DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I plan to be married in the coming year. It will be the second marriage for both of us. My intended has an "adult" son I'll call "Jeff," who graduated from college last year and makes good money. His father has helped him out by paying his tuition, car loan, rent, a generous allowance and various other loans that have never been repaid.
Jeff comes up short almost every month because he blows his money on vacations, clothing, electronic gadgets, etc., so he needs $500 to $1,000 to "get on his feet." If his father refuses, Jeff resorts to name-calling and emotional blackmail.
I earn a good living and have a tidy nest egg, and I'm concerned that Jeff's irresponsibility and his father's enabling will put a comfortable retirement for us in jeopardy. I feel like this is my business, too -- but I don't want to come between father and son. What's your advice? -- THRIFTY IN WYOMING
DEAR THRIFTY: Your concerns are legitimate. Your fiance is doing his son no favors by footing the bills for his irresponsible behavior. But on some level he already knows that and may be doing it because he feels guilty about the divorce from Jeff's mother.
Before marrying your fiance, discuss this with an attorney to be sure your interests will be protected. The assets you accumulated before the marriage should be kept separate, and there should be a clear understanding that any monies you earn will not benefit his son, who appears to be a bottomless pit.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I divorced several years ago because of his cocaine habit. He had been taking money from our accounts, etc.
After our divorce I met someone. It was several months before I agreed to a date. He's honest, fun, good-looking, hardworking and helps my family when he can. My problem is on our first date he told me he'd been a drug user and had spent time in prison. He said that was in the past. He got counseling, loves his new life and would not break the law again.
My children know about his past and say, "It's no big deal; it's the 21st century." We date, nothing more, but he alludes to wanting to propose. I'm afraid that when my parents and people in my small town find out about his past, they'll be shocked and I'll be shunned. I can't believe this is an issue in my life again.
Is it OK to date an ex-drug addict? Do some people beat the odds and stay clean? I'm scared that maybe I should have run away after that first date. Please advise. -- WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP
DEAR WAITING: What did this man go to prison for? Was he selling drugs to support his habit? Stealing? Did he commit a violent crime?
While your children may think his past is "no big deal," it is a big deal. However, whether it's a deal-breaker is up to you. If you had thought so, it would have been over after he mentioned he'd had the same problem as your ex-husband.
Some former addicts stay clean. Others have been known to backslide. If you love this man and he maintains his sobriety, consider his proposal sometime in the future. But I see no reason for you to rush into anything -- do you?
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)