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by Abigail Van Buren

Single Woman Is Perplexed by Sympathy From Others

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man I'll call Eugene for many years. We have both been married before and we both have children. We're engaged, but if I marry him, I know I will never be No. 1 in his life. His children and family will always come first.

I don't know what his former wife did to him, but shouldn't your spouse rank somewhere at the top? I have a lot of time invested in this relationship. His children have no connection with me at all. This doesn't bother Eugene. It bothers me greatly. Can these types of issues be worked out? -- FRIEND WITHOUT BENEFITS

DEAR FRIEND: Yes, if you and Eugene are willing to admit there are issues that need to be worked out and are willing to get premarital counseling. While Eugene's children -- and yours -- might always come first, if you are going to have a successful marriage you should rank right up there with them. While you may never have an emotional tie with his children, you deserve to be treated with the same kindness and respect that you give them. And if that's not happening, Eugene should insist upon it.