am not asking for advice. I just needed a place to vent about the cluelessness that seems rampant in our society. -- NOT A PSYCHIC IN ST. LOUIS, MO.

DEAR NOT A PSYCHIC: Because you're not asking for my advice, I won't offer any. However, I'm glad you wrote to vent because that's what I'm here for, and it gives me a chance to remind readers that when they receive an invitation with "RSVP" on it, the RSVP means they should inform their prospective host as soon as possible whether or not they will attend. Not to do so is rude, rude, rude.

DEAR ABBY: My work with seniors often places me in contact with caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's. One woman told me about a gift she received from her son that I think is worth passing along.

Abby, he gave her "Tuesdays." He boxed the word, wrapped it nicely and ceremoniously presented it to her. Now, every Tuesday, she can participate in her church group without having to worry about rushing home to take care of her husband. She can have lunch with her friends, or do whatever she wants. She said that it's the best gift she has ever received. -- JANE IN MENLO PARK, CALIF.

DEAR JANE: Her son's gift shows compassion and insight. What he really gave his mother was the gift of peace of mind, and it is one that may add years -- and quality -- to her life.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)