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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My job requires me to travel out of town several nights a week, leaving my wife home alone. She recently invited a mutual (male) friend out for dinner during my absence. He's the other half of a couple we socialize with frequently. (His wife was also out of town.)

I told her I was uncomfortable with it. I don't think married men and women should go out alone with members of the opposite sex. She maintains that it wasn't a "date," that she was just having a meal with a friend.

I value your opinion and would like to know how you feel about this. Did I overreact? Is it appropriate for a married woman to go out for a meal alone with a man other than her husband? -- FEELING CHEATED ON IN ILLINOIS

DEAR FEELING CHEATED ON: With some couples this wouldn't be an issue. However, how I feel about it is not as important as how you feel about it. If you have explained your feelings to your wife and she knows it made you uncomfortable -- innocent as it was -- then it shouldn't be repeated. I can't help but wonder how she would react if you told her you had run into the man's wife on one of your business trips and the two of you had had dinner together -- and plan to do so again in the future.

DEAR ABBY: Whenever my father comes into my room to wake me up, he opens the shutters on my windows. After spending hours in a dark room, the bright light hurts my eyes.

I have talked to him about it several times, but usually find myself apologizing for being overly sensitive about the matter.

Abby, even when he has promised not to, he still does it. Is there anything I can do to make him stop? -- SENSITIVE EYES IN RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR SENSITIVE EYES: Yes, there is. Take responsibility for waking yourself up by getting an alarm clock so you no longer need your father's "help."

DEAR ABBY: My husband's sister is being married in a few months. The wedding is in her hometown, which is more than 1,400 miles from where we live. My husband and I have three small children.

Taking our entire family and staying for three or four days will cost almost $3,000. Two of the children would not be able to attend the ceremony without causing a disruption, due to naps, feeding, etc. In spite of the financial burden and the fact that it will be a difficult trip for the children, the bride-to-be is demanding that all of us be there.

Abby, are we obligated to make this trip, or would it be acceptable for only my husband to attend? If he goes alone, he will have time with his sister and the rest of the family, whom he does not get to see very often. We want to do the right thing, but the reality is that taking our family of five would be difficult and stressful for everyone. -- ANXIOUS IN OHIO

DEAR ANXIOUS: Your husband needs to assert himself and talk some sense into his sister. While it is wonderful that she would like to have all of you at her wedding, an invitation is a request -- not a summons. If being there with the children would be stressful financially, logistically and emotionally, you are right to stay home.

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