DEAR ABBY: I return to my hometown at least twice a year to visit my large extended family. When I do, I have tried to make time for my oldest friend, "Judith," whom I have known since kindergarten. In the past we have gotten together for a few hours here and there -- for dinner, coffee or whatever. She's great company, and we have fun together.
I'd like to spend more time with Judith, but Mom and Dad are close to 90 and there are many other relatives on my and my husband's side to see, which takes up most of our time.
Years ago, we tried to see all our friends, but more recently we have limited it to Judith and her husband and occasionally include a mutual friend.
Judith just e-mailed me telling me to "have a nice life" because if we were "truly" friends, I'd make more time with her. She won't reply to my e-mails or return my calls.
I respect her feelings, but feel pressured by the time constraints of our brief visits home. Judith has no children, a single brother and a married brother with whom she recently reunited.
I feel like I have committed some kind of crime. I think if she was a true friend, she'd understand my predicament. Please help. -- DEEPLY HURT IN ARIZONA
DEAR HURT: Your pal Judith doesn't appear to have matured much since kindergarten. Her behavior is petulant, immature and self-centered. Although you care for her, you cannot shirk your family obligations in order to placate her. If Judith can't appreciate that you have placed your family first, it's regrettable, but please don't permit her to punish you for it. You're doing the right thing and, although you may be hurt right now, let that be your consolation.
DEAR ABBY: I have been involved with "Rich" for 4 1/2 years. We are now engaged. In the beginning, everything was great. What I didn't know was that Rich had a baby on the way. I learned about it from a young woman who knocked on our door nine months later.
Rich said he was sorry and that he'd handle it. I knew the situation would be hard to accept, but suppressed my feelings like I always do instead of being honest about it.
Now this woman comes over whenever she wants. If she's angry about something, she'll say, "I don't want my baby around HER," meaning me. She has friends who work with me, and she has spread lies about me there. She has also called my house on several occasions and has been rude and nasty.
I have tried to deal with this, but Rich's infidelity and his having a child with another woman still hurts like it happened yesterday -- and the child is now 3. Can you help me? -- NOT MOVING ON IN VIRGINIA
DEAR NOT MOVING ON: I'll try. Before things evolve any further, don't you think that it's time to be open and honest? You have unresolved anger issues to deal with, and rightfully so. That's why I strongly advise you and your fiance to start premarital and couples counseling NOW.
Did Rich know he had gotten a girl pregnant before she knocked on the door and told you? If so, then what other information might he also have forgotten to mention? And why would he tolerate the abusive behavior that the baby's mama is dishing out to you? If you want to be treated with the respect you deserve, you must assert yourself. And if you don't get it, then I advise you to ditch Rich.
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